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Making Belle’s Beauty and the Beast Live Action Movie Yellow Ballgown Part 1: The Pattern & How I’m Adding Sleeves

In a previous post, I talked about making Belle’s yellow ballgown from the live action version of Beauty and the Beat. When I saw the dress, I, like a lot of people, didn’t like it. To me, it looked more prom dress that was inspired by Belle’s ballgown than Belle’s actual ballgown. It didn’t fit it very well with the other character’s costumes and the time period those costumes are inspired by. Despite this, the dress began to really grow on me. In fact, it grew on me so much, I purchased a Simplicity sewing pattern of the dress and fabric to make myself one.

Even though I felt very ambitious to make the dress, I ran into a few problems. At the time I decided to make the dress, I had some problems with my weight. It turned out it wasn’t extra weight on me, but a serious side effect of a health issue I was struggling with at that time. After this was discovered, I began to shrink in size until many of my bigger clothes no longer fit me. Since my size was fluctuating, I decided to postpone making the dress until I felt more comfortable with my body and my size was either stabilizing or was steadily getting smaller.

After years of waiting, I decided to finally make the dress this year. The only problem is my health problems also caused me to have a skin condition that flares up every now and then. The most obvious area effected by the skin condition is my biceps. Since this dress is sleeveless, I needed to look at my sewing pattern and figure out how to add sleeves to the dress. That way I could wear the dress without feeling self continues about my arms.

First, I wanted to show what the dress should look like. I debated if I should find a photograph or still capture from the movie, but I decided to use a quick, not to scale sketch of the dress instead…

Like I already mentioned, the dress has no sleeves. If I can feel comfortable wearing the dress, I want to add sleeves. After thinking about my skin condition and where on my arms I would like the sleeves to cover, I decided to try to use elbow length sleeves with a flounce at the end of it.

After deciding on the type of sleeves I want to use, I drew another quick sketch to show what the sleeves would look like on the rest of the dress…

I really like the sleeves on the dress. It looks similar to McCall’s pattern M5731. The pattern makes princess dresses and comes with a similar style sleeve. I really like the pattern’s dress design for fairy tale princess dresses, so I’m very happy with the way this dress looks.

The pattern I plan on using to make the dress is Simplicity’s EA840401. It is part of their print on demand line of sewing patterns. I purchased the pattern originally when I purchased the fabric for the dress and still have yet to use it. I originally wanted to use Simplicity’s widely available dress, but I’m worried they are no longer printing it because of the pandemic. I couldn’t find it on Simplicity’s website, so I decided to use the print on demand version instead.

As for the sleeves, I needed to find another sewing pattern with the style of sleeves I want the dress to have. Even though I like the style of sleeves I’m adding to the dress, I need to be careful what sewing pattern I picked to make them from. The reason is because these sleeves come in two different styles: One with one side seam and one with two side seams.

In order to describe what I’m talking about better, I decided to use Patterns of Fashion 1 by Janet Arnold. It is a book well loved by historical costumers and has sewing patterns of actual historical clothes found in museums across England. The sleeves of many of the dresses in this book are the original versions of the sleeves I want to use to make for my Belle dress.

The first style of sleeve has one side seam, located in the back of the arm…

Here’s what the pattern looks like…

This style of sleeve is not the kind of sleeve I want to use. It limits arm movement and, whenever I suffer from a flare up of my skin condition, it isn’t that comfortable for me to wear.

As for the second style of sleeve, it has two side seams. They are located on both sides of the arm….

Here’s what the pattern looks like…

This style of sleeve is the one I want to use. It allows for full range of motion for my arms and are extremely comfortable for me to wear.

Even though these patterns are historically accurate, I won’t be using them for the Belle dress. The reason is due to the arm hole in the bodice. The Belle sewing pattern is different than the ones in Patterns of Fashion, which could cause the arm holes of the historical sleeves to not fit right when sewed onto the bodice. I would like to use a sewing pattern that is more contemporary that the ones in Patterns of Fashion. It probably won’t fit perfectly right away, but I can adjust it easier than the historical ones.

Well, that’s all for now! Thank you for reading!