Princess Elsa ‘ Frozen ‘ – McCalls M7000

Pretty much the only things that kept me going with this make were how much my little Poppet wanted to dress-up as Elsa and that its my first White Tree Fabrics blog team make.

I’m hoping the results speak from themselves!

Elsa_2

Elsa_1

 

This dress, I have to say, is not for a beginner.

Firstly, the choice of fabrics means that you can be dealing with things slipping and sliding all over the place. I’m not sure I made life particularly easy for myself as the contrast sequined fabric had a slight stretch to it. Pair that with some slidey chiffon and slinky satin, both in wovens and well, it takes a lot of precision in both cutting and sewing to get everything to line up.

The fabrics from White Tree were beautiful and I particularly enjoyed working with the satin. I deliberately chose fabrics that would make a cost effective dress.

Light blue satin / White chiffon / Light blue sequin knit

There are a lot of pattern pieces – 12 in total. That’s a lot of tracing, pining and cutting.

The instructions are a bit on the sparse side.

Now this is generally something that I have come to expect from the Big Four patterns, so I can’t say I was surprised. I largely ignored them and did my own thing. For example, would it not be sensible to suggest that seams are sewn with a french seam on sheer fabrics? The pattern suggested using a ‘double seam’.

Errrrrr…

Yep, I had to look it up too. It suggests, sewing one seam and then another close to it to create two seams, you then trim close to the second seam. I didn’t bother!! Had I engaged my brain before starting, I’d have worked my construction to that I could use french seams, but I didn’t, so in the end I used my overlocker and I’m largely happy with the results. This is after all a dressing up costume, not a couture piece of evening wear!

I was also somewhat puzzled by the lack of instruction to sew a rolled hem on both the chiffon and satin. Instead it suggested sewing a ‘narrow hem’. I checked their definition and nope, they didn’t mean rolled hem. So I ignored that and out came the rolled hem foot!!

I also mostly ignored the construction order, as well it wasn’t particularly time efficient.

I did however manage to impress myself by setting the sleeves in without a single gather or pucker (this was especially impressive as my seam allowances were all over the place – I’d messed up on the bodice and a touch of unpicking was needed).

And I feel I surpassed myself with my sewn button loop!

Elsa_6

One thing I did discover when setting in the sleeves was that there were a lot of layers to match up – the sequin bodice, the bodice lining and the chiffon overlay. So I basted everything together and then pinned and basted the sleeve head in place.

Any helpful guidance from the instructions on this point? Not a sausage!

I used the fabrics suggested by the pattern and if I’m honest, whilst it makes a fabulous replica Elsa dress, it isn’t overly practical for an exuberant 4 year old. I mean, who in their right mind puts a zip in a dressing up costume?

I had intended replacing the zip with some velcro to make it a bit more child friendly and had amended the pattern slightly but realised once I’d cut it all out that my fabric just didn’t have enough strength or structure to cope with the velcro. If I were going to venture down this route again, it would need a separate placket and plenty of interfacing.

Alternatively, whilst this pattern is neither written for nor suggests using knits, I’d use knit fabric and just size down!

My little girl loves her dress. So all the time taken to make it is forgotten.

I’ll leave you with some of the finer details.

 

From maxi-skirt to cape – sewing to order

As I was reading my friend Jo’s blog (Three Stories High) the other day, I realised that a lot of the clothes, accessories etc that I make are very much to order. When I’m sewing for the girls, it just makes sense to sew what they want and get them involved in pattern and fabric choices. As Honey is 8, she’s pretty clear about what she’d like although often has difficulty visualising what things will look like (I’m sure this isn’t only with 8 year olds!!).

Today Honey has taken part in her class assembly where they put on a performance of Julia Donaldson’s ‘The Highway Rat’. It was a fabulous take on a children’s classic and she really looked the part as a ‘highway rat/robber’.

Last week, I was told they needed a ‘costume’ (my heart always sinks a little at this point, as I know I’ll no doubt have to cram some swift refashioning into an already busy schedule). I’m sure there are some amongst you who think ‘why not head to the shops?’ but (a) that’s not very practical for me as it means dragging a 4 year old on the bus and around quite a few shops with no guarantee of success; and (b) why buy new, when really, you can probably ‘make do’?

The brief was a white shirt (preferably frilly), dark trousers & cape. Now I decided that I really didn’t have the energy to go adding frills to a school shirt but we did need to find something that would work as a cape. A root through the lower confines of my wardrobe unearthed a navy sarong which showed promise but after a bit of fiddling I realised that Honey was going to spend all her time making sure that it didn’t slide off her shoulders. I didn’t think her teacher would thank me for that.

Then I discovered a discarded maxi-skirt. I plonked it over Honey’s head…. and hey presto… the beginnings of a cape were born.

It was a very straightforward transformation.

All I did was to cut it up the middle and finish both sides with my overlocker (in fact I didn’t even cut it first, I just went straight in with the overlocker). If you don’t have an overlocker, you could use pinking shears as a no sew option, finish the edges with a zig-zag stitch or for a fully finished approach sew a narrow hem along the edges.

The skirt had some belt loops, so I removed these and used one as a button loop. Other options would be a piece of elastic or piece of bias binding folded and stitched.

To add the button loop, I folder the waistband in half to the inside (so its inside out) and tucked the button loop ends into the seam allowance on the inside (so when you fold it the right side out, it’s on the outside). I then simply overlocked the seam. I created the same seam on the other end of the waist band and turned it the right way out.

I realised that the ribbing of the waistband was going to curl a lot and not stay put. So to put that right, I simply folded it in half, pressed and used a narrow zigzag stitch along the loose edge to keep in place as a double waistband.

Finally, I dug deep into the button tin and found a perfect match!

Et VOILA – from maxi-skirt to highway robber’s cape in less than 40 minutes!!

Now that’s what I call success.

Next on order, I’m afraid it’s a round of school uniform.

How about you? Do you sew to order?

Ghostly goings on – sew your own Halloween ghost costume

I’m normally a bit ‘bah humbug’ about the whole Halloween thing and have been known to put up one of those ‘No trick or treaters’ posters!

But then I had children who went to school and along came the Halloween disco…

Halloween ghost

Now, every year I let Honey decide what she’d like to dress up as and get my creative head on and design a costume. Previous years have seen me refashion a tunic top as a witches costume and get creative with a long drapey skirt and a coat hanger to make bat wings.

This year the request was for a ghost.

OK, so I could have gone for a sheet, plonked it over her head cut a couple of holes for the eyes and said “off you go!” but that would have been too easy.

This was a pretty straightforward make and everything except the face paints and tights I already had.

Want to make your own? Here are some brief instructions to create the look.

Fabric choices – something light weight as it will give a better drape. I used white polycotton sheeting for the main fabric. I also added an underskirt as I knew otherwise I’d not hear the end of the tight sticking issues – I used some standard (ish – it has a bit of a crinkle effect going on) white lining fabric

Ghostly going's on

1. I cut a large rectangle, folded at the head end that was long enough to reach the ground and went a bit further than each outstretched arm. To do this, I just got Honey to lie down on top of the fabric. You could be more accurate and take measurements.

2. Cut a head opening in the middle. Fold your doubled rectangle in half and cut out a curved shape at the corner – try using a plate/saucer. Don’t worry if it ends up too big – you can always sew it up a bit.

3. Make a vertical cut at the centre front from the head opening down – approx 20 cms long so that your child can get their head in!

4. Mark the ‘dress’ shape on your fabric after having folded it in half along the centre front and in half across the neck edge. If your fabric has a right and a wrong side, do this right sides together.

kimono shape

5. Cut along the lines and then stitch using your chosen seam allowance

6. Finish the edges (you will need to clip under the arms making sure you don’t clip your stitching). I just used the pinking shears everywhere.

8. Finish the edges of the centre front opening (that you created at 3) using bias binding folded in half.

7. Using your tape measure on its edge measure your desired neck opening. You are going to need this measurement to construct a hood.

8. Add seam allowances – one for creating a hem on the hood and another for joining the two halves together

9. Draw a hood shape. The bottom edge will be half your total measurement calculated at 8.

10. Cut out two hood shapes. Join down the curved edge. Finish the front edge of the hood.

11. Attach the hood to the neck edge. You may need to ease (I added a small pleat at the back!) or clip some of the curved edges to get it to fit.

12. Fold two approx 20 cms lengths of bias binding in half and stitch along the edge. These will make your ties. Attach ties to the top of the centre front opening on either side just below the hood.

Hurrah! You have now finished the main ghost costume.

Next up, add you finishing touches. I used my pinking shears and cut leaf shapes all the way round the bottom edge and around the end of the sleeves. As I knew the costume would be worn with tights I also made an underskirt. I used Tasia’s wonderful tutorial reducing the ease slightly as this is for a 7 year old. I added the same leaf shapes using my pinking shears to the underskirt too.

Little Miss Ghostie

Finally, I used Snazaroo face paints to add the ghostly make up and found some white eyeball covered tights!

Honey was unrecognisable!!