5 yards 3mm micro mini sequins polyester spandex in “White”- AB coated so looks pink, not silver- exotic-fabrics
5 yards stretch charmeause satin, royal blue- Spotlight
5 yards fine bridal tulle- Moreland Fabrics
1 yard white stretch fusible interfacing- Spotlight
4 spools pale blue domestic overlocking/serger thread- Moreland Fabrics
274 yard spools polyester machine thread- Gutermann (col. 714)
164 yard spool polyester machine thread- Mettler metrosene plus (col. 0790)- may be known as Seralon
plastic boning- high quality solid white boning in two widths
metal and cotton zip (recycled)
iDye Poly in turquoise, blue, and kelley green- Jacquard
I started by patterning in a non stretch twill. I used a mix of modern patterning for the bodice with late 19thC skirt shapes and overall balance to the bodice seams. This is to create a line very similar to the 1890s which Elsa’s gown is based on. While most of the party guests are wearing 1840s inspired dress Elsa stands out with her later era gown.
After this I dyed my fabric from white with a very pink-pearlescent tint to a baby/ice blue. This required lots of heat and dye enhancer to both dye the base fabric (polyester) and the micro-sequins totally covering it.
(photos from the seller exoticfabrics on eBay.)
I also dyed bridal tulle at the same time so I would have the option of using it to tone back the shine of the sequins.
Once I had the sequined fabric to the base shade I wanted I started cutting the various elements and fitting to shape.
I deliberately cut the skirt too high (to the waist) and the bodice too long (over the hips) to allow me to make sure my inner lining fitted smoothly over the waist and hips while the shell could be cut shorter. This reduces bulk at the waist and the hips and allows for the dress to move as a layer over the lining as the dress appears to in the movie.
The lining is a cross stretch charmeause satin in royal blue. The bodice is boned at all seams as well as centre front. The boning at the back and sides extends from hip seam to neckline to support the bodice, the bodice front has boning only going from waist to under bust so as to avoid flattening the chest and to avoid the boning folding at the waist.
The waist seam is hand sewn so it could be sewn from the outside to make sure the curves matched and there was no twisting or shifting of seams
The bust was then also padded and the top edge of the bodice turned inside.
The dress fastens with a wide metal zip. This is a technique used on Broadway (if not other major theatre centres where wide hooks and bars are regularly used). It is durable and blend in with the rest of the bodice once the cape in worn.
Once the basic shape was finalised I ombre dyed the hem. This took a lot of work and I had to spend some time enhancing then reducing the green tint I wanted in the dress to contrast with the undershirt and cape, as per the original.
I then turned the hem up and hand sewed in a plain stitch. The hem adds extra weight to allow the skirt to flare and move as it does especially in the balcony reveal.
Once I had worn the dress as it was I decided to finally add the bodice decorations. This involved unpicking the bodice shell from the dress and ironing a new interfacing to it to support the weight of the decorations.
The bodice decorations
288 8x10mm Rectangle AB sew on rhinestone- SunflowerJewelryBox
30+ 13x18mm AB sew on Rhinestone- fashionbeads2013
100 6x18mm AB sew on rhinestonel- fashionbeads2013
144 Swarovski 4mm xilion lochrose AB round sew on rhinestones- crystal-wholesale
324 Swarovski 5mm xilion lochrose clear round sew on rhinestones- crystal-wholesale
144 8x10mm Rectangle AB sew on rhinestones hnyzc2011
7mm beads, twisted bugle turquoise (P 773859)- Gutermann
7mm straight aqua bugle beads (P 773840)- Gutermann
50s pearl “Balger”* Cord- Kreinik (*now possibly 32C Pearl)
In order to be able to sew the decorations I had to use a fusible stretch lining on the back of the sequined fabric. I had cut the bodice with a generous set of back pieces and was able to make the seam allowances at the front tiny and devoid of sequins to help it lie flatter.
Despite a lot of research and development of creating my own sequins I have not been satisfied with the current options. This is purely down to the extreme fabric base I created where sequins simply disappear. I had sewn several patches on the bodice and was simply not satisfied.
The commercially produced sequins and sequin film available look wonderful on other costumes and I am very glad they are there and that I have helped others in this way, I just went a bit overboard on my base fabric and it simply needed more dimension.
I continue to test materials and dyes and cutting techniques (even bought some micro drill bits….) but for now I am happy with several hundred rhinestones of both plain and AB (Aurora Borealis) effect.
(Tools for cutting tiny holes have been procured and are being tested.)