Star Wars Sugar Skull Dress

Since starting down the vintage sewing route I’ve been interested in making a Squaw dress (history here and some good vintage examples at Mrs. Button’s Vintage Corner). This style of dress is also sometimes called a Patio dress / set or a Fiesta dress. These dresses remind me a lot of dresses and outfits my grandma would wear for square dancing. They were originally local to the southwest but eventually caught on generally. All the pattern companies put out their own versions for the home sewer.

Simultaneous to this I came across this adorable Star Wars Sugar Skull fabric at Joann. Frankly, C-3PO pretty much looks exactly like a sugar skull.

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There was a Vader version also but I knew these were the droids I was looking for. I had to go to multiple Joanns to get enough yardage but I did succeed! I decided that that the Mexican flair of the fabric lent itself to a squaw dress style so decided to do a mashup.

img_0746I opted to use Simplicity 5940 from 1965 as a starting place. It doesn’t have the collar neckline of so many of the original squaw dresses but I thought that the pleats at the neckline could be turned into gathers to give the dress a peasant blouse feel.

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I went ahead and did a mock up of the bodice, sewing it as is. It turned out so well, if a bit generous at the neck, so I opted to finish the dress. I was not able to use the skirt from the pattern because I did not have enough yardage so I made a gathered skirt from two 45″ wide panels.

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For the Star Wars version I converted the pleats in the bodice front to gathers and closed the keyhole neckline. I also omitted the back zipper as I had no problems putting the test dress on over my head. Being short, I opted for a two tier skirt. The top tier was 1/3 of the skirt length and two 45″ panels gathered. The bottom tier was 2/3 of the skirt length and four 45″ panels gathered. Since the arrangement of the droids on the fabric is quite orderly, sort of like stripes, I made some serious effort when I cut to try to keep things sort of even across my panels. That was a pain but worth it in my opinion.

All that was left was to add on the trademark ricrac. I did three rows at the neck and bottom but only two at the hip. I thought three rows at the hip was just too much. I love the gold metallic. It really pops against the busy print and it’s shiny like C-3PO!

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While I was working on the dress I discovered some awesome “tiki Vader” jewelry by Etsy seller Fancy Fruits. The flower, necklace and earrings were perfect for this dress. On theme and on point! I finished the look off with my wide red belt from Kohls, a red plastic cuff and wedge sandals from B.A.I.T.

I had originally planned to wear this dress to DragonCon but I didn’t finish it in time. Instead I wore it to Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA). My husband (RBC Image) was also there as a photographer so I had him take a couple of shots for me. He wanted me to stand in to test the lighting anyway!

I’m still interested in making a more faithful Squaw dress with the trademark collar in a solid fabric. My Star Wars dress turned out so cute though, I’m considering another using the gathered neckline and tiered skirt. The force was with me on this one!

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4 comments

  1. The sugar skull fabric is outstanding, perfect for the garment style. I’d never heard the term “patio dress”! As someone who grew up in 1970s Arizona, land of patios, that phrase means something to me. The rick-rack, and the accessories you chose, are fantastic complements. Great photos, as well. This is one for your eventual coffee-table book of fashion!

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