Disney’s Brave is one of my daughter’s favorite movies. And as expected, Merida, the movie’s star is who she wants to be for Halloween. Now if you have seen the movie you might have noticed how many dresses that she wears throughout. So of course, it is no surprise that my daughter has a specific dress in mind. Wouldn’t you know it’s not one of the dresses I can buy for under $50. For me. $50 for a Halloween costume is a touch extravagant. I wouldn’t even pay that much for a regular outfit, let alone one that is worn for a few hours one day. So to the craft store I went!

The dress on the to do list is a teal blue color, with a big poofy skirt, and ornamented bodice. And I will be honest it is very intimidating. However, once you simplify things it’s not so crazy. Remember, this is a Halloween costume, and in my opinion it doesn’t have to be an exact replica of Merida’s dress. Variations are okay so long as my daughter is okay with them, or at least doesn’t notice. For example, the finished dress is a v neck, while Merida’s dress was a square neck. My daughter, did not notice though, so I say it’s a victory. The main goal is to replicate the details that are most noticeable. For this dress I wanted to accentuate the bodice details, and they weren’t that complicated.

The bodice appeared to be made out of velvet, but I wasn’t going to make a velvet anything. Instead I purchased a t-shirt from the store that was the right color. My shirt was different from the dress in two ways, a v neck as I already mentioned, and it was short sleeved instead of long. I have not decided yet if I am going to address the sleeves. It will mostly depend on what the whether looks like the week of Halloween. If its cold, I will fashion some sleeves, but if it is as nice as it has been, I will leave them be.

All you need to duplicate Merida’s bodice for this dress is a shirt, tulle, ribbon, and fabric glue. Take the tulle and cut small strips. You want about five strips in all. The top strip will be a bit longer than the one under it, and each one will get smaller as you reach the bottom. Grab your fabric glue and glue the ends of your tulle down. I wasn’t impressed with my edges so I used some ribbon to cover the edges. I just glued that down on top.

I also glued some ribbon to the neck line just like the dress I’m copying.

The inspiration dress has a pretty belt and belt buckle that my daughter couldn’t live without. To replicate it, I used thicker ribbon and glued it to the t-shirt where the belt would sit. The buckle is trusty cardboard painted gold and glued right on.

For the skirt I made a tutu. It was fast, easy, inexpensive, and poofy enough for a princess. To make a tutu you need tulle. Lots of it. For this particular tutu I used 10 yards of tule. How much you need will depend on who you are making it for. How tall they are, how poofy you want it, and how long you want it. I don’t have an exact science on how much I buy. Generally I get one yard for each year of life. My five year old would normally get five yards. That would make a tutu that hung to her knees or so. Because I was going floor lengths I doubled that.

To make your tutu get a piece of cardboard that is the length of your skirt. Wrap your tulle around it lengthwise. Once you have it completely wrapped around your cardboard, cut all the tulle at the top. This will give you your tulle twice as long as your skirt, which is exactly what you need. Now that you have the length taken care of you need to cut them into strips. I usually go for about three inches thick, and whatever length I had already cut.

When you get all your strips cut its time to assemble. You can go for elastic for the waist, or use ribbon. I chose ribbon because I could do the hang down portion of Merida’s belt.

Grab your ribbon and wrap it around your child to measure their waist. Leave as much ribbon hanging down as you want, but make sure you at least leave enough to tie it. I like to tie knots where the ribbon would be tied so I know where my tulle will start and end. Plus, it keeps the tulle from sliding around.

Next take one of your strips of tulle. You want it to be folded in half, (which it probably still is from when you cut the length). Grab that folded side and stick your fingers inside separating the “loop.” You want to make a loop knot around the ribbon. With your fingers in the loop pull the bottom of the tulle through that loop around the ribbon. Pull it tight. Then repeat, and repeat, and repeat until you fill up the stage between the knots on your ribbon or you run out of tule.

Depending on what you are making the tutu for you can add different colors. The dress I was copying had some gold in the front so I added a few pieces of gold tulle to the front area. When you are done you can poof the skirt out and put it on.

Pair it with your shirt and your costume is complete!


-Stephanie Wright

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