Elsa Ice Dress

Halloween is five days away! What are your plans?

Normally I don’t dress up on Halloween. I work as a science teacher; most days are spent either teaching labs or prepping for said labs. My cosplays are not exactly lab friendly as you might imagine. This year Halloween is on a Friday. I don’t have classes on Fridays so dressing up is kind of a wasted effort.

BUT! My city is kind of small and the downtown businesses still do trick-or-treating for the kids. So I thought this year I would take the opportunity to dress up and walk the streets, without having to worry about getting home in time to get ready for work the next day.

I told myself I wasn’t going to make Elsa’s ice dress for a good long while because it seems like EVERYONE is making one. I love Elsa – I practically am Elsa – but I didn’t want to be known as one of those “weird Frozen obsessed people.”

But then I saw the new season of Once Upon A Time…and I fell in love with their version of Elsa, played by the lovely Georgina Haig. While I love the costume design in the movie, there are elements on the OUAT version I also love. Since I decided to cosplay Elsa in her famous ice dress for Halloween, it was a good time to figure out how to combine elements.

I am in love with the concept art by Brittany Lee so I took most of my references from the Art of Frozen book.

frozen6-small-1024x787What I love most about movie Elsa is her gorgeous sheer cape and the shape of her dress. At lot of cosplayers make her dress very straight (which is perfectly fine) but I love the slight train she is supposed to have. I also love the look of falling icicles in the skirt. I managed to find fabric on Etsy that mimics the skirt (which saves me a lot of heartache in searching and failing in my local fabric stores). I also managed to find – much to my delight and relief – another seller on Etsy who was selling pre-printed cape fabric; saves me the time and frustration of figuring out how to get the design on. (At one point, however, I do play to make a longer cape which means I will eventually have to figure out all those designs. Not today though.)

Screen-Shot-2014-08-24-at-8.36.31-PMWhat I love most about OUAT Elsa is the simplified sleeves and the bodice. While the sleeves lack the X shaped design on the elbows and the neckline is more simplified, the fabric is much more sparkly by nature. Again, I found sparkly stretchy fabric on Etsy so all I have to figure out is the neckline (Do I want a string of rhinestones to make it easier or hand bead the neckline? Decisions.) What I love about the bodice is the transition between round rhinestones at the top to the more icicle like look at the bottom to blend with the skirt. The costumers of the show seem to use the same fabric for the bodice and skirt. Mine is different so I plan to make the same transition with rhinestones in two sizes getting less and less dense towards the bottom.

I also love the much more simplified braid in OUAT so my wig is a whole lot easier to style and manage. To make the wig, I started off with a Dany style wig from Arda Wigs in the titanium blonde color. I sewed in wefts from another blonde wig (that surprisingly had fibers of the exact same color) to make it a little longer and fuller. Since Dany is a single length wig, I made a few long bang cuts but then opted to braid those in to better match OUAT’s style. The rhinestone snowflakes are 6 rhinestone buttons either attached straight to the wig or to blonde colored bobby pins.

imageThe bodice is made using the same pattern as my Elsa coronation bodice, Simplicity 1499 (I have plans to make Anna’s coronation bodice with the same pattern; it’s so universal). It’s made in three layers: one layer shimmery teal blue lame fabric, one layer non-stretch white twill (to stabilize the lame), and one layer cotton fabric with Frozen print. There is light boning and a lace up back. Unlike both movie and OUAT versions, I opted once again to make the bottom front rounded rather than pointed. I used the rhinestones to create a transition like effect; more rhinestones at the top and gradually decreasing their numbers to the bottom.

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The skirt is a shimmery light teal viscose material. Originally I had intended to make it part of an underdress. However, once I was finished it was difficult to zip the dress up past the waist because of all the fabric. Since the bodice goes below my waist, I opted to turn the dress into a skirt instead. It’s difficult to see, but there is a slit on the right side that goes to just above the knee – like Elsa’s slit. (Also, it’s really difficult to photography the skirt fabric; it’s so pretty and shimmery but just doesn’t show up well in pictures.)

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The shimmery top is made of a semi-stretchy material with blue metallic threads woven in. I modified a raglan sleeve top to get the shape I wanted. Unfortunately for my first run the top looks great but is a pain to get on and off without contorting my body and over stretching the seams a little. I also could not add on the pretty chained rhinestones otherwise I lose the stretch factor. I plan to remake the top in the same material but have a back opening (non-accurate but easier on and off).

The cape is attached to a length of teal bias tape then attached to the bodice by 8 snaps. It goes to just under the arm; my second cape I intend to come up around the bust, which is more accurate to the movie’s version.

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My shoes (not shown) are a glittery blue jelly wedge heel I got from the UK off eBay. They have a Mary Jane strap and are surprisingly comfortable despite how they look. They are not accurate but Elsa’s shoes would fall off my feet without the strap…if I don’t fall and break my ankles with the stiletto like heels.

Overall I am very happy with the outcome. There are some parts accurate to the movie, some parts accurate to the show, but a bit of it is my own interpretation. I’m really glad all the colors, fabrics, textures, and designs mesh very well. I can’t wait to wear it but I’m slightly nervous too. I don’t want to disappoint any child with my version of the costume. =/

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Elsa Coronation Dress

EDIT: I’ve gotten a lot of inquiries asking if I would make this dress again – with and without the embroidery details – for other people to purchase from me. Sorry everyone but the answer is a firm no. This dress is very special to me because of the amount of work and love I put it. I won’t be able to replicate the same level of detail because a commission would force me into it.  I also do not do commissions in general because I do not have the time and energy to devote to such a large project again.

 

I’m one of the last of my friends to jump onto the Frozen bandwagon.  For all of its faults, I still rather like it.  Elsa’s character and her song “Let It Go” really speak to the introvert, easily irritated person I can be.  I can relate a lot to Elsa since our childhoods were similar: concealing your real emotions, hiding them away from the outside world.

The cosplayer in me really wants to make and wear her Ice Queen dress.  But so many people have done it so far that I am waiting for the hype to die down a bit. Instead, I picked another of her dresses to make: the coronation gown.  Even after I chose to make this dress, I’ve been hesitant about it.  I always said I wanted the bodice to be more corset like and the design embroidered, neither of which I have a ton of (good) experience with.  But cosplayers like challenges, don’t we?

Elsa_08At this point in time the costume is not 100% finished, but it’s been a while since I’ve posted so I thought I would show some progress shots.

The black part is cotton sateen and the base satin is a peacock blue.  It was really difficult for me to find an appropriate color for Elsa’s dress; every reference image I have changes slightly, some are more green tinted, others more blue.  Blue is my favorite color and more representative of Elsa so I settled on a peacock blue that, in certain lights, turns a greenish teal color and in other lights (like on my phone) turns royal blue.  The embroidery color keeps changing as well so I used colors that complemented each other and the satin (gray blue, reddish pink, magenta, sky blue, and purple).

I’m all for accuracy, but sometimes translating animation into real life is difficult.  Fabrics just don’t always come in all the different palettes and textures animation can create.

I decided to make the bodice an actual corset for a better shape.  The only downside to this is that the small back design has to be omitted. The bodice is made from a slight modification of Simplicity 5006 (mostly I omitted the center front seam but kept everything else).  The back is lined in sky blue stretch cotton sateen and is lightly boned.

The top of the under dress was made from a really old turtleneck pattern I own and Simplicity 1727 for the collar.  Darts (not seen) were put in the front and back to give the top shape and less bulk under the bodice.  The skirt is made from Simplicity 5235 (which no longer seems to exists).  The godet was omitted and the top cut off before the skirt was sewn to the sateen.  It closes in the back with a zipper and two hooks and eyes at the collar.

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All of the embroidery is done by hand.  It’s not as neat as I would like, but I can’t justify spending money on an embroidery machine that I would use so infrequently.  Hand embroidery isn’t always neat so it gives the cosplay a personal touch.  The sateen was a lot easier to embroider than the satin surprisingly.  I bruised my fingers frequently attempting to pull the needle through without puckering the fabric too much.  In all the embroidery for everything (top, bodice, skirt, and cape) took me about 100 hours, half of which is just setting up for the embroidery.

The cape is made of fuchsia satin, dark purple satin, and dark purple velvet.  The top was made from a modified Archer pattern; the rest of the cape was draped and cut in scrap cotton before being cut in the satin.

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Originally the Arendelle emblem was to be stitched in satin then the edges embroidered, but I was running out of time.  Instead I used freezer paper, sketched the design on, ironed it to the  cape, and painted in Jacquard Lumiere textile paint in magenta.  It came out great (I’ve been told it doesn’t look like paint but heat and bond) except for the edges.  To hide them, the edges are being stitched in pale pink embroidery thread in a simple stitch.

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I only did the main emblem design for time sake.  I have all the designs for the cape edge sketched out.  I decided to omit them for time’s sake, but also because they are not always seen.  The edges are most obvious in concept art; they only appear sporadically in the film.

The crown is made of two layers of worbla with a layer of craft foam in the middle.  I attached it to a plastic headband but am contemplating cutting off the ends (it squeezes my head without the wig on) and adding hair combs/clips instead.  It is currently awaiting gesso priming and painting.  A vintage rhinestone will be placed in the center.  The brooch is also made from a vintage rhinestone, craft foam (for backing), and worbla.

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I started this project around March 25 and hope to finish it by the end of next week (April 16).  It’s probably the most involved costume I have ever made simply for the time and all the techniques used.  It looks great on a dress form so I am very hopeful it will look good put together.