Cinderella Story: Make a Princess Dress

two princessesThis winter, I posted a sneak peek of a Cinderella dress created by local high school junior, Vicky Gebert. The dress was constructed of bubble wrap, trashcan liners, drinking straws, t-shirt bags, forks, plastic blue lace print, Styrofoam, and chicken wire. It looked utterly amazing.

dress on stairsVicky’s dress was the centerpiece of a Cinderella Story: Make a Princess Dress program our library hosted last weekend. Kids were invited to channel their inner godmothers and create a dress out of art supplies (including supplies you might not immediately consider when planning a grand night out).

If you can’t wait to see some of the creative dresses, scroll past the instructions and let the fashion show begin. Otherwise, here are instructions for building your own princess dress!

For the dress base, you’ll need:

  • A 11″ x 28″ piece of poster board for the bodice
  • A 4″ x 28″ pieces of poster board for the skirt sash
  • 4′ piece of ribbon for the bodice
  • 2′ piece of ribbon for the skirt sash
  • 2, 20″ pieces of tulle ribbon for shoulder straps
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch

I used black poster board to make the example dress (it shows up better in photos), but for the actual program, the bodice and skirt sash were made of white poster board. Definitely use the thicker variety of poster board (i.e. 6-ply) because it’ll hold up to all the art supplies you’ll be adding later. I also used 3/8″ white ribbon. It was easier to lace that particular width of ribbon through the punched holes without tearing the poster board. The tulle ribbon I used was 3″ wide to allow easier threading as well.

The Nearly New Shop, a local thrift and consignment store, was kind enough to loan us a dress mannequin for the program. It really helped to have the dress base on display so grown-ups could see what the final product should look like.

OK, ready to get started? First, wrap the largest piece of poster board around your upper body until both ends almost touch behind your back. Trim with scissors if the bodice is too long, cuts into your armpits, or if you want to create an unusual neckline.

Use a hole punch to make 5 matching pairs of holes down the back of the bodice
(our holes are marked with white rings in the photo so you can see them better).

bodice lacingStarting at the top of the bodice, lace the 4’ piece of ribbon through the holes. Tie
a bow at the bottom.

bodiceNext, wrap the smaller piece of poster board around your waist until both ends almost touch. Use the hole punch to create 2 pairs of holes.

skirt sash holesLace the 2’ piece of ribbon through the holes. Tie a bow.

skirt sashLastly, your shoulder straps! Slip on the bodice and adjust it to the right height on your chest. Punch a hole in the front of your bodice, directly underneath your shoulder. Punch a matching hole in the back. Thread a 20″ piece of tulle ribbon through the hole in the front and knot securely. Pull the tulle ribbon over your shoulder and thread through the hole in the back. Knot tightly and cut off any excess. Repeat on the other side. The finished straps should look like this:

strapsYour dress base is complete!

finishedNow that you know your dress fits, I recommend unlacing the bodice and the skirt sash and laying them flat for decorating. This is especially useful for the skirt sash. It’s easier to make a huge fluffy skirt on a flat surface than a curved surface.

Here are the art supplies we used at the program:

What can I say? We had a tremendous time! The kids not only made dresses, but matching crowns, wands, accessories, hairpieces, and jewelry. It was wonderful.

ringAnd here’s the inspiration for the program, artist Vicky Gebert! Vicky answered questions about her dress, crafted with kids, and generally lent her awesome creative magic to the program.

vickyWe were also joined by two Princeton University student groups – the Sustainable Fashion Initiative and the Stella Art Club. They were incredibly creative and incredibly sweet with the kids.

design 1 And now…some of those fantastic, fabulous, and fanciful dresses! Fanfare please…

dress 1dress 9 dress 12 dress 3dress 10 dress 2 dress 20dress 16 dress 19 dress 18 dress 17dress 13 dress 14 dress 11 dress 8 dress 7 dress 6dress 4 dress 5

Riddle-De-Diddle

group shot, castleAh, a lovely group shot outside the castle.

The above image is not Photoshopped in any way (seriously, I went outside Firestone Library and took the shot with everyone throwing me curious glances. That’s dedication folks!).

These lovely finger puppets were prizes at a Fairy Tale Boot Camp program at our library. As families entered the gallery, they were greeted by a Court Jester who asked them to guess the characters from six fairy tale riddles. Identify them all and you won your choice of three puppets (which I ordered from Oriental Trading Company). You were allowed endless hints, so everyone eventually won of course.

finger puppetsHere are the six riddles, written by me and student Kay Zhang:

There once was a girl in red,
who visited Grandma in bed.
But something was wrong:
Grandma’s nose was too long!
This little girl had been very misled.
Answer: Little Red Riding Hood

There once was a boy who was clever
He wanted to stay young forever.
Find pirates and caves,
and Indian braves,
in the land they call “Never Never.”
Answer: Peter Pan

There once was a girl in a tower,
who took a long time to shower.
Why you may ask,
so lengthy a task?
Just to shampoo took her an hour!
Answer: Rapunzel

There once was a house made of candy.
To us that may sound rather dandy.
This house has a glitch.
It comes with a witch!
So, keep a smart sister handy.
Answer: Hansel and Gretel

There once was a boy made of wood,
He told lies whenever he could.
To fulfill his dream,
he learned not to scheme.
His nose finally stayed as it should.
Answer: Pinocchio

Salt, sugar, butter, and flour.
Cook in the oven an hour.
The cookie’s ready to eat,
But be fast on your feet!
He runs on super horsepower.
Answer: Gingerbread Man

Other activities at the program included making castle blueprints (and learning some Medieval architecture in the process), taking a crash course in magical creature identification, breaching a castle wall with dodge balls (complete with heckling knight), deciphering Latin spells (from a certified wizard who also happened to be a University graduate student), searching the gallery for a hidden unicorn, making crowns and fairy wings, and examining utensils, tools, and objects displayed by the Society for Creative Anachronism. We also watched two knights whomp each other repeatedly in battle.

knightsLooking to do some sword fighting yourself? Perhaps these would be of interest.