Ariel Pink Dinner Dress Costume Tutorial
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So, this past week I finally made one of my dream cosplays: Ariel’s pink dinner dress from The Little Mermaid. Is pink and red a horrible color combo? Yes. Is the dress poofier than something I could imagine wearing? Yes. Did I still make it? Of course!
But in all honesty, the dress wasn’t too hard to make: I modified a few different pattern pieces, added some different decoriations, added in a hoop skirt, and I was good to go. Here are some key points that went into making Ariel’s pink gown:
For the main pattern of the dress, I used Simplicity 2813. This is a combined Cinderella/Snow White costume, which obviously aren’t the same construction as Ariel’s dress, but it only took a few modifications.
I picked out Symphony Broadcloth from Jo-Ann’s in Dusty Rose and White, purchasing 7 yards of pink and 4 yards of white. This was enough to pattern the outer layer of the skirt and the sleeves, follow the pattern, and have enough pink left over just in case I messed up :-).
I made Snow White’s puff sleeves, following the bodice and skirt pattern for both dresses as they were the same for both Snow and Cinderella. That said, because I’m tall and wanted a more gathered/ruffled skirt to go over the hoop skirt, I cut the skirt pieces a bit bigger both length and width-wise to accomodate that. I actually completely ignored the hip puffs at first, sewing in the plain white skirt like so:
Thankfully, this is one of the few Simplicity patterns that doesn’t have a super large ease of movement, so I only had to take in the bodice a bit. After this, I cut out the overlayer of the skirt by cutting out the skirt pieces again–but instead of cutting the front panel on the fold, I cut it as two separate pieces, and I followed the pattern size exactly. This made it slightly shorter than the white layer, and I sewed it together, leaving the two front panels open, then sewed it in leaving a small gap in the center of the top of the skirt:
Once that was completed, I moved on to adding the long sleeves. I patterned these myself by measuring the circumference of my wrist and my upper arm (about where the puff sleeve ended), and the length of my arm between those two spots, plus a few inches so I could have the pointed sleve hem. I drew these measurements out on some patterning paper, sort of guessed the curves for the wrist hem, cut it out (add some extra fabric all around for seam allowance!), and sewed it all together. For how much I ‘winged it’ on the sleeves, I think they turned out pretty well! I sewed them into the puff sleeves like I would sew normal sleeves into a bodice, and although it took some adjusting to get the length right, it was pretty straightforward. I also attached some silver trim over this seam to cover up my messy stitches :-p
I purchased this four-hoop hoop skirt on Amazon, and used this petticoat from another costume over the hoops to smooth it out and add even more volume. Once I could try everything on, I had my mom help me to pin my hems, so the curves on the outer layer and the length on the bottom layer would be even the whole way around.
I used a serger to hem my seams, as it’s quicker, cleaner-looking, and much easier to create curved hems on. To cover up the serger seams, I went ahead and attached some ruffly trim. This not only made the seams prettier, but added detail to a dress that’s rather plain in the film. I found a beaded trim as well and put that on the neckline.
For the wig, I styled a Luthien from Arda Wigs in the shade Apple Red. I found the curls it came with to be perfectly fine for Ariel once brushed out, but for the bangs, I had to tease the hair, layer by layer, then brush it over in the direction I wanted. After that, I used pins and large amounts of hairspray to shape the bangs and get the iconic swoop she has. That said, I’m not very good at styling wigs, so my directions may not be the best to follow–Fairytale Wigs videos on Instagram are really helpful to get ideas and help on how to style those gravity defying bangs!
Ariel also has a small pearl comb in her hair. I was lucky enough to find a pretty good replica for $12 at a local fabric store, but I’m sure similar combs can be found online.
And that’s all there is to it! Due to catching sales at Jo-Ann’s at the right time, and already owning the wig, this wasn’t the most expensive costume to make, and it’s a fairly simple pattern to modify for a pretty accurate result. Now just get ahold of a dinglehopper, and you’re good to go!