I have two boys, and they’re too young to be into the movie Frozen just yet, but I think it’s adorable and I have lots of friends with little girls who are obsessed! A friend of mine asked me to make her 3-year old daughter an Elsa dress-up gown for her birthday, and dropped off an amazing bag of materials at my house last week. I searched Pinterest all weekend, but as usual ended up making my own pattern. So here it is, from me to you; an early holiday present! Oooh, speaking of holidays, this is the perfect time to whip one of these up for the little Frozen-obsessed girl (or boy of course!) in your life just in time for the holidays! I love dress-up clothes for gifts because they always get so much use out of them. And this pattern would be perfect for any princess-like gown, and would look completely different when made with different colors and fabrics. It’s a great base pattern for whatever you can come up with!
Bonus for this is that it doesn’t take long at all. I made this entire thing in one morning, and that counts lots of breaks for breakfast, second breakfast, and lots of toddler and baby interruptions! The rest of my living room got trashed by toddler playtime antics, and my entire house is now covered in glitter from the snowflake glitter fabric overlay, but it was so worth it. (But I got the breakfast dishes washed, small triumph!) This piece is so darling and I can’t wait to see it on our little friend!
This pattern and size was made for a 3-year old who measures approximately 30″ from her shoulder to the ground when standing. This pattern is very versatile and will work for much bigger girls, too, but you will just need more skirt fabric. I’ll make sure and let you know how to adjust the size as we go along.
•Scissors or rotary cutter (and pad to cut it on if you use a rotary cutter)
•About a yard of glittery ribbon
•Scrap of about 1/2″-wide ribbon for the neck, less than a foot long
•Small amount of fabric for the bodice, a fat quarter would do (mine is the turquoise with the faint flower pattern)
•1 yard satiny blue fabric (this will be for the inside of the bodice and for two layers of skirt), more if for a taller girl
•3/4 yard glitter snowflake fabric or tulle, anything very light for your skirt overlay, more if for a taller girl
•One decorative button (mine has a little snowflake on it, score!)
We are starting with the bodice top. First of all, make a paper patten for the arm hole cut-outs. Mine was from a previous apron pattern I made and it worked great. It is 6″ on both straight sides with a convex curve connecting them, like so:
Now lay your bodice fabrics out flat, with the right sides facing. I used a turquoise fabric with a faint rose pattern for the outside and the regular turquoise satin for the inside. Line them both up with one selvedge edge matching at your left and make sure the top cut edge is straight across and perpendicular to the selvedge edge. (I’m a mathematical sewer; I blame my engineer dad.) Now lay your armhole pattern on the top left corner, the two straight sides matching up with your left selvedge edge and your top cut edge, and cut out your curve. Flip the pattern piece over and cut another curve on the right side for the right armhole. Leave however much fabric you would like in between the two armholes; mine looks like it was about 5″ at the top straight edge and 17″ at the widest point.
Now, measure how long you would like the bodice piece to be on your child. For this 3-year old, mine was 11″ from top edge to bottom point in the middle. The bottom waistline edge is curved slightly, so the bottom point comes down about 2″ lower than the sides. I folded the bodice in half at this point, so that the right and left sides would be mirror images and equal. Then I marked 11″ down from the top edge in the middle and 2″ higher on the side edge, and cut a gentle curve in between these two. Here’s what it looks like spread out flat again:
There are two pieces of fabric here, and their right sides are facing so that all we have to do is pin and sew now. I pinned all around to keep it from sliding around (satin is slippery!), but we are only going to sew around the short sides, the armhole curves, and the top straight edge. The bottom edge that will be the curved waistband we will leave open for now.
Before you sew, place the small piece of ribbon inside the two layers of the bodice, with just a bit sticking out the top straight edge off to one side. This will be the ribbon that loops around the neck like an apron. Only one edge of the ribbon gets sewn into this seam; the other end will be attached by a button so that the length is adjustable.
Pin the ribbon in place, and sew around one short side, an armhole curve, the top straight edge (catching the ribbon in the seam), the other armhole curve, and the other short side. Clip your corners and turn the bodice right-side out. I forgot to do this at this point, but go ahead and topstitch all the way around now, closing the bottom waist seam and making sure your ribbon is sticking out in the correct spot at the top. Don’t worry about turning the edge of the waist seam under; this raw edge will be hidden by a ribbon later.
Now for the skirt! Start with the plain satiny fabric first. This works best if you use a fabric approximately 30″ wide (about twice the width of your bodice is best) and simply use the entire width, selvedge to selvedge. That way you don’t have to hem the two sides! I had to use mine the other way to make it fit, so either way will work. Mine was also a bit under 30″; this doesn’t have to be exact. Work with what you’ve got. You just want a big rectangle, folded in half, with one of the long edges (approx 30″) being the fold.
The skirt can be as long as you would like it to be, but mine for the 3-year old came out to be 16″ long. That’s the length of both pieces together after it’s folded over in half. In other words, it is a big rectangle that is 30″ by 32″, and folded into a rectangle of 30″ by 16″.
Note the toddler cameo in this picture, which was snapped only half a second before the fabric was pulled away and run around the house like a kite. 😉
After you cut out this big piece, unfold it and hem all raw edges (again, if you have any selvedge edges that look alright, leave those as they won’t unravel. After everything is hemmed nicely, fold it back in half with right sides out. You want the shiniest sides facing out, just how you will want it to look when it is finished. At the top long, folded edge, you are going to pin and then sew a basting stitch all the way across. This means you do not backstitch on either end, and you sew close to the edge of the fabric all the way down this one edge. Then you grab onto one of the threads on one edge (doesn’t matter which) and gently pull (don’t pull too hard or your thread will break! Mine did on one and I just went to the other edge and kept pulling).
This is how you gather the skirt, gently pulling and easing the top edge into a gathered waist. Keep going until is about the same width as your bodice waist.
So now you have a gathered skirt with two layers. You could stop here and attach this to the bodice and be done, but if you have some tulle or sparkly snowflake glitter fabric like I did, you will want to add an additional layer of that for extra fun! The fluffy tulle-like fabrics will add a lot of fullness to the skirt. So now you just have to repeat the skirt cutting and hemming and gathering instructions with your overlay fabric. I cut my snowflake fabric an inch or so bigger on each side since it’s fluffier, but again it doesn’t have to be exact. (Don’t ever tell that to my engineer dad!)
Once you have both skirt pieces, I would highly recommend sewing the tops together where they are gathered. This isn’t necessary and I didn’t do it, but it would have been easier and kept things from sliding around in the next step. Just be sure the skirts are about the same width as the bodice waist edge before you sew.
Now we are going to attach the bodice to the skirt piece(s). Pin the bodice waist edge to the gathered edge of the skirt, placing the bodice edge on top. Remember that your bodice comes down to a point in the middle, so your waist isn’t going to match up perfectly. No worries. Just lay your skirt down flat on the table with the snowflake/tulle layer on top, and lay the bodice with the front side up on top of it and pin it how it lays. Then sew with a zig-zag stitch along that curved waistline, catching the bodice fabric and all layers of the skirt. The fabric is gathered up in the bottom layers so it’s a bit thick, but I used a regular (sharp and new) needle and didn’t have any problem.
Here’s what it looks like on the inside of the gown:
And here’s a close-up of the outside with the zig-zag stitch:
Now we are going to cover up that raw waistband edge and add the ties all in one step! The ties need to come straight out from the bottom curve of the armhole seam, so leave about a foot or so out to the side for tying, fold the ribbon so that it makes a right-turn and goes down the short side of the bodice, then fold it so it turns again and follows the curve of the waistband, hiding the raw edge. Pin in place, all along the waistband and then up the other side, leaving another foot or so of ribbon out to the other side. See this picture for a visual:
The last step is simply to find a pretty button in your stash and sew it on the outside of the top edge at the other side of the ribbon, then cut a vertical slit in the ribbon that’s a bit smaller than the diameter of your button to make the buttonhole. Measure where you want this to be on your little one or wait til you see him or her and make the buttonhole then. Treating the cut edge with a bit of fray-check or clear nail polish is probably a good idea to keep it from fraying.
And there you go! One Elsa play gown that is super easy to take on and off all by his/herself! Like I said above, this is a great springboard pattern for all sorts of dress-up costume gowns. Changing out the fabric, colors, and embellishments will give it a totally different look!
And for those of you that are completely gaga for Elsa, here’s a sneak peak of the matching Elsa crown I made for another friend of ours, modeled by my darling son:
Check back soon for the crown tutorial, which is even easier than this gown! You’ll have an entire Elsa outfit in no time! And just in time for the holidays… 😉
Please post any pics of your own Elsa gown creations; I’d love to see your interpretations of my pattern! Or pin this onto your Pinterest board for later… Birthday present, perhaps? Enjoy!