Monday, October 24, 2011

Rapunzel costume

The kiddo decided she wanted to be Rapunzel for Halloween. I checked out the costumes on Amazon and local retailers and was appalled at the $50 price tags on the "nice" costumes and the $20 price tags on ones you could tell would fall apart after at most one wearing. I know my kiddo will wear her costume as dress-up for months, if not years, to come. So I decided to put my meager sewing skills to the test and whip up a costume myself. Little did I know what I was getting into...

Inspiration dress from the Disney movie "Tangled"

(great movie by the way -- even when my daughter demands on watching it 3x week)

So I needed a plan of some sort, right? Naw, I was too confident at this point. I even found a website that detailed everything I could possibly need to know about this dress. While I am impressed with the detail, some people take these things way too seriously...Rapunzel Costume Analyzer

First challenge was fabric. (Top priority should have been a pattern, but for some reason I thought I could attempt this without a pattern.) I went to my local Joanns store and found some inexpensive purple and pink satins that were close to the inspiration dress. It was during their Columbus Day sale, so I got them for only $1.99/yd. I also picked out a fancier purple embroidered fabric at $8.99/yd. I blindly guessed how much fabric I would need and got 2 yds of dark purple, 1 yd of light purple, 1/4 yd of light pink, and 1 yd of the fancy purple. Also picked up a roll of purple and pink ribbon that looked kind of like Rapunzel's dress embroidery and a spool of plain pink ribbon. I saw a store sale flyer that mentioned all Simplicity patterns being $0.99 during the upcoming weekend and decided I should make a return trip. Patterns usually run $8.99-$19.99, but they go on sale often.

So I returned to Joanns a couple days later and purchased Simplicity Pattern 2065. This is a licensed pattern, but I personally didn't think the skirt looked at all like the movie. But the bodice looked quite similar and would give me essential help with the fit around the arms and sleeves. Did I mention I'm not exactly a sewer? My only formal training with sewing came a good 22 years ago in a 4-H class and then again in 8th grade when I did a 6 week rotation into Home Ec (and during that 6 weeks, we met daily for an hour and covered cooking, sewing, babies, etc). Anyway, while I was at Joanns, I picked up more supplies that were listed on the notions on the back of the pattern. The back of a pattern gives the amount and suggested types of fabrics you will need, plus details on the notions. I needed a 16 inch zipper (I picked an invisible zipper, not what they suggested), eyelets, cording, and lace. So by this time, I'm into this project for $15-20 worth of materials anyway.


Oh yeah, my next challenge was time. I decided to start this project on a Thursday night...with the goal of finishing by the following Wednesday because my daughter's 3rd birthday was upcoming and I wanted to give the dress to her as a gift. Since I work full-time (doing math at a computer all day, no less) this meant I could only sew at night after the kiddo was in bed. Thursday night, pattern laid out, size chosen (again use the back of the pattern envelope to help), pieces cut. I ignored the suggestion to iron the pattern or to pre-wash the fabric. I do know a fair amount about pattern reading, but patterns give a decent amount of assistance to newbies. I marked the fabric with chalk as instructed. Friday night, I did some initial seams and planned my revisions to the skirt. The movie skirt (according to that costume analyzer site) is a 7-part skirt. I found it easier to cut into 6 pieces; I used the pattern's front and back pieces (of their two-part skirt) and divided each into thirds longwise. Then I sewed the fancy fabric onto the center third of the front part of the skirt to give it the effect of the movie skirt.

The bodice had the most detail and I was glad I was using a pattern by this point. Interfacing always gives me heartburn for some reason, but it turned out okay. I had never done eyelets before and they scared me to death, but the little pack of 20 eyelets that only cost $1.99 at Joanns had all the necessary tools (well, plus my kitchen cutting board and a hammer). I tried one on a test piece of fabric and it worked fine. So I installed the 12 or so that the pattern called for on my bodice and was pleased with the result. Sewing the skirt to the bodice was a little scary because my skirt style had been customized and no longer matched the pattern. But it worked! Sigh of relief. I installed my 2nd zipper EVER (not too bad) and then got all confused with the bodice lining. It was midnight of my 4th consecutive late night sewing by that point and I was hopeful it would make more sense later. I did figure it out eventually and got that in. Time for sleeves. I ended up posting a poll on Facebook to figure out whether people thought I should do light sleeves or dark.

The voting was close, but I decided to go with the light sleeves like the movie. The sleeve detail from the pattern was a pain....10 strips of ribbon had to be stitched to each. The last major part of sewing was to attach the sleeves to the bodice. This always confuses me (in my vast experience....a total of 3 outfits with sleeves that I've ever sewn in my life), because you have to turn the bodice inside out and the sleeve right-side out and put it in from the inside of the outfit. I have learned that a basting stitch is great. This is essentially a rough-draft stitch...change the length to the longest on your machine and stitch away. It is a purely removable stitch and temporary; it's easy to remove (sometimes it's actually intended to be removed) to make sure everything is lined up the way you intend. My final items to complete were the lace. It took me 3 tries to get the neck lace to look right even with pinning it down first (a step I often skip). The lace at the bottom of the lower sleeve was too small to get at with the machine, so it was just a hand-stitching exercise. I actually took it to work and finished it on my lunch hour.

Here was the finished project. All my seams don't line up perfectly, but I was pleased with it anyway. It was at least 2x as hard as any prior attempt I have made at sewing, and I finished it in time for the kiddo's birthday. All that work, and her favorite gift from mom and dad? A $11 princess keyboard that I got out of Walmart's clearance section. Argghh!

1 comment:

  1. I'm jealous you have a Joann's. My MIL whips up cute items for Sydney all the time and she tells me about the awesome deals at Joann's. I'm hoping she'll have time to teach me a few things when she comes down in November