Making of: Elsa, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

On a trip to the fabric district back in February, I stumbled across a beautiful glittery stretch velvet at Shavali Fabric. Wait. Me? Calling a stretch velvet beautiful???? I know it’s strange. But I loved the shade of dark blue, and the glitter pattern gave off strong ice power vibes. So of course I picked up a few yards, and then proceeded to buy faux fur for the collar, chiffon for the cape, and tons of rhinestones and gems. Oh, and I ordered three yards of white glitter HTV (heat transfer vinyl) from Nova Rhinestone Depot online.

To give a bit of background, my dad’s side of the family is Norwegian. Like, very Norwegian. Both of my grandparents were born in Norway and immigrated to the US in the 1940s, and I spent four summers of my childhood at Skogfjorden (an immersive Norwegian language camp in northern Minnesota). Some of my ancestors are from a town called Arendal, and my grandmother’s name is Elsa. So with the Arendal/Arendelle and Elsa connections, it was inevitable that I’d eventually cosplay this Disney Queen. I also truly love and relate to Elsa in Frozen 2, so I was on the fabric hunt for one of her purple gowns when I stumbled upon this navy velvet.

I originally planned to debut this costume at Wondercon, but never actually got around to starting it. I dreaded spending hours upon hours cutting HTV and rhinestoning. Well, I was also working on some stressful projects with tight deadlines at work, but I was honestly feeling lazy when it came to personal projects. And then coronavirus happened. The entire entertainment industry screeched to a halt, and California issued the “stay at home” orders. With Wondercon canceled, I decided to spend what would have been Wondercon weekend making this costume. The whole project took about six days to complete.

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Starting with my Seramyu Jupiter bodice pattern for reference, I drafted the dress pattern. I extended the bodice pieces to the floor, with curves to accommodate my hips and the desired skirt fullness. I grabbed a long-sleeved shirt from my wardrobe and traced it to make a pattern for the sleeves. Lastly, I altered the neckline to achieve an off-the-shoulder silhouette. Some blue spandex from my stash served as the mock-up and eventual lining. It only needed minor alterations, and then I could cut out the velvet. All seams were sewn with a half-inch seam allowance, and the hem was turned under twice with minimal seam allowance and stitched down. With right sides together, I stitched the lining to the main fabric at the neckline, then understitched.

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The fur collar was a bit of sewing wizardry, and I honestly don’t remember or know how to explain how I made it. It started as a long tube, tapered into points at both ends. I also folded it in on itself, so the layer of fur inside acted like stuffing and gave it the correct shape. I then hand sewed the whole thing onto the neckline with a heavier thread and strong whip stitches.

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The cape consists of two triangles, with the longest sides sewn together at center back. The vertical length ran parallel to the selvedge, and the hem ran perpendicular. This meant that the center back seam was cut on the bias. I was nervous about sewing two fabrics together on the bias, but so far it hasn’t stretched or warped. I used a french seam to stabilize it and hide any raw edges (plus the dense HTV helps prevent warping). My rolled hem foot saved me when it came to hemming the perimeter of the cape. I bound the top edge with some navy twill tape from my stash, then added snaps onto the twill tape and the back of the gown. I considered other attachment methods; however, I picked something that if someone stepped on the cape, it would separate from the dress instead of ripping and permanently damaging the fabric. I added three snaps–center back and one on each end of the twill tape. During the living room photo shoot, the snaps on the ends kept popping off. I think I need to move the snaps on the dress in just a little bit, and probably add two or four additional snaps.

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Then came the HTV. My mom bought me a Cricut Explore Air 2 for my birthday, and I was sooo excited to play with it on this project. I learned a great deal of troubleshooting, especially for the awful computer software. Basically, the software is an ongoing struggle, but the Cricut itself is amazing. The HTV is twenty inches wide, and I ordered three yards of it. And I used ALL of it. Snowflakes in a wide variety of sizes and patterns were ironed onto the cape, then rhinestones added a little extra sparkle. Because obviously the glitter vinyl wasn’t enough on its own.

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I saved a few HTV snowflakes, rhinestones and gems for the dress itself. One snowflake sits at the center front neckline, then sew-on gems radiate outwards. A few small snowflakes and rhinestones embellish the wrist. Half of a large snowflake emerges from the dress hem at center front, and medium to small snowflakes surround it. Rhinestones and sew-on gems of various sizes scatter across the snowflakes, adding dimension and blending it into the glitter pattern on the velvet.

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The wig is actually the first lacefront I ever purchased from Pish Posh Wigs. I bought it for a Lucrezia Borgia (from The Borgias) gown that I never completed. It took hardly any time at all to style this into a loose side braid. And the costume was done! I wore my Victorian corset and a petticoat under the dress, though I can play with a variety of foundation garments in the future. One benefit of stretch fabric is that it’s more forgiving with fit, in case your weight fluctuates or you want to wear a different corset (or no corset at all! Sometimes, the body demands Spanx instead, and that’s ok).

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When I wore the costume with full hair & make-up, Elsa honestly felt like a better fit for me than any other Disney princess. I love her maturity, introversion, independence, and determination. Her journey of personal growth in Frozen 2 truly resonated with me, and I think it’s fair to say that she’s now my favorite Disney princess (*ahem* Queen) to cosplay. I would love to make one of her purple gowns from the second film. I have also figured out how to make her white Show Yourself gown, though we’ll see if I ever commit to such an undertaking. In the meantime, I’d like to give my beautiful Cricut a bit of a rest….

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