How to Make a Fancy Dress Costume

Written by katie jensen
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How to Make a Fancy Dress Costume
A bridesmaid dress is an expensive fancy dress costume. (white flower bouquet blue dress gown image by Paul Retherford from

Becoming a princess, '50s Glamour Girl or belle of the ball requires a fancy dress with all the accessories. A costume ball is an opportunity to dress up. You could run down to your neighbourhood bridal salon and pick up a bridesmaid gown, but that would cost you a pretty penny, even if the dress was on sale. Make your own fancy dress costume instead and transform yourself into a garden princess.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Second-hand prom dress
  • Tape measure
  • 1-inch grosgrain ribbon, 48 inches long
  • Marker
  • 4 different colours of tulle or netting
  • Needle and thread
  • Scissors
  • Fabric flowers
  • Glue gun, optional
  • 3-inch satin ribbon, 4 yards long
  • Tiara, faux diamond necklace, long gloves and sparkly bracelets

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  1. 1

    Select a second-hand prom dress that has a low-cut bodice, definite waist line and a slimmer floor-length skirt rather than a fuller one. You will be adding layers to the skirt.

  2. 2

    Measure your waistline and add 1 inch. Find the centre of the grosgrain ribbon, then mark half the measurement in one direction and half in the opposite direction. For example, if your waist measures 28 inches, mark 14 1/2 inches from the centre point of the ribbon in both directions. If your waist is 30 inches, you would mark 15 1/2 inches from the centre point.

  3. 3

    Select four different colours of tulle or netting in shades close to that of your prom dress. For example, if the prom dress is pink, you can choose light pink, medium pink, dark pink and fuchsia for the colours of the netting. You will need four times the measurement of your waist. So if your waist measures 28 inches, you will need 3 1/4 yards of each colour of tulle.

  4. 4

    Place the layers of tulle or netting on top of each other with the darkest colour on the bottom and the lighter colours on top of it. Place a straight pin every 6 inches on the length of the tulle. Gather the tulle or netting the length of the fabric using a needle and thread so it equals your waist measurement plus 1 inch. Knot the thread every 6 inches.

  5. 5

    Sew the tulle onto the ribbon so the gathered tulle is in the centre of the ribbon. Cut the longest layer of fabric so it just grazes the floor. Cut the next layer of tulle, 6 inches shorter than the longest layer. Cut the third layer 12 inches shorter than the longest layer and the fourth layer 18 inches shorter.

  6. 6

    Scatter fabric flowers on the tulle. Sew them on or use a glue gun. Add flowers to the bodice of the prom dress. Cover the straps with small flowers. Center a large flower right in the centre of the bust line.

  7. 7

    Tie the skirt you made with tulle and ribbon around your waist. Tie the wider satin ribbon over the thin ribbon to hide the narrow ribbon.

  8. 8

    Add a tiara, faux diamond necklace and long gloves in the shade of your dress. Place sparkly bracelets in the colours of the dress on your arms over the gloves.

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