Making a Glittery Gothic Dress, Part One

A few months ago I shared some pretty controversial news about my hatred towards Summer. Surprisingly I received a lot of positive feedback from likeminded people, which is why i’m feeling brave enough to make another statement. This time about a beloved holiday: Halloween

I don’t like it. At all.

Honestly my favorite thing about October 31st is that the craze l ends and I can stop hearing about it and seeing posts related to it. That probably sounds really bad. Like i’m some sort of halloween grinch. Sorry.

I enjoyed it when I was much younger, but I grew out of it before I was in my teens. I used to think it was pretty silly and didn’t understand why it was even considered a holiday, and I still feel that way. But it seems I’m the only one since every year people are bursting with Halloween spirit as soon as October comes along.

I know I should like it, someone passionate about costumes should appreciate a “holiday” centered around them.  However I love costumes so much that I wear them whenever I feel like it, I don’t confine my costume ideas and wear time into a single day.

All that being said – you guys know I have a huge weakness when it comes to seasonal decor. Even though I dislike halloween, and orange is my least favorite color, and gore makes me want to puke, I found myself in the Halloween section of Michaels on a fateful Monday night.

And I left with $70 of halloween, and weirdly, christmas decorations with a project in mind.

Paired with a trip to Joanns and the weirdly tempting pile of crappy polyester that is the Spirit halloween collection and the project was confirmed. I already showed my haul for this project in my progress report last month, so go browse that if you want to see the raw materials before I tore them apart for this project!

My original idea looked like this. I wanted it to be similar to my other flower dresses but with an edgy twist.


 I wanted the bodice to be shaped like bat wings, which was a neat idea in theory but didn’t end up looking that great. Since I have a pretty small chest there wasn’t enough room to get the shapes the way I wanted.

But I figured it would be okay and moved forward with the idea.


I actually added all the boning and hemmed the edges before realizing it just wasn’t working. It looked like something you could buy from a Halloween store and the shapes were more spidery than batty.


So I trashed that. As in literally threw it in the trash and started over. Instead I took it in a different, simpler direction. I decided to make a vaguely 18th century stays reminiscent bodice that would give a conical shape and tie at the shoulders and up back.

The pattern looked like this.


I managed to reuse all the boning from my failed bodice, so that was good. The boning channels were made from one inch wide strips of cotton broadcloth that had the edges folded over.


I cut my bodice base from the same broadcloth, then marked the boning channels and “hem line” where the edge will be folded over.


All the boning channels were sewn in place and boning was added.


I was happy with it but it looked really cheap, which isn’t surprising since broadcloth is less than $3 a yard. To fancy it up a bit I took some black mesh and stitched it on as an overlay. This was purchased from the spirit fabric line at Joanns a few years ago, it has spiderwebs and bats stitched into the mesh, it’s really cute!


After that was sewn in place I rolled all the edges over and sewed them down.


Warning: if you have a fear of glitter I would suggest skipping this part

Then it was time for the fun part, embellishing! I saved some glittery bats, leaves, and spiders for this along with the orange and silver christmas decorations. Unlike my previous flower dresses, there aren’t any flowers in the bodice.


I was really torn about how this looked, but it’s grown on me over time! I think it’s really strange and pretty.


I removed any glue strings and added the tulle overlay. I was surprised to find that it looked very sheer. I was hoping it would subdue the decorations a bit and make everything a bit less intense, but that didn’t happen!

The tulle does still have a purpose though, it keeps glitter from escaping.


The edges of the tulle were rolled over and stitched down. Then I added silver grommets to the shoulders.

These days I usually hand embroider eyelets but I thought the contrast of the silver grommets would look better in this particular garment.


I cut strips of my batty mesh material and used those as ties at the shoulder.

To finish off the garment I sewed black bias tape around the interior to cover any ugly edges.


Then I added grommets to the back and it was done! It didn’t turn out the way I had planned but I think it’s cute, sparkly, and tacky without looking cheap. So it meets all my goals for this project.


Here is the bodice worn, this is a few steps further along after it had been sewed to the skirt and I added a sash.

It fits really nicely and I like how the neckline turned out!

Photo on 10-1-14 at 12.54 PM

Next week i’ll talk about making the skirt and assembling it all together. I also have some historical projects coming up this month, if you are getting sick of fashiony stuff just wait around a bit longer!

Thanks for reading!


10 thoughts on “Making a Glittery Gothic Dress, Part One

  1. Kami Renee says:

    You really have a stylish eye and as one that appreciate Halloween as a one day thing, but HATE the hype and “spooky”-everything, I think this dress will turn out beautiful and be a re-think of classic ‘ween’ spirit.

  2. jillbrooks10 says:

    You never cease to amaze me Angela, and I think it would be so cool if you could share with your “public” more about yourself. How did you get into cosplay…actually when did you start sewing? Are you still in school? You know, you’re going to be famous one day. 🙂

  3. Karen K. says:

    Beautiful! I think this might be my favorite dress yet! I would do with out the spiders (I am terrified of them), but the dress is so darn cute! I love the neckline and the ties at the shoulders! I love the way the orange and silver leaves stand out against the black. Very pretty!

    • Angela Clayton says:

      Thank you! I’m not too fond of spiders either, but these ones are large enough that I know they aren’t real (and they are trapped behind tulle) so they aren’t too scary. Though I did drop one on the floor and forgot about until the next morning, when i found it I nearly screamed!

  4. Dawn says:

    I’m strange about Hallowe’en too – I love all of the bits and bobs – but I very rarely make a costume for the holiday anymore (I just end up reusing one from somewhere else) and rarely do anything special for the holiday. I love the overall look – but I think without a good vision I would have quit several times before getting to the end if I were in your shoes!

  5. Alisa says:

    Hello Angela !
    Here in Europe we don’t really celebrate Halloween, even though for about a decade now, you can find creepy decorative stuff in stores thanks to american movies and series…
    It is not my favorite theme but your project turns out really beautiful ! I love the orange glittery leaves, that looks really classy ! Can’t wait to see the whole dress 🙂

  6. Ayden Grace says:

    This is amazing Angela! I would definitely pay you to make this for me! I know you say you hate Halloween but your talent as a designer and a creator goes way above and beyond – and as someone who loves Halloween, I’m super jealous you now have this in your collection. Congrats on an amazing piece!

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