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Halloween Costume Contest 2014

Elsa Dress with Detachable Cape

My daughter wanted to be Elsa for Halloween (not terribly shocking, considering Frozen’s popularity.) I shopped around, looking at costumes in stores but I found them all horribly disappointing. None of them looked like *Elsa*. They were all generic princess dresses in aqua and white and silver. Boring. A few came kinda close, but still not close enough for my tastes. So, I decided, I would make one! Who cares that I haven’t used a sewing machine in 10+ years, and I’ve never made a dress this detailed? IT WILL BE GLORIOUS!

I set about studying every reference I could find of Elsa, watching the movie repeatedly (how trying for me, really. I only love that movie more than is healthy. What a chore, watching it as many times as I could) and googling and googling and even more googling. Shopping for the fabric ended up being more complicated than I had accounted for. Elsa’s dress is apparently made of fabric that resembles almost nothing on earth today. I found a few things that *might* have worked or were relatively close, but I had made the choice to make this dress out of spandex, for a few reasons. Spandex meant that I wouldn’t have to bother with putting a zipper in it, and that also meant that my daughter could put it on without assistance. Spandex would also be a bit forgiving if I got measurements too small, and fitting it would be easier. Sewing it isn’t easier, but the final product would be great. I settled on 2 layers of spandex for the sheath part of the dress, one soft jersey for the lining and the other sequined for the outer shell, both in aqua/turquoise. Then I bought some spandex mesh in light blue for the top, and some light blue organza for the cape (not stretchy, this just needed to be sturdy.) I also decided I would make the cape detachable, so I would use a separating zipper on it (the kind used for jackets) so the cape could be taken off and put back on at her discretion.

I had to create my own pattern for this, which got frustrating after a while. Not because the dress was difficult, but because my daughter cannot seem to stand straight and stand still for longer than 15 seconds before melting into a slumpy pile of girl child. I found and purchased a couple patterns: one for a long sleeved, boatneck leotard (for the top and bodice) and another for a plain, simple girls maxi skirt. A bit of cutting and tweaking and reshaping and changing later, and I had a couple of patterns for the Elsa dress.

I cut out the fabric and sewed it together. First the lining, then the shell, then the top. I sewed the top in between the layers of the shell and the lining, and hemmed it and before you knew it, I had the dress. All I had left to do was to bedazzle it with the designs on Elsa’s movie dress, and it was finished. Then I could move onto the cape.

Sewing the cape was the easiest part. I found a pattern online and I used that to draft my cape. I had to make a few more adjustments to shrink it down to fit my daughter without being crazy long, and adjust the designs on cape itself, but soon, I had the basic cape. Then I sewed on the other half of the separating zipper (so the cape could be easily and quickly removed at will. Velcro scared me, since the top and the cape were both sheer and rather delicate.) The cape construction from start to finish only took about 3 hours. The most labor intensive part of the entire costume was next… putting the rhinestones on the cape.

Rhinestoning the cape took approximately 16 episodes of The Walking Dead, 14 movies, 2 episodes of Big Bang Theory, 2 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, 2 episodes of Once Upon A Time, and 3 episodes of New Girl. Or approximately 50-60 hours. Maybe more, because I believe I spent an additional 16 hours working on it without any TV or movies to distract me. It also took about 20,000 rhinestones, just for a small child’s cape, but I do very much enjoy the effect.

My daughter absolutely loves the costume. I found the hair pins and a wig for her, but unfortunately the wig seems to be made for infants because it refuses to fit her. I may or may not replace it with a bigger wig by Halloween. It depends on how much more money I feel like spending… or rather, how much more money I can spend on this costume before my husband loses his mind.


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