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!

Merida – Brave – Fall photos

Tonight I saw the most recent disney princess film, and I must say I enjoyed it a lot more then Ithought I would. So much so that I see another princess (or should I say, Queen) cosplay in my near future.

This post isn’t really related to that, but it was the film that reminded me of these photos of Merida. Photos I should have posted a long time ago, since they were taken a month ago!

The leaves were the colors of Meridas hair and I thought it would make for some lovely pictures. Sadly by the time we got around to taking these a lot of the leaves had fallen, but the pictures themselves still have that orange glow to them which I like a lot.

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Merida (Brave) Cosplay Photos

I pride myself on doing a (relatively) good job of documenting, and posting about the process of making my costumes…but somehow I always neglect to post photos of the FINISHED product! It’s madness, and it’s time for it to change. I have been updating my DeviantArt over the last few days, and shall do the same here on wordpress. Hopefully in the next few weeks I can get the vast majority of my nicer-cosplay-photos posted.

I figure i’ll work my way backwards, starting with the most recent costume and ending with pictures of Napoleon that were taken almost a year ago…

Which means starting off with Merida pictures! The photos were taken on a trail that runs behind my house, with my father standing in as the photographer. I edited them, posed, made the costume, you know, all that stuff.

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The Making of a Merida cosplay – Brave – Part 2

Alas this costume is complete! Unlike my other project (which I shall blog about later) this costume has been a joy to work on. Usually boring simple designs don’t keep me interested, I get tired of them very quickly and my work becomes sloppy and rushed. This happened when I was making Mizore and I was really worried it would happen again with Merida.

Luckily, that was not the case at all. I really enjoyed making this and I actually really like wearing it too! It’s comfy and easy to get on/off, plus it’s actually flattering – quite the rarity in my cosplay closet.

Anyway, On with the post! If you missed the previous post on this costume you should read it here.

There wasn’t a lot left to do on the dress. All it really needed were ruffles and a good hemming. The first of which proved to be a bit more time consuming then I would have liked.

I cut strips of chiffon, folded them in half, and top stitched the fold.

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I used the tension method of gathering, which works really well on lightweight fabrics. All you have to do is set your tension as high as it’ll go, and set the stitch length to the longest length. Then you sew and enjoy the perfect ruffles.

Some of these got sewn onto little strips of wool which got hand sewed into the sleeves.

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The others would later go onto the neckline – but first I had to cut the neckline! I did this by putting on the dress and drawing it out with dressmakers chalk. Then I measured out and cut the “V” I cut a rectangle of muslin which would fit beneath the V. Then that rectangle was covered in chiffon that had been gathered on each edge.

If that doesn’t make sense go back to post #1 – it’s the same method I used on the sleeve poofs!

That got pinned into place…

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And sewn! I later cut off the edges.

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Then ruffles were added to the neck. The bottoms of these were sealed with nailpolish to prevent fraying.

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Once completed it looked like this!

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When it came to the lacing I used some cream colored cording I had laying around, a VERY large needle and pliers. I measured out where each hole should be and worked the needle through each one. This was really annoyingly difficult and I would not recommend it – but I personally think it looks better then grommets so I guess it was worth it.

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There we go.

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Moving onto the cape! I thought this would be really easy, but I struggled with the pattern. Unlike most all cape patterns, I didn’t want mine to have a seam down the center of the hood. I wanted it to be three pieces.

I quickly learned these do not exist and are a pain in the ass to draft. Made more challenging because you have to account for a GIANT hairstyle that needs to fit in said cape.

But I did it! 

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The piece on the far left is my lining. The back seam has a french seam.

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Which looked like this when put into place

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The actually cape part is a half circleish sort of shape that was double hemmed on each side, the top was gathered by hand and sewn to the inside of the hood.

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This cape also doubles as a dog bed so that’s pretty cool.
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And in the end it looked like this! The hood is pretty floppy here because I don’t have a giant head of gingery locks like Merida.

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Speaking of gingery locks…

This pile of hair arrived for me!

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What you see there are four wigs.

This is the base wig – which I dyed to match the other wigs I used. And one of these, and two of these.

Those links will probably be dead in a few weeks so here are pictures. At the time I ordered these they were all on sale and I think in total I spent $65ish.

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So the three long (100cm) wigs were turned inside out and seam ripped apart!

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Each weft was sewn to another weft, making them twice as thick.

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Then I laid them all out on a towel and used alcohol dye to make the roots and certain strands darker. I brushed the dye on with a large paint brush, and after a few days I washed each weft.

My entire bathroom floor was covered in hair.

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The “base” wig has a lacefront which makes it look more natural. Sadly this wig did not come in orange, so it got dyed via the spray bottle method. Each strand was heat sealed before I rinsed it.

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And then I started sewing the long fibers onto the lace front wig. SO MANY PINPRICKS. Dear got it was miserable, but you know what was worse? Curling it. My fingers still hurt. They still burn. 

I honestly wish I had more photos of this process, but it’s tricky to photograph. The curling process especially since it requires both hands and  has to be timed to the second (otherwise the wig melts, yeah, fun.). Also my hands were orange from the dye so it was a big mess trying to wash them! Plus in my bathroom lighting the wig photographed as a big orange blob.

Here we are maybe 1/2 done. With a lovely shot of my bathroom floor (wefts that still had to be sewn in.

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And here we are two nights later! After another five hours of work (and a ‘Say yes to the dress’ marathon) it was almost complete!

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And then the next night the bangs got styled and I could proudly say it was DONE! This beast took longer to make then the costume it’s self did. If I had to guess I would say it took 12-15 hours. Crazy.

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Today I did the very first makeup test, which I actually filmed since people on tumblr were curious. The makeup is pretty boring and straightforward – I kept it natural since a lot of makeup goes against both Merida’s appearance and “spirit”.

Anyway – that can be watched below!

And here is the finished product. I’m quite pleased with everything, next time i’ll use more blush but that’s about it!

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With the cape:

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And of course, a photo of the finished dress. Hopefully I can get pictures of these together later on this week – I would love to have a shoot in the woods before I take this to animenorth and the wig get’s all messed up.

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I do believe that is everything!

As always, thanks for reading!

The Making of a Merida cosplay – Brave – Part 1

I was on the train into NYC the other day, armed with birthday money and desire to buy fabric when I decided to cosplay Merida from Brave. I’ll admit the movie isn’t one of my favorites, since I think the “plot twist” in the middle is a bit silly! But I do love the message and the character, and I think that’s what matters.

Merida has been on my “to-cosplay” list for ages and after watching a show that takes place in the 12th century  (‘Pillars of the Earth’) I was feeling pretty inspired by the simple, but flattering garments from that time period, which made Merida move up on my list.

It still wasn’t a costume I had planned on doing any time soon, but the mood for making it struck me right before a shopping trip, which is how I ended up with all the materials needed for this costume.

The urge to actually sew it hit me 24 hours ago, so I did. And now it’s well on it’s way to being complete, and I’d like to share it with you guys!

What i’m making would be classified as a medieval kirtle (is that a fun word or what?), and if you search around you can find TONS of free patterns for these online. Kirtle’s began as a  loose garment that didn’t have waist seam, later on they became tighter and dressier, and even later then that they became undergarments! They are different from tunics and chemises since kirtles have lace up closures which allow them to fit better.

See basic Kirtle

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I didn’t actually figure out what this garment was called until after drafting my own pattern. But even if I had I probably would have used this method anyway, since it allows me to fit it properly and get the a good idea of the fullness needed.

I took a few measurements, the important ones being shoulder to toe (dress length), bust, hips, and torso length. Then I marked a piece of muslin with the newly taken measurements.

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Then I turned the remaining fabric into side inserts.

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I sewed up the side seams and added a back zipper for fitting purposes.

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It’s flattering, isn’t it?

I used my usual pin-until-it-fits motto, and drew out rough arm whole and neckline placements.

Then I removed the dress and made my lines more even and defined.

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For the side seams the pin line was puckered. This happens a lot, and easy to fix – but it’s also easy to forget about! If you don’t fix it, and mark the line while one side is puckered, you’ll get uneven seams later on which can lead to fit issues.

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If you have that problem, fix it, then mark your line.

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Beautiful. I cut that out, and sewed up the altered seams. Heres a picture of pinned vs. sewn.

Also, here it becomes obvious I have a corset on. It’s a cheap, plastic, ebay one purchased for a whole $9. The waist isn’t tightened at all, I’m actually wearing it to smooth out the pudge above my hip bone so the dress lays nicer. DSC_9663

And here is how the dress looks with two “skirt triangles” I think the technical term for these are ‘flounces’ but don’t quote me on that.

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I was happy with it, so I went ahead and cut it out of my fabric!

Speaking of fabric, I adore the material I got for this. I didn’t have a reference photo with me when I bought the material, so the color is slightly off – it lacks the blueish tone Merida’s dress has, but I love it anyway. It’s very heavyweight wool (suiting?) and it has the most wonderful texture.

One of my major Merida cosplay pet peeves is people using broadcloth or very lightweight, swishy fabrics for Merida’s dress. Or even worse, materials with a sheen and glitter! We are supposed to be in 10th century Scotland, and a horse-riding-archery-master-tom-boy-all-around-awesome-strong-female-character, we would not put up with that shit.

So when I was picking materials I knew I had two options, linen or wool. But linen wrinkles like hell and my previous experience with it was quite disastrous, so I went with wool.

 I also picked up four yards of dark brown for the cape, again, I did not have reference images and for the life of me I couldn’t remember whether her cape was grey or brown. Apparently it changes between green and grey depending on the image or movie scene.

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I didn’t take any pictures of the fabric cutting process, but I think it’s fairly straight forward. Here is a picture of the dress “pattern” I made up in MS paint. As you can see, the bodice is seamless but the skirt has two panel inserts (one on each side) to give it more volume.

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That isn’t to scale at all – in case it isn’t clear, the skirt hem is 36″  before the panels are added, and then it jumps to being 60″, and this image only shows half of it. It’s intended to be cut on a fold which means the entire front panel hem is 120 inches. Hopefully that isn’t too confusing.

Here is what that looked like sewn together.

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At this point I was feeling very accomplished, so obviously I needed to get rid of that by making the sleeves.

I did a few drawings of how they would look and took a whole bunch of really inaccurate measurements.

If you were not aware, it’s really difficult to measure your own arms.

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DSC_9665In real life they ended up looking like this.

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DSC_9670Now I had a pattern – which was great, but I had to make gathered sleeve puffs. My first attempt at these went all wrong, I tried to drape gathered rectangles over sleeve rolls and they looked way too puffy.

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Attempt two went much better, I simply used gathered material and pinned it over a muslin base.

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The shoulder sleeve puffs were made the same way.

DSC_9683Then they were pinned to the sleevy portions of the sleeves.

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And then they got sewn into the dress!

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I have to hem it, add sleeve ruffles, cut the neckline and add lacing, but then it shall be done! I’m proud considering this was only a days work. Usually  it takes me weeks to make a pattern, much less have a wearable garment.

Hopefully part two will be up soon, but you never know with me.