Costume Tips

Angie Pontani

By Angie Pontani

bio: International burlesque sensation Angie Pontani performed at Zemeckis’ first book signing for Behind the Burly Q in NYC at Moschino. Known as the Italian Stallionette. She is a multi-award winning performer, including Queen of Burlesque, Miss Exotic World as given to her by the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.


A Gorgeous gown? It’s SEW SIMPLE!


(Photo caption) I added this thin layer of gold tulle to this vintage gown, fast at easy! Photo by Orlando Marra)


Gorgeous custom gowns can cost a fortune, yet they are an important go-to staple in many a showgirls closet. Having an array of them doesn’t have to send you to the poor house, in-fact, you might have everything you need to whip up one by yourself right now, and if you don’t, I can pretty much guarantee a trip the thrift store and JoAnn’s fabrics will sort you right out and cost you less then a gross of Swarovski crystals!


Ladies and gents, enjoy one of my favorite sewing sneaks, costume cons and penny savers…..The Gown Maker!

(Red Dress Caption) In this gown cheat, I created pleats in the net that I added. (Photo by Chris Chen at the Birchmere)



1 Mid Length Cocktail

6 – 30 Yards of 54” Net or Tulle ( Net is more stiff, tulle is more “fluff” , you can mix and match or tailor to your style preference. Obviously the higher your yardage, the fuller your skirt.

Needle & Thread

long dress maker pins


This next part is SEW easy!

1- Fold your tulle or netting in half. Depending on the look you desire, you can ruche it. You want your finished tulle skirt to be the length of the circumference of the bottom of your cocktail dress.

* Ruching is when you gather a fabric to create fullness, there are tons of great tutorial videos on you tube that can show you this process in 3D. It can be done by hard or machine. I prefer to ruche by hand!


2- Once your tulle or net is ruched, using your extra-long dress maker pins, place your cocktail dress on a hanger or dress form (inside out), and begin to pin it to the hem of your dress. You’ll want to pin it about 1/2” into the dress so that you are not pinning it directly to the hem.



3- Sew it in! You can do this by hand or by machine! Working around the bottom of your dress, securely stitch your new mermaid skirt into place!


4- Depending on your height and skirt length, you may need to “hem” your tulle or net skirt, simply have a friend mark your desired length and snip off the excess with a sharp pair of scissors!



I LOVE this method and have a made many a gown with it!  Including the one that I won the title of Miss Exotic world in! Once you are comfortable with the process, you can experiment with making different types of gowns, not just a mermaid, you can use this method in a variety of different ways! This is one of my favorite cheats, I hope that you enjoy it too!