Sunday, December 31, 2017

Princess Leia's Bespin Costume--If Star Wars Took Place Around 1800...


For Costume College 2016, Jen Thompson had a fabulous idea--historical versions of Star Wars costumes. I wanted to participate, and was thinking of what to do, when on the way to the Jane Austen Evening (perfect!), the idea of Leia's bespin costume as Regency popped into my head. After all, if you look at it, it practically is 1790s with its overdress, and, well, overdress. Definitely workable, and daydreaming made the trip so much better.

My idea for this dress was to make a dress that would fit into the Regency period, yet be recognizable as Leia's costume as well. To do this, I made a typical c. 1800 round gown, with a sleeveless overdress based on period overdresses. Dresses with paisley borders--made from shawls or in imitation of shawls--were popular, and I decided to imitate that look by embroidering just the hem of the overdress instead of continuing it up the whole back of the dress. The back of the overdress is pleated--like many original dresses, and as a nod to the collar of the movie costume. I considered putting a collar on the back of the overdress, which was seen on originals, but I decided I liked the pleated look too much to cover it.

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In addition to wearing this to Costume College, I wore it to tea at the Huntington before the 2017 Jane Austen Evening. Once again, I was so lucky to have pictures taken by my friend, Llyra Lee. I couldn't have made the dress without help from my friend Maggie who made a beautiful version of the dress, and helped with my embroidery design.

Construction information for the dress can be found here, including some details from my visit to the Fashion Museum in Bath earlier in the year. My journal for the dress is here, and details most of my thoughts as I made it. The silk taffeta is from Fabric Mart, the voile from Farmhouse Fabrics, and the linen lining is from Burnley and Trowbridge.


The pleated back of the dress is one width of fabric, neck to hem. It's pleated to fit the linen lining. The bun and braids is a hairpiece. To make it, I took two long pieces of braiding hair, braided the center, leaving the ends loose, looped the braids, attached them to each other, and made a bun from the loose hair. I then covered the bun with an invisible hairnet which I sewed over it to keep everything into place. From there, I just pinned it on.

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My shawl is made of three yards of voile from Dharma Trading. I used a Rebel Alliance stencil from CeeCeesSpecialties on Etsy for the pattern, which I painted with gold Lumiere Fabric paint and DecoArt SoSoft Fine Glitter. I traced the design on and then put it in an embroidery hoop to stabilize it as I painted it.

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The pendant I wore with the dress--a silhouette of Han and Leia--was made by CrystallineFairy on Etsy. The Rebel Alliance pin that can be seen in the pictures from the Huntington (I forgot to bring it to Costume College) is from the 1997 rerelease. I bought it on eBay.

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With the novel reading heroines of the Regency in mind, I decided I needed a book as a prop. I bought a small book from VersLibris on Etsy and added a title plate for Dagobah Abbey using double sided tape.

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The garters are based on a pair in the Victoria and Albert Museum. They say Je T'aime and Je Sais (I love you, I know). They're silk, interlined with cotton flannel, embroidered with Au Ver Au Soie embroidery thread, and trimmed with China silk ribbon from Silky Way.

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My reticule is based on early 19th century inked bags. I browsed through memorial art until I found a design that I could reasonably imitate with my drawing skills, and dedicated it to the memory of Alderaan.

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The embroidery is done with wool from my local embroidery store. It's all done in back stitch.

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And worn with two different groups--our Star Wars historical group at Costume College, and our Regency group at the Huntington--I think it fits in nicely with both!


  1. This is insanely fantastic! A great homage to Star Wars and a beautiful regency look.

  2. Inspiring. The thought you put into your costuming is as thrilling to this Reader as yoyr beautiful outfits

  3. Hi, i'm a student of fashion in Barcelona and I would be happy to interview you about the Victorian Era for a work of class. Please if you're interested I can pass you the questions by mail. Thanks :)

  4. Hoorray! I've been looking forward to reading about this one.
    And of course, you can use the dress separately without the robe in a different context! I love it. (Thanks for the construction details in the other post, too, that's probably going to come in handy).

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  9. Hi Ms. Caron Greig. Nice dresses LOL

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  12. The post is really great and it is very nice to read and getting information

  13. I plan on attending the Jane Austen Festival in Bath next year and I am also a HUGE Star Wars fan. This whole idea has be so intrigued. I am going to go thru different costumes from the movie and see how I can Regency"ize" them. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

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