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Ghostbusters Zuul Dress

At the beginning of February, I got an email inquiring whether I could make a dress like Zuul!Sigourney Weaver wears at the end of Ghostbusters in time for an Oscar party. I'm always up for a cool project and I let them know that it was do-able as long as I could find the fabric. What I see here is an orange chiffon (possibly with a bit of striping--or that could be in-camera moire) and an antiqued gold liquid lame. (Or it could be a tissue lame, but it seems like it drapes a little heavier than a tissue, so that wouldn't be my top choice.)

[As a rude/smug aside, I googled this dress when I was starting my research and I was blown away by how many versions of this costume I saw where the fabric wasn't even remotely the right color. Am I crazy? It's orange and bronze! Looooooook at itttttt! Okay, I'm done. I'm sorry. I just....]

Anyway, I headed downtown to look for fabric (and eat a bacon wrapped hot dog). Lo, I found pretty much exactly what I was looking for in only, like, the third shop I went into (That may sound like a lot of shops if you've never bought fabric in downtown LA, but they're all right next to each other. It's great.) So I had lots of time to try on cheap sunglasses and laugh about the knock-off makeup. (Naked5 Palette, anyone?)

I sort of started with a pattern for the top but pretty quickly altered it beyond recognition because it needed waaaay more volume. Then I altered it again just for good measure. I think if I made this dress again, I would just start with a t-tunic shape to really get that crazy drape. I cut the top out of the two fabrics and stacked them over each other. Stupid chiffon kept unraveling so I couldn't just serge all the seams together. (Grumble.) I had to sew and then serge. (Chiffon. Gross.) I machine-basted the neck and arm openings just to keep the pieces together.

My original plan was to make arm cuffs but when I went back to the research images, I realized that it doesn't actually have cuffs. So my solution was to just gather the sleeve holes down onto black elastic and turn them under.

That same original plan included a neckband, but that didn't seem right either. I went back and forth about this one, but in the end, decided to make a facing. So I used the shirt pattern and cut a neck facing out of the gold (because you know how I feel about that chiffon). Then I just top-stitched over the facing to keep the neck looking tidy.

For the skirt, I decided to make it a little more conservative than the actual skirt--which is slit up to *here* (imagine I'm making a gesture to where a high slit might be) and is a bit impractical for a casual costume party. I just used a wrap skirt pattern to imply a slit. And if it comes to it, you can still show a little leg. So as much as I like to be pedantic about details when I make replica costumes, you also have to consider the venue and the fit. Sometimes it doesn't work to make it exactly the same.

At this point, I had a small issue. I wanted the gold to face out so that you could see it through the slit of the wrap skirt. But to match the top and get that metallic sheen, it should face in toward the chiffon. The gold fabric I have isn't gold on both sides. It's gold on the front and black on the back. (IS it tissue lame?!???) Damn. I pinned the skirt both ways--first with the gold facing in and then with the gold facing out--and draped it on the dress form to see which one looked better. It's gold out, as I suspected. I realized I would have the same issue when I went to make the belt. Double damn. Oh, well. I know it'll still read. And most people on the internet couldn't even get the colors right, sooo....

That decision out of the way, I stitched the bottom of the skirt, right-sides together and then flipped the whole thing so the stitching was enclosed. Of course, I had to top stitch all the edges because the difference in the weights of the two fabrics would make it lay weird if I didn't. Once that was all done, I ran a gather stitch along the top of skirt.

The plan went like this: make the top, make the skirt, gather the waists of each onto a waistband where the belt will wrap so that the belt doesn't distort the shape when you tie it tightly. For once, everything was successfully following the plan. I made the waistband with two rectangles--4"x20". If I make it any tighter than that, I'm going to have to put a zipper in the waist section and I...I just don't want to do a zipper, guys.

So I cut those rectangles out of each fabric, stacked them and serged them together. Then stitched up the side seams and I had a donut....a cylinder? a circle?...of fabric. Anyway, I gathered down the top and the skirt to fit on the waistband and stitched them into place.

Now, the belt. Like the skirt, I want it to be orange on one side and gold on the other.....Stupid one-sided gold fabric. Furthermore, when I bought the gold fabric, I thought it was 60" wide but it's only 45" wide. My bad. That means when it comes time to make this last piece, I'm cutting really close when I'm, well, cutting it. I get the widest and longest piece I can for the belt. It's 3" wide and about 180" long.

In a perfect world, I think I'd have made it wider. Sigh. But, as is, it will wrap several times with some hang left. That's all I need it do. So, okay. I cut a matching piece of chiffon and stitch them together, then turn the whole thing out with my beloved turn-outer.

Once again, I had to topstitch the whole thing so it didn't look like a balloon animal. It struck me in that moment exactly how damn long 180" is. But, topstitching done, the dress was completed. All that remained was to wear it and look fabulous. A task which I wisely left to this cutie.


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