Leia Senatorial Gown Work in Progress

Work in Progress Threads for all types of Royalty and Senators

Moderator: DCO

User avatar
Your Worshipfulness
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:24 pm
Name: Erin Houston

Leia Senatorial Gown Work in Progress

Post by Your Worshipfulness » Sun Jan 27, 2019 3:32 pm

Hello Everyone,

I'd like to document my WIP, actually it's more like my complete costume build. Any help or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Erin’s WIP for Leia Organa Senatorial Gown

Aug 2018: In order to start my Leia Senatorial Gown build, I started researching reference pictures in the ‘Star Wars Costumes Book: The Original Trilogy’ by Brandon Alinger et al. This was my go to guide throughout my build as the pictures are clear, but I also know it is a prototype gown in here, so used actual film reference from ANH and the replica, slightly amended dress created for ESB. I also used and would like to reference P&S Costume Creations (http://chucrew.com/Leia/dresspattern.html) a really handy, step-by-step walkthrough of the whole process.

I found this page via the Rebel Legion’s main website. As a complete novice, I was hoping to undertake the whole process, from boots to buns, on my own and found this page as well as the Legion Forum’s very helpful. Also, a discussion with my friend Kat, confirmed I was thinking along the right lines as it is a t-shirt fold, with under arm seams. Thanks Kat!

I also had a clear understanding of the material I would need. As I discovered Leia’s original dress material is, Qiana, a product of the 6Os, that’s no longer made! I knew I would have to acquire a suitable substitute before starting this project. I started by scouring the internet, without much success, but at least I had a firm idea what I was after.

Sept 2018: A trip to Mandor’s fabric store in Glasgow, with my Mum, allowed me to secure the fabric I needed. I bought eight metres, of 60-inch wide, slightly heavier-weight, polyester blend material in an opaque white. I referenced it against pictures I had. I was happy with the colour, texture, it was good quality and seemed to hang decently, although the fabric itself did prove to be a little temperamental to work with (Needles would stick and thread would knot during stitching.) Unfortunately, I knew I would have to postpone starting the pattern for the dress, until I had a holiday in October.
October 2018: I cut the pattern, first in paper and then in cheaper material using P&S Costume Creations guide. I had to tape the paper together, to get the 60-inch width that I needed to ensure my sleeves would drape knuckle to knuckle, including allowance for hems. I folded gown material in half widthways, I pinned my pattern to the material, then came the tricky part and with my heart in my mouth, I cut!

Thankfully, with the will of The Force it all went to plan and I had the basic t-shirt fold outline of the dress, cutting both the dress and the lining simultaneously. I cut an approximately 3-inch hole in the fabric at the fold for my head to go through. I repeated this process for the lining. The hood, which is not lined, was cut separately as a slightly angled rectangle to the approximate specifications on P&S Costume Creations page; this could then be attached to the dress at the collar. The collar had to be cut separately, too. I now had all the separate components for the dress. Patterning and cutting the material was all a bit trial and error as the dimensions on P&S Creations page is for someone much taller than me. I then began sewing, with the help of my very patient and knowledgeable mum! Thank you, Mum!
The main part of the dress was machine stitched inside out so, it could be self lined and turned in on itself at the collar, much like a pillowcase. Then, almost all the seams could be hidden or disguised, like on the original gown. A keyhole slit, approximately 6 inches long, was cut down the back centre of the dress from the head-hole and this was rolled back on itself and hand stitched. Then the hood was attached to the dress and collar, all at the same time, pulling the hood in at the collar for a gathered effect. The collar was attached and the opening secured with two hook and eye fasteners. Finally, the sleeves and sleeve lining were rolled and beautifully hand stitched by my wonderful mum. With much stitching, then unpicking, blood, sweat, tears and love, the dress was finally complete! Again, thank you Mum!
Nov-Dec 2018: I managed to source the other items I needed, but everything I sourced needed work. The first to arrive was my belt, which I ordered from eBay. I was not entirely happy with the shape at the top when I compared it to reference pictures and the Rebel Legion Leia’s Belt Guide. I used a leather knife and cutting board to make it less angled and more curved on top. I was happier with the shape of the altered belt. I was also happy enough with the look and spacing of the plates, but being a perfectionist, was not entirely happy. Although, this first belt did seem to meet with RL requirements. However, I am upgrading it and have started making my own.
I ordered 40 inches of 5-inch white leather belting larp from eBay and bought French Curve rulers to cut the belt. I also had to contact four metalwork companies to cut my mew plated to the size and shape indicated on the Rebel Legion template. Eventually, fourth time lucky, a company called Laser Master cut the plates for me in 2mm thick, brushed aluminium. The belt buttons were much harder to come by. Originally, I ordered button covers in 35mm, but these were too large, so went down to 25mm diameter, these were too small. Finally, I sourced 30mm button blanks in my local Dunelmn Mill shop. Just as the Goldilocks story goes, these were just right! This upgraded belt is a work in progress. Below is a picture of my reshaped, initial belt.
I bought a Rubies’ Disney toy DDC Defender Blaster pistol, which came in orange and white. Although it feels lightweight, my partner Scott weathered it beautifully using black, silver and gunmetal grey paint and it is now, a great prop. Thanks Scott!
I purchased a pair of flat white detailed boots called ‘Leia Boots’ from Amazon, in size 6. When they arrived, they were beautifully detailed and looked the part. Unfortunately, they came up very small. I could only get them part way up my calf and they bunched down around my ankles. I sourced another pair, from Amazon, that are not detailed but are a much better fit. A much more sensible option if I plan to troop all day! They are flat, white, mid-calf faux leather boots. They also seem to suit Rebel Legion specification, but I am also working on upgrading these by detailing them, using parts cut from my other boots and white vinyl I sourced from eBay.
Jan 2019: The Buns. Unfortunately, I was not blessed with the abundance of hair, eye colour, bone structure or build of my idol Carrie Fisher, so I had to do my best to fake it. Again, the Rebel Legion forum was a Godsend and I poured over many different ways of attempting to recreate those iconic buns! I finally settled for incorporating my own hair into the bun rather than opting for a full wig. I ordered Kanekalon braids, wire and foam, doughnut bun makers. I threaded cut doughnuts onto the wire, wound the braids round the foam, twisted them into shape and stitched together. I then put my own hair in pigtails and wound the pigtails around the buns, securing with bobby pins and lots of hairspray. I plan to make spare buns to use in case of emergencies!
My make-up consists of Lancôme Taint Idol liquid foundation in Ivory and matching powder. I put on two coats of liquid foundation for photo purposes. I used blush-pink, peach and taupe eyeshadow from a Sleek eye shadow palette, blending upwards, using brown for the socket line. I lined the upper and lower lid with Max Factor liquid eyeliner in Charcoal. I lined the inside of the lid in Max Factor white and finished lashes with Lancôme Hypnose mascara in Noir. I used a Rimmel eyebrow pencil in light brown to try to give my brow a more naturally curved and less arched shape and defined under the brow with Lancôme uplighter. I used a dusky pink Lancôme blush on the apple of my cheeks. Lip colour is a blend of pink, red and brown from a Lancôme lip palette. Everything was secured with Lancôme translucent powder and MAC make-up setting spray.
So, this is my Leia Senatorial Gown costume build. It has pretty much been a huge part of my life for the past six months, but it has been a dream for much, much longer. To be honest, I don’t think I could’ve managed it single handedly, so I appreciate the input from all involved, including the Rebel Legion’s forums and guides. Thank you, Rebel Legion! The dress itself is surprisingly complex for something that looks so effortlessly, classically simple. But, then again, it is being worn by the Goddess that is Carrie Fisher! All of us can only try our best to emulate Leia. She, however, is the one and only!
If you’ve taken the time to read this to the end, thank you! This is my first attempt at a formal costume build and I really hope that it is up to scratch, but what I would really appreciate is any feedback or tips on how to improve, especially from the experts who have done it before. I have loved doing this!

May The Force be with you!

You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
Leia 77
Detachment CO
Posts: 128
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:26 pm
Name: Karen Angel
Location: Hertfordshire
Total Troops: 36
501st Number: 19777

Re: Leia Senatorial Gown Work in Progress

Post by Leia 77 » Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:30 pm

Hello Erin

Welcome to the Rebel Legion and congratulations on making your own costume and we all love a very detailed WIP.

Your dress looks a great shape, as you say getting the material can be challenging as they no longer make the correct one. It seems to hang well, One thing I did notice was the line down the front. If this is a crease that’s easily fixed.

Remember that it’s white so you need to choose your underwear carefully so it’s not seen in bright lights ;)

We do need to slightly blouse the top over your belt, looking at the photo you may benefit from reducing the amount of blousing by pulling it down on the skirt and moving your belt up a little if you can.
You will find as you wear it, it finds a natural position.

Does your dress have slits down each side ? Like the ones in this photo. The CRL states there needs to be Slits up the sides to or just below the knee. If not this should be easy to add.


Your hair buns are a great match to your natural colour. Great attention to detail with the make up too.

You’ve done an amazing job, well done.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

User avatar
Padme Amidala
Detachment CO, Costume Specialist: Padme Amidala
Posts: 188
Joined: Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:52 am
Name: Kat Moore
Total Troops: 17

Re: Leia Senatorial Gown Work in Progress

Post by Padme Amidala » Sun Feb 03, 2019 3:47 pm

Hi Erin,

Welcome to Elstree Base! We've finally got you and Scott now mwahahaha.

You've done a brilliant and very detailed WIP so far, and you've made a beautiful costume. Well done. I know we've spoken about little areas to fix, and I agree with everything Karen has stated thus far. You might be able to get away without an elastic casing under the belt, by just doing as Karen has said. You've got a good handle on everything so far, and you've put a lot of research in so far. Well done Erin, Celebration and clearance soon!

User avatar
Your Worshipfulness
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:24 pm
Name: Erin Houston

Re: Leia Senatorial Gown Work in Progress

Post by Your Worshipfulness » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:40 pm

Hello Karen and Kat,

Thank you for your detailed feedback. Will take everything on board. Sorry I have taken so long to reply.

I have now washed and pressed gown. The crease is gone! I am surprised that it washed up so well. I was panicking watching it going round and round in a delicate cycle. It's actually pretty robust, more than I thought!

There are side seam splits to the knee, too, just not visible in those pics. I'll remember that for clearance!

I'm hoping to get elastic under my belt, too, to stop it puffing out over the top

Finally, cheers for white underwear tip! Better safe than sorry in a white space dress!

Yes, Kat, clearance (fingers crossed) then CELEBRATION here we come! Yippee!

User avatar
Padme Amidala
Detachment CO, Costume Specialist: Padme Amidala
Posts: 188
Joined: Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:52 am
Name: Kat Moore
Total Troops: 17

Re: Leia Senatorial Gown Work in Progress

Post by Padme Amidala » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:19 am

That's brilliant. If it helps for future reference, always ways your fabrics before you cut them. It allows for any shrinkage. Which you don't want once you've made your costume! Let us know how you get on and if we can help in anyway. Good luck!

Post Reply

Return to “Royalty & Senatorial Work in Progress”