Making Amidala Fabric

Someday, I would like to costume an insanely popular movie so that I can pull out all my dirty tricks to make fanciness – and tell NO ONE quite how in the heck I did anything.  And then I will set up a Google search and just watch people try to replicate things.  I feel like that would be some fun times….

In the mean time, I needed a fabric I couldn’t get.

The target fabric, on the left.  My two best attempts on the right - the top is the tedious handworked method, and the bottom is a much faster dirty cheat.

The target fabric, on the left. My two best attempts on the right – the top is the tedious handworked method, and the bottom is a much faster dirty cheat.

I was unfortunately adamant about this not being plain, flat fabric.  Anyhoo…

Here’s the first technique:

I have a base layer (blue flannel) in the shape of a sleeve, and an overlay (champagne organza) that is about 7" longer than the sleeve.

I have a base layer (blue flannel) in the shape of a sleeve, and an overlay (champagne organza) that is about 7″ longer than the sleeve.

I put in three rows of really wonky gathering stitches.

I put in three rows of really wonky gathering stitches.

I want to emphasize the level of wonkiness.  This will allow me to work the fabric in more of a swirling pattern so it doesn't just look like gathers.

I want to emphasize the level of wonkiness. This will allow me to work the fabric in more of a swirling pattern so it doesn’t just look like gathers.

Pull the gathering stitches down so the overlay is sleeve-sized.  You can start to see the texture forming.

Pull the gathering stitches down so the overlay is sleeve-sized. You can start to see the texture forming.

Here's the texture that's been created by the really wonky gathering.

Here’s the texture that’s been created by the really wonky gathering.

Pin the organza to the flannel to create the puffs and swirls of your dreams.  Then replace the pins with itty bitty hand stitches.

Here's the trouble with this technique: it is the hell of eleventy-billion stitches.

Here’s the trouble with this technique: it is the hell of eleventy-billion stitches.

Normally, that’s fine.  But there was this dog who has clearly never been on the right side of a door in her life, and I have never missed my pin-able work top so much in my life.  :(

It ends up sort of lovely, light, and fluffy, which is kind of the antithesis of what I'm going for.

It ends up sort of lovely, light, and fluffy, which is kind of the antithesis of what I’m going for.

So I smashed it flat with a steam iron.

So I smashed it flat with a steam iron.  Mischief managed!

That was actually rather theraputic.  Normally when I work this technique I have to go to a lot of pains to keep things from smashing.  Also, I normally do it on smaller pieces where I can just push in all the ruching with my thumb while I’m working, which is seriously mas faster.

Since this was not working as fast as I wanted, I was experimenting with other techniques.

I tried just ironing in wrinkles with the ever so technical wad-and-smash method, which was too chaotic no matter how I tried it.  I tried a controlled pin-and-smash, but the pins and the iron were not playing well.

This works, technically, but if you're not really careful you get holes.  I don't have enough control with the heat gun to consider this workable.

I tried the controlled-heat-shrink method.  This works, technically, but if you’re not really careful you get holes. I don’t have enough control with the heat gun to consider this workable.

I tried the tie-and-smash method, which was promising but time consuming even on wee-dainty test pieces.

I tried the tie-and-smash method, which was promising but time consuming even on wee-dainty test pieces.

But that is how I arrived at the dodgey cheat I used for the underskirt.

I used a lot of those little rubber bands you can get from Sally Beauty for corn row braids to make little rose-bud bunches.

I used a lot of those little rubber bands you can get from Sally Beauty for corn row braids to make little rose-bud bunches.

No, really, a lot of them.  After an hour, I decided that maybe only the front  of the underskirt needed texture.

No, really, a lot of them. After an hour, I decided that maybe only the front of the underskirt needed texture.

I ironed it from the wrong side, because I learned on my test swatch that the rubber bands were happy to melt to the iron.  Once the creases were set, I took the rubber bands off.  On my test swatch, I took them off individually, which was almost as slow as putting them on (4-5 seconds each).  On the full piece, I used the far more expedient method of stretching the fabric which ended up with rubber bands absolutely everywhere but the fabric.  I was ok with that.

I prepped the target skirt with the miracle that is double sided fusible interfacing.

I prepped the target skirt with the miracle that is double sided fusible interfacing.

This is normally used for wee-dainty applique projects.  The woman at the JoAnns was a little surprised when I bought yardage.  Also, the paper does not pull off as easily as they say.  As a technical note, if you look at the top of the skirt the waist is a rather odd U shape that you don’t normally expect.  That guarantees that the skirt will have extra fullness concentrated at the center front, which helps to create that fold you see in most of the Amidala pics.

Then I spread the organza out and started steaming it down per the manufacturer's instructions.  The left half of the picture has been steamed.  The right has not.

Then I spread the organza out and started steaming it down per the manufacturer’s instructions. The left half of the picture has been steamed. The right has not, so you can see the texture in the organza.

I think this actually came closer to the texture I was going for, but I needed to reduce my rubber band spacing by about half and resist my innate desire to work in grids.  This is hella faster than the hand worked method, and I feel like the results are closer.  It also gives you the opportunity to wrap the texture around the hem, per the original picture.