Costuming, Disney Princess Series, Public Appearances, Sewing Projects

Queen Elsa v2.0

After nearly a year straight of wearing my Elsa costume on a regular basis for big public appearances and birthday parties, it’s time to retire my original costume and bring out a new one. I’ve enjoyed so many great experiences in my first design that it’s bittersweet retiring it, but after so many outdoor events its taken quite a beating and sadly.. it’s time. Frozen has had such a huge impact on my life this past year and it’s only fair that my favourite character get a new costume worthy of portraying her.

The upside of making Elsa for a second time is that I learned a lot from the first one, and there are way better fabric options available now. Sequins were a terrible choice as they cut into the organza cape and made the shirtsleeves pill, and the organza cape itself did not want to stay together anywhere there was a seam on the bias. With the popularity of Frozen there are new fabrics available that have been designed specifically for Elsa and Anna costumes, and I fully took advantage of that.

Supplies were ordered in late November, and even though a good chunk of them came from China they all arrived before Christmas! The early arrival was incredibly convenient as I actually ended up ridiculously sick over the holidays which led to loads of time sitting on my couch and therefore time for incredible amounts of detail. It’s entirely wearable at this point but I’m still wearing my old shirt; the new one is cut out but this time I’d like to rhinestone it before sewing it, and I just haven’t found the time yet this year to sit down and do that.

The skirt was first, and the same as my original with a slight change to the hem. My original had a pointed hem that flowed nicely with the cape, but made the skirt a lot more cumbersome when getting in and out of a vehicle. I’m usually driving to and from events/parties dressed as Elsa (unless lovely husband is available and willing to come with), so trying to fit the skirt and cape into the drivers seat was a challenge. The point also wasn’t accurate, which became more apparent when higher resolution reference material was available. This time I used fabric I purchased on Etsy, which was actually a bit more of a challenge than I expected. It wasn’t clear from the photos, but the silver threading in the fabric ran from selvage edge to selvage edge, meaning I had to cut my skirt pieces horizontally instead of the usual way. The back two panels are pieced together up at the waist; it was the only way to get the length I wanted and the seams are hidden by the corset. The skirt is fully lined with a periwinkle blue heritage cotton.

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Next came the corset which was the most involved piece of all this time. It’s the same overbust style I used for Snow White from Once Upon a Time with a few adjustments; I brought the neckline up a bit for some more coverage and trimmed the bottom edge for the refined point. This corset is four layers; the Etsy fabric and heavy twill flatlined together for the outer layer, and the periwinkle blue heritage cotton and heavy twill flatlined together for the inner layer. To keep the outer layer smooth all of the boning channels are on the lining layer; there’s flat steel in the center and at the lacing panel, and spring steel along each seam and in the middle of the panels. The grommets are hand painted, originally antique brass (as that’s all I have on hand that fits my press right now) but painted with a mix of Jacquard fabric paints to match the fabric. The edges were bound with the Etsy fabric after this picture was taken.

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Next came the part that nearly drove me insane, made my hands ache, but killed a lot of couch time while I was dreadfully sick. I took some 14 gauge vinyl and painted the back of the sheets with a mix of white, teal and blue fabric paints. It took a few layers until it was opaque enough, and once it was completely dry it was cut into rectangles. I did the majority of it a uniform shade but there is a section along the top of the corset that is a few shades lighter, I had some smaller sheets left that I added a bit more white into the paint to give it a bit of an ombre effect. After cutting each sheet into rectangles I then spent more hours than I am comfortable counting cutting each rectangle into a rounded rectangle.

IMG-20141221-WA0000 IMG-20141221-WA0003 IMG-20141224-WA0010 IMG-20141224-WA0002Of course, the tiny rectangle insanity couldn’t end there. Oh no. That was just nearly two days straight (and I do mean straight, from the time I woke up til the time I went to bed) of cutting. These little buggers still needed to be attached. Armed with a tube of E6000 glue, a lot of patience and the biggest bottle of Dayquil I could buy, I sat with the corset and my bowls of rounded rectangles and gradually glued each little rectangle down onto the fabric, one by one.

IMG-20141224-WA0015IMG-20141224-WA0017IMG_20141225_124405Once the rectangles were glued down I took a break, let it dry and then attacked it with rhinestones, beads and even more glue.

IMG_20141208_140754_nopm_IMG-20141226-WA0000 IMG-20141226-WA0002 There’s a modesty panel made just of fabric between the lacing panels; I’ve contemplated adding the vinyl rectangles to that as well but am concerned about the wear of the corset laces on it. I may experiment at a later date but for now, it’s just fabric.

I will admit that I bought the cape pre-made this time around. Making it last time was okay, but trying to find a fabric I liked this time that would also hold up to the methods available to me for putting the snowflake pattern on, well.. my choices were limited. I heavily contemplated chiffon this time over my previous organza, but as chiffon frays so easily I opted against it. I saw someone post a picture of a cape they’d ordered and fell in love , and after much digging I found a seller with it in stock. It was roughly the same price to buy the cape as it would have been to acquire fabric and supplies to make it, and saved me a load of time. As much as I pride myself in the things I make from scratch, the saved hours of labour and the screen accurate print were too hard to resist. Bought the cape, love the cape, greatly enjoy the cape. The below two photos are from prior to finishing the corset (and I realized after I hadn’t tucked the cape into the back of the corset) but it was Christmas Day, my best friend was here and she wanted to see it all together.

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With my old shirt, I wore this version out to its first event at the end of December. Ballet Victoria invited us to join them again this year for their production of The Gift, this time to greet children before the show and during intermission for their weekend performances. We met so many wonderful kids, and had a blast seeing my husband dressed up as Olaf. Anna had a hat and cape this time courtesy of Victoria Costumes, who were also kind enough to make it available to us when we walked in the Sidney Christmas Parade. I will get around to making them myself eventually, but other things keep getting in the way!

I’m so excited to have my new Elsa costume ready for the birthday parties I have lined up so far in 2015, and am scheduling as many appearances as I can.

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