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Dark Cathedral Dress for Zombie Shake Rochelle Goyle

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Rochelle Goyle in my handmade custom Dark Cathedral dress.

Much like the Getting Ghostly Draculaura I blogged about recently, this Rochelle doll was part of an Ebay purchase I made ages ago. I've opted not to remove her factory paint because I love the little cracks all over her face and body, but I did want to make her a custom dress. And since Rochelle is a gargoyle, what better to use as inspiration than a dark cathedral? I've always loved studying architecture, and gothic architecture in particular is so much fun. So extra! This theme let me go crazy with the ornamentation, and fits especially well with the spooky season this month.

Click through the cut to see the rest of the TONS of pictures I took, plus details of how I made everything!

This dress actually exists in several parts. The skirt was crazy enough on its own that instead of making it into one piece, I made it as a skirt and shirt ensemble. It's mostly based on Requiem Arts' Dolloween design, although after several window panel tests, I had to modify the "leaves" to accommodate the windows I was adding in the middle of them.

Me holding the dark cathedral skirt, showing off the stained glass panels inset into each panel

Each of the "stained glass" panels is made from clear acrylic that I took from my Wild Hearts crew boxes. I drew the designs on paper to start out with, and taped the acrylic over it. Then I traced over the designs with metallic black puff paint and let it dry. I tried going over this at first with both sharpie and paint, but the puff paint ended up looking the most realistic. I had also initially tried coloring the individual pieces of glass with alcohol ink, but it just wasn't vibrant enough for my liking. After making several test windows, I found that a half-inch puddle of clear Mod Podge mixed with several drops of acrylic paint created the perfect consistency, and looks the best when dried.

A close up on the Skull design

After the puff paint and acrylic/glue mixtures dried, I made the skirt panels from black fabric. I had created a pattern in the shape of the final window out of paper, and I traced these onto the inside of the skirt panel using chalk, then cut them out leaving a 1/4" seam allowance. I sewed the edges back basically using the same techniques you'd use for applique, just without the applique fabric added behind it.

A close up on the traditional window design. This one is the tamest, so I added it to the back of the skirt

In order to attach the acrylic windows to the fabric, I took the paper pattern again and placed it on top of the acrylic, so that I'd know which parts would be showing on the final dress. Then using my awl (basically a pointy metal stick), and working on top of some scrap cardboard that I didn't mind ruining, I punched holes around the edge of the pattern about 1/8" apart. I used these to sew the fabric and the windows together. Below is a pic of the underside of the skirt, and if you open it in its own tab and zoom in, you can probably see where I made these stitches.

Underside of the skirt, showing the stitching and how it all fits together

Using hot glue, I attached a couple of layers of curved craft foam around the arch of the windows to mimic the arch that you usually find at the top of gothic windows (I'm sure it has a name, but I don't know what it is!), and decorated the sides with additional craft foam and plastic jewels that I painted to match the dress.

Close up of the largest panel, with a moon design and a smaller detached window towards the bottom

I had originally intended to flip those windows, and have the arched part towards the top, but I eventually realized that because of the shape of the skirt panels and the way skirts are constructed, that wasn't going to work. Fortunately, I think the silhouette of the final dress is very elegant.

Full dress shot

The shirt she's wearing is pretty standard, but keeping it simple prevents it from distracting attention away from the rest of the outfit. It's a basic sleeveless tank top, dressed up with some gathered black lace. Probably the most difficult part of the shirt was getting the snap closures to fit around her wings :-)

Close up of her shoulder/chest cover thing

My googling has taught me that the chest/shoulder cover I made for her is called a "standard," and is a piece of armor that remains unattached from a helmet, and usually can remain stiff on its own. This one is made from cardboard, craft foam, hot glue, and extra findings I had in my supplies. I added it because she seemed incomplete without something around her neck, and I wanted to mimic those arches again on her shoulders. In the middle, below the gems that match her skirt, there's a little arch cut into the neckline. I put this on her shoes as well, because it reminds me of the "oculus" circular windows that you often find at the top of those beautiful large stained glass installations.

Close up of Rochelle wearing her shoes

Her shoes may be the piece I'm most proud of-I've made lots of doll shoes, but getting that heel/foot angle on Monster High dolls is always SO HARD. This is the first time I've nailed it. They're made from cardboard, toothpicks, hot glue (of course), and card stock. I used the decorative tops of my toothpicks around the uppers to mimic the look of gothic towers with their ornamentation and extra columns.

Me holding the tiny shoes

Closeup of one shoe

They stand on their own!

Her crown is made with pretty much the same materials, plus some wooden beads, lace, and face rhinestones:

Crown close up

I didn't get a picture of it, but I left a very small pocket in the back of the crown for a straight pin. I pushed that pin through her head in order to secure the crown on her head.

Rochelle with her crown

Next I made her a lantern. You can't tell here, but I've painted the "flame" inside with glow in the dark paint. It's a soul lantern!

Close up of the lantern I made

Cassius the Gargoyle

Each of the original Monster High girls usually came with a pet, and Rochelle's original pet was, of course, a gargoyle. Buying them used, however, means I usually don't get these extras (and I don't think the Zombie Shake girls came with pets anyway), so I decided to make my own! Cassius, as I've named him, is made from polymer clay on a tin foil base, and is brushed with a bit of shiny silver paint.

Cassius the Gargoyle

Don't they look cute together? I think the pictures of the two of them are my favorites!

Rochelle holding Cassius

Below is the only closeup I have of her staff, which is made from polymer clay, paper, cardboard, and a ton of paint. The face is meant to mimic the whimsical carvings that are often found at the tops of doors and windows in gothic architecture.

Staff closeup

I'm really proud of all the separate elements that I put so much work into, but I think the full effect once it's all assembled is even better! What do you think? I'm super happy with her, and I think it suits her character pretty well.


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