Saturday, April 1, 2023

My Sister's Senior Prom Dress - Hermione's Dress with Belle's Skirt

Hemming miles and miles and miles of organza last month was not in my plans. But when your little sister happens to be a senior in high school (how?!?!?) and prom happens to be happening in March, how can you say no to making that dream prom dress of hers?!?!?

You can’t.

And that is how I ended up hemming miles of organza.

I made the dream prom dress in 3.5 weeks, it turned out exactly the way she wanted, she looked like a princess wearing it, and I intend to avoid organza for a while now.

(Although there are two little girls in my life who absolutely adored the dress that I might have to make miniature versions for. . . We’ll see if I’m crazy enough to do it.)

So exactly what was this dream prom dress of my sister’s?

Hermione’s Yule Ball dress from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in blue (the color it was in the book, in the movie it was changed to pink), with a fuller skirt.

Once I got past the initial “You want me to make WHAT in less than a month?!?!?” I set to brainstorming patterns and thinking through fabric requirements while my mom and sister searched out fabrics - baby blue satin for the bodice and the base skirt, baby blue chiffon for the flutter sleeves, and three different shades of blue organza for the skirt. They found the satin, chiffon, and navy blue organza at Hobby Lobby. The other two shades of blue organza could not be found locally and had to be ordered online.

As for the patterns, I told my sister to go look through my pattern stash and find Simplicity 8404 - the live action Belle dress from the 2017 movie. With very little alteration I could make it work for a very full version of Hermione’s dress’s skirt. (This is the pattern I used for the bodice of my wedding dress - but I hadn't used the skirt for anything yet, so I was excited to try it out!)

As for the bodice pattern I just told her to search my stash - I was sure I had some sort of cupped bodice pattern that could be easily altered to get the look we were going for. She found M6331 in my stash which worked perfectly! It offers different pattern pieces for A, B, C, and D sized cups which made things way easier than a single cup size pattern would have for this style of bodice.

With the patterns and fabrics decided on, my sister came to visit for a day so we could get the bodice fitted to her and cut out the very full skirt.

While my sister cut out the skirt pattern. . . 

I made some alterations to the bodice pattern to give it the shape we wanted - a basque waist and more triangular shaped cups.

Then I made a quick mock-up out of an old sheet.

My sister tried it on and we made a few alterations - taking in the waist and the bust, letting out the hips, and cutting the back into four pieces, rather than just 2 with darts.

I took apart the mock-up and traced the pieces with the alterations onto some paper to make a new pattern, then used that to cut out a second mockup from the firm cotton I intended to use for the bodice interlining of the final dress.

This mockup fit much better - it just needed to be taken in a bit in the hips and bust.

I marked the alterations with pins while my sister was wearing the mockup, then cut them and transferred them to the paper pattern I’d made. The bodice pattern was now good to go!

As for the skirt, the Belle dress had 3 tiers of organza, and we wanted atleast 5. So I measured and marked 2 additional tiers onto the pattern pieces, and my sister traced those new tiers onto tissue paper so we would have pattern pieces for cutting them out of the organza.

Once that was done the cutting out could commence!

We laid out the 6 yards of blue satin on my living room floor (good thing we still haven’t bought a couch!) and got all 7 skirt panels cut out - with only one needing to be pieced together. (7 or 8 yards of fabric would have been better than 6.) 

When that was done there were some fairly large scraps for me to cut the bodice from.

Next we laid out the navy blue organza for the bottom tier and the skirt lining fabric. 8 yards of organza yielded the 6 skirt overlay panels needed. As for the lining, I ran out of the lining fabric I had on hand, so 3 of the skirt lining panels are different colors. Good thing no one sees it!

My mom was absolutely wonderful and helped me cut out all the big panels.

Once the other two shades of organza arrived in the mail a couple days later, I got those tiers cut out too - thankfully those panels were small enough I could cut them out on my dining table rather than crawling all over the floor. However, if still took 6 yards of royal blue organza to cut out the two middle tiers and about 3 yards of baby blue for the two top tiers. This skirt was a fabric hog!

Nothing drove this point home quite as much as all the hemming did - hemming layer, after layer, after layer, of organza! So much hemming! And once the first 4 tiers of organza were hemmed, I still had the bottom layer of organza, the satin layer, and the lining to hem. So. Much. Hemming.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. . .

The hemming happened in the evenings - at home at the sewing machine. I brought the bodice pieces with me to work, to hand sew while the kiddo was otherwise occupied. First I basted all the satin pieces to the firm cotton interlining.

Then I machine sewed the bodice together one evening and added boning channels of cotton ribbon to all the seamlines. The bodice would be boned with heavy duty zip-ties - affordable and easily available!

The cups were pinned, basted, and then finally handsewn in place. 

The mock-ups had shown me how hard it was to get those cups smoothly sewn in, so I wasn't taking any chances with the final dress - hand sewing gave me way more control. 

I had the perfect shade of blue silk thread to do the hand sewing with - and it would be used a lot to finish this dress!

Once all the layers of organza, except the bottom tier, were hemmed, all 5 layers were basted together, gathered up, and sewn to the bodice.

All those layers proved to be rather unruly, and some seam ripping and re-sewing was required before I was satisfied.

So when it came to sewing on the satin skirt, I did that by hand with a backstitch. Just as strong as a machine stitch, and way easier to control!

At this point I took the dress back to my parents' one weekend to have my sister try it on so I could mark the hem and figure out the strap placement and length. I just marked the hem of the satin skirt while my sister wore the dress, then used that as a template to even up the hemline of the bottom layer of organza.

After hemming the other 4 layers of organza, I was tired of doing roll hems, so I opted to use some navy lace seam binding as a hem facing for the navy organza.

I used some vintage bias hem facing from my stash for the satin skirt hem. 

Based on the number of packages of hem facing I used up, this skirt hem is over 10 yards long.

So. Much. Hemming.

As for the sleeves, I used the "back drape" pattern piece from the Belle pattern as my starting point.

I cut it into the shape I thought it ought to be, then hemmed the sleeves. (Yes. more roll hemming of finnicky fabrics. I love my sister.) 

I made the shoulder straps out of strips of satin wrapped around cotton ribbon for stability. 

Then I hand sewed the chiffon flutter sleeves to the straps.

The dress lining was installed - cotton for the bodice lining to avoid sweaty-ness, and a regular polyester lining for the skirt, and I bound the top edge of the bodice in satin bias tape - a detail my sister and I thought would look nice.

 Once the binding was on the straps with the sleeves were handsewn in place.

The final bit of sewing were some hand sewn eyelets down the back of the dress so it could be laced up - and these happened the day before prom.

The next afternoon my sister did her make-up, I did her hair, then I laced her up into her dress.

And she looked like a princess.

The dress was everything she wanted.

I'm so glad I was able to make it for her!

The silhouette,

The fit,

The way all the different fabrics work together, 

This dress turned out just perfect!

Absolutely perfect!

My sister made herself a matching shawl to ward off the evening's chill.

It was the perfect finishing touch!

After pictures, we got the princess bundled into her carriage and she was off to the ball!

Where I hear she had a fantastic time!


  1. Wow, so beautiful. Loved seeing all your steps and the results! Very well done, lots of love and careful stitches make for a priceless dress!

  2. Gorgeous! Labor of love.

  3. It's beyond beautiful, and your skills in dress designing and dressmaking are amazing. Your sister , in this gown, would be the belle of the coronation ball for King Charles III.

  4. Amazing! Love the theme and all the detail you showed.

  5. Incredible!!!! Beautiful, heartfelt and precious memory for both of you

  6. Incredible accomplishment in a short period of time given the complexity of the dress and the fabrics. What a treasure from you to your sister. Congratulations!

  7. Wow, well done! Congratulations to your sister and you on the dress making. Regula

  8. This elegant gown with it's wide skirt reminds me of the dress Julie Styles wore to Prince Edward's Coronation ball in The Prince & Me

  9. I love it, it looks so nice on her! I'm just getting to the stage in my own sewing skills where I can draft, cut and paste patterns, and fit okay, so I loved reading the post! Congrats to your sister as well! And just in time for the King's coronation. ;)