Elf Gown

Updated (see below) with better photos of the ear tips, as well as some photos from the first wearing of the costume at an outdoor event.

Patterns Used:
– McCalls M4491 (with changes).
– Online Elf Crown Tutorial (parts 1 and 2).

Fabrics Used:
– Green fabric (unknown, see K Gown).
– Celery green chiffon.
– White cotton (for lining).

Other Materials Used:
For the Gown,
– Silver trim.
– Green embroidery floss for eyelets.
– White ribbon for lacing.
For the Crown,
– Silver craft wire (16, 18, and 26 gauges).
– 5mm Swarovski crystals.
– Earring (that went with a necklace I bought from Sam Moon).
– E600 glue.
For Elf Ear Tips,
Aradani Halfling/Elf Ear tips (unpainted).
– Ben Nye makeup, setting powder, spirit gum, and liquid latex (the first batch of photos show when I wasn’t finished putting makeup on the ear tips, and they were not glued on — there are updated photos below those).

A mixture of machine and hand sewing.

This pattern has been sitting in my pile for a while. I originally wanted to do a costume like it, but never got around to it. I was very back and forth about attending an upcoming event (a fantasy picnic — fairies, elves, etc). I didn’t know what I wanted to do and kept changing my mind. I didn’t want to spend too much, or have a big deadline stress. I thought it might be a fun change from my usual historical costuming and sewing though, so I finally picked something and gave it a try.

I had a similar old gown in a dark navy that wasn’t really inspiring me. I was going to just wear it and make some accessories, but I decided I wanted to go light, sparkly, and flow-y instead.

I made several changes from the pattern.

The neckline is lower. I used fabric from the gown instead of purchased trim, and hand sewed some silver trims over the stitchlines on the arm’s trim. The self-fabric trims are box pleated.

The lower sleeves are supposed to be two layers of fabric according to the pattern (outer and lining), but I used one layer of chiffon in a different color green. The edges are hand sewn rolled hems. The bottom hem of the gown is also hand sewn, and interior seams are serged. It has a lining in the bodice section and sleeves, which I made out of white cotton. I have to be careful when putting it on, because the lining gets caught up and you have to pull it into place before lacing the back of the gown.

I don’t really like the lacing strip closure style that’s on the back of the gown. My other navy gown made from a similar pattern has them, and it drives me a little crazy because they shift a lot. I decided to just do an edge-to-edge closure, and hand sewed some eyelets in a spiral lacing pattern up the back. I also used cable ties in the edges of the seams on that back opening to help keep everything straight.

As far as the crown, I’ve really only worked with craft wire one other time (the small bonnet), but that was hidden inside fabrics and trims. I was very nervous I wouldn’t be able to get anything to work in time, or that the sparkly bits would fall off. (edited to add: Actually, this is the third time. I did some minor craft wire work on a small accessory a long time ago, but don’t currently have any photos of that costume project online. It was very basic though.)

I followed the mapping design process listed in the link above, and ended up making some changes to my design during the actual construction process. I didn’t want to have my crown turn out too much like hers, but what I wanted to do was not very easy with this type of wire. It ended up having more of a curving shape, instead of some of the sharper corners and angles I wanted. I also like spirals, but my wires wouldn’t have been very secure. I just wrapped and fit to my head as I went along. The crown is a lot more bendy than I expected, but you just have to be careful you don’t mess up the shape as you’re working.

I used the E600 glue to finish with Swarovski crystals and the centerpiece. My ears aren’t pierced and I can’t stand anything touching them (so no clip-ons, either), so whenever I buy a necklace I never know what to do with the earrings that come with it. This time, I thought it would be a great way to add a little more sparkle and substance to the crown. Not that I wanted the crown to match my necklace exactly, but I wanted them to have at least a vague similarity so it worked together enough.

I also have never used anything like elf ear tips, so I still have a little work to go on making them blend in better. I have some makeup for the ear tips already, and I want to do some more testing with my actual makeup to see if I need to buy another color or if they’re closer than some of these photos show.

The weather was bad on the day of the event I was planning to wear this costume, so I didn’t go. We’re planning another one soon for those of us who couldn’t go (they went ahead and held it, but some of us were sick or didn’t want to drag trains through potential puddles or mud). It was a good chance for me to try things on and see if I needed to fix anything, as well as get a few photos for this page.

I did discover a few things with the fabric I didn’t realize. I’ve worked with it before on some things like a petticoat, but as a full gown with princess seams it does some odd things. First, it has some static action going on, and it’s very clingy and creeps. It did some weird pulling and wrinkling. The gown isn’t skin-tight, but just has weird draping to it I guess. I’m still happy that using fabric from my stash helped save some money and helped inspire the rest of the fabrics and colors. I won’t be wearing this costume often anyway.

Some of the photos below really show the color difference in the elf ears. The other thing was that I didn’t bother to put on any makeup (which is very light), and I didn’t glue the elf ear tips down so they’re just sitting on my ears. I’ll get better photos later.


The completed elf costume. I still hope to get better photos soon. I did not put makeup on, or glue the ear tips down. This was mainly just to see how it all looked together, see if I needed to make any changes, and get some photos for my website.

The gown isn’t tightly fitted, and the center back seams have cable ties (yay for quick boning options) for support. The fabric is a little weird — it had some static issues and seemed to want to creep and move. I had plenty of it in my stash, and it was the perfect color though!

elf crown

The finished elf crown. I used three different gauges of craft wire in silver (see above link for the tutorial I used). I also glued on crystals and a piece of jewelry for extra sparkle and to cover wrapped sections of wires where they crossed. You can see the color difference in the ear tips and my skin — I didn’t have time to put my light makeup on, and so I need to try them together to see if I need to buy a darker shade to paint the ear tips for a better match.

The way I had my hair pulled back caused the crown to move up a little more than I intended, but it is meant to be higher across the front of the head instead of across the forehead. I was trying to go for a slightly different design. I had trouble thinking of something different, especially since I wanted to use more sharp corners and angles, but it was a neat project. I can see trying this again some day.

Some of the wire crafting tools we purchased. I didn’t need all of them, but my husband said we might as well pick some things up since I seem to be moving from “just sewing” to working on various accessories.

The ear tips I used, by Aradani Studios. I haven’t had a chance to really try them on, but so far I’m pleased with them.

Because I was having so much fun adding sparkly accessories, I couldn’t pass these up when I found them at Payless Shoes. Silver glitter shoes, fun!

elf costume

A fun photo my husband edited. The colors are off a little, but it has a neat effect. That is a clear acrylic contact juggling ball I’m holding. 🙂

Finally got the rest of the makeup I needed for a better match, as well as glued on for the first time. I was in a bit of a rush, but they stayed on for a while and blended enough where I was pleased. I have my hair back in these photos to show a little more of the ear and seam.

It was very windy the day I wore this outfit. I felt like I was tangled up in everything, but it was worth it for some of the photos we got — and of course, the great fun I had with my friends dressed like fairies!