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Deconstructing Wendy: Peter Pan Costume Analysis
This is a costume analysis for Wendy Darling, the eldest of the Darling children in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. I will stick to Disney's version of Wendy, as this is the most iconic dress for the character. Please feel free to use these details and suggestions when creating your own costume for dress-up fun or cosplay.
All images used were captured from Walt Disney's Peter Pan, released in 1953. I do not own nor pretend to own the rights to these images. They merely appear here for reference and remain the property of Walt Disney pictures.
Wendy's dress is very simple. It's supposed to be. It's a nightgown. It is designed as a simple rounded neckline dress, not form-fitting, but not a large, twirling skirt either. If you look closely at the photos below, you can see that the dress does not have a waistline. The ribbon creates a sort of false empire waist. It is also a simple dress without a lining or petticoat.
That being said, a costume worn by someone out in public may need some adjustments. A ribbon-only waist will likely not stay put, so in creating your own you may wish to put in a slightly gathered waistline. You may also choose to line the fabric if it's too thin on its own, as Wendy herself I'm sure would agree it to be very unladylike to show ones undergarments.
These are some nice starter patterns to give you a base. Some adjustments will need to be made.
Simplicity 9497 is a child sized dress pattern (available in sizes 3-14). The skirt is much fuller than what is needed for Wendy, so adjust accordingly. The sleeves and bodice look great. Another option is New Look 6959. This skirt uses several pleats instead of gathers, and with some modifications would also be a good pattern to start with.
I found an very similar costume on a historical pattern site. The high waisted dress here: http://www.longago.com/regencychildren.html.
A great adult option is Simplicity 4055 (sizes 6-20). The pattern is designed with buttons on the back, but that's easily replaced with a zipper for a more streamlined look.
Adjust skirt to be more stream-lined, without the bulk and gathers on this pattern. Available in child's sizes 3-6, and 7-14.
Available in sizes 6-12, and 14-20. Ignore buttons on the back, and instead insert a zipper.
Available in child's sizes 3-8.
Constructing Wendy's Dress
I used the historical pattern from http://www.longago.com/regencychildren.html. But it ended up having way too full of a skirt, so I reduced the fabric when cutting out the pattern so the gathers wouldn't be so bulky. I also pulled a bit from Simplicity 9497-A, comparing the pattern pieces and mixing when appropriate. I constructed out of 100% cotton, using Joann Fabrics Country Classic line, which had a naturalness to the grain that I liked for Wendy, being turn of the century as well as a nightgown. I lined the dress completely in the same fabric, since the fabric is rather thin on its own. Bought a spool of thick ribbon in a coordinating color for the waist tie and used the rest as a hair ribbon.