Monday, January 27, 2014

Designing an Elsa Costume from the Disney movie Frozen



Are you Frozen-obsessed like the rest of America? 
                    I'm a little ashamed that I haven't seen it yet!
Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen

 About two weeks ago a coworker of mine asked if I would help her out with a dilemma. Her five-soon-to-be-six year old daughter requested that she have a Frozen-themed birthday party and wanted to be dressed up as Elsa, the snow queen from the movie. After booking a local park's lodge with an awesome sledding hill behind it she started hunting for the costume and came up with little options. It seems like, as of right now, Disney is the only company with an Elsa Costume and unfortunately it's 'limited edition', $149.95 (eek), and sold out everywhere!

She asked me if I'd be willing to create the desired costume. I have to say that I was initially intimidated by the project (designing a pattern from a cartoon, finding budget-friendly fabrics that would work, and making a little girl happy) but my disney-loving, princess-day-dreaming, love-anything-that-sparkles days didn't seem that long gone when I saw the character requested.
Finished dress (missing cape)

So on to the DESIGN...
  1. First I bought the patterns simplicity 2463 and I used LouBee Clothing's Bimaa sweater pattern for the sleeves- but you can use any fitted sleeve pattern  
  2. I got little 'G's measurements to figure out sizing (she was size 4- chest/waist/hips with size 6- height) and how much fabric I needed based loosely on S2463
  3. Bought the fabric-  (note: I had fabric to spare for her size)
    • approx. 1/2 yard metallic sequin fabric in turquoise & teal (for the bodice)
    • 2 1/2 yards satin in 'Blue Jewel' (for the lining and the skirt)
    • 2 yards pearly sheer fabric in blue (for the cape/train)
    • 1/2 yard performance fabric **but in mystique silver** not hawaii baby blue as in link (for sleeves and the yoke above above bodice front & back)
      • notions used: sewing machine, matching turquoise thread, 10" Velcro, fabric dye, 2" elastic cording, 9-12'' matching zipper, fabric paint, and 1 button/ or cover button kit 
Approximate cost of materials: $30
 
Alterations to S2463:
  • I deepened the 'V' on the bottom of the bodice center piece and added a 'V' cut to the top of the same bodice center (see image on right)
  • Added the cut 'V' piece from the top of the bodice to the matching bottom of the yoke piece and added seam allowance (see image on right)
  • Added a point to the bottom the sleeves by starting a curve from the center of the bottom sleeve width (on-the-fold) and going down about two inches from the normal length toward the centerfold (see image on right)
  • Deepened the 'V' of the front skirt to fit the bodice alterations
  • Extended and rounded out the bottom of the back skirt pattern about 6 inches for a little bit of a train






  • I decided to dye the performance fabric from the original silver to a turquoise tint to resemble the cartoon more closely. After a couple test swatches I decided on Dylon's Bahama Blue. I love how it came out because it's still silvery and shiny with just a hint of blue.
    • *To dye I filled an old pitcher with hot tap water, a couple tablespoons of salt and about a TB of the dye powder- mix together, add fabric (post-cut), and soak for a couple minutes until it's the color you like, then rinse with warm water. (See image on right for the before & after coloring)








Sewing the dress: **basically follow the pattern instructions with a few alterations

  1. cut out bodice in sequin fabric and in satin lining. Then sew seams together (just as the pattern instructions read) 
  2. Cut the sleeves and the yoke (front & back) out of the performance fabric. Follow the S2463 instructions to finished the back opening of the yoke and to add the front & back yoke pieces to the bodice. You may need some minor adjustments because of the 'V' cut out. Sew bodice side seams and yoke shoulder seams to make sleeve opening.
  3.  The performance fabric really doesn't need finished edges but I made them anyway on the sleeve points for a finished look
    finished sleeve point
  4. Sew your sleeves together lengthwise and attach to sleeve openings
  5. Sew the skirt's side seams and gather the top of skirt according to pattern instructions or as desired (I altered mine a little). Then attach to finished bodice. Finish bottom hem as desired.
  6. Insert matching zipper according to instructions
    Zipper starts at the top of the bodice
  7. When I 'finished' the top of the yoke I cut the yoke to widened & slightly deepened the neck opening in the front in order to be more similar to Elsa's dress. I made and attached a small loop for the top of the back yoke out of the elastic cording.  Make according to length needed to go across the back opening to a button on the other side. Then I folded over the entire neck opening and finished the seam with a double needle to help keep the stretchiness of the fabric.
    Loop at top above zipper opening
  8. Add chosen button to opposite side on back yoke to fit elastic loop on the other side. This is where I made my own matching button out of the sequin fabric.
  9. EXTRA-I had a couple iron-on jewels that I added to the yoke front (but I don't think they will stick long) and added one of my new sewing labels!! (Thanks again Kat!!)


Making the cape/train:

The most important dress feature to the little girl, G, was a "REALLY long train like Elsa." My coworker requested that the train be detachable in case it got stepped on. 
  1. I decided to attach it by Velcro, so I dyed the Velcro in the same turquoise dye bath as the yoke and sleeves but I left the Velcro in for over an hour because it took longer to absorb the color. I cut my Velcro the same width as the top of the back bodice (about 10") and made it thin by cutting it in half to about 1/2". I sewed the Velcro to the back bodice.
  2. I folded my shimmery sheer fabric in half and used the back bodice pattern piece as a template for the top of the cape/train. I then marked off how long I wanted the train, I chose to use G's height as my length. Then I cut a diagonal line from the outer bodice marking to the bottom outside edge (non fold edge). I cut a wide-rounded edge on the bottom.
  3. I finished the edges by folding in the cut edges twice and sewing the hem with white thread.

  4. I then attached the matching Velcro piece to the top of the cape.
  5. I couldn't resist adding snowflakes to the bottom of the train. I used my Silhouette machine to cut out snowflake pattern on freezer paper. I ironed on the freezer paper stencils and painted with 'velveteen' white fabric paint.
AND NOW YOU SHOULD HAVE A CUSTOM ELSA COSTUME!
Hopefully I will be able to post pictures of the costume being wore soon :)
Happy Birthday G!!!

Text from coworker when G tried on her new costume:
"It fits perfect!!! 'G' wanted me to tell you "Thank you so much, I love it! It makes me feel powerful!!" Lol... now she's dancing around the house singing Let It Go from the movie :) " 

Now you can too... 

     
    P.S. This is my first tutorial ever so please be kind! haha

71 comments:

  1. My little girl would be so, so incredibly happy with an Elsa costume right now, and this is much nicer than the store-bought version. Thanks for the tutorial, I will have to give it a try.

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  2. Oh my goodness Audge! Amazing!

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  3. Oh my goodness! I found this through a Google search, and thank heavens! My niece just asked for this costume and cape. I said"of course!" Before realizing that there are no existing patterns or tutorials for Elsa. Thank you so much for posting.

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  4. Thank you for providing this tutorial.so many people are trying to make money off this but you gave your time and effort to help out us sewing-challenged.Greatly appreciated!

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    1. Thanks for the appreciation :) It was a fun project and I'm hoping my post helps others enjoy it too!

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  5. I am so glad I found you! I am sitting here with all the fabric and no instructions! I even belong to several sewing groups on facebook and still could not find one....thank you, thank you!...and wish me luck!

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    1. Good Luck!! If you get stuck somewhere, let me know and I will try to help :)

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  6. Thank you so much for this tutorial - this will be my next project. Which one did you use for the pattern - view a, b, c, d, e, f? I was thinking it was possibly view a, and just add long sleeves instead. Thanks! :)

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    1. You're very welcome! You're right, I basically used view A with different sleeves and some alterations. Good Luck, you can do it!!

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  7. My granddaughter just asked for this costume and yours is the absolute best of the DIYs I've seen! I had already pulled out the same pattern you used and had even purchased very similar fabrics (some on clearance!) this weekend when I stumbled on your blog. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful creation and all the great instructions. I am going to try a filmier fabric for the sleeves as my little one is always too hot and I still need to find something for the cape. Here's hoping mine turns out as well as yours--ok, minus the painted snowflakes as I'm not quite that creative! You did a fantastic job.
    Donna

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  8. Sorry if this is a silly question, but how do you do the freezer paper stencils? I have a cricut and freezer paper and have no idea how to do this!
    Amazing final product by the way! I don't think I'm quite talented enough to do this yet!

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    1. Freezer paper stencils are really easy! I learned off this tutorial (http://www.danamadeit.com/2008/07/tutorial-freezer-paper-stencil-makenna-loves-goldfish.html) but basically you figure out what image you want to use, cut it out- the waxy side of freezer paper should be face down and paper side face up, then iron on the stencil (image cut out and discarded) to the fabric with the waxy side against the fabric.Paint over stencil, dry, and remove freezer paper. That may sound more complicated than it is, you can do it though! Good luck!

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  9. Hi there! I have been scouring the net for weeks, burning my eyes out, pinning tons of Elsa info. I have seen many, many cosplay costumes, and hand made dresses on Etsy. I just have to say, your lil' Elsa gown is AMAZING. Very well done, thank you so much for the inspiration!

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  10. I am anxious to try this. However, I can't seem to find the Simplicity pattern anywhere. Do you have any suggestions on a different pattern to use?

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    1. Oh man, sorry you can't find it. I just got mine recently at Joann Fabrics. For an alternative, I almost used the Glinda- the good witch pattern from Simplicity 4139 (http://www.simplicity.com/p-2114-costumes.aspx) so if you can find it, it's similar. They have three size options, 4139- kids, 4024-toddlers, and 4136- adult. Good Luck!

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    2. Walmart has them!

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  11. This is gorgeous! I am making this for my friend's daughter's birthday party at the end of the month! THANK YOU so much for sharing!

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  12. Thank you for this great tutorial! This might be a silly question, but did you pre-wash the fabric? I usually always do this, but have never dealt with costume fabric before and am worried about how well they will do in the washing machine. Thank you again!

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    1. I only pre-washed the performance knit (yoke and sleeves). The sequin fabric does not seem like it will wash well and I learned the hard way that it's not iron-proof either. I told my friend who I gave the costume to to hand wash only to be safe. I'm not sure how well it will do it the wash, sorry!

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  13. The only simplicity pattern #4482 I found was for a Phantom of the Opera costume. ??????

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    1. Oh No, You're right... it's simplicity 2463. The link above was correct and for some reason it listed it in the link as 4482, but I have fixed the post. Thanks for pointing that out!

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  14. I'M SO EXCITED TO SEE THIS!!! Kat e-mailed me the link, and it's awesome to have the tutorial b/c I am tackling making one of these for my niece right now, and was going to be making a lot up as I went along =D Thanks!!!

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  15. My goddaughter is having a Frozen theme. My friend is usually pretty good about ordering ahead but this year she took it too easy and did not.ni offer to make the costume. Thank you for the list of fabrics. I had no idea what to pick.

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  16. I finally finished my little girl's dress she's so happy. Thank you for this tutorial.

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  17. This is amazing Aud!! I showed my mom your site & she's gonna make this dress for Cora. I can't sew. Thx so much!!

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  18. Love your tutorial. I actually bought the same pattern not realizing this was the same as yours. I have a question though. Did you make the underskirt with ruffle? I was thinkig of just lining the dress but not using the netting because Elsa's dress was not that full. What do you think?

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  20. This looks so exciting. I bought my first sewing machine this year and will be making the costume for my 6 year old's book week costume (usually I am very strict that it has to be a book character, but we all LOVE Elsa so much). I am sure buying the fabric and measuring everything will be half the fun but I am so much more confident now I have this tutorial. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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  21. There’s something special about this movie that I’m soooo addicted to it. Maybe because it tells more of sisterly love, something that’s been neglected to most of the romantic animated films. Happy enough that Frozen the movie was a sure hit at home. Lol!
    In my attempt to find hooked viewers as me, I came to your pretty blog. Pretttty custome! Must make 1! =D
    http://meowchie.snydle.com/frozen-the-movie.html

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  22. Hi! I hope you are reading. I just found this blog yesterday and I am super excited! Thank you so much for sharing the tutorial! I just came back from Jo-anns and just starting at the materials (I am a novice sewer!) So I have a couple of questions. i just realized that the pattern I got (2463) is a tad big for my daughter. My daughter is 4 but she can still wear size 3. Any suggestions as to how I can trim it down? Also, any online tutorial for (free) fitted-sleeve pattern? Thanks so much!!

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    1. take a white long sleve T shirt that your daughter might already have and just sew the bodice over the T shirt this way the seleves will be more fitted. cut the T-shirt on it side, that way it will be easier to sew the material over the fitted T-shirt for the bodice then sew the sides of the T-shirt back together and slip over her head. Quess what no ziper. cover the back with the cape using velcro. and use no sew glue when putting the velcro on, the no sew glue really works. If you don't like the way velcro looks glue some pretty bling-bling ribon over it..WA LA!!

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  23. Thank you for letting me beleive that I can do this so what it's not excatly like the disney store. 'LET IT GO' and just do it. the smile on my 4 yr old grandaughter will be priceless. AWESOME!!

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  24. Love this! My daughter was sitting on my lap as I view this and is now crying for her own! Haha. Yours is lovely, I may have to try this:) thanks for sharing your experience!

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  25. Thank you for sharing this tutorial. My soon to be 5 year old desperately wants an Elsa dress for her birthday after I made my younger daughter an Anna dress for her birthday. I have been puzzling over the bodice piece, the sheer sleeves and how she was going to get in and out of it easily. The only part I had worked out was the train (which was the same idea as yours).

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  26. Also, this is the best looking dress I have seen after searching Google for months. It is true to the character's dress in the movie without looking cheap or homemade. It is really exquisite. I hope mine turns out to be similar

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  27. Thank you so much for posting instructions on making your beautiful design. This will be my first attempt at making a costume. It was truly so kind of you to share your art.

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  28. Can anyone help a helpless first-time sewer who is completely lost!? So my daughter is smaller than size 5, which is the smallest if this pattern. I shrunk copied the pattern to 94% to make it closer to size 4. What I'm confused bout after making a sample with old t-shirt is, the front yoke does not cover bodice front and side. There is left over with bodice side when I sew them together. What am I doing wrong? Thanks for anyone who can help me!

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  29. Alas like you.. my niece wants an elsa dress and we cant find one less than $100.. fortunately her aunt can sew :) i will be making this for her this weekend. Thank you so much for the info

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  30. I am looking for a turquoise dye to dye my sleeves and yoke (using a netting fabric). What color did you use and where did you buy it?

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    1. Here is what she said. I found this at Jo-anns' fabric store. But I made a mistake in using the whole packet so read on before you dye your fabric!


      "I decided to dye the performance fabric from the original silver to a turquoise tint to resemble the cartoon more closely. After a couple test swatches I decided on Dylon's Bahama Blue. I love how it came out because it's still silvery and shiny with just a hint of blue.
      *To dye I filled an old pitcher with hot tap water, a couple tablespoons of salt and about a TB of the dye powder- mix together, add fabric (post-cut), and soak for a couple minutes until it's the color you like, then rinse with warm water. (See image on right for the before & after coloring)"

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  31. Thank you very much for sharing your tutorial, this is the nicest Elsa's dress I have seen, just beautiful! I have all the fabric and no instruction, then I found you. We are travelling and I have no sewing machine and my little one BDay is in a month. I don't know if I will be able to do this with no sewing machine, but I will give it a try now that I have a nice model and instruction. Thanks again.

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  32. I am just making a cotton version to make sure the bodice and added sleeves fit properly. Now, how did you finish the pointed sleeve???? I cannot find anything on line at all as to how to go about this part. I really do hope you can help me. There is a Grand-daughter who has a birthday very soon now, so panic sewing is beginning to set in. Your tutorial is great, what would I have done without it? Thanks in anticipation.

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    1. I finished the sleeves by folding under the entire edge of sleeve including the points, a small amount, and then top stitched around the folded edge to hold it down. Since you're using cotton it maybe best to zig-zag stitch the edge first before folding it under to prevent fraying. Hope that helps! Good Luck :)

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    2. Thank you Grace, I have moved on from the cotton test dress to the proper fabric now. I will try your suggestion for the end of the sleeves. I don't think that the fabric for the yoke and sleeves is fraying at all, so hopefully will get a good result.

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  33. Thank you for your great idea. Trying mine this weekend for my Great Niece. Searching the Web I found that McCalls now has an Elsa pattern. I am in Australia and it is not available here yet but it is in US and Canada. The number is M7000. I may have to post away for it. Good luck.

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  34. Here again from OZ. I have a question. Could you please explain what "Performance fabric" is? I have not encountered this here.

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  35. Thank you so much for the tutorial -- I am making two of these for my granddaughters. I have one question---where did you put the velcro on the dress? At the yoke on the bodice back or did you go under the arms? Thanks in advance for your help.

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  36. hi, i'm really glad i found this, it's great thankyou! i'm trying to make one for my neice. i just wondered, did you do velco only on the cape or did you put a strip at the back of the dress too, and if so did it affect the look of the dress? thankyou! :)

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  37. Hi my six year old daughter is crazy on frozen and this is the only dress she wants elsa the snow queen are you making them so sell because I cant get one any where plus they are very pricy on ebay and other places plus all the pictures arnt showing step by step thankyou x

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  38. Glad to see you chose this pattern. I also made an Elsa costume for my granddaughter with this pattern. I actually used view C so I could have the yoke out of the sheer fabric. Then I also used the sheer fabric for the sleeves. I used a T-shirt pattern for those and created my own pointed sleeves, much as you did. (She especially loved the pointed sleeves.) I attached my cape by using hook and eyes. I also did the underskirt from the pattern although I only added one row of netting to make the skirt flare out just a little. It wasn't easy, all the seams in the sheer fabric had to be sewn so that they were tiny seams and would not unravel. It was worth it thought, she was delighted with the dress.

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  39. Anyone on here know how I should place the neckband pattern piece #3 on the four way stretch fabric so it will hand right? Thanks

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  40. Anyone on here know how I should place the neckband pattern piece #3 on the four way stretch fabric so it will hand right? Thanks

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  42. I finally finished my dress! It was my first time sewing from a pattern and I really struggled to understand the instruction. For my daughter who is 4, I didn't need a zipper (she can get in and out without the use of the zipper at all) so for my second dress (for her friend) I will omit the zipper and sew on the cape directly. I also used the candle flame to anti-fray the edges for the cape which gives it a nice wavy lettuce look. I also felt that the skirt needed less gather so if you have any suggestions for how to make it a bit narrower I'd appreciate it very much.

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  43. Beautifully done! My five year old daughter loves dressing up and playing any "princess" but now she is all about Elsa. She is begging me to make her a dress. I am glad I crossed your post, this is what she see herself dancing around in while she watches the movie. Thanks again for Sharing your creation! You should sell them at a craft fair! But the time you put into it wow what would you charge? But if you look at the ones at Wal-Mart and Target YUCK! I would not pay that price for something so puny. That is why I was on the hunt for ideas.

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  44. I'm a beginner sewer in the process of making this dress for my daughter's 5th (Frozen-themed) birthday and I have a question: Did you sew the performance fabric and the satin lining of the bodice together before attaching the yoke?

    Thank you so much for the tutorial! It's been a tremendous help!

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  45. It said on my computer that the fabric for the cape/train is out of stock or something like that. What else could I use to replace it?

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  46. That is lovely. I have bought the McCalls pattern to make my granddaughter the Elsa costume. I have been trying to source the material, but it is turning out to be rather expensive. Can you please tell me where you bought your material from, working out at approximately $30. One site I went to was working out at over £50.

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  47. THANK YOU FOR THE TUTORIAL!!! I made an olaf costume without a pattern for a dance costume for my son and now my daughter wants Elsa for Halloween.

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  48. damn! i wish i had this tutorial 3 weeks ago when I decided I would sew my daugher a custom elsa dress! lol. I didn't (still don't) know anything about sewing... i didn't even have a sewing machine. so bought a sewing machine and its been 3 weeks of trial and error. I couldn't find patterns that worked and didn't know how to alter them so i ended up making my own. I am in the final stages (i hope!) and I am so happy I found this. I am working on the top & sleeves (i used a stretch lace) and I was looking up how to attach my lace to the bodice. I really should have sewed the lace to the interfacing & lining of the bodice first. The bodice I am making is more detailed so I can't sew thru it all now. Hoping I can just attach it with the heat n bond iron on stuff I have. Also working on the pointed part of the sleeve. Mine isn't looking quite right and I see that I need to curve it in more like yours! Thanks for this. I am hoping to make some more simple Elsa dresses for some other 4-6 year old girls my daughter is friends with and I'm definitely going to use some of your ideas. The dress I made my daughter cost waaay too much to recreate it for gifts (and my daughter would be pissed if I made another one like hers...she wants a one of a kind).

    Also I think its awesome that everyone makes their own dresses. The disney dress at the store is like $50 but its not really anything like elsa's dress. And it a pain to drive to orlando to get one. Also the new version of the disney dress is different from the original. the cape used to be the same length as the dress but i guess it was a safety concern so the cape is actually 3 inches shorter than the bottom of the dress. My daughter was not happy ...the best part of elsa's dress is that really long beautiful cape.

    ok one last thing... i did the same as you and made my cape detachable. I made one with some cheap sparkly chiffon that is the same length as the dress. the other one is really really long and i used some really beautiful more expensive organza (got it with a 50% off coupon at joanns)...the long cape has a lot of detailing like snowflakes made out of clear sparkly sequins and clear/light aqua giltter that I glued with e6000. so if you are making one for a little girl i would seriously recommend having a detachable cape so they can use a "play" one and a "dressy" one. ok that was prob too much typing! thanks again and I think u did a great job with ur first tutorial! I wouldn't have been able to cut the fabric (not to mention sewing the rest of the dress) if it wasn't for all the free tutorials online! i seriously appreciate it.

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  49. Like others mentioned, it is great that you have offered your expertise so there is not as much trial and error. I'm looking forward to making a dress for my granddaughter as a surprise. I can't wait to see her face.

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  50. My little girl would be so, so incredibly happy with an Elsa costume right now ... annaandelsacostumes.blogspot.com

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  51. Hi, my daughter wants yhis dress for her birthday. I dont have a clue where to start never used a patteren before. Is there a free pattern or do you have to buy it? X

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  52. I would if there was a video of how.to make top would so help.for beginners like me :/

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  53. i'm glad I found this tutorial before I finished the same dress for the same age girl! I'm a beginner sew-er (sewer?) :) I'm going to scrap the cape and sleeves and use the same fabric and design as you. I even have a Silhouette. Thanks for saving this grandma!! - Jennie

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  54. My little girl would be so, so incredibly happy with an Elsa costume right ... elsawomen.blogspot.com

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  55. Any tips on getting the velcro blue? I have tried but every time i rinse it almost all the color comes off! Trying to finish my daughter's Elsa costume in the next few days. She's so excited!

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  56. This is such a great idea! The outfits are so cute! I love them. =) Ladies Formal Wear

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  57. I am finishing up the third "Elsa" dress in 2 years. The first for my granddaughter Avery's 4th birthday 2 years ago,another for my sister's 5 y/o great granddaughter and this 3rd for Avery's 4 y/o cousin's birthday this week. Each just slightly different so they woul all be unique ad special. Thank you for your gracious sharing. You have made many little girls dance and sing! God bless you.

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