One of the most interesting and unexpected observations from a child about my sewing was that I don’t have company labels, care instructions, or check out tags on my handmade clothes. No, I don’t. Yet, this time, I do have a bar code to label me…well, kind of. This top may have a bar code, yet it is not for sale and there will not be another quite like it in the world. I did not go to a store to get what I needed when I came up with the idea for it…I shopped downstairs in my stash. I have no bars holding me back, and no code to dominate what I wear. This top is me silently laughing at fast fashion – I don’t need you, cheap ready-to-wear. I can do better.
This scrap-busting little summer top project blatantly speaks for my lack of conventionality when it comes to what it is that I wear, while my background mural of St. Louis, Missouri speaks for my hometown pride! Together, this outfit is the modern “me”, the side of my life which occasionally does not wear vintage, that is. It is the late 90’s punky-style teen still inside me that still loves to sing loudly to Avril Lavigne while driving around town. Besides, I needed an edgy monotone black-and-white outfit to see the new Disney live-action “Cruella” movie, after all!
TIME TO COMPLETE: This was whipped up in the matter of 2 hours on March 30, 2016.
THE INSIDES: cleanly bias bound on all edges and facings
TOTAL COST: The satin and rings were leftovers on hand, which I’m counting as free, and the quilting square was bought on sale so many years ago I no longer remember. My total here is probably almost nothing!!!
I was literally just making this idea work. That’s okay, though, because I felt like being inventive for that day and just went along with all the setbacks I faced. For example, I didn’t have a piece of satin wide enough to have a conventional center back seam, much less a pleat, so I figured the rear of the top would have to be open…”but make it a stylistic element” I thought. I added metal rings, found off of my husband’s work table downstairs, to connect the two edges. The fat quarter wasn’t big enough for a whole front piece either, so I added little satin shoulder extensions (drafted off of the pattern) to end up with a complete panel. This way the print is primarily front and center to my top and the satin is visible from more than just a back view. I like my top better for all the changes I was forced into because of my fabric choices. If you have an oopsie appear purposeful, it becomes an artistic pattern adaption!
Crop tops are fun for me to wear anyway, but this one is more so the way you can tie the longer back extensions up or leave them down like tuxedo tails. I am surprised the pattern never showed or even suggested this wearing option! Either way, tying the back tails helps keep this crop top down in place on me. As I found out after its first time being worn, the lightweight fabrics I used are too insubstantial for a loose fitting pullover crop top, like this. It has the tendency to not stay down in place. Luckily the heavy metal rings weigh it down somewhat from behind. Otherwise, I could see this top creeping up on me. Lesson learned – do not make a crop top in the lightest fabrics on the market unless you don’t mind if it flies up to arm level. Luckily, the combo of both the rings in the open back and tying up the back tails helps this project to be wearable in the end.
I can actually wear this over a long sleeved black tee in the winter, so this is more than just a one season piece happily. Inside during the summer, when places have their air conditioning on “deep freeze” setting I like to have my faux leather moto jacket as a fun, modern cover-up. To wear this to see the “Cruella” movie, I actually paired it with an oversized 1930s red beaded necklace, nice red flats, and a black skirt, and the top almost looked dressy! In these pictures I am wearing it with another Burda Style pattern, the pants portion to a designer jumpsuit (posted here). This little crop top has become more versatile than I imagined when I was originally sewing it together. What I make for myself always gets worn to some degree, I make sure of that. Anything that usefully whittles down my scrap pile is good in my book, anyway. Yet, I love surprises where something that seemed fun and useful to plan at the moment ends up a wardrobe favorite.
At this point, I almost need a whole section of my blog highlighting my scrap-busting projects…I have so many! This one was one of those projects that has been slipping under the radar of my blog, being worn frequently but seemingly insignificant enough to post. This summer has been so busy, I feel badly for not posting here as much as I would like, and certainly not frequently enough to keep up with what I am sewing in real time, but it gives me the opportunity to easily share simple little creations like this one. I hope, like me, your sewing creativity is still going just as fervent and fulfilling, and this season is also finding you happy and healthy!
P.S. If you want to discuss the new live-action Disney “Cruella” movie, share what you thought of it, or just find out more of my opinion, leave me a comment and let’s get talking!! I found it really good, and well done, but with reservations over some confusing technicalities that do not match up. I’d be happy to chat about it!
Stop the presses! News flash here! I have now made shoes! Well, technically I have sewn my own house slippers, but they are worn on the feet so that is close enough to make me feel like adding the term “cobbler” to my long list of capabilities. I cannot express how elated I am over this creation and just how incredibly comfy they are to wear. I was very doubtful I could pull such an idea off, but my slippers turned out fantastic. Plus, they were so quick and relatively easy to make…and all I used is scraps leftover from past projects! This post is aptly named after a sweet song by the same name by a favorite singer of mine, Lionel Richie.
A big ‘thank you’ is in order to Quinn (who blogs here at “The Quintessential Clothes Pen”) for her encouragement and support over this idea in the first place. Over in this post of mine about the making of this fuzzy winter jacket by the designer Ungaro, I casually threw out the question of ‘what can be done with the scraps of the waist peplum I did not use’. Happily, Quinn voted for the house slippers idea, and it sounded like she started making some for herself in turn. All I needed was a bit of outside inspiration to spur me on, and just look at the wonderful slippers I finished now! I am always so overwhelmed and supported by my blog’s readers and followers. You are all truly the best!
I half-heartedly wonder if it might be old fashioned (according to younger generations) to be wearing house slippers. Thus, just in case a definition is needed here, I will provide a brief one. “A house shoe is a general term for any footwear that is intended to be worn indoors, particularly at home, while a slipper is a type of indoor or outdoor footwear that you can easily slip-on your feet. Remember that house shoes can be slippers, but not all slippers can be house shoes.” (Definition from this site.)
I have a few vintage slippers, of the famous Daniel Green brand, which are closer to shoes, for sure, the way they are so fancy, with molded soles and wedge heels. While they are comfortable and luxurious, at the end of the day all I want is to feel barefoot…but with the benefits of a little extra warmth and cushioning. This is one of the many reasons why I personally prefer soft, ballerina-style, enclosed foot house shoes to both slip-ons (with an open back or exposed toes) and modern molded foam bed support slippers. Yet, a good version of a ballerina house slipper is hard to find, never as comfy as I would like, and also quite pricey. Besides, they never last me very long before they wear out to the point that they need to be thrown away. Cue the quest to craft my own. Sewing can be so enjoyable AND useful.
Unlike the fuzzy house shoes commonly referred to as “slippers”, ballet shoes are made of soft leather, canvas, or satin, for dancers to appear weightless and graceful when performing. “These shoes are lightweight and have thin soles to offer maximum flexibility. What’s more, the shoes feature an elastic band that’s meant to secure the shoe tightly to the foot during the entire performance. A proper ballet slipper should also offer a snug fit, like a glove.” (Info from this site.) Often these shoes are in a skin toned color for an invisible appearance. Modern ballerina house slippers, however, are in all sorts of fashion colors and prints and often cheaper materials.
How about a casual “about me” moment related to that topic? I had the hard-toed ballet pointe shoes when I was growing up. They were merely a cheap but neat second-hand purchase that I played around with and casually practiced in at home…nothing too earnest. They are torture devices though (in my opinion) for all the beauty they offer dancers on stage. Nevertheless, I grew to appreciate and admire both the charm of ballet and the hard work of its performers. (Being taken to a Nutcracker performance when I was about 10 years old helped along those feelings, too!)
What I especially loved about ballet was the soft leather dancing slippers after also acquiring a set secondhand at a resale store. I loved wearing them around the house to the point that my mom went to a ballet store and bought me a few more new pairs. The woman at the store quickly ended that obsession by throwing out very judgmental, inquiring, and intrusive questions to both me and my mom…as if her customers could only be professionals and nothing else. Oh well. No doubt this past history of mine is a contributing factor to my preference for ballet style slippers. Now I can make my own and this is the most exciting and inspiring thing to happen in my sewing sphere in a while!
Speaking of something exciting, my slippers had their first time being enjoyed in conjunction with a very special occasion for us. We went for a short (and Covid safe) weekend getaway to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I brought a special true vintage 1930s era nightgown and matching robe for my evening lounging, and my new slippers paired perfectly with the ice blue color of the peignoir set. The aesthetic of the room was 18th century which went so well with my fancy loungewear, besides being a dream-come-true kind of glamorous setting, the likes of which I have never seen. It was a great backdrop to take some pictures of my sippers. If you would like to see the whole vintage lounge set, go check out these two Instagram posts of mine (here and here). If you would like to see a short video of me in my slippers in action, see this post!
PATTERN: a Burda Style extra project template in the back pages of the December 2014 magazine (cover page at right)
NOTIONS NEEDED: All I needed was thread and wide cord elastic. The front decorative bows are ribbons that were saved from off of the packaging of a present I received. Re-use and recycle, right?!
TIME TO COMPLETE: Each slipper took me 1 ½ hours, so I spent a total of 3 hours to make these on the afternoon of April 7, 2021.
THE INSIDES: raw edges are enclosed within the lining
TOTAL COST: FREE!
So long as I approached this footwear project with the mindset that it is still sewing, just like anything else I make, it was easy to make these house shoes. The Burda Style pattern I had to go on was even more bare bones than their regular patterns so I am floored these turned out so well. There were challenging to make because of all the curves, small spaces, and tiny 3/8 inch seam allowances. However, as I said above they were not hard to make, though, and a very fun, different thing to attempt. It’s so refreshing, besides good for my brain, to change up what I am working on making!
On the back page of the Burda magazine, you start with just two small pattern pieces for the slippers, both only about 3 inches long, next to a few short paragraphs of construction details. The same page also has a sleep mask pattern and a quilted travel jewelry organizer to make! All of the patterns on page need to be photocopied and custom sized up to be usable. I aimed at the length of the sole being just a quarter inch bigger than the actual size of my foot (9 inches) since I wanted a snug, ballerina shoe style fit. Thus, I had to enlarge the pattern pieces 305% and add on the 3/8 inch seam allowances, as directed, before I cut the pattern out.
There are four different kinds of material I used because I wanted to only use scraps and also to keep the slippers comfortable. The soles are triple layered with a brown faux suede bottom (a tip from Quinn) and a fleece inner foot bed, all sandwiched with a cotton, padded, quilted panel in between. This way the soles are lightly padded with the quilting, soft on my feet with the fleece, and not slippery to walk in with the suede-like exterior. The outside of the slippers’ uppers are more of the blue fleece, lined in a lightweight poly interlock to absorb moisture and keep my feet from overheating in just fleece alone.
I did slightly adapt the pattern to add some improvements. Firstly, it doesn’t necessarily call for an upper foot lining, but it was a not only a choice for comfort but also a convenient way to end up with clean inners to my slippers. Furthermore, the instructions do not call for the padding that I added into the soles, but it elevates these slippers from being merely homemade and makes them so much cushier. Then, I also hid the raw edges by stitching all of the shoe pieces together onto sole before finishing off the upper elastic edge. Stitching 5 bulky layers together along a very curvy seam in a 3/8 inch seam allowance was something I took my time on so the slippers’ construction was right from the very beginning. There are literally 3 seams to stitch on each slipper, yet if ever I needed to get a seam correct and be precise with stitching, this was the time for that.
Stitching the casing was even trickier than sewing the sole. I was somehow able to mostly machine stitch the seam, luckily. I finished the raw edge of both the interlock and the fleece together with a double row of tight zig-zag stitching that imitates a serger (overlocker) finish. Then, the edge was tuned under 3/8 inch and stitched down with a small gap so the elastic cording could be run through the casing along the upper foot bed edge. It is interesting that the elastic has to be so very much shorter of a length than the actual casing around the foot. The slippers should curl in on themselves when they are off of one’s foot or else they will not stay on. Avoid having the knot of tied elastic end in the casing at the back of your heel for a smooth fit.
I slightly obsessed over trying to have the elastic tightness of both slippers to be equal. I think I came so close to perfection, I’m happy. You know, most store bought ballerina slippers all have one shoe which fits tighter than the other and I have always hated that with a passion. I know how hard it is to make RTW to suit everyone’s individual sizing – but that hadn’t fully sunk into my head how much more challenging that is when it comes to our feet. Most people have a body that is not symmetric on both sides. On top of that, many people also have health issues or results of an injury which can render one foot to be different from the other. A bad ankle of mine, leftover from a severe sprain, makes my one foot swell up at times. Cutting two elastic strips the same length made for unequally fitting slippers for me. I can understand the gripes I have had with RTW ballerina slippers much better now. Nevertheless, that problem still is annoying and uncomfortable, I will admit, so I am happy to have avoided it for my own handmade slippers.
For the last step, I took a fabric marker to designate the left from the right…because let’s face it. More often than not my brain doesn’t need one more thing to figure out at the end of a day. I wanted my slippers to be effortlessly enjoyed, besides being something fantastic to present on my blog, as well! Next time I make shoes, I’ll have to try an amazing 1940s pattern for some summer sandals that you make by braiding scraps – much like a rag rug! (See the pattern here.)
The first time trying something new is always the hardest. With my first pair of shoes successfully done, I can feel a bit more confident branching out. Now, I am rather interested in some kits I have seen online, for assembling your own espadrilles or sneakers. Anyone got any suggestions for more shoes to make? This is fun! Just think of the possibilities to end up with shoes that perfectly match your outfit this way…
There is still all that snow outside you saw in my last post because we are in a rut of deep cold, with temperatures below freezing. Having no place to go, nevertheless, can’t put a damper on the warmth of my Valentine’s Day sewing! I’ve turned things up a notch for this year’s occasion with a spicy little number in a print so fun but totally out of my comfort zone. I am literally covered in shiny red lipstick marks! A lovely viscose blend base gives my bias flounced dress a flamenco flair. It’s a perfectly swishy and showy to move in for such an outspoken print. It has a bold and playful air. I couldn’t resist to copy exactly the pattern’s model version when a similar fabric happened to come my way.
The word “besos” is used in Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese languages to mean “kisses”. I think this multi-national word is an appropriately simple title for such a make, which is of a European pattern, fabric, and inspiration after all. Personally, though, I cannot get the song “Botch-A-Mi” by Rosemary Clooney (year 1952) out of my head when I wear the dress. As terribly hacked up the Italian language is in it, the fun song conveys the flair and energy I receive from my “Besos” dress, too. After all, I do love a good, rich red lipstick…although in Covid times, I leave no lip print behind anymore in a 24-hour-wear formula. Mwah! Sending out some virtual love with this post.
FABRIC: a metallic foil printed viscose challis ordered from Minerva Fabrics
NOTIONS NEEDED: Nothing but thread and a bit of interfacing was needed.
TIME TO COMPLETE: In total I spent 16 hours to make this dress, but that needs a breakdown which will be explained later in this post. The dress was finished on January 8, 2021.
THE INSIDES: I cleanly covered the raw edges to the main body of the dress in a double zig-zag stitch. The flounce hems were hand rolled – more on this further down.
TOTAL COST: a few yards of fabric cost me about $30
As odd as the print is for my taste, the construction was similarly interesting. Sewing the dress itself was easy but the finishing was a long, straining process. The main body fit me perfectly when I traced out my normal Burda size verbatim off of the magazine pattern insert (no extra fitting needed). The princess seams were curvy but long, basic stitching to do. To make things simple I eliminated the neckline facings to save myself some fuss and used wide bias tape instead. I have installed too many invisible zippers to count now so doing so down the back seam was a bother yet not difficult. Even the flounces were a bit challenging to add to the dress but not terrible to work with. I did adapt the shoulders to add my own sleeves, but that wasn’t a problem either, only the fun part. The hemming of all those flounced edges was the tiring part, because I reluctantly took the path of a higher quality.
First, though, more about my change to the sleeves and the shoulder line that led to the extra flounce hemming anyway. The original design called for a thin sundress-style strap over the shoulders, to be covered up by oodles of ruffles which go around the entire arm opening and front chest to the dress. I liked the look of this detailing, otherwise I would not have been interested in this pattern. Yet, I found a similar ruffled sleeve and shoulder detailing in many mid 1930s evening gowns enough to sell me on the idea early on, even before I found a kiss print fabric.
I was sorely disappointed. Once pinned together, I did not like the original Burda pattern’s design which I admired through some 30’s inspiration and couldn’t go through with it. The ruffles caused too much busyness for the elegance and princess-seamed slim lines in the body of the dress, and were very fussy to wear. I felt like I always had to beat the ruffles down away from my face! I could immediately picture some ugly staining upon the black crepe at the underarm ruffle – what a bad position for such a detail.
Time for some customization! I used the original strap pattern as a base to draft out my own piece which stretches over to the shoulder corner and fills in the armscye. Then I chose to draft my own circle sleeves to complement the bottom flounce, the 30’s style, and swishy elegance of the rest of the dress. I do believe such sleeves give my dress a very Spanish ‘flamenco dancer’ kind of air. However, they did add a lot more length of hemming that needed to be done, for as much as I liked what they added to the dress’ appearance.
Often, but not always, the prettiest things to sew sometimes also take the most time. Bias cut flounces have not always been on that list, but they now are. In years past, I have done a 3 step machine stitched hem of a bias flounce. Staystitch ¼ inch from the raw edge, turn the edge under, stitch on the fold, clip the excess, and turn under again for a small machine made hem. (This was done on the sleeves of my blue 30’s gown.) Such a process would’ve been much too complex for the yards and yards of hemming which this kisses dress needed. I’ve never had good success with a specialty foot for such a purpose either, especially when there are seams to get in the way, although I made it work on this skirt.
Most recently, I’ve normally relied on a local sewing room’s rent-to-use machines to make a tiny serged hem such as what I did here on this flounced edge wrap dress (post here). As much as I did like how that stitching turned out it was not a rousing success. The tiny hemming has tended to rip off of the edge of the fabric – bummer. Did I really want to do that again, anyway? Besides, I don’t currently have convenient access to a serger (overlocker). No, I needed a better, cleaner way.
I wanted to use this project as a spur to learn the proper way to make a hand worked rolled hem. I see such a detail on all of the couture gowns I have been able to examine at museums and fashion exhibits. It is not hard to do, just very tiny, time consuming work, one of the favorite stamps of pride to anything designer. Not that this dress is remotely close to anything like that, but the color black hides lots of flaws. Thus, I figured this would be my ‘training’ piece to get the knack down before needing it for a high-class project.
After watching a few different internet videos and written tutorials to have a preliminary lesson, I dove right in. I soon discovered I needed to wear a head lamp for the whole hemming job and could have used some magnifying glasses, too. You need to only grab a few threads at the points you catch the fabric. It is tricky, but after a few hours in on the job I found my pattern of both proper stitch spacing and a comfortable arm level at which to sew. In all I spent 8 hours on the dress and then I am crazy enough to go and spend 8 hours on the hand stitching – 5 hours for the bottom flounce, and 1 ½ hours on each sleeve hem.
This hand rolled hem job demonstrates more than anything else recent my dedication to both what and why I sew…only it is such a sadly subtle, unnoticed detail. I would almost prefer it to be a bold statement, but then, my whole me-made wardrobe is a testimonial to that in itself. Rather, I’ve had the privilege to look at the famous original Schiaparelli “Lobster” dress up close, as well as the best Dior and Lee McQueen garments, for just a few instances. You know what? The unassuming details on all of them combine with the pretentious particulars to make such iconic pieces all the more impressive. A hand rolled hem is the wall-flower, who deserves all the credit, in the back of a room while the person hailed by the crowd only did half of the work. To make that amazing outfit which delights the eyes from afar, well-crafted finishings are only a silent whisper which adds to the loud presence of a good-looking sewing creation.
This simple little Valentine’s dress has something in common with them now, and even if I’m the only one that sees that, I’m happy. There is in inner drive behind such a detail, I do believe, a love of the beauty to the craft of sewing, no matter if the maker you or me or McQueen. It’s nice to feel that these techniques make couture feel attainable for the home seamstress, but I find it more fulfilling to find through them a camaraderie with the designers I respect. It gives me a personal sense of pride, too. I’m not just making clothes to wear. It’s bigger than that – but this post also needs to be shorter than the time it would take me to emotionally vent about it here.
So, I’ll wrap this post up by saying I’ll imagine all the kisses on my dress are for all of you my blog readers, all of those along the way whose posts have inspired me, the relatives and friends who have supported my sewing journey, and the wonderful people who have brightened my day with a compliment or a chat because I am wearing something I made. My love goes to my family, especially – yes, always. My little photo bombing fur baby is always there to give his canine compassion, help me laugh, and share the love, too. I hope this Valentine ’s Day finds you and yours happy. Hopefully, it will be a good day to wear something that signifies how you feel inside, like me! Besos!
I’ll be singing her song too (hopefully soon) this year when fully coming out of isolation with my family! For us, it has been too long of a time away from many “formerly normal” happenings such as vacations, hugs with friends and family, or exciting live but crowded concerts. Now, I found the perfect dress to sew for a materialization of such feelings – an ‘Anna dress’ from the song sequence “For the First Time in Forever”!
Now this particular introductory entry in my “Pandemic Princess” collection ended up the most expensive out of all the rest, as well as the most recognizable compared to its film inspiration. I also just finished sewing it the week before the end of the 2020 year. For these reasons, and the fact “Frozen” always seems to make strong Christmas appearance yearly, my Anna dress was what I wore for the few safe and social-distanced holiday occasions we had this year. Wearing my tiara and Anna dress around to all the socially distanced outdoor lights displays was the perfect place to both be ‘Disney-fied’ and over-the-top fancy without turning any other heads besides those of the little girls.
I tell you one thing – the smiles that lit up and the eye twinkles which appeared in the females 8 years and younger as we passed were the most amazing pay back for my sewn projects EVER! Those little girls gave me this happy, expressive face letting me know they ‘got’ my dress, and 100% understood its reference. It was our little instant secret together, no need for a spoken word. To think – I had just made their moment special, and they made mine in return! It was the most touching social result of all my outfits, even princess ones. Sure, I got adult compliments too, but they did not seem to know the Disney reference when we spoke and seemed to appreciate the outfit for itself (which is fine and welcomed just the same). Leave it to the innocent to give the most direct and truest means of communication – through facial emotions. Luckily, I could read their faces as the younger set often are not required to wear Covid face masks!
The red-brown headed Princess Anna is a character that’s sweet but quirky, optimistic, impulsive, ever ready to be helpful, and only 18 in age at the time of the original “Frozen” of 2013, Disney’s 53rd animated film. The story is set in the mid 1800s in the fictitious Scandinavian fjord town of Arendelle. Anna has a sister three years older (Elsa, who is crowned Queen) with magical abilities and both of them have been locked away in the castle for a decade through their childhood because of those powers. There are situational and emotional complexities that arise when the lives of the two sisters are changed after their quarantine is lifted. Rather than the classic Disney pattern of a romantic relationship tale, the film duo has given us a loving sister relationship they have to fight for at the forefront of their story – but that only comes manifest at the end of the first movie.
The particular dress I chose to interpret for myself focuses on an earlier part of the storyline when Anna is excited and naive while Elsa is uneasy and afraid. (Read a great critique of the meanings and moods behind each of the verses of “For the First Time in Forever” here.) Their outfits are very ethnic inspired, with a nod to historical dress, for the special occasion of coronation day. Anna’s dress is particularly abundant with traditional Norwegian rosemåling in the form of embroidery all over her skirt panels as well as her bodice neckline. While I love the colors of, details on, and overall effect of the outfit, I felt this was the one I disliked the most out of all the costumes the girls wear in both “Frozen” movies. That was hands down the one I had to reinvent for myself. I had to figure out my own way to like that distinctive film dress for it to be redeemed in my mind.
There was something about the movie version of Anna’s outfit from “For the First Time in Forever” which slightly bothered me. Either she is missing a blouse as an under layer to it (such as Elsa her sister wears) or Anna’s top mimics a decorated corset. Also, the fact it was solid black kind of overwhelmed the skirt too much in my mind and took away from her necklace. Those ‘sleeve’ drapes across her shoulders needed to go away in my mind, as well, but I can still vaguely understand the idea of how Disney drew that detail looking at mid-1800s styles (see picture at right). Next, the challenge was finding a more familiar historical reference for my own version. Through all the vintage pattern scrolling I do on a regular basis, I had noticed a very similar style of gored and pleated skirt (according to design lines, I mean) had been on dresses circa 1949 to the late 50’s. The popularity of the full skirts which needed floofy slips to keep a bell shape was for me a natural channel to begin interpreting Anna’s dress. Sewing pattern Advance #8551 from the early 1950s is labelled as the ‘Pretty-As-A-Princess Dress’, interestingly enough.
I chose a vintage Burda Style pattern dating to June 1955, reprinted in July 2020 as #121, as my base because I saw the opportunity to make the blouse and the skirt more harmonious together. The panels to the skirt as well as the neckline binding to the Burda pattern were just the exact width of the faux rosemåling embroidery light green panels. The bottom half of the Burda design streamlined Anna’s long length, deeply pleated skirt by merely being a configuration of triangular godets and rectangular panels ending at knee length. I did reduce the number of godets and panels to 10 of each instead of 14 each to end with a smooth, ungathered skirt. However, beyond this slight adjustment I sewed the design up as it was from Burda, and I couldn’t be happier with both the fit and the final look!
The dress was really not that challenging to make, just very time consuming. There were sooo very many straight seams to assemble the skirt, and the bodice had underarm gussets. However, as long as I had every piece and matching point numbered it was all decently clear and not confusing. The bodice ended up fitting on the slightly snug side while the waist turned out rather too generous when I chose to use my ‘normal’ size which I always use in Burda patterns. My scarf belt hides and pulls in the loose fitting waist and the stretch in my fabric accommodates to the slightly snug bodice. Overall, though, this vintage Burda reprint turned out practically the best out of all their reissues. The greatest trial was sandwiching the zipper in between the left side underarm gusset and the skirt panels. I love how the gussets give the bodice such a fine shape and ease in movement. The skirt panels matched perfectly together into the waistline. This was a joy of a project, if a bit overwhelming.
Now, you are probably bothered with curiosity by now over the fact that my fabric print is just like the movie version. The answer to that doubles as the reason why my Anna dress was expensive. I had a movie look-alike design printed on 100% cotton sateen through the Spoonflower site. It was a color scheme created by an existing account which specializes in Disney cosplay – not of my own making. Nevertheless, Spoonflower services are not cheap, but when you have a great idea that has turned into more of a mission…well, I figured it was my Christmas treat. The ‘embroidery’ look is achieved through a feathered sketching that mocks true rosemåling. I actually used it to my advantage at the neckline to actually embroider over the faux print to keep the overlapping down in place. This way decorative topstitching hides in plain sight the useful tacking!
The fabric was printed in panels which alternate both decorative strips and solid green blocks so I could cut the respective pattern pieces I wanted out of each kind of section. This printing layout was needed to fit the pattern pieces but required me to buy at least 4 yards of material…a pricey amount to need through a custom order. I chose cotton sateen so my dress would have a crisp structure and a slight shine. The Spoonflower sateen doesn’t take to ironing very well, and my fabric actually came with a printing flaw, so I regard their services as a necessary evil to be endured in times of particular creativity. The sateen is soft and pretty, and seemed to be the perfect fabric choice for this dress anyway. All is well that ends well, especially when it is something which ends up this pretty!
To complete the Anna ensemble, I chose a vintage 90’s cross-on-a-ribbon choker from my childhood, a cotton sateen sash belt, and finally Charlie Stone shoe company’s Hallstatt suede heels. Charlie Stone came out with a “Frozen” inspired shoe collection last fall, 2020. I chose the Hallstatt suede flat heels because they match perfectly with the shoes Anna wore in “For the First Time in Forever”. Besides, they have a subtle nod to Elsa, Anna’s sister, with the cut out designs. All of these accessories add the right touches of black for my taste, for the perfect remaking of Anna’s movie outfit. My vintage 1950s earrings are from my Grandmother, laid out in a very Arendelle-style trefoil design which matches both my shoe cut-outs and the dress’ faux rosemåling on the light green panels.
What princess would be complete without a crown, too?! I chose the Anna crown from The Disney Store, [SPOILER ALERT] as it is a copy of the one she wore at her own coronation at the end of “Frozen 2”. It is a very substantial metal enameled piece which is beautiful and surprisingly well made. It also finalizes my outfit by completing in symbolism Anna’s journey from unnoticed, naïve princess to a capable queen.
For as much as I love this particular princess outfit, I do have a disclaimer. The two “Frozen” movies are to be included in my blog post series for reasons far less personal or intentional than the rest of my “Pandemic Princess” outfits to come. After all, Elsa and Anna are part of the Disney princess “club” which has been a popular franchise in the last few decades. Yes, their movies are a feast for the eyes and ears, besides enjoyable to watch (if rather moody and emotive for kids). The “Frozen” tales are also the most recent big deal in the Disney princess realm, as can be seen by the heavy marketing still existent in the kid’s section of any store online or in-person. Yet, what truly wins me over are the fashions the two sisters wear. If only just animation, I am enamored by the colors, the details, and everything about what is worn by the leading ladies of “Frozen”.
All this being said, however, I really don’t like the movies. Sorry to the fans who are offended by this, but I’m being honest on my own platform here (so don’t come at me, please). They aren’t the kind of movies from the “Golden Age” of the 90’s Disney that I adore enough to know every single word to all the songs. Nor can I relate to the “Frozen” characters enough, even though they are very adult in character and conflicts. Compared to what the inspiration basis is for the “Frozen” movies, I think the original source provides a far more impressive, memorable, and teaching tale than the washed down, modernized Disney version. Hans Christian Andersen penned The Snow Queen, or Sneedronningen in its original Danish, in December 1844 and it is almost unrelatable to Disney’s version, even if they did do an excellent job at reinventing the story in a compelling manner. Here is an outstanding blog post that does a very good side-by-side of the original Anderson Snow Queen tale with the storyline of the first “Frozen” movie. I suggest you go read it and make your own decision, too.
So – can you guess which princess (I mean Queen, hint, hint) is coming to my “Pandemic Princess” installment next? My interpretation will be a merged association of several different yet related influences. After all, the original Anderson Snow Queen tale inspired more than just “Frozen”. It also most probably shaped another more villainous character with ice powers who is in a well-known and widely loved children’s’ story series written by a 20th century author. As someone for which ‘the cold has always bothered me anyway’, stepping into this next character was a fun and challenging change of thought for me that turned out successful (if I do say so myself).