This is probably one of my more agonising costume yet (I think I have a knack for calling every new costume an agoniser lol) for the sheer fact that it is so different from most if not all of my past cosplays.
For Elsa, I was forced to work out of my comfort perimeter and explore new materials and new techniques. They are mostly stuffs many other cosplayers already know but because I am always so behind on matters, I've only just come to learn. I am such a cosplay noob ^/////^;;
Like all my past "How I made _____ costume" blog entries, I am here to share my personal tips and WIP photographs on how I made my Elsa costume. The focus is to help anyone out there who wants to make an Elsa costume, kick-start and conceptualize their own crafting adventure. This will not be a full blown step-by-step tutorial but a mere walk through.
Elsa's costume is one of those seemingly simple costume with simple lines and colours. But when I tried breaking down the costume, I found it almost impossible to achieve what I envisioned the costume to be.
In the pictures, Elsa's sheer white collar just seems to lay precariously near the edge of her shoulders. And while it was a stunning design, I foresee major wardrobe malfunction issues. Such a wide shoulder collar cannot hold the weight of the entire dress and cape. So instead of letting the shoulders be the stress points of the gown, I designed for a corset to take the stress instead.
Henceforth, I bought a white corset online and proceed to use it as a base. I drafted the base of the gown with some scrape papers based on my body measurements and the corset's measurements.
I'm not quite sure how to explain this step but basically, we're trying to make a dress that can fit nicely on top of our corset. So it's essential that on top of the body measurements, the dress will also fit with the contours of the corset. So in the above picture, you see me laying my paper template on top of my corset to ensure everything gels together.
This is the gown pattern I used.
Here is the front of the gown.
Here is the back! The conceal zip will go in the middle.
Because Elsa has a side slit in her gown, I decided to make lining for it. Also because the material I bought for her dress was a stretchy metallic pvc that I fear might tear on me. Of course I've performed adequate stress tests with the fabric before buying (such as pulling in all directions xD) but since the fabric will be covering majority of my body I'm not taking any chances. So just to be safe, I made lining with light blue satin.
Before sewing them together, i pinned all the pieces together to test for fit. If it’s too big, I pin the excess away and decide if I should cut those extra fabrics off. I prefer to take things slow and easy because I absolutely hate unpicking errors!
The blue metallic pvc I bought was very pretty but awfully difficult to work with. It was too slippery even for my industrial sewing machine and I couldn't stitch it at all! Thankfully my mom taught me the trick of rubbing candle wax along the stitch to give the machine something to cling on!
Sewed them together and tested them on myself.
Because I have limited dressmaking skills, sewing this gown with lining and stretchy metallic fabric was such a pain! Simply because with stretchy fabric, it’s too easy to screw up your tension much less one that the sewing machine have problem even stitching through. Made some changes here and there and i ended up with this.
At the very end of it, I hand sewed the gown to the white corset and the corset took the weight of the gown instead of the white sleeved top .
I bought all my fabrics in a store called ‘Ghim Joo’ at Arab Street (Singapore).
2. The cape
This is the draft for the cape. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the exact dimensions of it but each sides were basically cut out from a 60 inch wide cloth. So I guess you could say the widest part of the cape measured 2 x 60 inch (Plus minus a few inches).
I then burnt the edges with a candle because i don't have a serger machine nor do I think a serge line looks good here.
How the cape looks on the gown & mannequin. I sewed the 2 pieces together in the middle but left around 8 inches at the top free to facilitate wearing of the gown xD
3. The white sleeved top
The first task i set out to accomplish was finding a suitable fabric. It needed to be somewhat translucent and stretchy. I eventually chanced upon this stretchy netting in Ghim Joo. I don't know the name of the fabric but I suspect they use this for dance costumes. I initially bought light blue but realise how wrong I was and went back to purchase white instead. I then hand dyed the gradient of the white sleeved top with fabric dye I bought from Art Friend.
I didn't want to draft the top in a way that required 2 separate cloth for the sleeves because i wanted to avoid the seam lines. So this was the design i got by with. Basically a 2D top with long sleeves Hahira. Slight changes were made as the costuming progressed.
With a design like this it meant i needed to dye both sleeves somewhat equally. So I folded the fabric in half and clipped it onto a pants hanger.
Then i dipped it into a hot pot of dye and manually dyed the gradient. I also had a bucket of cold water beside. Because i only wanted very light blue, i made sure to only let the fabric touch the dye briefly. It would have been better if I had done a patch test to see how well the fabric eats the dye but i was too lazy Lol.
I basically held the pants hanger as levelled as I could to ensure both ends are equal, then dipped the ends into the dye, jiggled it a little to make sure the colours penetrate the fabric, brought it up and quickly dip it into the cold water. The dye works better if the water is very hot.
I observed that even when the fabric is in the cold water, the dying process is still active. So do not dip areas of the fabric that you do not want dyed into the now 'contaminated' water. I made use of the on-going dying process to blur the gradient edges by dipping a few inches more.
The gradient turned out better than I thought. However I screwed up badly on the cutting of it and resulted in a totally inaccurate back view T^T.
In the above photo, you see me testing the top with the gown. It’s not exactly the best way to test since my pillow obviously have a very different shoulder from me but… you can’t always have what you want right xD? After I was very sure the fit of the gown and the sleeve top was okay, i proceed to sew it to the gown.
I hand sewed the delicate netting top to the gown. However this method proved really difficult as the netting was stretchy and it was really difficult to make sure there is just the right length of fabric on my shoulders. I think I re-sewed it for maybe 5 times -__-;;; Anyway, I had a very hard time trying to get the white sleeved top to fit as well as I had hoped. I think my design was wrong from the beginning and probably should have made it like a regular long sleeved top with individual sleeves instead of this 2d top design.
While I was buying fabric dye, I somehow stumbled across Marabu Fabric Glitter liner (awesome product!) and used it to draw out the patterns on her sleeves.
To draw the patterns on, I bought a blown up mannequin for this costume and then cling wrapped the entire torso and sleeves area.
I kept the netting fabric in place with masking tapes and dressmaking pins then I just hand drew the patterns out. As you can see from the photographs, the gem stones are already on the gown. I drew the sleeves pattern the last out of the entire costume.
Due to time and confidence constraints, I didn't draw the full sleeve patterns but only concentrate on the shoulder area.
4. The gems
This had been the portion that worried me the most because I've never worked with gemstones (in costumes) before nor am I a very "glittery " sort of girl. So i found myself totally lost. Anyway I bought my gemstones from Divisora (Philippines) & Malaysia because they are a lot more expensive in Singapore. Trying to recreate the gradient in her gown also stumbled me for a long while. I didn't want to make a standalone corset because it seemed to me that Elsa's gown was more like a gradient of colours to hint the location of her torso. So after much research I decided to create that hint with the use of gemstones.
Because i was such a gemstone noob, this was what I did to help myself visualise the end state.
I laid my gown flat and arranged the gems until i was satisfied with where I was going. I then stuck a layer of clear scotch tape over the gems and gown to keep them in place. Then i slipped the gown onto my mannequin for a visual check.
I could even take the tape out and still it on a plastic file to continue this work another evening xD It's a tedious process that might not be necessary on hindsight but i really needed the assurance that i was doing the best i could for the costume so i wasn't taking any chances. I know i sound like such an OCD but i really hate putting in effort into something and still screw it up!
I stuck my gems onto the gown with this crafting glue I bought from Taiwan. It smells kinda like Uhu glue but is a little less viscose, doesn’t drip as much and smells better.
Here’s a photo of the gown with just the gems of differing sizes stuck on. Since I already had the glitter liner, I used it to draw small dash strokes around the gemstones to help ease the contrast of the gems and the fabric.
It probably took me an hour or so just to stick the gems and draw the strokes but I had so much fun!
I even added some at the hip area xD
I hadn’t considered how the glitter liner would react to water so when I had to wash the costume, I freaked out a little. But thankfully , Marabu Glitter Liner stood up to gentle hand wash!
The lines did however, bloated up like corals xDD It was a really disgusting yet intriguing sight xD
Don’t worry, it turns back to normal after it dries. Just make sure you hand wash it really gently otherwise it will flake off.
I bought a light blue sequin trimmings in Taiwan and I’m so glad I managed to use it for this costume! I had been very afraid it would looked too gaudy but turns out there’s no such thing as gaudy in Cosplay xD
But the trimming was too blue for my taste and I sprayed a light coat of chrome silver over it.
There! Look so much frostier already! Then I simply hand sew the trimming to the collar area.
Elsa: Elpheal/ Kaika
Jack Frost: Yuanie
Help from: Kyoka, Neo & Data.
This costume was a lot harder than I initially thought but I had a lot of fun (and pressure) trying to work with the different materials and gluing gems. At the end , Im just happy I managed to finish it! I hope this entry was somewhat helpful! Sorry for not having enough progress photographs and being clearer with my instructions/narration. Leave me a comment and tell me what you think 8D