For Elf Fantasy 2008, we decided to do three of four elements. Since I’ve always wanted to remodel my old Sea Elf Dress, this was the chance to do it.

You can read the basic info on the Sea Elf here.

Water Elemental finished costume (April 2008)

Three of four elements. The Air's costume is actually so good that you can't really see her on these pics ;-)

Costume description


I had already started on the belt a long while ago. The chosen fabric was sea green dupioni silk that I had originally purchased to make the matching tunic for the dress (pattern see under Sea Elf section above).

I knew I wanted to add dangling strands of beads (seashells etc.), and I knew how I wanted the overall style to be. I did some first „sea weed“ embroidery in silver thread back in late 2006, then I lost motivation and inspiration – and also, other things grew more important (Sparrow *whistles*) – so I put it aside for over a year, working on the beading only in intervals.

When it became clear that the Sea Elf would be turned into the Water Elemental, I took out my belt and started on it again – this was in February 2008 or so. I finished the remaining beading on the belt, added the beaded shell, the little semi-circular dangles and pearls.
Then I started on the long strands, collectig various kinds of beads, glass, sea shells and so on. Some of them had to be painted in the proper color (the little plastic shells and fishes; and the big natural shells on the ends of the outermost strands). All in all, there’s about 2.000 beads and pearls in this and about 200 real shells or glass pieces.
I did not do the strands symmentrically on purpose as I wanted it to have a bit of a disorderly look, just as if it was flotsam caught in a fisher's net or whatever the sea brings ashore…you can’t control that either ;-)

The belt closes in the back with a velcro closure and is interfaced and lined for extra stability.

Average working time:

Altogether: 1 ½ years
Beading and strands: 2 months


I had a pretty clear vision of the headdress from the start, knowing that I wanted a „crown“ of sea shells on the bottom and lots of hair/ intertwined braids.

It started out as a simple white fleece cap bought from a theatre sale, which was sturdy enough to take all the weight. I covered it in pale blue habotai silk and added a layer of the sea green dupioni that I used for the belt; basically making a second cap after the same pattern that went on the „real“ cap and was sewn and glued into place.

The first thing I did then was making two braids out of loose falls of Kanekalon extensions in „Aqua“. I rolled them into Princess-Leia-style buns and sewed them on to each side of the cap. After that, they were secured and studded with pearl needles (which are great! I’m also planning to use them on my Elizabethan headdress).

Headdress with Leia buns and loose hair, side, stage 1

On that went the first batch of loose hair. I sewed them on in the front and placed them up on top with a hairclip as I would not need them until much later in the process, but couldn’t add them later because they also acted as a cushion and a base for all the rest that was to come. Next, I did the various long braids in the back; making several variations (thick, thin, small, with strands of pearls, woven together…). These were attached by sewing them onto the cap, which was quite difficult from time to time as I had to stitch not only through the silk but also through the dried glue and the fleece. Plus, I had to take care of the loose hair not to tangle too much.

Headdress with hair, first stage, front

Back of the headdress

Next was the row of sea shells in the front, which I wanted to resemble a crown. I bought a sachet of shells in various sizes already earlier on, and painted the best of them pearl green and pearl blue (I actually used silk paint – contour color – because I had that at hand in the proper colors, and it worked perfectly! :-)). Drilling holes into the shells was rather hard work (you won’t believe how hard these little bastards are!). Then, they were arranged in the front, overlapped, partially glued on and sewn on through the holes I made before.

I filled the gaps on the lower bottom with little natural green snails which were just glued on using jewelry glue which is one of the best out there….

What came next? Oh yes, I figured I would like some sort of big mother-of-pearl shells that I could roll the hair onto, a bit like we see on Amidala in Star Wars here with the Lake Gown:

I spent a while searching for the proper shell because I couldn’t remember the name, then I came across a wonderful German shop that has all kinds of maritime things, and here I found the proper thing: Nautilus.

I ordered two of them about the same size (11 cm high) and also a bunch of Turitella (spiral) shells for a crown.

Fixing the Nautilus on top of the headdress was quite a challenge; I had to make holes in the shell as well (always afraid they would break as they looked rather fragile), then I fixed them to the braids with little tapes. Sounds not very secure, but holds up pretty well ;-)


After that, I rolled the remaining hair over the shells, fixed it with pins and hairspray, added a little here and there…and that was basically all. A little waterdrop here and there, some more shells, a crab and a fish.

Finally, I made a 'crown' of pale green and blue turitella shells...placed on a stick and fixed with an alligator clamp and lots of glue -- done!

Average working time: 4 weeks


The dress

As mentioned above, the dress is nothing but my old sea elf dress. I did one thing though and that was adding gores to back, front and sides (4 altogether). I used crinkled silk georgette, dyed 'nile green' in a relatively complex process that involves rolling the fabric, putting it into the color bath and allowing the color to seep up. Thus, you'll get a nice blended color from white to dark green.

I also changed the embroidery at the neckline a bit, adding shells and matching Swarovski crystals.

Average working time: 1 week


The coat

As Elf Fantasy is in April, and in Holland, and as I'm always feeling cold, I took preparations and made myself a coat to go with the outfit - and indeed, I did need it. It doesn't look too good with the dress sleeves stuffed into the coat sleeves, but better than freezing in any case. The coat was made from medium weight linen in sea green. Oh, such a lovely fabric to work with! I used Butterick 4732, which is great. The coat is embellished with a sea green and silver trim and three black iridescent buttons. The needles are still in here, that's why it looks a bit odd...


Average working time: 4 days


I made a matching necklace, earrings and scarf. The scarf is nothing special, just a remnant of fabric leftover from the gores of the dress. The necklace and earrings are here:

I wore a long synthetic wig underneath the headdress and used theatre make-up in sea green and light blue for the face paint.

The mask was purchased on from an artist called Faerywhere (also the masks of the other two elements). She has really great stuff. As the mask was originally a 'dragonfly', I overpainted it a bit with more matching colors and added shells and the little starfish.



I made the bag using Simplicity 4043. Everyone said this pattern is a waste, but actually it is not too bad when you use the proper fabrics. I used the basic pattern for the bag, but instead of outlining the shell structure with sequin band as suggested, I made casings following the design lines and afterwards stuffed it with fiberfill so the shell has a 3-D look.

I used seagreen and ice blue silk to make two different sides. The bag is heavily interfaced with fleece.

I added matching crystal trim on each side (that I had originally bought for the belt) and also some glue-on "waterdrops" that I found by accident and that look quite real :-)

The bad is small, but holds a wallet and mobile phone as well as a small-sized camera.


The trident was made by myself in a last-minute action. It is made from very light wood, double layered, and spray painted silver. For the staff, I used a plastic tube from the sanitary section of the DIY store. It was gray originally, I spray painted it with several layers of pearl green (found at a sales bin in the local craft store - excatly the right color, yay!).

I made a 'holder' of the same silk I used for the belt and headdress, so that my hands wouldn't get green. Then, I used the Tulip Liquid Pearl Glue to make little 'dots', into which I pressed tiny shells, stones, beads and so on...

As the trident had to be detachable from the staff in order to fit into the car, I put it together on location and added the two big shells to hide the joint ~ again using jewellery glue, which is perfect. As a last step, I had bought a decoration fishernet which I cut in two. One half was intended to go on my belt, but I left that away in the end. The other half was draped over the trident to hide the wood structure that could still be seen.

It was a quick thing, but I'm quite content with the outcome... :-)

I also made the staff for the Fire Elemental. I'll add a short write up on that soon...

Average working time:

Mask: 3-4 days (including letting everything dry etc.)
Necklace + Earrings: 1 day
Trident: 4 days

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