Meria (Brave) Dress

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Pixar has been an inspiration to me with the way they used technology to revolutionize animated films and have consistently created well-developed characters and stories.  Brave is a lovely story about family, and Merida is a heroine who grows and learns over the course of her story.

Matching the color of her dress was very hard! Realistically, her dress would have been made from wool, but being vegan (and living in Florida), that wasn’t an option. Linen was my fabric of choice, but I soon learned that finding the perfect teal color in any fabric was going to be a challenge. I like the teal linen I ended up with, but it is a bit lighter than most of Merida’s pictures. In the movie, her dress changes colors a lot depending on the lighting. It ranges from blue to green and light to dark, with dark teal being the most predominant in pictures. My fabric photographs less teal and more blue, but it really is teal! For the faux underdress, I used a barely-off-white linen. In retrospect, a more delicate fabric for the faux underdress would have been prettier.

merida web big

I used the McCall’s M6817 pattern and had to do several alterations to it. If I did it all over again, I’d do even more changes to the pattern to make the dress more authentic.

mccalls 6817

Modifications to the pattern:

First, very obviously, the pattern has a contrast fabric at the bottom and decorative trim, which Merida’s dress doesn’t have. This pattern is more like the dress worn by Merida at Disney World than Merida in the movie (more Renaissance and less Medieval). I wanted movie Merida, so I made those changes right off the bat. I simply bought an extra 7/8 yard of the main fabric and didn’t buy a contrast for the bottom, or decorative  trim.

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There are some problems with the sleeve puffs in the pattern, as far as accuracy is concerned. Well, first of all, for complete accuracy, the off-white material showing through should be from the underdress. This pattern uses a faux underdress, only having the off-white in the places it shows through. I like the faux underdress for 2 reasons: Less money on fabric, and Florida’s heat.

The big problems with the sleeve puffs are their size and the manner in which the shoulder one is attached. First of all, the shoulder one should be *much* smaller. If you look at Merida’s pictures, that top one is barely poking through. The other problem (and I’m going to do my best to describe this) is that the way it was attached, it pokes straight out along the horizontal plane and doesn’t mimic what an underdress poking out would look like at all.

merida dress in progressTesting out the new sleeve design

What I did to fix it (after installing it according to the directions and not liking it) was to make it like the elbow ones, where it’s basically a piece of the off-white fabric connecting two pieces of the teal fabric on either side. I made it closer to the size of the original puff, though, which made it a lot larger than I would if I remade it entirely again (but I don’t have enough teal fabric to re-make the top sleeves again, so it’ll have to do).

All I did to correct the shoulder puffs was to cut off the top portion of the (teal) top sleeve, and then use that as a pattern to cut the off-white (plus a small seam allowance for attaching the puff to the top sleeve). I then attached the faux sleeve ties to the off-white, attached it to the top of the top sleeve, and then attached the whole piece to the armhole of the dress. I would recommend taking off no more than 2 inches from the top sleeve for the off-white part. I made the shoulder puff several inches long, and it’s much bigger than Merida’s shoulder puffs are.

Similarly, the ruffles around the neckline that are supposed to simulate the neckline of the underdress are much larger and poofier than hers appear in the movie. After attaching it as the pattern indicates, but not being happy about how much it stuck out, I simply lowered the placement of the trim so that less of it stuck out from under the teal and trimmed the excess.

The dress itself also ended up HUGE, which I guess is common with McCall’s patterns. I ended up taking several inches off in alterations. But better too big than too small!

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I had a fantastic time being “Merida” for the night. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is by far my favorite event and being able to dress up makes it the absolute best.

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