When I found out how crafty my friend Marina is, I was hopeful I could get her to write a guest blog for me. She is super duper crafty and pretty much said she would do whatever I wanted! But, since she is the crafty one, she came up with this awesome idea to make a Disney Princess dress on the cheap and easy (easy if, um, you know how to sew?). I can't believe how awesome it came out, and so much cheaper than if you shelled out the money at the Disney Store. Marina also has a 22 month old toddler, and I bet we can both agree that no one wants to spend a lot of money on clothes that are most likely going to get stained, torn, and abused! So get your sewing machine ready because you are going to want to make this asap once you see how great it is!
DIY Disney Princess Dress
It has happened: my little 20 month old daughter LOVES princesses. And when I say loves, I mean LOVES. She is able to use her eagle eyes to spot the smallest princess sticker on the back of a random toy shoved to the back of the shelf 10 feet away. Ok, so that’s an exaggeration, but the girl loves her Belle and ‘Punzel (Rapunzel). Being the occasionally crafty mom I am and having some sewing skills, I decided to try the “One pattern, all the princesses” pin from Pintrest. The Pin actually links to someone’s Etsy account, where they’re on sale for about $30 each. I say about because the owner is on vacation (and has been since I pinned the pin 2 weeks ago) and I had to sleuth through her sold orders to see how much she charged. Anyway, all that aside, I knew if I found the pattern I could make it. They’re a fairly simple dress, and so would have a fairly simple pattern.
This endeavor meant a trip to one of my favorite places: JoAnn’s. Here’s what I bought.....How much did I spend you ask? Here’s the receipt too:
Yep. You see right. $23.16 total with a savings of $26.44. This, my friends, is why I love JoAnn’s. Also, as a teacher I get a 15% discount on top of all the sales/specials. It’s amazing.
Anyway, because each dress only takes 1-1 ⅜ yards I raided their remnants (which happened to be 50% off that weekend. Score!). Click here for the pattern I used. It’s listed as $6.55 on their website, but I paid $1 for it. I found the fabric for Rapunzel’s sleeves and blue and white fabric to (eventually) make Belle’s blue dress. I went to the quilting section and got the swirly and sparkly pink and purple fabrics, got the notions I needed (for the dress, you need elastic and for the Rapunzel dress you need ribbon and lace), and went home to begin my work as an amazing mom-seamstress. Because really, my sewing skills are unparalleled… in my mind.
In reality? Well...
So, I remember my mom telling me to iron the pattern and fabric before starting. I hate ironing and will avoid doing it at all costs. In this case, I was ok but it’s really a good idea if you iron everything out before beginning. Also, if you have a 20 month old who likes to “help”, I’d suggest having a wrangler of some kind. I laid out my pattern pieces, skimmed the directions, and began cutting.
Since I was making a princess dress and not just some regular, every day, simple dress, I decided to change the original pattern a bit. I made the skirt longer by following the larger size’s bottom cut line.
This is fine. But see how the sides are slightly larger on the larger side too? Yeah. This comes in handy when your child actually wants to walk in the dress. Not that she can’t walk, but… It’s more on the restrictive side. I wasn't thinking of that, of course, I had amazing sewing skills so I knew what I was doing. BUT should you choose to follow in my footsteps, make sure you make the bottom a little wider than I did in the picture below:
Everything was cut out and ready for sewing. Enter the most amazing, fantastic, technologically advanced sewing machine ever known to humankind….
So… I lied. It’s a cheap machine, but it gets the job done when you have nothing but straight seams to sew. I’d like to add this would have been much easier to sew with a real machine, so if your machine is anything better than mine, you’ll be just fine.
The seams allowance was ⅝”. My solution was to get some tape and mark ⅝” away from the foot. A post-it or masking tape would work awesomely too.
I began to sew. It was going fine. Not amazing, but I wasn’t hitting any major snafus. I finished the sleeve and had to thread through the elastic. This is about the time I realized I sewed the sleeve on with the inside facing out. Grumble grumble. I seam ripped it and sewed it back on the correct way. This is where I make a PSA: Always follow the pattern directions when it comes to sewing. It’ll save you a headache later. Anyway, below is a picture of the backwards sleeve and my elastic threading “trick”, a safety pin.
I used the safety pin to thread the elastic into the neck as well. I completed the top and the skirt. NOW! The moment of truth!
I gathered the skirt’s top by doing two rows of loose stitches, pulling the threads, and arranging the gathers to fit the top. I held my breath and sewed.
IT WORKED! I was TRIUMPHANT! And realized that maybe I wasn't the amazing, all knowing seamstress I was in my mind simply because the seam on the side of the skirt is, um, not on the side of the dress. But no matter, it’s for playtime and I was sick of sewing so I left it alone. The lace on the bottom I sewed on at the same time as hemming. I don’t recommend doing this, it was a pain. Instead sew your hem, pin on the lace, and stitch it on. I did a guestimate to judge how much ribbon to use for the bodice, and did a few hand stitches on each turn of the ribbon.
And here is the finished Rapunzel a la Disney’s Tangled dress:
It’s super cute. The kicker? My daughter, for whom I lovingly made this dress for, does not want to wear it. Like, at all. Ever. It is hanging on her door as a decoration as I type. Which, actually, is pretty cute but I wish she’d want to wear it all day every day. The only picture I could get of her wearing it is this:
Yes, it’s blurry. And yes, it’s an action shot. She doesn't hold still anymore, especially when I try to take pictures of her. Despite the bottom of the dress being restrictive, she did her best to run throughout the house in it.
Anyway, her reaction to the dress has only strengthened my resolve to make more. Because more would totally change her mind about wearing them… Right? Plus, I know what I did wrong and what to change next time.
That and I now have an excuse to buy a grown up sewing machine.
Thank you so much, Marina!!! This DIY Princess Dress tutorial is awesome!!!