CastleFest 2013

Every year, a number of Fantasy and Sci-Fi festivals is hosted in The Netherlands, mostly around castles which, fixed in the background wherever you go, get you in the right mood immediately. These festivals attract a wide variety of people and many of them will dress up as anything fantasy-related. Last year, my mother and I went to one of them, called CastleFest, for the first time – she loves dressing up as much as I do and always wanted to visit a festival like that. We had a great time, and were very popular! We were dressed like bearded ladies and had our photos taken loads of times.

photo by Nick Vermeulen (

photo by Nick Vermeulen (

We had such a good time that we decided to go there again this year. Of course, even after loads of brainstorming all year long we still had to rush our costumes last minute. We decided to reuse the bearded lady look but add some nice home made touches. A nice opportunity for me to get to work again!

I decided on a nice, nonchalant look and set to work. We still had last year’s simple but elegant black corsets and long, chiffon skirts and I decided to re-use those, but I wanted something a little more eye-catching than last year’s wrap blouses. After some web browsing, I  found this ‘pattern’ on Pinterest:

Dress 'pattern' for Keira Knightley's Guinevere dress

I had a good look at it and decided that I could probably use it, that it was simple enough for me to not ruin it. It needed a few alterations though – I did not want a dress, but something more coat- or robelike and it seemed easy enough to realise that by using this tutorial. I went out, bought fabric and gave it a shot. When I was almost finished, my beautiful sewing machine suddenly started smoking and smelling of burnt plastic – it finally gave up. WIth only two more days to go I had to go out and buy a new sewing machine. I chose a Singer Talent, which is perfect for a beginner like myself (very straightforward, and not too many options!)

Yet, the end result was very satisfactory indeed:

I added lace trimming around the edges to give it a little flair. I also added some extra detail to the back, which Ethel is showing right here:


So that was one down, and I had one more to go, and now that I was starting to get the hang of it, things were going a lot faster. I made a couple of photos while following the different stages of the pattern:

I folded the fabric along the middle so the sleeves would be (almost) exactly the same


Cut in sleeves and neckline


shortened sleeves a little


Ethel’s helping me adjust the neckline – I basically folded the coat open a little on both sides and cut off the bits that fell out


I really liked the effect of the ‘open’ sleeves on the original dress. Mine came out looking a little different, but I was happy enough with the results


Roughly gathered the fabric on tiop of the shoulders


Almost done – just needed to add the lace around the edges (and cut off a fair bit around the feet, as you can probably tell)


The lace could be folded nicely down the middle, which I did around the sleeves, as you can see here. This was very convenient for me, as I didn’t need to hem them now.


Almost there!

Almost done! I just had to cut out the ‘triangle’ of pink fabric just above the first V of lace and stitch the lace on. I did that by hand because the fabric was a little stretchy and I was afraid that my new sewing machine and I weren’t getting along enough for that yet. Ethel was very patient with me, luckily. By 2 AM, the day before we were leaving for the festival, I snipped off the final loose thread and was finally able to go to bed, tired but satisfied!

In the end we left off the beards after all – they tend to get itchy and it was a hot, hot day!

The festival was brilliant – great music, good food, amazing atmosphere, the weather couldn’t have been better (mind you, this was early August) and there were loads of beautiful costumes. We’ll definitely be back for more next year and I’m already brainstorming again about the costumes. I wonder what I’ll be posting up here next year!

A small impression:


Photo by Geert Spoor (


Photo by Geert Spoor (


Steampunk Furbies in the Steampunk Garden






Mum during her photoshoot


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