Leia's Ewok Village Dress
Please note: This tutorial is a very unfinished work in progress. I have more photos to add, but I’ll need a bit of time to get them uploaded and type up all of the text that goes with them. I have info on patterning, making the dress, the dress details, and making the half-wig. I promise I’ll keep working on it whenever I get a chance, so this tutorial will continue to grow over time. I hope it will be worth the wait!
When I decided to make Princess Leia’s Ewok village dress, I started out by collecting as many reference photos as I could find. Then I printed out a few of them and got started looking for the right fabric. I believe the original dress was made with real leather, but I preferred to use faux suede so I had to order a variety of sample swatches from different companies before I found the one I wanted to use. If you use faux suede, be sure to select a fabric that looks good on the back side, too, since some areas of the skirt are folded backwards and quite visible. I ended up choosing Vintage Suede in the color Parchment from Fabric.com. (Since fabric selections change over time, you’ll need to order a variety of samples, too, in order to find the best fabric available at the time when you’re making your dress.)
I’m not very confident about making my own patterns, so I started out by modifying Simplicity 5189. In the end I barely used the pattern, but it was a good confidence builder to help me get started!
The skirt seemed very complicated since there are multiple layers and some of them are folded back, but once you figure out the design it’s not that hard to make. I color coded my reference photos with Photoshop so that I could clearly see the layers. That really helped! It turns out there’s a base layer of the skirt, a second layer over the top which has the folded back sections, and there’s a long, wide belt that drapes down in the front.
Here are my color coded images. The base layer of the skirt is purple, the outer layer of the skirt is green, and the belt is magenta.
To design the skirt, I used an old king sized sheet to rough out the dimensions. I cut out a rough estimate of each section of the skirt, pinned them together, and then set about making quite a few adjustments. It took a lot of pinning and trimming and repining and trimming and basically making a mess of my workroom floor before I got the fabric to match the outline and drape of Leia’s skirt!
I carefully marked all of the seam lines and labeled every piece with a Sharpie, then took the skirt apart and discovered that the pattern pieces were terribly ragged and uneven from all of the modifications they went through. So, I grabbed another sheet and copied a “clean” version of each pattern piece onto a fresh muslin. I reassembled the dress to make sure all of the new pieces matched up, made a few more adjustments, and here’s how a few of the final pieces looked. (I do have larger photos of every pattern piece, so if you need them just let me know and I can email them to you.)
It took a bit of experimenting to find the best way to lay out the pattern on the fabric, and this is the layout I used in the end. Notice the long empty area to the right side. That’s for the belt. The belt is really big, and it’ll need quite a bit of fabric!
No tutorial is complete without a grandpa cat: