... make me an Elsa dress, please mummy?
Asked my nearly 5 year old daughter some many weeks (months?) ago. Umm no, thanks, darling daughter. I do not. I'll buy you one instead.
Except at the time of looking, said Elsa costume was out of stock. Everywhere. Except on eBay where I could pay £££ for one. Of course then I realised that even if once came back into stock in her size, it would still carry quite a hefty price tag. And then I thought - pull yourself together Hannah, YOU CAN SEW. Sew the child a costume, for goodness sake.
Now I really wish I was the kind of sewer who could take 3m of blue satin and whip it up into an Elsa from Frozen costume without a pattern. But I am not. I am a pattern sewer, not a winging it sewer. And I am not a confident dressmaker, and an entirely novice costume maker. So I turned to Craftsy, rejoiced that there are individuals out there who can not only perform this feat but who are willing to write it up into a pattern for numpties like me, and purchased this one.
There are several such patterns on Craftsy at the moment and I could have chosen any one of them. I'm not sponsored/ affiliated/ bribed in any way. I went for this one primarily because it had no closures - zips, velcro or the like. I wanted her to be able to get it on and off on her own. And also because it avoided the use of stretch organza for the upper bodice. The thought of that was just too much, frankly.
I then braved the fabric stall at Leeds market and purchased* this little lot:
|*Yes, that's right, I bought fabric. I don't think this counts though, right? And otherwise it would have been a patchwork quilting cotton costume. But don't worry, I will confess all when I link up with Fabriholics Anonymous at the end of the month.|
And then I decided that that blue organza for the cape just wasn't quite right, and if I was going to do this I was going to do it right, so I went and purchased a metre of this off eBay too.
And set to the cutting. Great start. The fabric doesn't press well, doesn't hold a fold, is slippery. Ugh. I did my best, using my rotary cutter, mostly. There weren't many straight lines. I had another trip to the fabric shop as I hadn't bought enough white organza (chiffon, whatever) to accomodate the long sleeves and lining (yep folks, this is a proper lined bodice and everything).
The pattern is really thorough, aimed at the confident beginner (that's me!) there are detailed explanations and photos of every single step. Jolly good. I won't take you through every sorry detail of my process, but let's just say there was fraying, stretching, slipping, fraying, iron incidents, skipped stitches, gummed up needles, fraying, a million thread changes, gathers, FRAYING. None of this is the pattern's fault of course, she warns that fancy fabrics will lead to headaches but as I said, quilting cotton just wasn't going to wash here. And I sure as anything wasn't making it twice.
So being a dedicated pattern follower, I followed the pattern. The only change I made was the cape. the pattern features a cute integrated cape which is just perfectly Elsa like, but it was rather short and not very full and I decided it just wouldn't do.
I had seen this tutorial for making a separate Elsa cape so I decided to incorporate that and make a long cape with a train. I also wanted to maximise the fabric I had bought so I made it considerably wider than suggested. This meant I had to pleat it as I basted it to the bodice, but I survived.
My main saving grace was the overcasting stitch setting on my machine. Without that I think there would be no actual dress left by now. And also these awesome Clover forked pins. I had bought them after reading a recommendation by Kerry and stashed them away, forgotten. I remembered them when I was battling with the satin skirt and they worked great for holding the slippery stuff together. Oh and for the first time ever I remembered to use polyester thread for my gathering stitches! Amazing - doesn't snap.
I fretted slightly over how to hem the skirt, the satin didn't hold a fold particularly well. After a bit of googling I decided to try out the blind hem foot on my machine. I had already overcast the raw edge so just one fold required. It is a long way off perfect, but it worked out well enough. Hurrah!
Anyway, pictures. Needless to say she utterly, totally, completely adores it. And while I won't be making another I do feel like a very proud and accomplished mama indeed.