I’ve always been an avid reader; it’s a chance for me to just switch off, escape and self-care in a quiet corner, drink tea and be left alone (for the most part). As a working adult, it’s not always easy to find time to read, especially something new where I really need to pay attention to the worldbuilding and info dump that most fantasy novels begin with. I sometimes find it comforting to revisit old stories and worlds that I’ve frequented since I was a young adult, once such series is Sarah J. Maas’s ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’, also referred to as ACOTAR, which originally came out in 2015. I’ve grown up with this series and although my copies are pretty battered, they’re a comfort, fun and thrilling ride that still makes me catch my breath and, in certain parts, get a little flustered and blush. Much like with any fandom, fan art is all over the internet and I’ve certainly enjoyed seeing other’s depictions of some of my favourite characters, especially the main female protagonist, Feyre Archeron. With ACOTAR being set in a fictional universe with no real hints as to an exact time period (it seems like each realm/court has their own fashion styles and trends from different eras), I thought I might be able to take a few artistic liberties with a certain sewing project I had in mind.
Please note: this post may contain spoilers. Please continue reading at your own discretion.
One of my sewing goals for 2023 is to sew with inspiration from popular culture, so today, I want to create a vintage day dress inspired by Feyre from A Court of Thorns and Roses. Feyre is an amazingly strong, resilient and loyal character who undergoes quite a lot of character growth throughout the series as well as epic battles, quests and some awful hardships. She eventually becomes the first High Lady of the Night Court which to me, sounds like the greatest title ever created and if it were real, it would be something I’d look into. Keeping that in mind, I wanted to create a dress that I think Feyre would wear as High Lady of the Night Court had the books been set in the 1950s. This sounded like an easy task at first but it took a lot of brainstorming, planning and time to come up with something just right. Although I love the idea of taking Feyre and placing her into the 50s style, I wanted to stay true to her personality and not have the outcome look like a costume.
I’m still not brave enough to create my own sewing pattern from scratch and this project was not one that I wanted to take lightly as it meant quite a lot to me. I went through my patterns multiple times over and over again trying to find one that I honestly thought Feyre would wear. I eventually decided on Butterick 6018, dress style B and I’m going to explain why. This pattern is a retro reproduction of an original 1952 pattern by Butterick and it caught my eye for a few reasons. Dress style B doesn’t have a collar like style A has; I didn’t think Feyre would wear a collared dress as it was a little too formal for her and I think she would have felt restricted and stuffy. This pattern is well-fitted to the bodice, and although it’s a dress, it’s not overtly feminine or something poofy and girly that I know she would hate (her wedding dress is a perfect example of her hating anything overly poofy). Butterick 6018 has almost an empire waist bust style with the skirt and lower bodice all being cut out of multiple panels that flare out at the bottom to add movement and swish. The panels, especially in the bodice, gave me the illusion of a corset which to me, is almost like armour when you think of the imagery between knives and steel boning. I thought this was a cool link and something Feyre would like the look of. The pattern also has short sleeves which I think might have been something she likes as it covered her up a little more and although she has worn some very revealing outfits in the stories, I think once she became High Lady of the Night Court, something more covered and powerful would have been more her style.
I’m really hoping that this pattern translates well in this project as I didn’t want it to just look like a generic retro dress that was made for anyone. The fabric choice for this dress was to be paramount and back in October, I found it online. After the sudden closure of fabric.com (rip), I went on a mission to find a certain fabric I had in my cart that I never got to purchase. I couldn’t remember the designers name and being a colourful floral fabric, it wasn’t easy to find but eventually I found it on one of my other favourite fabric websites (which has now since closed but at least they gave notice) modes4u! As the site told me they were closing down, many of their items were heavily reduced so I figured this was an exception to the rule to get some new fabric but only for specific projects which is how I found the fabric for my Feyre day dress. Originally from the brand, Timeless Treasures, this black cotton fabric features a pattern of moons, stars and planetary shapes but the best thing about this fabric is, it glows in the dark. The 90s kid in me squealed with the delight of wearing those plastic glow-in-the-dark stars on my body after falling asleep under them for many years. I grabbed around 4 meters of this fabric and am now very excited to start my project.
Sew, let’s get started. Butterick 6018 will always have a soft spot in my heart because it was one of the first vintage reproduction patterns I tried out when I was first learning to sew. Being self taught I made some rookie errors such as sewing my dress in the wrong size (I think I sewed the size 14 or 16 which was miles too big for me) and I made it out of a stretchy cotton sateen sewn on the bias so it was lumpy and warped. Despite this, I loved my first attempt at a vintage pattern and I’m pretty sure I still have it in a bag somewhere. Returning to this pattern was a great experience because I feel that my skills have grown so much since my first attempt. Butterick 8016 is a pattern that is easy enough for a beginner sewer to tackle but I’d definitely recommend adjusting size. I wear a size 10 Australian normally and have a 28 inch waist so on the pattern, I should be a size 14 but I have found that by sewing one size smaller than the pattern recommends, the dress fits me better so for this pattern, I made the 12.
This pattern is made up from a lot of pieces so I’d recommend labelling them on the underside with a water soluble marker if you can (especially the skirt pieces). Whilst cutting out the fabric, I made sure there was to be no awkward circle patterns right on the front of my bosom but I did make one slightly awkward pattern placement mistake which I will discuss later. The bodice came together without any hitches and there wasn’t anything overly difficult or fiddly. In saying that, the trickiest part is the curves at the front of the neckline. I’d recommend marking a guide using a water soluble marker and sewing very slowly to make sure your neckline stays crisp, even and curved without a pucker.
The bodice didn’t have a full lining as the pattern had a facing instead which although is quicker to sew, does mean that the facing can pop out sometimes. To stop this happening, I tacked down the facing along the seam lines with a few invisible stitches. The centre front of the bodice calls for a few decorative buttons which I omitted as I felt the dress was busy enough with such a loud fabric, I didn’t want to add anything more onto the front. The dress does have sleeves which is always a plus for me and I found these to be a really good form and shape. They came together quickly and when worn had a good amount of movement. The dress comes together with a side zipper and I sewed in an invisible one to make the dress look more seamless.
Sewing the skirt together was done in sections. I began by sewing the skirt down the centre front, then attaching the right and left sides as needed, before sewing the back half of the skirt in the same way. As the skirt pieces also include the waistline, this may e a pattern where some may need to make a muslin or test dress. Depending on your waist size, your torso length and your leg length, this skirt could come out a little awkward. As I had made this pattern before in the wrong size, I did test the skirt as I sewed to make sure it didn’t need to be taken in and I didn’t think it did which was great. I do remember in my first attempt having to take in the waist by over 6 inches and then shortening the skirt by about 7 inches according to my notes (I cannot find any proper photos of me wearing the dress that aren’t just a close-up of my face).
With the skirt in two pieces, I attached it down the left side, attached it to the bodice and closed it all up with the invisible zip. The last thing I needed to do was the hem the skirt, finish off the seams on the inside and give her a final press. I do wish the dress had a pocket but when I make the dress next time, I’ll add in a note to attach a snack hole. However, she was done.
Fit: Butterick 6018 was a pleasure to sew and I think there have been vast improvements since my first attempt. The dress fit like a dream and although I could have brought in the waist by half an inch, I appreciated the extra wiggle room especially when I’m fluctuating between sizes right now. With the bodice shape, I found that I could wear any bra with this pattern and not have my undergarments be seen which is always a plus. I also think the neckline is rather flattering and I love the curvy shapes; it makes me think this is something a Night Court lady would wear. I found the neckline, being almost empire waist inspired, gave the dress a bit of a fantasy vibe which if sewn in a soft tulle or flowy fabric, would give off magical vibes.
I did notice some unfortunate pattern placement especially right on the front left side of the bodice. Two moons were cut in half then sewn into what could be the letter ‘S’ making it an awkward placement but I didn’t catch it until it was too late and I had no more fabric. Whilst cutting out the pieces, I think because the pattern was so big, I forgot to check pattern placement especially just focusing on not getting a round circle right on my bosom. I wonder if the pattern on the fabric was too big for the thinner parts of the skirt/waist pieces and I wondered if my cool fabric idea didn’t quite translate.
I do love this dress, but in the end I think it gives off more Miss Frizzle vibes then Feyre / ACOTAR vibes. Perhaps the pattern was too intense for a character like Feyre so maybe this dress could have been a fun dress worn around the Night Court instead. I did think about redoing this dress in a different fabric but everything I found online with celestial pattern was either way outside my budget or a bit too childish and cartooney. I think for a first attempt at an ACOTAR dress, this is a great try but it’s not quite there for me.
To help me feel more in character, I styled the dress with some elf ears and Feyre’s iconic hand tattoo which connects her with Rysand. Whilst wearing this outfit for photos, I did wonder if I were to wear this dress at a comic convention or pop culture event, would someone guess who I am inspired by. I am very excited to have ACOTAR come out as a tv series and see the costumes designed for the show and I am glad to have a bit of fun without an official costume influencing my choices. For a first attempt, this Feyre dress was cute but not exactly how I wanted it to look in the end which has only encouraged me to try something different later in the year so stay tuned for more ACOTAR sewing with a vintage twist.
Oh, remember the dress glows in the dark? For those curious to see what the dress looks like when she glows, I managed to get some cute snaps of her in full glow mode thanks to Angie Delarie Photography. We used a black light to get a glow from the fabric as being outside, we couldn’t charge the fabric under a light (which would make the pattern glow with a greener hue). To get these photos, I attempted on my own on three separate occasions but just couldn’t get any shots to show off the dress. With Angie being a darling and offering to help, I didn’t want to keep her waiting outside in the dark in a random field as I painted a tattoo on my arm so that is why there is no ‘tattoo’ in those photos (I also have no photoshop skills and can’t add a tattoo in post).
For those curious about the fabric and it’s glow in the dark properties, I did a little research on how to wash the fabric to make sure it doesn’t lose it’s glow. The brands recommendation for this fabric is to wash it in warm (40 degrees) water with other dark colours on a gentle cycle. Dry on a gentle tumble setting or outside on the line if possible. When ironing, use a cool iron setting.
Before I wrap up my post, I wanted to give a special shout out to Angie Delarie Photography for taking the time to help me shoot these glow in the dark photos after my own many failed attempts and my Dad for holding both the black light and my phone light to help me get the shots I needed. I appreciate both of your patience and time in helping me shoot this so thank you both so much! I wanted to share this unedited photo where you can see my Dad juggling both lights and my outdoor slippers because guess who forgot to pack proper shoes for these photos.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.