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Princess Bride Costumes

Updated on November 8, 2015

Every year our local Planned Parenthood holds a Halloween costume ball as a benefit, and we always wanted to go, but we usually go to Disney for Halloween, and can't do both. This year, we lucked out and were able to go. Now we have a list of couples that we would love to dress up as, but there was one that stood out: Westley and Buttercup from Rob Reiner's "The Princess Bride." It's just about the perfect movie: action, romance, adventure, humor. It has great characters, eternally quotable dialogue, and one of the best sword fights ever filmed.

The hero, Westley, wears a costume that is fairly straightforward. For most of the film he wears a black pirate outfit, and those are pretty easy to make. With every costume there are things you can make and things you have to buy. Fortunately, I already had a pair of black pirate-style boots from a previous costume. I also went out and purchased a pair of black gloves that were sold as Darth Vader gloves. I also purchased a domino mask. I always feel that as much of your costume should be homemade, but there is no point in reinventing the wheel.

I used the McCall's pattern because it's a very simple straightforward pattern. The pants are simple drawstring pants, but wide the leg, giving it a flair. As always I put pockets in the pants. You have to keep your wallet somewhere, right? The pattern also calls for a sash, which is just a large rectangle, and a head scarf, which is a triangle. I want to mention that when dealing with black fabric, I would advice not to use pieces from previous costumes, but rather make all pieces from scratch. This is because black fabric fades and you want to make sure the different black pieces match.

I noticed that Westley's shirt had a bit of fringe on his shoulders. You can see it in this photo:

I added a little fabric to the shoulders, folded in pleats. I also used black grommets from the collar and covered buttons for the cuffs. All in all a pretty easy cosume to make. Usually I would add a black belt and a leather frog to hold the sword, but bringing a sword to a crowded party is just asking for trouble.

Buttercup was a different story. There is no pattern for this costume, so we had to find a few patterns that we could combine. Hollie noticed that the dress itself has an Empire waistline with gathering at the waist and shoulders. We found a pattern that would work.

The nice thing about this pattern is that it has different cuts for different cup sizes. Anytime you're making a new pattern, and especially if you're combining more than one patters, I would advise doing a trial run, a mock-up in simple muslin, which only costs a few dollars a yard before making it in expensive fabric. I made the top twice before getting it just right. We didn't use the midrift pattern, keeping the waist clean, but gathered.

Buttercup's sleeves are volumous, but gathered at the wrist. I tried this McCall's pattern in mockup, but it was too tight in the shoulder and bicep area. I altered the pattern using the sleeve piece from the simplicity dress, making the sleeve wider. It worked. I hand pleated the end of the sleeve and put a cuff on each end. I added grommets to the cuffs, lacing them with red suede.

For the back, I created a false panel to cover the modern zipper. The idea was to make it look as if the costume was laced up the back. I used this technique on Hollie's Merida costume. Start with a rectangular piece and then add two strips on each side with grommets, then lace with leather or suede. Once complete, sew one side to the dress, and use velcro and snaps to close the other side. This way you have the old fashioned look of a lace up dress with the convenience of a modern zipper.

For the belt I made a strip of long red fabric, 100 inches long. Hollie found a trim she liked and I hand sewed it on to the belt, as well as adding tassels. For security, I added a snap to the back of the dress to keep it secure. Hollie added a Juliet cap that she ordered from a seller on Etsy.

We looked great. Everything fit and we danced the night away!


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