Thursday, December 27, 2012

Effie Trinket

Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games.

I've always loved The Hunger Games book series by Suzanne Collins, and when they cast Elizabeth Banks in the role of Effie Trinket for the films, I couldn't have been happier. Then the production photos started coming out, and Effie's Capitol couture was just so decadent that I knew I had to make something. It wasn't until Costumer's Guide and Costumer's Closet found the actual brocade at Michael Levine's in LA that I settled on this one. Although, really, "settled" isn't the right word. This costume piqued my interest right from the get-go, and I was so excited Maggie & Loren found THE fabric.

The costume itself actually took about two weeks total from start to finish, which might make it the fastest complete costume I've ever constructed. Rad!

Photo by Patrick Sun. Dragon*Con 2012.

The beginnings of draping.

The Dress:
Is actually a two-piece construction! Well, the way I did it, anyhow. Makes it way easier to get into and out of.

The pattern was draped from scratch, and it's basically a simple pencil skirt with a full, gathered bubble skirt over top. As for the bodice, when I began to drape the pattern, there were absolutely no images of the back of the costume online, and the film was in that limbo between leaving theaters and coming out on DVD. So I made an educated guess based on what I could remember from seeing the movie once in theaters, and then got really lucky! It's a racerback bodice to accommodate the halter-style collar and bared shoulders.

Skirt nearly complete, bodice in the early stages. 
I made the skirt first, since I figured that maybe if I kept procrastinating on the bodice, an image of the back might appear as if from nowhere. Plus, I knew the skirt was going to be pretty quick and easy! The most difficult part was getting a feel for the fullness of the bubble layer. That just ended up being a lot of trial and error. 

I studied the Effie production photos to figure out approximately how they draped the bubble bit, and by looking at the flowers for way too long, I realized the whole bubble skirt was actually constructed on the bias. Makes sense: 1- the drape ends up being prettier, and 2- you don't get an endless repeat of flower pattern straight across the hips. I added fullness by sewing netting to the pencil skirt (otherwise the bubble just droops sadly over the hips, and that's just not cute!)

The skirt closes on the side with a zipper in the pencil skirt, and then the bubble has a slit that snaps closed. 

Completed dress.
Finally, unable to avoid putting off work on the bodice, I draped the sleeves and the collar first, then built the rest of the top. The brocade is so flimsy and slippery, I flatlined it with satin coutil. And I carefully studied the real costume to see just how close I could get the placement of the floral pattern. I'm sure no one even cares, but I'm crazy OCD like that. Embarrassing!

It closes up the side with an invisible zipper. 

The belt was made using the 2" belt kit from Maxant Button & Supply Co., and it was a royal pain, since that brocade frays like you wouldn't believe.

The gold contrasting fabric is a beautiful silk satin from Elegant Fabrics in NYC, but it's bit dark. I'm thinking about re-doing the collar in the future.

The Shoes:
Another Costumer's Closet find! $35 on eBay! They are the best cheap McQueen knockoffs, made of horrible beige PVC reptilian material, with a zipper just short enough to make putting them on really uncomfortable. I spray painted them gold, then aged them with black acrylic paint so they'd more closely resemble the actual $1000 McQueen booties.
The real deal: McQueen booties.
The Accessories:
The earrings are vintage button clip-ons that I had in my stash.

For bracelets, she wears a hammered gold cuff with big gems on her right wrist, and boxy amber cuff on her left. I found the bracelets in the cheapo-jewelry district in Manhattan, so I had to do a little bit of improvisation. The big cuff is pretty spot on for what she actually wears, but the other bracelet doesn't really match the screen accurate one at all.

She has a little rhinestone applied on her right cheekbone. I had some AB Swarovski's in my bedazzle bin, so I just stuck that on with eyelash glue.

The socks are semi-opaque pale pink ankle socks I found on eBay.

The hair flower was made with the same contrasting silk satin I used for the collar. The stamens were purchased from Tinsel Trading Company, which is a store to die for. (For anyone who dabbles in millinery, or just wants vintage trims & appliques, I cannot recommend them enough.) I cut out 12 petals in 2 sizes, curled the edges, gathered them on one side, and stitched them all together. Then I added a bow of horsehair to the underside so that I could pin it into the wig.

The Wig:
Was custom dyed and styled by a wonderful friend of mine. I'm so grateful to Kevin for his help, because I am absolutely clueless when it comes to hair. He really went above and beyond, and I could not have done it without him.
Photo by Patrick Sun. Dragon*Con 2012.
This is the first costume I actually went out of my way to have photographed by a pro. Patrick Sun (patcave on flickr) took an hour out of his busy schedule to accommodate me one busy Dragon*Con afternoon, and I'm so, so thankful that he did. It's nice to actually have clear, crisp, (PRETTY) visual proof that the whole ensemble came together, and in a fantastic, Capitol-esque location like Atlanta, no less! I felt completely silly (I'm way better at design and construction than I am at wearing/modeling), but Pat was unbelievably patient and encouraging, and it did pay off.

For more photographs, you can check out: 
Pat's flickr galleries (he's so talented; check out his other con photography!)


  1. This is one of the best Effie costumes I've seen. It looks like a lot of work, but you did a fantastic job!

  2. Girlfriend, you know how I feel about this one. You totally knocked it out of the park, as usual!!!

  3. Hey Betsy! Any chance you would consider selling your Effie costume? You did such an amazing job! I've been looking for one/trying to make one and nothing ever comes out as good as yours. Please let me know ASAP! :)

  4. Would you have any idea where to find the fabric again? I'm trying to navigate the costumer's closet to little success. Did they have it listed? I'm having no luck!

    Your costume looks amazing!

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    2. I think this fabric has long since sold out everywhere, sadly. :(

      (I've been looking, for a friend's costume, and had no luck.)

  5. Betsy, this is all amazing. I was looking at this due to trying to help a friend put together this same costume. What was the brand of those shoes that look so much like the McQueen peep toe booties? They are truly spot on, it's amazing. Good job on the painting, it's not easy painting shoes.

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  7. I was wondering if you had a pattern for the bodice that I may use or know a good one to find?

    Also how many yards of fabric did you use for the whole costume?