11 April 2014

Elsa the Glitter Queen (Part 1)

It's been awhile!  I am sorry, I have gotten kind of bad at writing about stuff.

This has been a busy couple of months.  In February we closed a production of In The Next Room (Or the Vibrator Play), and we are prepping to open On the Verge, or the Geography of Yearning in just a few weeks.  Both have been heavy plays in terms of costumes that need to built.

In my free time (which is what you are here to read about...yes?) I have been working on a cosplay of Elsa from Frozen.  You may have heard about it, it's quite popular.

Since it has been a long time since I wrote anything, you can imagine that I've got a ton of material to cover.  In the interest of not making this post too long, I'm going to break the content I've got so far into the two posts, the second of which I'll publish in a few days, maybe even sooner!

I'm definitely going to say that Elsa's outfit falls into the category of things that LOOK simple but are actually really complicated.  What I'm picking out here just looking at this photo is the fact that her bodice and skirt are textured, differently, her bodice appears to have some sort of silver decoration which could be embroidery, and she has snowflakes on her cloak.  She's also got one of those infamous animated cloaks that has about a billion times more fabric at the hem than it could possible have gathered at the top, and no clear grain to the fabric.

Once all that good stuff was figured out and I thought I knew what I was getting into, I went to buy fabric.

Now, one of the things I notice about most Elsa cosplayers is that they just aren't fancy enough.  Would someone highborn like Elsa be wandering around in a plain dress?  I don't think so, and that's even if she made it herself, because she's going to be used to wealth and fancy clothing.  She's the queen, after all.  She's not going to worry about how much fabric was used to make her cloak, and I mention this because most cosplayers' cloaks seem to have been limited by the width of the fabric bolt and that leaves them looking unfinished and unplanned.

I also made the design decision to add an off-white underskirt because the split blue overskirt really needs something for support, to ensure a smooth line from my hips to the floor.

The underskirt idea came from a couture dress catalogue I picked up at the used bookstore.  Clearly I cannot afford this much fabric, nor can I make the pleats that decrease in size as they approach the waist, but to me that had a very Elsa-esque kind of look and it fits in well with the flowiness of the cloak.

Here's what I bought for this project.  I was lucky to find myself in the New York City fashion district during sale season, so I bought silk for the bodice and pleated silk for my underskirt.  Everything else is synthetic.  For the overskirt I bought some French sequined fabric, and for the cloak and bodice overlay I have this brilliantly sparkly blue netting that's woven organically so as to avoid grainlines.

Pinning everything to the mannequin gave a good idea of what everything would look like.  Don't ask about the obvious slant to the top of the cloak.  I was pretty tired at the time.

For the bodice I am using a a Truly Victorian pattern for an Edwardian style corset.  It's got long hips and a tight waist, so It'll work well for Elsa's long torso.  Mine is made in four layers: glitter netting (overlay), silk brocade (fashion fabric), interlining, and lining (same fabric I used for Suu's skirt).  The silk brocade is cut carefully so that the pattern will continue across the seams where possible.  I'm not stressing out about this, though, because the glitter netting obscures a lot of the brocade pattern.

Here's what we have so far on the bodice:

I've cut the white/beige undershirt into the pattern of a basic bodice sloper.  I'll trim the neckline at a later time.

For the corset/bodice, I've cut the front piece on the fold instead of leaving it in two pieces for the addition of a busk.  It's fully boned using cable ties.  Also please note that my hips are larger than the mannequin's, so the bodice will NOT be sticking out like that when I wear it!

I'm going to save the embroidery and cloak patterning for my next post, but I will go ahead and finish this post by talking about the skirt and overskirt.

Clearly this is going to have a huge train.  I gathered all of the sequined fabric onto a waistband, leaving it open on the right hip, then finished the whole thing with a curved hemline.

The pleated skirt is a bit of a riddle.  Its pleats are so tight that I have trouble keeping it from bunching up into a single strip of fabric.  For now its seams are only pinned together, but once those are sewn up I hope that a quick blast from a garment steamer will relax the pleats a little.  I've also considered adding a petticoat underneath to keep the pleats stretched out from underneath.

I'll leave you today with this quick preview of what I've got so far...!

Check back soon for part 2, which will cover the wig, cloak patterning, and embroidery!

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