“To be seen as we truly are, is the biggest risk we will ever take. Will we be enough as we really are?” ~ Cinderella
As you may know, I’ve been interested in the costumes of Cinderella for over three years. In those years, I’ve done hours of research trying to find detail photos and information.
Now, I hope I’m able to explain all that I’ve learned about Ella’s Work Dress in an understanding way!
This dress has a flare of Georgian fashion with its tightly gathered skirt, wider neckline, and smocked bodice. Lily James wore a corset throughout the whole movie which means the work dress was worn with a corset. I believe the fabric used is cotton voile for the outer fabric.
As I just mentioned, the bodice has a wide square neckline. On the edge of the neckline, there is a ruffled edge; around ½” wide. This piece is slightly gathered and uneven at that.A detail I discovered recently: Along this ruffled piece there is also a coral/peach piping.The bodice is smocked in the front. It’s tightly smocked at the waist and slowly loosens until the smocking ends just under the bust.From how little the fabric is gathered at the neckline, I would guess that the pleats are fairly small (maybe 1/8”?) With an up-close photo of the smocking, I counted 112 pleats.
At the waist, the bodice front ends in a slight point.The bodice fastens at the back with hooks and eyes. In this photo you can see a few edges of the hooks.There seems to be a piece of boning along the top edge of the closure. You never see this edge wrinkle and it looks quite rigid.Like many historical designs, the shoulder seam dropped towards the back of the shoulder.The back seams are curved. Again, much like historical designs.The bodice is most probably under-lined (a standard cotton sewn in with the bodice pieces), as well as lined.
The sleeves are always rolled up which makes them ¾ sleeves. At the top of the sleeve, we see a sort of puckering in the fabric.This stumped me for awhile until I came upon an even closer picture of the sleeves showing slightly shiny lines. My guess: thin shiny, satin type thread sewn on the top of the sleeves with a slight tension to slightly “smock” the fabric.The sleeve/ shoulder seam is very slightly gathered and we see a coral/pink piping at this seam.From the above picture we see the hem of the sleeve. It is small, probably ¼”. Also from the way it’s poking out, there seems to be vent, at the sleeve cuff to allow the extra width when folding.
The skirt is quite full, around a 5 yd circumference, and is just above ankle length.The waist is so tightly gathered that it make the skirt poke out. The top inch of the skirt seems to be smocked. I believe it’s cartridge pleated.The hem is small, probably 1/4” and is hand sewn.Ella’s skirt is decorated with flowers. The colors in the flowers are coral, darker shade of coral, tan, and green. Evenly spaced, are a total of 8 sections of flowers along the skirt.
I’ve traced the pattern of the flowers and I will be hand applying these flowers to my fabric, possibly with DecoArt Effect Ink.
Ah, I just gave it away! Yes, I am planning to make this dress and have been for two years! But this year, I WILL make it. (maybe).
In the future I will be doing a post on using the ink. At the hem of the skirt, there’s a roughly 2” section that has a pattern of leaves. It isn’t very noticeable due to the color of the ink, it’s only slightly darker than the aqua/blue color of the dress.
The whole dress has small flowers on the fabric in an even pattern (roughly 4” apart). I will also be using DecoArt to apply these flowers.
We see this underskirt in quit a few scenes, especially when she meets Kit in the forest.It seems to be a light blue, possibly an aqua colored. It seams to be a thicker fabric, not sheer. I guess it’s a standard combed cotton, the bodice lining could be the same as this underskirt fabric. I will also be hand dying this fabric to get the right color.
The hem is thicker (around 2”) and looks hand sewn.
As I mentioned before, we see a chemise poking out of the bodice front.We also see this in the back.I believe the chemise is full length. In the photo below you see the under most part of the skirt and what you see is a cream with texture much like the chemise you see on the bodice edge. Also, you don’t see the blueish skirt (discussed above). The chemise has no sleeves and has a drawstring neckline. The drawstring looks as if it’s a satin type string and is quite thin.
Now let’s discuss what Ella wears with her work dress, such as her aprons. We see a total of two aprons worn, one that is quite full and tightly gathered at the waist, and one that seems to be her nicer apron without many gathers and has a decorative hem.I’ll first discuss the one that has tight gathers. This apron is seen mostly when Ella does hard work.The waist is gathered much like the bodice of her dress and might be considered smocked. The band is roughly 3” wide and there’s ties (maybe ½” wide) attached in the middle of this band of gathers.The apron’s waist is only on her front and dose not wrap around her sides. The apron’s length is just a tad shorter than her dress. My estimate is that the fabric consists of a yard and a half of fabric. It seems to be a thicker cotton in a orange/brown color.The second apron is worn in happier times and was also worn by her mother (which I recently discovered).Being light weight, the fabric is slightly sheer and is a coral color. Consisting of roughly a 1/2 yd of fabric, the waist is only slightly gathered. A ½” band attaches the apron skirt to the ties. The apron skirt covers the front and slightly wraps around her sides. Falling roughly 6” above her dress hem, the hem is covered in embroidery.The embroidery consists of mostly small, eyelet type holes and is done in lighter coral thread. At the hem, there is a light purple ¼”, trim.
“Are these all you have?” questioned Ella’s fairy godmother, referring to Ella’s shoes.Ella is seen wearing the same shoes with her work dress throughout the movie. Being simple flats, there’s not much to them. The tops seem to be made of canvas fabric and the soles, of leather. Binding the top edges seems to be twill tape. The only embellishment the shoes have are simple bows made of cording. But I have a surprise for you!The shoes are painted! I picked up this info from the photo below. On the inside edges, where the color ends, the line is uneven and does not end were there’s a seam. Originally, the materials must have been white (due to the visibly white inside) and then the outside was painted all the same color.I hope a conveyed all there is to know about Ella’s Work Dress. The beauty in this simple work dress is just multiplied with the costumes in the rest of the movie.
I am currently in the process of making a replica of this dress and I will posting my progress as well as my process for replicating the various parts of this dress. If there was anything I didn’t explain well in the study, please comment below! I will do my best to help!
Thanks for looking and learning with me!
Love this costume study! Her work dress is my favorite because of its simplicity and detail. So beautiful! I can’t wait to see your replica.
This is a great analysis of the costume! My guess is that the “chemise” is actually more like a tucker and she’s wearing a different, separate petticoat than the one that you pointed out earlier. Because of how well fitted the bodice is, I feel like having a full length chemise would add extra bulk and mess with the tight fit. But that might just be my opinion.
I’m looking forward to seeing your recreation of this dress! It’s going to be lovely!
Ah, yes! This is something I’ve been debating! It very well could be a chemisette and another petticoat. I think I’m going to create a “fitted” chemise bodice attached to a gathered, full skirt. That way there’s less pieces to the outfit. But yes, thanks for bringing this up!
About the shoes. There’s a photo of Lily in an all white version of this with white flats. I’ve taken it as a mock-up or a look at what became her under layer for the dress.
Yup! Almost certain that pic is of the mock up of the costume!
Hello!! I noticed in your blog that this outfit was not made!! I would love to make myself one! Is there any good patterns, or other resources, that can give me a good start to putting this dress together! I was not sure if you had gotten that far in your research for this dress or not!! I am hoping to hand sew it, so it’s going to be an adventure, but I was not sure if there were any good historical patterns you would recommend that could help me get started!! Thanks so much!!
Ya, this dress hasn’t been made yet. But I am planning on making it be the end of this year! I haven’t looked into patterns because I’ll be drafting my own, but I did get started on fabric and dyes. I decided to use a cotton mull for the dress. I purchased some here: https://www.fabricuk.com/fabrics/404-cotton-mull-sheer-cotton-fabric.html (They don’t give a shipping option to the US, so I had to contact them to order.). But I also found some here that’s a little more expensive, but a wider width: https://maiwa.com/products/fabric-cotton-mull-white
And then I plan to use dyes from https://www.dharmatrading.com/ I haven’t decided on the actual dye color yet (still have to do some testing) but I’d be using there “Dharma Fiber Reactive Procion Dyes”
As I mentioned in the post, I plan to use the DecorArt Ink…after doing some testing, I’m not 100% sure I’ll be doing this. But I’ll be playing around with it some more (plus trying to find some other options) before making my final decision.
And as I mentioned for the pattern, I’ll be drafting it. But for the back of the bodice, you’d probably be able to find a victorian type pattern that has a similar back with the sloped angle of the side back pieces. And then for the front, I’d just try playing around with. large piece of fabric, smocking it and then see how it fits with the back pattern (if that made sense!)
I’m so excited to see how you make this dress! I’m looking into creating my own version of it at some point, and would love to know how you think they achieved the fullness of her skirt. It’s such a beautiful shape! The cartridge pleats certainly help, but do you think she’s wearing a very full petticoat underneath? And if so, how many yards of fabric would you guess?
I can’t wait to read more about your process! Especially regarding the painted flowers.
Yes, I do believe that there’s a full petticoat underneath…that blueish green that peaks out of her skirt while she’s on her horse, I think that’s the petticoat! As for the how many yards…I would say maybe 4?
And I’ll be sharing my progress of this dress on YouTube…I’m planning on making it after I finish her ballgown!
Hi! I the fabric I picked for the underskirt is a 98%cotton and 2%lycra, and has a sateen finish on once side, its what I’d imagine would be considered cotton sateen, it’s heavier than most cotton bedsheets, do you think it’s weight would negatively effect the flare of the skirt? I picked it because it wasn’t see through like most of the normal cottons That were available at the fabric shop nearest me, I got cotton voile for the outer layer.
I’d hate to make it and have it not flare nicely because of the weighty fabric.
Hmmmm, I’m guessing that might be a bit thick…it’s probably not going to have the same movement. I would look for a combed cotton!
As stunning as the ballgown is, this was actually my favourite dress from the movie. I am thrilled that you’re going to make it!
Would you consider providing a PDF of your pattern for sale? I want to make this dress myself, and judging from what I’ve seen of your skill, a pattern of yours would be great to work from!
I have been following your YouTube channel for a while – thank you for providing lots of inspiring content for a new seamstress 🙂
Yes, as much as I love the ballgown, I really do like this dress just as much!
I’ll be starting my replica journey after I make the ballgown (so probably would around Jan/Feb of the new year.) And yes, once I make the dress, I will make a PDF pattern!
That’s wonderful! I’m so glad to have you on this journey!
This is amazing Isabella, I definitely agree that this is my favorite dress (followed closely by a tie between the wedding and ball gowns) so I’m so glad you did a detailed breakdown. I feel like this is one of those dresses that you could wear on the daily not just as special occassion beautiful costume pieces, but as ones you can enjoy out and about on the regular.
Consider me another passenger on the “absolutely-making-one-for-myself” boat!! This costume study is super helpful. I can’t wait to get started!
As a note, I’ve found a few reference pictures that look like the peach piping is also present along the top line of the skirt, where it meets the bodice. The little details I keep discovering on this dress are so fun. The costumers went all out in ways that they totally didn’t have to, and I’m having so much fun discovering their little gems!
Can’t wait for your PDF pattern and YouTube video. ?
Have you started on the dress yet? I’m
Oh so excited to see your progress. I found out I was pregnant right after purchasing some fabric to start making it, and am waiting till after the baby’s born To try and make the dress. If you make patterns for it I’d definitely be a customer.
In the mean time, You have encouraged me to practice some of the techniques used like smocking, cartridge pleating, and corset making, while I wait for my body to return to a more normal belly to bust and hips measurement. I have been enjoying your work/youtube so much recently.
I’ll be starting on it this summer and will be sharing the process on my YouTube!