Elsa The Snow Queen – Photos

I’m absolutely blown away at the amount of feedback I’ve gotten on this costume – though I make costumes because I enjoy it, It always thrills me to know that other people like my work.

Today I had planned to post the first installment in a new project, but since there seems to be so much interest surrounding Elsa, I will post these instead!

I had been rushing the final bits of this costume with hopes of photographing it in the snow….which didn’t really work out. All the snow ended up melting, but a week later Long Island got yet another snowstorm, which provided excellent Frozen photoshoot conditions!

Though the snow was beautiful, and reminded me very much of scenes from “Frozen” it didn’t end up being the best for taking photos in. Since it was a storm, it was very overcast, and without sunlight there was nothing to reflect light onto the hundred thousand rhinestones. The details I worked so hard on are almost invisible.

I did take photos the next day, this time with sunlight, that show the details off a little better. Those are still unedited, but should be posted in a week or two. I posted a little preview on DA here.

Although these don’t show my hard work, I think these are really gorgeous photos, and I wanted to share them.

For detail shots of this costume I would suggest checking out my forth the making of post here.

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The Making of Elsa – Frozen – Part Five

I’m currently babying my dog who just had her teeth cleaned – she looks so pathetic I can’t bear to leave her, so instead of being productive I’m going to write the final post this series with her on my lap.

This post will cover making the mesh top, the wig, and talk a bit about my corset and makeup. If you are curious about any other part of the costume I would suggest you check out the other four posts I have on this costume, which can all be found here!

Weirdly enough, this was one of the first things I made for this costume, and it’s the last i’m blogging about. This was honestly one of the easiest costume pieces I have ever drafted, it took ten minutes and the alterations were super easy.

I started by putting the mock up of the corset onto my dress form.

(please ignore the episode of say yes to the dress in the background, ha!)

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Then I used yarn and a line of pins to mark the neckline and the arm holes.

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 I draped mesh overtop of that and cut it to the right size, I had to be careful not to stretch it as I went. Which was the most difficult part, since this material really wants to stretch.

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I did a real quick draft for the sleeves and made a mock up, which ended up being successful.

I turned my mock up into a paper pattern, but instead of using regular paper I used poster board. Then I drew out the design I wanted onto the poster board and covered it with wax paper.

Much like with the snowflakes on the cape, I could lay material on top of this and use the drawing as a guide.

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Then I put rhinestones on top of that…

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I did the same thing with the bodice

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I sewed all the pieces together and it was finished!

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At this point I wasn’t super happy with the corset (honestly i’m still not) so I decided to repaint it with iridescent paints. Then I slathered the thing in glitter glue…and you can’t tell at all. It still photographs very matte, which I find upsetting. If I were to wear this costume somewhere important, I would remake the corset entirely.

I embellished it with lot’s of little rhinestones and declared it done…at least for now.

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Moving on from that, and onto the wig! I ended up purchasing two “lace front” wigs on ebay with plans to sew them together. But when they arrived there were two problems – I was only sent one wig, and it did not have a lace front.

So I spent several frantic hours trying to find something usable, and eventually stumbled upon a nawomi wig on amazon in the right color, and it had a lace front. It’s the most I’ve ever spent on a wig before, but I think it was worth it!

Styling this scared me since i’m not very good with wigs – I can curl them and detangle them, but I suck at everything else. I ended up decided to jump in and hope for the best, other wise I knew I would stress about it for weeks and never actually style it.

I started by separating out the bangs from the braid.

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Then I sectioned off all the spiky bangs and cut them as I went. I teased the roots for volume, and used an eyebrow razor to thin out the points. I set them in place with got2be glued hairspray and used pins to hold them in place while the dried.

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I braided it and it was mostly done! Later on I used a small hot roller to tighten up the front curl, and trimmed the sideburns.

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Then I tried everything on together! I noticed some changes I had to make, but overall I was pretty pleased.

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The last thing to do was figure out makeup. I think makeup is important regardless of who you are cosplaying since it will make you look nicer in photographs, and overall more put together. But with Elsa it’s especially important, since she is very clearly wearing makeup, and it’s very specific in shape and color

I’m not someone who wears bright colors on a regular basis, so this was slightly tricky for me. I ended up making use of a freebie from clinique, some cheap fake lashes from ebay, and eye glitter from ulta.

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And that was it! Elsa is finished, and i’m looking forward to sharing the photos of the complete project. I thought I would feel disappointed or relieved or sad or something when I finished this, but i’m sort of indifferent. I enjoyed this project, but was completely ready for it to be over, and i’m looking forward to working on other things!

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Thank you for joining me throughout the making of this project! I hope you will stick around for the next one.

The Making of Elsa – Frozen – Part Four

This has been the a very difficult and unusual post to write. Usually I pick costumes that are challenging, but relatively quick once I figure out how to make them. This was the opposite – It was a easy, but very, very time consuming. It’s also not a very interesting process, so I’ve padded the post with a lot of photos.

If this if your first time visiting my blog I would suggest checking out my previous posts about this project, they can be read here, here, and here!

Immediately after seeing the movie I knew what I wanted to use as embellishments. From prior experience with rhinestones, I knew that they shine in a way that almost looks like freshly fallen snow, producing a much prettier and sparklier look then anything else.

They can be used closely together to create designs, farther apart to create a gradient, or applied individually. This meant that I could use them to create the sparkles on the cape, sleeves and bodice, and since they would all share the same embellishments, it would made the entire outfit look more cohesive.

I have decided that I won’t bore you all too much with explaining the types of rhinestones, glues and applicators that are available.If I did, this post would be around five thousand words long. But if that sort of thing does interest you, you are in luck! I have created a separate post on my tumblr that can be read HERE. It answers a lot of the questions I’ve gotten, and has information and tips on everything related to rhinestones.

Moving onto talking about the costume! I originally purchased seventy thousand rhinestones, which didn’t end up being enough, so I made another order several weeks later. In total I used a little over a hundred thousand rhinestones on the entire costume, ninety thousand were 3mm stones, and ten thousand were 2mm stones. Seventy percent of them were clear (silver/white) stones, and the rest were a light aqua color.

This picture shows around half the stones I ended up using.

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I also bought six tubes of E6000 glue from amazon, a set of syringes (glue applicators), cotton swabs (rhinestone applicators), and a bit of fabric glue. Once I had all my supplies I was ready to get started!

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In my last post I talked about drafting the patterns for the designs. Once I finished drafting the designs, I did something very important – I taped wax paper over top of them. The glue I used for the majority of this costume is E6000, and the chemicals in it make both sharpie and printer inks run, which can leave permanent stains on the fabric. Like this…

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If that doesn’t happen, you will still be screwed since there is no good way to get paper off of dried industrial strength glue. The wax paper creates a barrier between the paper and fabric which fixes both of these problems. When I ran out of wax paper, I used plastic wrap and found it worked well, but was tricky to perfectly smooth.

This is what my set up looked like when I was working on the large designs. The whole thing laid out flat as I could get it with the space I had available, with the edges weighted down by mugs and jars.

Thanks to a wonderful christmas gift, I had the ability to watch netflix while doing this.

(though I ended up running out of shows I was interested in, oops)

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As I said earlier, the process is very easy, it’s just slow. You have to spread the glue over a small space, usually a square that’s no more then two inches by two inches (any larger and the glue will dry before you can get to it) or a line that is less then ten inches long.

Then use a wet Q-tip to pick up rhinestones and deposit them where they need to go.

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I estimate that this back bit of snowflake ended up taking forty hours of work.

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And though this seems pretty minuscule, just the sections pictured below is around 10~ hours of work.20131224_161742

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Eventually, I had enough of this finished that I could take it off of the paper.

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It didn’t look like a whole lot at this point. But I was happy because this meant I could move on to adding the snowflakes. In my last post I talked about resizing them to fit properly, and that process continued on and on until I had enough snowflakes for every panel.

This is the front panel – this photo shows how easy it was to see the pattern through the fabric.

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And the (tentative) layout for the side panels.

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In total I embellished fifty snowflakes, and here they all are (well, half of them, since the cape is symmetrical)

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The process of embellishing snowflakes was very similar to the main design, but instead of spreading the glue with a brush I used syringes, which allow for very precise dots and lines.

Not long after I started I ran into the issue of fabric not staying in place properly. It tended to wrinkle or move while I was trying to apply stones, and it became very frustrating. So I taped two pieces of foam board together and covered it in wax paper. Since it was foam, I could pin through it, and pin my fabric in place so it stayed taught.

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Back panels (almost) done!

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The front panel almost finished.

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The side panels…

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And then I was (almost) finished with all the snowflakes!

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So I got back to focusing on the main design. We happened to get a snow day, which meant my view got way prettier and more inspiring then usual.

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It also distracted me. Some much so that I ended up dragging my dress form into the snow for some fancy WIP photos.

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Though it looks relatively close to being done, I had to put twenty more hours into it before it was actually finished. At this point I was so tired of the project that I stopped taking photos. (oops)

And though I don’t have photos of it completely finished just yet, here it is at 99.9% done. In total I spend around 170 hours on the cape, 168 of which were spend embellishing.

It was super time consuming, but in the end I’m happy I did it this way. It’s always been a dream of mine to make something really sparkly and wonderful, and i’m happy to say that it’s come true!

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Upcoming posts: Making 17th century bodies, Making a Grey dress, and the final post in The making of Elsa!

The Making of Elsa – Frozen – Part Three

Time sort of slipped away from me and I didn’t quite realize how long it had been since my last post, oops!

I’ve been busy with projects throughout the past few weeks. My primary focus has been Elsa but I’ve also been working on a bunch of mock ups and original designs, some of which are historical based and others that are somewhat casual. I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t worked on something for at least an hour – it’s been great.

Most of my precious hours of productivity have been eaten by Elsa. This costume has been such a huge undertaking, even more challenging and time consuming then I had originally expected! But I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to make something really detailed. It’s always been a dream of mine.

So that’s what I’m going to talk about today. I originally planned on only having three posts about the making of Elsa, but I’ve given up on that and will be happy if I end up with five. I have tons of photos and information to share about this, and I don’t want to scrunch it down.

You can read my previous posts about this project, here and here.

This particular post is on the drafting process for the cape/train. I will talk all about embellishing it in a later post (I actually hope to make a video on the process but I haven’t gotten to it yet)

For Elsa’s shirt and cape (or as some people have been calling it, her train) I chose to use stretch mesh. It’s a material that looks like tulle, but feels much softer and stretches in all directions. Sadly it doesn’t drape as nicely as chiffon or organza, but since it’s stretchy it will work better for the shirt.

I won’t even have to worry about adding a zipper, or hemming anything since it doesn’t fray!

I purchased eleven yards of stretch mesh, one yard for the bodice, and ten yards for the cape.

I cut the ten yards into three chunks, two that were three yards long and one that was four yards long. Then I pinned them very roughly onto my dress form to make sure I had enough length.

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It doesn’t look like much, but I was actually really happy with it haha. I had plenty of length, and I could tell I had enough fabric for the volume I wanted as well.

I knew I wanted my cape to be six panels, with a seam down the back. So my next task was cutting each length of fabric in half, so they could create two panels. Instead of cutting them in half the way you would expect, I cut them diagonally so I could save the length.

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Then I pinned the longest panels onto my dress form. I made sure to adjust my dress form so it stands at my height, plus a few inches to account for the heels that go with this costume.

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I repeated this with my other pieces of  fabric, and then I had something that looked a little like this:

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(sorry for the messy background)

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The whole thing got sewn together, and then I was ready to start figuring out the snowflake pattern! I must admit that I took some artistic liberties here. I really loved how the cape looked in the movie, but when I began sketching out the snowflake pattern in real life, I realized if I made it accurate, the pattern would be very blocky.

And I don’t think of Elsa as a blocky character. She’s all smooth and shiny and sleek. So, for obvious reasons, I wanted it to look smooth and shiny and sleek. I tried to keep the shape of the snowflakes similar to the way they are shown in the movie, but softer and with more detail.

I laid the cape flat on a giant sheet of paper, then traced around it and marked out all the seams.

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 I used a ruler and french curves to draw out the giant snowflake.

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Once I was finished, I taped wax paper over the entire design, and pinned the cape over top of it. Since the fabric is sheer, the design is easy to see through the cape. This way I have a guide for embellishments.

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Now moving on to getting the smaller snowflakes onto the cape!

I started by going into photoshop and figuring out (roughly) where the snowflakes should go, and what size they should be.

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I decided to conquer these panel by panel so I wouldn’t get to overwhelmed – right now I’ve just started, so I only have one panel complete. Luckily that’s enough to make an example out of.

I laid my cape piece over paper and traced out the area I needed to add snowflakes to. Then I used my guide to draw out circles in the rough areas where snowflakes needed to go.

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I measured the size of each circle and marked them clearly. Now I knew exactly what size of snowflake patterns I needed to print.

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When it came to printing I went into photoshop and did this:

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I ended up needed to print off four pieces of paper for this particular panel.

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Then I cut them out and taped them into the right places.

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I ran out of wax paper, so I improvised and used a layer of plastic wrap taped over the designs.

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Then I pinned my cape over top of that and was ready to embellish! During the embellishing process it looks a bit like this

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I hope you enjoyed!

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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!