Sunday, May 04, 2014

Sewing the Snow Queen - Elsa from "Frozen" dress

Not unlike many little girls, my kid and niece are totally obsessed with the Disney movie "Frozen", and in particular the Snow Queen, Elsa. Its popularity means that the dress-up costumes from the movie are sold-out or being sold for extortionate prices on Ebay. What is a sewist to do, eh? Well, sew some of course!

First I set about modifying my pattern. I used Simplicity 2817 which is the child's Cinderella/Snow White pattern. I used the basic bodice, cut on the fold to simplify it. I have watched the movie often enough to study the costume and to know that I would have to lengthen the sleeves and draft a pointed hem, reduce some of the fullness in the skirt, and draft a cape.

I got my fabrics and supplies from a couple of different places.

Abakhan has a great range of satins at all price points. I picked the cheapest which is fine for kid's costumes and at under £2.50/m is very reasonable in cost. I live local to an Abakhan shop so I could go compare all the shades of pale blue/turquoise and choose the best option for Elsa. I also purchased dancewear lycra to use as the bodice back (not cheap at £10/m but I bought 1/2m for two dresses, and had lots leftover), and some nude poly lining to use for the upper bodice front.

Minerva crafts had this gorgeous sequin voile and some pretty snowflake sequins which helped give the basic shell of the costume it's iconic "Snow Queen" look.

Finally I purchased "Frozen" ribbon from Ebay to make sure everyone knew this was an "Elsa" dress.

The first task was to build the front bodice to make it look like a corset with a sheer layer on top. I layered nude poly lining with turquoise satin and then sequin voile. I took the opportunity to stitch a couple of snowflakes under the voile layer.

I cut the back on the fold from dancewear lycra. Although the Simplicity pattern has a zippered back, I wanted to make a dress that a child could more easily put on and take off by themselves. The shop-bought costumes mostly appear to have a woven fabric front with a stretch back for this very reason.

The sleeves and cape were cut from the sequin voile only. I gathered the top of the cape by simply stretching the lycra back as I stitched it on. I cheated a little and used the selvage as the top of the cape so there was not the need for additional hemming there.

The skirt is cut from satin only. To maintain the stretch in the back bodice, I gathered the back skirt by stretching the lycra to its maximum while stitching the satin skirt piece to it. The front skirt was gathered the normal way (by stitching two rows and pulling threads up). The skirt pattern as drafted has side front seams which lent themselves very well to creating the side split in Elsa's skirt.

I stitched a wide hem on the cape, which allowed me to catch a few more snowflake sequins in the hem for added wintery sparkle.

I sewed two of these costumes over the course of the last fortnight or so. It was really quite rewarding to sketch out ideas, source fabrics, modify patterns and see the costume take shape. There is something quite liberating about sewing something as frivolous and fun as a dress-up costume. As I worked I totally found myself thinking that I understood why people like cosplay because it really is fun!

The best bit of all was delivering the costumes to two very pleased little girls, one of whom chose to wear it for her birthday party this week, which makes me happy that I set out what I hoped to achieve. Happy sewing!


  1. What gorgeous costumes. Lucky girls!

  2. You did such a splendid job with them. I bet they are much better-made than the very pricey ones off Ebay!