Of all the Disney princesses, Pocahontas is perhaps the most underestimated and impressive, in my opinion. She is the real deal, straight out of American history! Not that an animated children’s movie did the best possible job at transferring a real life impression of her true story. However, it is still a visually appealing treat and well-crafted interest point from which to find an incentive for reading up on the factual tale of Pocahontas. She is portrayed as resilient, compassionate, understanding, beautiful in her selflessness, and remarkable in the way her life had a notable impact. Yet, she is relatable royalty, and quite down-to-earth for a princess, er…daughter of the Chieftain. For all of this, Pocahontas is coming sooner than later as part of my ongoing “Pandemic Princess” blog series.
As a girl who has grown up with a deep love for getting out into the local wilderness to enjoy the wonders of nature, the 1995 Disney version of Pocahontas is my sister spirit. I for one certainly know the ‘river is not steady, but always changing’ after exploring the same waterside haunts all my life. I never know what surprise will be waiting for me each time I go. The creek never looks the same for each visit. There is always different animal activity. Yet, for as much as I relate to, and enjoy the song “Just Around the Riverbend”, this outfit is more inspired by the theme of the movie, “Colors of the Wind”. My top has a Pocahontas-worthy magical breeze of leaves sweeping across it, complete with a sneaky silhouette of both Flit the hummingbird and Meeko the raccoon. My skirt is a rich color akin to the natural ‘gold’ of the earth the Native Americans prized so highly – ‘Indian corn’, also known as maize. My earrings are vintage turquoise cabochons from my own grandmother, a hint towards the necklace Pocahontas wears which was her mother’s.
Yet, because the sequel in 1998 “Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World” is my favorite over the original, we took our pictures in a winter setting. As much as I feel ‘at home’ visiting our local waterways, I especially love the hushed, majestic beauty of a wintertime creek. This way I could wear cozy boots and also take full advantage of the combo of prevalent snow and mud to do some critter tacking! Being inspired by the ‘post-John Smith’ part of Pocahontas’ tale prompted me to make some related outerwear to go along with this outfit. This outerwear will be in a follow up post. Hint – it will be London inspired!
FABRIC: top – a custom printed Spoonflower polyester crepe de chine; skirt – a golden mustard color slubbed linen-look polyester
PATTERN: The blouse was made using a “Quick and Easy” Butterick #7490, year 1955, and the skirt pattern was Simplicity #3626, year 1961.
NOTIONS NEEDED: one long separating ‘sports’ zipper, a waistband sliding hook n’ eye, a vintage metal 7 inch zipper, bias tapes, and lots of thread
TIME TO COMPLETE: Both pieces were quick to make – the blouse took me 4 hours and was finished on January 25, 2021. The skirt was made in 5 hours and done on November 5, 2020.
THE INSIDES: Both items have cleanly bias bound edges inside.
TOTAL COST: The Spoonflower fabric was about $20 for one yard (with a sale discount), and the skirt fabric was a remnant cut from a rummage sale – thus practically free. The long separating zipper for the blouse was a bit of a pricey buy, so my total for this outfit is about $27.
Just like the last time I sewed this same blouse pattern, my Pocahontas set is an outfit composed up of two different one yard cuts of fabric – so economical! The skirt was easy-to-make. These one yard pencil skirt patterns from the 50s and 60s always look nice, are so versatile, and are pretty simple to fit. Yet, the pocket details alone took up most of the sewing time spent. The blouse was comparatively fail proof as I knew what to tweak this second time around so it would fit me perfectly. It’s happily comforting to have standby separates to sew, but they are even better when princess inspired!
I steered away from any ethnic references for this “Pandemic Princess” outfit (out of respect for the Native American culture). Instead I stuck with pure aesthetic reasons. To me, Disney’s Pocahontas inspired clothes should be earthy in tones and comfy to wear. Here I have both needs fulfilled with a dash of vintage class through choosing two favorite styles of mid-century era patterns in my stash. The added fact I was working with one yard cuts of fabric was also a great restriction. It forced me to hone down my separate pieces into both a wiggle skirt and a simple, cut-on sleeve blouse. However, I was not forced to scrimp enough to leave out the fantastic skirt pockets – yay! I also made the most of the top’s border print, too. When my arms are open, it seems as though I have a wave of wind going across me to send off as a goodwill blessing, just like in the end of the first Pocahontas movie.
There isn’t much I changed, eliminated, or added here – just the almost-unnoticeable small details. First, I’ll talk about the blouse. To accommodate the border print for the blouse layout I desired, I had to slash the underarms to make the pattern resemble a “T” shape. I probably would have done this adaptation anyway, as this pattern needed reach room. It’s no fun to pull out your tucked-in top just to move your arms up to take care of your hair. Then, I took out 2 ½ inches vertically across the back to shorten the long waist.
As I learned the hard way the first time I used this pattern, it has a very generous shoulder room which never works well when there is a center back zipper. As my last version of this top had a back zipper that reaches only 1/3 of the way down from the neck, I chose to make this top stress-free to be dressed into. No wiggling and struggling is necessary here because I adapted the back to have a center separating zipper. Even the neckline finishing was simplified, too, with bias tape used in lieu of proper facings. The fabric is so sheer that a wide inner facing would’ve been obvious from the right side and distracting from the border print.
The skirt did need some piecing of the pockets for me to keep them in my pencil skirt. As I was so focused on just trying to squeeze a successful skirt out of leftover material, I half-heartedly ‘forgot’ to make the pockets deeper. As of now, they are shallow pockets. I should not complain because pockets of any size are useful and appreciated, but it’s handier to have them to be more akin to mini purses. Out of a desire to make construction simpler and keep the tapered wiggle line shape to the skirt, I left out the back kick pleat. The seam is all sewn up. This doesn’t make the skirt harder to walk or move in – the hips and thighs are roomy enough. I had to shorten the hem by about 3 inches due to lack of fabric, so the hem is a bit wider than originally intended anyway. As you can see, it did not prevent me at all from exploring around my favorite creek haunts to capture these pictures.
I must have done this princess outfit right because the wildlife came to me as we were taking some of our pictures. It’s too bad for picture taking (but good for them) that the wildlife is camouflaged with the environment well enough to not be noticeable behind me. In the following post, you will more clearly see the one creature which amazingly came up to check me out! My Pocahontas vibes must have been strong. “Come roll in all the riches all around you, and for once never wonder what they’re worth”, so she sang in “Colors of the Wind”. Spending time outside in appreciation of Mother Nature is priceless.