“A girl is not a rabbit”



Melanie Rose Huff


(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

I was inspired by Erin Morgenstern's brilliant second novel, "The Starless Sea". There are so many wonderful characters in this book, but I was particularly drawn to Eleanor, the girl in the rabbit mask, the explorer, who finds her way to the shores of the Starless Sea by accident as a child, when she is exploring in a forest and falls through the memory of a door. She grows up wandering through rooms full of stories, writing down her nightmares, folding them into paper stars and throwing them away. Later, as a woman, she sails a ship, exploring the hidden corners of the Starless Sea.

Though there are parts of the story which take place in modern settings, once you are through a door and by the shores of the Starless Sea time ceases to have any meaning, and for Eleanor especially, who has spent all her life since early childhood there, I felt her clothes should not belong to any time period in particular. Her clothes early on are described as being a mix of whatever was handed down to her, but by the end her clothes have become her own, just as her story has...I wanted them to feel like an extension of her personality. As she captains a ship, I thought she ought to have a pirate coat. Also, she wears rabbit ears.

The symbols of bees, keys, swords, hearts, crowns, and feathers are used throughout the story...and each found their way into the outfit.

Outline the construction…

The fabric is 100% linen from Linengraphy on Etsy: medium-weight for the skirt and heavy-weight for the jacket. The waistband of the skirt is cotton jacquard ribbon from Penelope Textiles. I used organic cotton thread throughout, except a few spots where I used a vintage silk. Construction seams were done on my vintage 1910 Frister and Rossmann machine, but all the details and visible stitching I did by hand.

The basic skirt design was similar to one I have made before, the only real difference being the shorter hem in front, because I wanted the burgundy lining to show. That was my comfort zone and I didn't use a pattern. I wish I had lined up the seams of the lining with the seams of the top layer better, but I was pressed for time so I didn't attempt to take it out and start over.

I hadn't made a jacket before, and couldn't find a pattern that was what I wanted, so this also became my first attempt at drafting my own pattern. I looked at two different jackets for the basic shape and made a mock-up. There was definitely some trial and error involved...scary!

Many thanks to Bernadette Banner for her video on hand-sewing buttonholes!

The rabbit ears are made of recycled paper bags, attached to a headband with staples and styled with the wig.

As the final touch, I embroidered a story (an original from my upcoming collection) around the hem of the skirt lining.




  1. Avatar Georgina on March 12, 2021 at 1:00 am


  2. Avatar Laurie on March 12, 2021 at 5:33 am

    Great details. I love that jacket!

    • Avatar Melanie on March 13, 2021 at 6:11 pm

      Thank you! It was so scary but satisfying.

  3. Avatar Laura Wemyss on March 12, 2021 at 6:42 pm

    I love your whole ensemble, from the asymmetrical hem and embroidered writing (such a nice touch!) to your selection of linen fabrics and the bee detail. I wish I had a jacket so suited to a new spring season and explorations!

  4. Avatar Theresa Moss Witmyer on March 12, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    I am in love with the aesthetic of this ensemble!! The fabrics, the stitching, the details, the colors, the drape….all so beautiful. I feel inspired to try something like this for myself! Well done!

    • Avatar Melanie on March 13, 2021 at 6:13 pm

      Thank you for these kind words! This has been such a positive and encouraging experience.

  5. Avatar Sparrow on March 13, 2021 at 12:53 am

    This looks so comfortable and adventurous at the same time.
    Also, I should maybe look up this book now. . .

    • Avatar Melanie on March 13, 2021 at 6:15 pm

      Thank you! The book is fabulous.

  6. Avatar Sarah Helgeson on March 13, 2021 at 4:39 pm

    I LOVED LOVED LOVED that book and this costume just so perfectly fits in.

    • Avatar Melanie on March 13, 2021 at 6:18 pm

      Thank you! Isn’t the book wonderful? I wanted to just fall into it and stay there.

  7. Avatar JAYE SUDAR on March 14, 2021 at 3:59 am

    Delightful. While the jacket may have been terrifying, just think how much you’ve stretched and grown your sewing skills.

    • Avatar Melanie on March 14, 2021 at 3:22 pm

      The satisfaction of having done it definitely outweighed the terror.

  8. Avatar Cera on March 14, 2021 at 5:01 am

    The symbol decorations are so reminiscent of the subtle ways they appear throughout the book. Also, I love this skirt and now need to figure out how to make it.

    • Avatar Melanie on March 14, 2021 at 3:36 pm

      Thank you! I had so much fun thinking of ways to work in all the symbols. The skirt design is fairly simple and so comfortable. Feel free to DM me on Instagram if you like. I’d be happy to share more details.

      • Avatar Theresa Moss Witmyer on March 15, 2021 at 12:50 am

        I’d love to know how you made it as well…can I also DM you? ☺️

  9. Avatar Rebecca on March 15, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    the sweet details make this ensemble so special! i love the homespun feel of the linens and the colors you chose. and now i’m thinking i really should read this book! good luck from icarus!

  10. Avatar Lillian Hansen on March 17, 2021 at 11:27 am

    The skirt(s) and the jacket are very flattering on you and I’m just drooling over the outfit as a whole. I would love a jacket like that, haha! And while I haven’t read or even heard of this book (now I’m thinking I might have to read it!) the attention to detail is perfect. Although I do not know what each symbol means in the book I think it makes a costume so much more authentic to include those minute details. I’m wondering if there would be anyway to share the pattern/details of the skirt with me. If not that is completely fine. Anyways well done! ☺️

    • Avatar Melanie on March 17, 2021 at 7:18 pm

      Thank you so much! I didn’t use a pattern for the skirt but have used the basic design several times and wouldn’t mind sharing some more construction details. Feel free to DM me on Instagram…or you could message me through the contact form on my website. (It’s my author site but I see no reason not to use it to share fun sewing information!)

  11. Avatar Carly Van Groeningen on March 19, 2021 at 11:38 am

    Fantastic work, and what an excellent interpretation of Eleanor! So happy to see another Starless Sea lover, I did Mirabel for my entry. Good luck!!

    • Avatar Melanie on March 19, 2021 at 5:11 pm

      Thank you! Your Mirabel is lovely!

  12. Avatar Phanuel Jagna Levinsen on March 20, 2021 at 10:54 pm

    The fabric for this is is beautiful and the little detail of the embroidered text is so sweet too! Love it!

  13. Avatar Laura Ingalls Gunn on March 22, 2021 at 12:03 am

    You have captured my heart from rabbit hat to inspiring hem. Bravo!

  14. Avatar Stephanie Tietze on March 22, 2021 at 7:17 am

    I love the layered look and the little details to echo the story.

  15. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on March 23, 2021 at 2:20 pm

    This is so pretty- I love the story and all your details!

    • Avatar Melanie on March 29, 2021 at 1:22 am

      Thank you! The details were so much fun…trying to sneak them in all over the place.

  16. Avatar Alëna on March 25, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    Absolutely inspiring story behind the making .. design and patterns are beautiful 🧡

    • Avatar Melanie on March 29, 2021 at 1:21 am

      Thank you! I had so much fun creating it.

  17. Avatar Maeri Certo on March 26, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    Great job! It’s an awesome book and a perfect choice for this contest. I love how you have worked the story into the details. You really bring her character to life.

  18. Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 27, 2021 at 5:15 am

    I love the inclusion of all these little details, like the embroidered words on the hem, that make your outfit so special! This makes me want to read the book!

    • Avatar Melanie on March 29, 2021 at 1:19 am

      Thank you! The book is so lovely!

  19. Avatar Shadoe on March 29, 2021 at 12:42 am

    This is absolutely wonderful! I am so glad to see others creating designs based on The Starless Sea ( I created the Owl King). The details that you wove throughout this design are brilliant. I really enjoy the buttons, and the embroidery is such a good idea!!

    • Avatar Melanie on March 29, 2021 at 1:18 am

      Thank you! I thoroughly enjoyed following the progress of your Owl King on Instagram. I love that several of us chose The Starless Sea for our inspiration but all of us chose different characters.

  20. Avatar Kikkii von Fustian on March 29, 2021 at 10:41 am

    You did a wonderful job, I love all the small details you’ve worked into the outfit! You make me want to read the book 😀 Is it part of a series or a standalone book?

    • Avatar Melanie on March 30, 2021 at 1:21 am

      Thank you! It is a standalone.

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