Moonrise Kingdom dress: Channeling Suzy Bishop with Simplicity 1913


(Note: Additional photo added 21 April 2014)

To mark the opening of Wes Anderson’s new film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, Dublin’s art house cinema The Light House held a special Anderson-movie-themed costume party on Friday night. I’ve never sewn a costume from scratch before and thought it might be fun (and challenging!) to try it.

After a quick Google Image search of Anderson’s film characters, I thought Suzy Bishop’s yellow dress from Moonrise Kingdom could be a pretty close match for one of my patterns, Simplicity 1913. I’ve made it up once before, but had issues with the upper back being a bit loose (which in retrospect I’ve put down to the semi-disaster that was my invisible zip insertion!).

Moonrise Kingdom DIY

So far as I could tell from hazy screenshots, Suzy’s yellow dress has princess seams in the bodice and an A-line skirt with a really short hemline. The dress also has a white collar and white cuffs. I was only able to find this strong buttercup shade of yellow in a heavy-ish cotton (it’s not very soft to touch and looks susceptible to piling). I thought I’d be more likely to wear it again if I made the cuffs and collar as separates – and kept the hemline at a more comfortable length! I lined the bodice with some light grey anti-static lining I had already, but skipped lining the skirt to save time.

Now, I really can’t remember why on earth I bought a collar pattern, Simplicity 1727A, when they’re pretty easy to draft by yourself. I think it was back when I was planning to learn dressmaking but hadn’t started, and was looking out for discounted simple patterns that could be made up myriad ways and worn in lots of different outfits. I hadn’t tried it before, but being tight on time I thought this would be a good opportunity to give it a go! I also adapted this pattern piece to make the cuffs.

I definitely got a much better fit with Simplicity 1913 here than the first time out – I still haven’t mastered invisible zippers but I had a better idea of what I was at this time around. Now that I’ve actually used the collar pattern, I can think of dozens of really cool variations using sequined fabric, animal prints, embroidery, beading…so many options!

Moonrise Kingdom dress

Moonrise Kingdom cuff

Moonrise Kingdom collar

The collar is attached to a neckband which closes at the centre front with a button. I left it untied and tucked in under the dress (it fits tighter when I’m inside it!) to look more like Suzy’s collar.

Skills learned: Making neck bands and pointed collars.

Recommend patterns?: I think you could probably draft a variety of lovely collar shapes by yourself, but I have to say that I found Simplicity 1727A really easy to work with and will use it again.

Some of the directions on Simplicity 1913 were a tad confusing (especially the parts about the bodice lining – I ended up just doing my own thing to line and finish the bodice), but I think this is a really nice dress design. Interestingly – and usefully – the pattern includes a good array of suggestions and pattern pieces for customising the dress. It always feels like much better value when a dress pattern comes with alternative skirt or sleeve options!