Padme Amidala, Naboo Lake Retreat Dress
Source: Star Wars Episode II (Attack of the Clones)
Completed: April 2006
In May 2006, I travelled to Italy with my boyfriend Matt - we visited Villa Balbianello, on Lake Como, north of Milan. It is where the 'Lake Retreat' and 'Secret Wedding' scenes from Episode 2 were filmed. About three weeks before we left on our trip, I had a sudden idea to make the Lake retreat dress that Padme' Amidala wears. I had never tried anything like it before, and really had no idea how I would make it. It was an interested learning experience, and had me stressed at times on how I would accomplish it, but it was well worth it, and really neat to be able to stand in the same place as Padme' in the same dress. But of course the best part was when Matt proposed to me while we were standing in the same spot where Anakin and Padme' were married :)
I was still a novice sewer, and didn't use a pattern. I took an old sheet and wrapped it around me, then basically kept cutting bits off until I had a halter-neck dress. I tidied up the shape, made it symetrical, and used it for the pattern. I used a polyester satin for the under dress - as I had a 3 week deadline, I had to go with whatever suitable fabric I could find at the time. The over dress is polyester chiffon, two lengths attached together down the front and back. I got several meters of ribbon, folded it in half and sewed it along the edge of the chiffon.
I had no idea how to get the colour gradients, so I initially was going to leave it as a pale yellow version. But after some investigation, I decided to try fabric paint. I found some sprayable pink and purple fabric paints, and after some experimentation on the best techniques, I ended up sponging it on by hand, using water to dilute it to get the gradual effect. I did this after I had completed the dress - it was easier seeing on the dress where the colour was meant to be, but it meant I had to be very careful not to get the paint on the rest of the dress!
The neck piece is made from styrene - Matt and I worked on a template with cardboard, then cut the pieces out of styrene. He took each piece and heated it with a heat gun, to shape it/bend it slightly, then dipped in cold water to keep the shape. He hot-glued all the pieces together, and spray painted the neckpiece gold. He then cut out shapes of paper to fit over each section, and painted them with pearlescent paint, and glued them in place. We attached two gold necklaces at the back to attach it round my neck. It is held in place at the front with velcro dots to stop it shifting.
The arm bands are also made from styrene - Matt made templates, used the heat gun to bend and shape, then spraypainted gold, and small sections of paper painted with the same pearlescent paint were glued on. These slip up my arms, and are attached to the dress with velcro dots to hold them in place. The arms/sleeves of the dress are held up with a loop of elastic around my arm, and domes to keep the ribbon around my arm. I gathered the fabric on my arm, adjusting it until it looked right, laid cellotape on it to hold it in place and then carefully sewed over it, taking off the cellotape when it was finished.
Looking at close reference photos of the actual costume - there are little details where the dress is gathered at the back and front. I found little shell flowers at my local sewing/craft shop and glued/sewed these in place. I made long strands of white beads and attached these at the front and back as well.
The hair bands are just that - hair bands. I bought two and hand sewed purple ribbon over them. I took some of the extra white beads from the strands and carefully glued them in place. I took two small hair clips and did the same with them, so I have 4 purple bands in my hair. Unfortunately when I wore this costume at the Villa we didn't have a lot of time to get ready (and no mirror), so I wasn't able to get them all in my hair.
Worn at - Armageddon Auckland 2006.