The Making of Elsa – Frozen – Part One

If you’ve been following me for a while, then you probably know I really like pretty dresses. And if there is one thing I like more then pretty dresses, it’s challenging pretty dresses. So it’s probably no big surprise that I fell in love with this design and had to cosplay it.

This post will be about the skirt, the next will talk about the bodice, then the cape.  The shoes and wig stuffed somewhere in between.

I started by draping the pattern on my dress form. I purchased silk for the skirt, so I knew it would be very flowy, but the material I used for my mock up was not, which made it tricky to visualize. The process did go very smoothly, though. And after a few minutes I had something that looked like this:

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I turned this into a mock up and I was actually surprising pleased with the result! The volume was exactly what I wanted, I just had to add an extra half inch on each side for ease, and lengthen the hem.

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When it came to fabric choices I had originally planned on purchasing some sort of printed spandex, but after looking in several stores none of them were “quite right” and I eventually gave up and figured I could purchase a silk or linen of some sort and weave metallic threads into it.

Well, not long after I had given up, I found the perfect material stuck in a bin of silk organza. I really don’t have the slightest idea what type of material this is, but I know it’s silk, it doesn’t stretch, it feels like a mix between chiffon and organza, and I bought the very last of it.

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It’s also quite sheer, so I bought three yards of peachskin to line it with. I picked a peachskin in a completely different color, instead of teal I bought a blue that matches the material I bought for the cape. One of my biggest peeves in Elsa’s design are the color differences, which i’m afraid might look unintentional and mismatched in real life. Hopefully this will help tie the dress and the cape together.

I made my alterations to the pattern directly onto the peachskin, and it looked like this!

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As you can see it’s a seven piece pattern, cut once  from peachskin and again from the silk.

Although I bought four yards of the silk I really wish they had another half yard. I didn’t quite account for the fact that silks are only forty inches wide.

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Once I finished cutting everything I sewed together both layers separately, leaving the side seams open. Instead of attaching the lining and top fabric together at the back, I wanted to do it at the sides and finish them with french seams.

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Once I was confident everything was right, I lined up the slit of my top material and my lining. I turned over both edges so they faced each other, and pressed them quite thoroughly before pinning them together. Then I stitched them together by hand, since the material is so delicate.

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After that I did up the side seams, and began work on the hem.

For the hem I did the same method that I used for the slit, i’m not sure if there is actually a name for this?

Here you can see the top fabric turned under and pinned down, I repeated the process on the inside with the lining material so there were no raw edges.

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And after that, all it needed was a way of closing and a waistband! I actually woke up and it was snowing, which was the perfect inspiration to finish this.

I simply made a waistband with finished edges, then sewed it onto the top of the skirt. I finished the raw edge with bias tape…and i’m really super proud! I think this is the first garment I’ve really attempted to finish nicely, and I hope it shows.

 I had left six inches open in the back of the skirt, finished the way the hem and slit were, so I could easily add the grommets. I debated between grommets and a zipper, a zipper would have been more subtle…but I feel like if Elsa actually existed, her bodice would lace up. And if her bodice laces up, it looks nicer to have the skirt lace up too. So that was my logic there.

I added a bit of lacing and it was done!

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It took around ten hours, and was by far the easiest piece of this costume. Let’s just hope the rest goes as well as this did.

Thanks for reading!

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52 thoughts on “The Making of Elsa – Frozen – Part One

  1. Bardiel says:

    Angela, can you explain me a bit more thoroughly how you made the back of the skirt trail like that? I’m planning on making a blue dress I desigend myself, and it will trail just like yours does, but I have absolutely no idea how it’s done! At my school they don’t teach things like this to us, even though we are studying dressmaking, so I’m very lost.

    • Angela Clayton says:

      It’s sort of hard to explain. I’d suggest figuring out how long you want the train to be (I believe this one was 18-15 inches, something like that) and cutting the back panels with that extra amount at the hem. Then when you make a mock up you can draw out the shape you like and cut off any extra material. That would be a really easy way to do it if you’ve never made a train before.

      You could also look at sewing patterns for dresses with trains, that should be enough to give you an idea of how they look.

    • Dwin Dykema says:

      I have been sewing all my life, and I still continue to learn.

      You are taking dress making: this will teach you how to make a dress.
      What you are asking is more about pattern making. Once you are familiar with patterns: you will find it much easier to know how to make your own revisions. Many famous designers use only several patterns for their entire line. They simply change details: fabric, neckline, waistline, hemline, sleeves, no sleeves. For years I made almost all bridal wear from 9 basic patterns.

      Most trains start at the side seams, so you would cut the back panel(s) longer than the front. I have always determined the finished length from the waist to the hem and then rounded the center back to the side seam panels. You can make it any shape you want, v or u.

      I like the slight point of the train on Angela’s version.

  2. Izzie says:

    I just watched and fell in love with this movie, especially Elsa, with her back-story (and her costume!). so you making her dress is now the icing on the cake.
    good luck with the rest of it!

  3. Cláudia Correia says:

    I can’t wait to see the rest of this dress! I loved your Merida cosplay sooooo much! I’m gonna love this one as well for sure 🙂

  4. Samantha says:

    I know you haven’t made part 2 with your bodice, but do you mind explaining it a bit? I too am cosplaying Elsa and having the hardest time with the ice crystals(?) on the bodice/corset

  5. Beth Passburg says:

    Oh my word, I just discovered your blog from the “Elsa Cosplay” tag on tumblr, which I stalk every day, and let me just say your work is amazing! This is just gorgeous!! Elsa is going to be my next cosplay, I’m currently searching around for fabrics and coming up with the design, and this helped alot for inspiration!

    Also, in your “about me,” I feel the exact same way about cosplay and sewing…I just got into it about 2 years ago, and now I’ve come to love it so much, I just can’t imagine life without it. 😀 Keep up the amazing work, you’ve earned a new follower in me! 🙂

    -AnElvenPrincess (from adventuresofanelvenprincess.blogspot.com)

  6. Mika D says:

    Hi. First of all I ABSOLUTELY LOVE your cosplaying. I also love the movie Frozen and Elsa and was hoping to recreate her dress for my friend’s birthday (she loves Elsa as much as I do). I am, however, new to sewing and dress making and am a little confused. Did you follow any particular pattern or was it a “thinking as you go” sort of thing? If you did use a pattern would you mind sharing it? Any specific advice you could provide would be much appreciated! Thank You for sharing your awesome cosplay!

  7. Sara says:

    How did you do the pattern pieces for your skirt? I’ve been trying to find something that works and this method seems to bet the best I’ve seen.

  8. KiraTheUsagii says:

    I absolutely love the fabric for the skirt!
    But there are two things I wondering about: What is the fabric you used beneath the chiffon/organza fabric and how did you do so it didn’t become any rough edges?

  9. Natalie says:

    This is amazing! Do you have copies of the patterns you used? I’m planning on cosplaying as Elsa at Comicon next year 🙂

  10. Isabella says:

    How much money was all the material, tools, and other accessories cost?
    Because I’m making this for my friend, She is going to be Elsa for Halloween. I also wonder when I should start it?

  11. Tahlia Whitten says:

    Ms. Clayton, can you please give me tip for effectively fitting pieces of the pattern onto the fabric/peachskin? When ‘m laying out the pattern pieces, I try to get as much spare fabric as possible, but I when you said you used 3 yards of the organza, I realised that I had used 4 1\2 yards! I was just wondering if you could describe how you lay out pattern pieces?

  12. Baileigh Januik says:

    Hello I am having an event that goes to helping a sick child. The theme of the event is disney and we are in aww by your coustume and we were just wondering if their is any possibility of you making us a simpler version of this costume and a Anna costume we will be willing to pay you. If you have any intrest in this email me.

  13. Abigail says:

    Hi! I absolutely love your tutorials, especially yours for Elsa. I have been having the hardest time finding patterns for Elsa’s costume. Could you tell me which one you used? It would be an amazing help!

  14. Andromeda Lazuli says:

    This actually looks perfect to try and slightly modify for my own cosplay (which isn’t Elsa, sadly… Maybe some other time!) since I’m in need of replacing the skirt for it. I kept looking over and over for a PERFECT pattern to use as well as looking up tutorials but there wasn’t any for me to use, so I was about to give up until I found your tutorial.

    THANK YOU!!!

  15. Nicola Martina says:

    I loved reading and seeing all your ideas for this dress.
    My daughter wants it for her sweet 16th birthday.
    I have sewn custom bridal and formal wear for 20+ years so the design doesn’t scare me, but finding the perfect fabric is a little challenging.
    This is the first dress she has actually wanted me to make which has been a little disappointing, so I need it to be extra special so she won’t be so embarrassed to not be shopping and buying dresses.
    Thanks for your time, its a wonderful blog.

  16. Paola Bula says:

    Hola. Hablo muy poco ingles pero algo entiendo jajja. Eres excelente estaba buscando la opcio para hacerle este vestido a mi nena de 5 años que ama a este dibujo animado y tu das unas excelentes ideas. Eres maravillosa gracias por compartir esto con las otras personas. Te ire mostrando mis avances esperemos a ver como me sale.

  17. Kathryn Cooksey says:

    Hi, I’m a makeup artist and I am thinking of creating an elsa dress for a mascot idea for face painting parties? I would just like to know where u got the skirt material from as iv searched ebay & the web.. I can not find it? Its beautiful, I would like to see the top tutorial 😊💕 xxxx

  18. Annie Herod says:

    Angela, what size of rhinestone did you use for your Elsa cape? I’m getting ready to make one and trying to figure out how many to get of each color. You did a wonderful job ^_^

    • Amaya says:

      Well from what i read she said she did 70% clear/white and 30% blue, so I thought she meant 70,000 clear/white and 30,000 blue

    • Angela Clayton says:

      I think it was around $3-4 per 10k and then I rush ordered from one place which was super pricey ($20 for 10k) so in total maybe $60 max.

      My dress form is from a site called buystoreshelving, it’s a foam display form.

      • Amaya says:

        Wow! I can’t find any cheap. Sellers.. Boo it’s to bad he person you went through where bad. I will just have to keep looking

  19. Diana Cox says:

    WOW! I just came across your dress… then I read your age. You are amazing and I am sure you will go far. I haven’t sewn in years, but I used to sew for my daughters and then my grandchildren. I made Barbie clothes late at night for Christmas. Whew, those tiny things. The applications of your snowflakes, etc was fantastic…such patience. Kudos to you and keep up the good work.

  20. Irana van Veluwen says:

    Hello Angela, I’m soon going to make my first costume ever and I wanted to cosplay Elsa so much because I can referend myself with her. I’ve never seen any dress that comes the closest as the original accept yours. Because this would be the first time for me to make anything with fabric, I was wondering if you could e-mail me the patterns that you used for this dress. I hope you can help me out. Keep up the good work! 😉 Best Regards, Irana van Veluwen

  21. michelle says:

    Hi Angela I don’t suppose you would make another of these skirts to sell to me I wouldn’t have a clue how to do it and it looks perfect. Michelle

  22. Crystal Gem says:

    I think you are amazing and very inspirational. After taking classes and learning from friends, there is NOTHING like discovering for ones self! I hope to make a blog and cature my exploits of my costume making journy also ^.^

    Be Blessed

    Crystal Gem

  23. Melissa says:

    I have been searching for the perfect fabric for ages and refuse to start sewing anything else until I do this project, and I stumbled across this picture and said, “YES! I must know what this fabric is!” …Only to find out you don’t know either. Could it possibly be a Foil printing or is it threads weaved in? I just have to say I am completely jealous that you found it! XD

  24. Savannah says:

    Hello! I absolutely love your costumes and sewing!! I was wondering, do you use any sort of patterns or any other way so you can map out how your going to cut your pieces the right way? I would love to make an Elsa dress, I”m just horrible at cutting things the right way!!

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