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Construction Tips: The White Witch

Since most of the White Witch's gowns are very similar in structure and materials, we've grouped them together. Keep watching for patterns, dreadlock tips, and more on the Battle Dress.




Materials

Deciding on the fabric is probably the first problem one faces when making one of the first six White Witch dresses. Now that we know what we know of the fabrics (this is a good time to read up on the fabrics first!), it's time to cheat!

Deciding on the fabric is the first problem that one faces when making a White Witch gown, as most of us are not custom felt-makers, nor do traditional felt-making techniques teach how to form felt to the body so! The following are some ideas we've gathered which could possibly work.

 

  • Underdress and overlay: NWebber Jedielfqueen has suggested using a stiff, highly-structured underdress with a light, gauzy overlay for texture. For the underdress canvas, twill, or felt would work (for more stiffness you could even bond two layers together); for the overlay try organza, linen, or gauze. This could be a separate floating dress tacked down in some places, or, you could rip or tatter the overlay for the most texture and tack or bond it in place.

  • Highly layered replicating: If you have enough time, try replicating/cheating each layer and bonding or handstitching over the final layers. Start with canvas for structure, over that a silk satin for the shimmering layer. You could stop here and do lace and sheer pieces for the ice pieces. However, the seams of the dress could be covered over, if you're ambitious, by ripping and layering some felt or gauze for the felted wool look. For the lace, it seems most laces on bolts out there are going to be pointing towards wedding and floral. This is a shot in the dark, but, check out stores around Halloween time. They may have bolts of fabrics like webbing, or even webbing meant to spread as "creepy" decoration. This layer might add a lot, but it would have to be handstitched. Do all the layers in white, or Ombre dye some blue for the Turkish Delight gown, or in blue/gray/black as needed.
  • Felt: The good thing about using felt is that its stiffness will replicate the drape of the original. To eliminate bulky seam allowances, try overlapping seams or needle felting them together (see below). Texture can be added to the plain felt in the same way.

  • Needle felting: Needle felting is a dry technique wherein you position wool fleece felt pieces on a larger felt piece, then stab in place with a felting needle. The felting needle has tiny, sharp barbs that will catch on the fibers and secure them to each other. Needle felting could be used to add texture to an already-made piece of felt or to cover up a seamline.

  • Knitting and "fulling" wool: The idea here is to knit the dress or a layer in wool, then felt or "full" the dress. Fulling is the process of agitating knitted or woven wool in hot water, meshing the fibers and removing the knit properties - colors blend and stitches disappear, and the fabric no longer stretches. These felting instructions copied from Bags: A Knitter's dozen:


    To protect your washer from excess fiber, place bag in a zippered pillow protector or fine mesh bag. Set washer for hot wash, low water level and maximum agitation. (Using the rinse and spin cycles is no recommended as they may set permanent creases.) Add a small amount of mild detergent, and two old towels (non-shredding) or pairs of jenes for abrasion. Check on the progress about every 5 minutes. [Each time you check, pull the garment back into shape and smooth.] Reset the washer to continue agitating if necessary. Do not let it drain and spin. When you are happy with the size [and extent of felting], remove bag from the washer. Rinse thoroughly by hand in cool to warm water. Roll in towels to remove as much water as possible.

    The good thing about this is you can easily incorporate other colors by weaving yarn through the knitting before felting it. Also, the garment can be shaped by using knit dec- and inc-stitches, without bulky seam allowances or seam lines. The technique is very impractical, though. Have you ever tried knitting a full-length, strapless dress? Plus wool shrinks when it is felted, and not always predictably. So this idea seems better theoretically than practically.

    Fuzzy Galore: Exhaustive information on fulling methods


  • Coarse faux fur: What we have in mind here is the coarse, polyester faux furs generally found in the value sections at fabric stores. The heathery shades of grey could work well for the Smoke Lavendar gown or others.

For the ambitious, we also have the following felt-making links:


Dyeing Technique: Ombre

(Turkish Delight Gown)

The gradient blue-to-white coloring effect seen in the Turkish Delight gown is known as ombre. NarniaWebber MisterTumnus wrote the following instructions for dyeing your fabric ombre:

"[Ombre dying] is done by taking the part you want dyed the new color and hanging it above the dye where the part you want altered is actually steeped in the dye. Keeping in mind the fabric should be damp before you dip it in. KEEP IT DAMP! The dye will work faster and better wet. You allow it to soak for a while. The dye will 'creep' up the damp fabric. Then you take a wet brush, dip it in the dye bath and push the dye up further along the skirt to exactly where you want it."

Ombre was used a lot in the Star Wars Prequel costumes; see Padawansguide.com's construction tips for Padme's Flame dress and Lake dress.

Keep in mind, too, that dying works best with natural fabrics. Polyester is especially difficult to dye and doesn't "take" very easily.



Structure

Corset suggestions and hoop skirts coming eventually. For now, we've found an excellent starting point for a pattern for Jadis' gowns with wider skirts: Vogue 2928



Icicle Crown and Accessories

Several people have mounted icicle decorations (available around Christmas) to form the White Witch's crown or wand.

NWebber DramaFreak_03 suggests making icicles from using clear resin (available at craft stores, we presume?). Simply mix the resin according to package directions, then pour into a mold made from plaster of paris or clay. Once the resin is hardened these can be chipped away.



Furs

Watch for faux fur recommendations, or contribute your own!



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