Merida: The process

With this new idea of making a Merida costume wriggling its way deep into my head, I thought I’d talk about the process I do before I make any character’s costume.

First, I always try to find a pattern for their costume. If that fails, I look through patterns that I already have and see if I can piece together the costume.

In this case, I bought McCall’s Costume pattern M6817. This pattern is for one of Merida’s redesigns, however, luckily it’s simple enough to change it back to the original movie dress design. The differences are the dress in this pattern has contrast pieces and a belt, whereas the dress in the movie does not have either. So it’s a simple case of attaching the contrast pattern piece to the dress panel piece and not making a belt.

Next, I tend to be drawn to the character’s wig/accessories. For Merida, I’ll need to get a bow and a belted quiver. I’ll also have to work with a wig to get maximum curl and floof. I already looked into the wig and know what I’m going to do.

To make Merida’s wig, I’ll get an Arda Merry wig in Pumpkin and then also get some short and long wefts in the same color. I’ll finger comb the curls in the wig, as well as brush/tease to get them fluffy. I’ll change the part of the wig, and because it is not a layered wig, I’ll use the short and long wefts to add looser/tighter curls to get the dimension that Merida’s hair has. I priced the wig materials, and without shipping (because shipping is different for everyone) it is $62. Arda wigs are made from quality synthetic fibers that you can use heat styling with, so the price is actually a really good deal.

Then, I focus on the fabrics and notions for the costume. The pattern for the dress usually has suggested fabric types. For this dress, it says satin, sateen, shantung, velvet, velvet types. However, according to the Disney Wiki page for Merida, it says her dress is made from cotton. Based on the movie, the Disneyland costume, and the Once Upon a Time costumes, I think the best bets are either cotton or velvet. I’ll definitely use a nice cotton/linen for the white parts. I’ll have to look at more pictures (and sample prices of fabrics) of the dresses to really make up my mind about the teal fabric.

To make the dress, I will need ~7 yards (combination of the dress and contrast amounts) of dark teal, and ~1.5 yards of unbleached/white. I will also need gold trim and (probably leather cord) lacing, however, oddly enough this pattern does not say how much I will need, so I will probably buy a couple yards of each and whatever excess I have will go in my collection.

And that is roughly my process. Hours of research go into each project before I even begin them to ensure that each costume ends up how I want it to look.


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