This year for Halloween, Mathilda requested a Bride of Frankenstein costume. Which is a lot more specific than previous years have been, and doesn’t relate to a specific movie or tv show…but I enjoyed the challenge.
She really wanted the classic look made famous by Elsa Lanchester. To create this look I started with the main part of the dress.
I used the Peasant Dress bodice from the book Little Girls, Big Style by Mary Abreu. I love this book and have used the patterns in this regularly for over 5 years and running – you can see a selection of them at this link here.
The pattern only goes up to a size 6, but Mathilda, who is 7 and normally a size 7, is slim and narrow, so I knew that this would still fit. I did add additional width to give a fuller look, I extended both the back and front bodice pieces by about 8cm at the centre. I didn’t alter the sleeves at all, and used the short sleeve length.
To extend the dress to floor length, I measured Mathilda from under the arm to the ground, and added the right amount of length at a slight a-line, and then curved the front hem slightly, and gave a larger curve to the back hem to create a small train.
The dress came together so quickly – nice and easy sewing, lots of straight lines there.
I used an old sheet to make it and did basic elastic casings at the neckline and sleeves.
I found the wig at a local $2 shop, it isn’t quite right – its more Lily Munster than Elsa Lanchester, but that’s okay – after all, Lily was married to Frankenstein’s monster too, just in a more comical and slightly less frightening way.
Making The Sleeves
Somehow Mathilda knew all about how the sleeves had to be bandages – I was hoping to get away with wearing a plain white t-shirt underneath, but nooooo…now I had to make bandage sleeves.
So, after searching through all my local shops, hoping to somehow find a kind of “mummy sleeves” and coming up short, I thought about for a bit and decided that I already had all the materials I needed to make my own from scratch.
To start, I made some upper-arm sized elastic loops (exactly the same size as those I used for the peasant dress, in this case 9 inches) and found some old fishnet stockings (which I think were left over from my debutante days – fashions were strange back then).
I folded the tops of the stockings over the elastic and stitched the casing closed with a zig zag stitch. I wasn’t too precise with this, it was stuffed up under the sleeve of the dress, this just had to be functional, so it didn’t need to look too pretty.
Next, I measured the length of the arm and cut off the toe section of the stocking, and cut a small opening in one side for the thumb.
I used the arm from one of my mannequins as a model.
Then, I took an old scruffy crepe bandage and stitched it to the stocking, starting at the top.
I wrapped the bandage around the arm, stitching randomly as I went. I didn’t stitch it all over, I just did a stitch here and there to hold it in place, so that it has a dishevelled look.
(Note: as I said before, I used the arm of a mannequin – I wouldn’t attempt to do this while it was on the arm of an actual child!)
And I think that this came up quite well in the end.
And now for some spooky photos. I put some very basic face paint on Mathilda, just some all-over white, dark shadows on her eyes, and a touch of blood red on her lips.
I had a bit of fun using some of the black and white effects in my photo editing software. The plain grey of the fence behind where she was posing worked well for this.
I may have watched too many Japanese horror films in my time, but she looks really quite creepy to me.
And this is her classic move pose:
Next up…a much more cutesy Halloween costume.
And a quick note: Mathilda picked out the Frankenstein Trick or Treat bag – we all loved that she was carrying around her husband’s head!
Thanks for reading.