Home-made jewelled tiara, shoe clips, bracelets & wrap. Bridal, Ball, Prom & Party Accessories

These are the extras I made to go with the evening gown, bridal, prom dress or party frock I wrote of in my previous post. If you have just landed on this page and haven't read the latter then you might want to go back and read about it here as it also contains the tutorial on how to make the fabric flowers for the tiara, shoe clips and ribbon bracelets. I am mainly using repurposed materials and at very little cost.

How to make a beaded tiara - refashioned recuperated material
actress wearing a refashioned beaded tiaraRebecca Tierney as Elsa, the Magic Maiden, in a scene from The Golden Goblet wearing the tiara. It is formed on a cushion, like an old European crown and the hair goes up through the centre. It also can give a trompe l'oeil effect of a bun with a tiara on top.
Thus if you have short hair but want to have a different look, you can achieve it by pulling your hair back à la Holly Golightly. As I wrote in my previous post this ensemble was made on a very limited budget for a film company, with the whole costume, dress and accessories, costing around 10 Euros/dollars/pounds. The tiara in fact was made for very little, being mostly upcycled cheap or old broken jewellery. As with the dress, the cost is in the time taken in the design and creation.

Tiara Design, Inspiration and Materials

I was asked to make a golden crown for the character of Elsa and I toyed with the idea of using fabric (in this case lace) and a PVA glue and paint mixture. I had used this method before when making hundreds of fabric roses for a department store window display. However, as this was to move and be affixed to an actress's head rather than be immobile, I thought I should make something along the line of a royal crown, complete with faux ermine band and half-arches of 'gems'. The design on the left is by Dior. I also wanted to continue my original inspiration of the swan and the ballet and create something delicate and filigree in nature. The crown above right is interestingly a Wedding cake topper made of rhinestones!

The materials I used were; for the band, a left over scrap of faux fur from a hat I had made. For the crown I used various bits of broken necklaces, beads and buttons recuperated from a defunct Primark beaded cardigan, a very ugly late 50's beaded bodice and a contemporary chain and bead belt my cousin had given me. I also had some feathers from a Christmas garland. I used quite a fine gauge of jeweller's grade brass/bronze wire, which meant that I could finish my tiara with some tear drop beads which would move and shimmer suspended from the visible fine wire, with a pleasing effect. Using gold or silver coloured wire allows for a filigree tiara, where the wire looks like an integral part of a golden or platinum/silver crown!

Tiara Construction

I started by getting all my 'gems' sorted and where needed, broken down into individual elements. I also used what I had available to plan my design, rather than the other way round. I began by sorting out the main signature beads and the spacers I needed to make the circlet and then working out how many beads and in what combinations I needed to finish the remainder of the tiara. I had decided to create my circlet or base, out of the beaded belt previously mentioned and then build onto that five crown half-arches which would finish in my tear drop beads at the top. It is much better to plan how many and of what you need first, rather than work the tiara out as you go along and then find yourself short of key elements! In effect, I had more beads than I needed laid out for use, just in case. As I was breaking up a chain belt, I also had a handy pair of long-nosed pliers to help open up the links.

The circlet was created from six strands of wire to make a good strong band, I checked to make sure that all the beads would thread through this. I also verified that the five amber beads, which formed the base of each half-arch, could be threaded with an additional strand of wire. I worked out how much wire I would need to make the half-arches and cut that in readiness, five single thickness lengths in all.

I designed more symmetry into the tiara to contrast with the total asymmetry of the dress. I also wanted a graduation of dark to light within my crown, so was using a scale of amber and gunmetal colours, following up to crystal and amethyst. To help with the illusion, I chose beads to mimic the colour of real gem stones and of course, pearls!
making a circlet for a tiara

I could now go ahead and form my circlet and then set up my wires, ready to create the half-arches of the crown.

With this now complete I went on to construct the faux fur band. I measured the circumference of my circlet and then worked out the rectangular piece of fabric I needed.

With right sides together, I sewed this at one end and down the main seam and then turned it inside out.

Using a handy wooden chopstick, I stuffed this tube with all the bits of fabric I had left over from my fabric flowers.

I then finished it off by adding a Mediaeval touch by winding some gold filigree and beads or rather a piece off one of the strands of the Christmas ribbon I had purchased in a final 'everything must go' sale.
how to make a tiara - faux ermine band
This also meant that I would then have a handy anchor to affix my feathers and flowers.

I then folded in and sewed the two ends of the tube together to form my crown band.

How to make a beaded tiara from recuperated materials
I now started to work on the half-arches of my tiara, it is an idea to keep the wire reasonably taut and you can achieve this in your design by having certain key fastening points such as I did with a pearlised button. However, just by twisting the two wires together you can also keep your design in place.

How to make a beaded tiara from recuperated materials
Don't worry if it moves out of line as you are working on it and building the half-arches. Part way through, mine began to resemble rather colourful spaghetti. However, as long as the wires are kept taut, the tiara will pull itself 'square' at the finish.

I then built up the rest of my design, using the 'ermine' band as a touchstone to check how the finished tiara would look.

How to make a beaded tiara from recuperated materials
I finished off the top of the tiara with my tear drop beads, twisting the wire that held each of these beads into a large loop to allow for movement. I was then ready to sew the circlet on to the  'ermine' band. This was then decorated with two fabric flowers and two faux swan's feathers from a Christmas garland.

Actress wearing beaded tiara from recuperated materials

If you are making this as a present, or as I was sending it through the post, or even just putting it away after you have worn it, it is a good idea to stuff the inside of the crown with tissue paper to keep everything in place. Most vintage, costume jewellery tiaras I have come across have suffered badly from 'metal fatigue' by being repeatedly crushed and then formed back into place.

The Wrap

I chose a piece of spider web tulle, I just bought a half metre for a couple of Euros and then drew the ends together and finished each with a tassel  from my cut price Christmas decorations. This looked really delicate on film but might look too garish for a wedding or party, however there are some really fine sequinned tulles which would work perfectly with the gown and I also made a wrap for my own wedding with a piece of devoré velvet. The great thing about wraps or stoles is that you need so little fabric you can actually get some really good quality fabrics for a few dollars/pounds/euros.

Shoe Clips and Ribbon Bracelets 

shoe clips made from recuperated materials and scraps
flower bracelet refashioning project
The shoe clips were based on pairs of 'angel wings' I bought in the last day of sale Christmas decoration bonanza and two more 'swan' feathers from a garland. I made two sets, one for Elsa and one for the Faerie Queen. I simply added a fabric flower to each and they were sewn on to the ballet shoes in Scotland. The flowers were also used to make simple ribbon bracelets, I had first seen these in France many years ago at a friend's wedding where she had them made up in the heavy silk of her wedding dress. She gave me one to wear later at my own wedding as my 'something borrowed'.

Sometimes it does us good to have a little whimsy in our lives and even if I don't go out to feed the chickens in my tiara, well perhaps that's because I just can't be bothered to make the effort. Who's to say though that sometime in the future, I just might.

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Above, Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire feeding her chickens in a ball gown. Photographed in 1995.

Please also feel free to ask questions or make comments in the section below.
All the very best,

Thanks for Pinterest board images
- In order of appearance: arts-wallpapers.com, r1ma.blogspot.com, decoratingstudio.com and sotherbys.com

You can find these and more on my Pinterest board: Inspiration for Costume

© 2016 Sue Cross

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