Monday, November 5, 2012

rapunzel dress tutorial

note: we got our power back--finally--yesterday around 1:30. the kids and i gathered on the front porch to yell an in-unison "THANK YOU" to the hardworking guys across the street. the first load of laundry hit the washer about 15 minutes after the power was restored. life will now--slowly--return to normal, for us at least, and as normal as it can be.

in the meantime, here's a guest post i shared at the train to crazy during her handmade costumes series. enjoy...


12 years and 4 months ago i gave birth to my first daughter.

about 15 minutes later i sewed my first princess costume.

since then i’ve had three more girls and a boy…and sewn everything from cinderella (twice) and belle to woody the cowboy and an evil dr. porkchop.
costume collage
gone with the wind gown + pink princess + my fair lady gown + woody costume

i’ve done generic “princess” gowns for play and parties, alice in wonderland, kimonos when guinevere went through a japanese phase, movie inspired gowns, masks and wings and tutus.
between the ages of 2 and 3 my son never, EVER went out of the house in normal clothes. he was a different superhero every day of the week—superman, batman, buzz lightyear—we had ‘em all. he even managed to sneak his mr. incredible costume on under his dress clothes one sunday. after all, he explained to us, superheroes always hide their uniform under their regular clothes.

how do you argue with that?

but you know what—in all that time, and with all those costumes—i’m still not sick of it. i love it just as much now as i did when i was 13—walking to the local thrift shop and buying old curtains to make medieval gowns…or gathering up every cheap wire drycleaner hanger i could find in the closets to fashion a makeshift hoop for a “gone with the wind” inspired dress. true story.

i love dress up. i love make believe.

i knew i would have daughters, and i knew i would make them dress up clothes. i knew i would spend too much time and too much money creating something custom with my own two hands—rather than buying what’s already made.

and i do. shhhh…don’t tell my husband about the money part.
and now when i sit and sew for my girls i can’t help but wonder if one day i’ll be sewing 3 princessy bridesmaid’s gowns. or even (gulp) a wedding dress.
sigh. ::wiping tears::

okay, enough of the sappy trip down Memory Lane. and up Potential Future Boulevard. back to the present—where the nice thing is that at this size it only takes a yard or so of fabric to make something they love. case in point:
meet my own little rapunzel.
she begged and begged for a rapunzel dress. fortunately, i also needed an idea for my contribution to the handmade costume series! not the most original of costumes—to be sure. but this is what was requested, and i aim to please.
this long golden haired beauty was done with just 1/2 yard of light purple, 3/4 of a yard of dark purple, 1/4 yard sheer pink, and two $1 rolls of pink ribbon (one thick, one thin). the lace and flowers came from my stash, and the fabric was all either on sale or couponed.
flynn rider better just watch his back. she’s packin’ heat.
also from my fabric stash: the green felt for this little guy
rapunzel pascal
he was truly a labor of love. i was just committing to a dress. i’m not a stuffed animal maker. but really--what’s a princess without her requisite sidekick?
rapunzel pascal 2
she was so very concerned that he would sit on her shoulder JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIE MOM. and so very pleased when he did.

so little pascal here was definitely a case of more TIME than MONEY. the bulk handsewn; his little tail and legs stuffed with pipe cleaners so they can bend and curl.
you want a pascal? sorry, you’re on your own. okay, i lied. check here. i made it up as i went and couldn’t remake him to save my life.
let’s talk about rapunzel’s crowning glory—her golden tresses. i was going to do a yarn wig—there’s some really cool tutorials floating around the web. then i realized three things:

o1) yarn—even cheap yard, in that amount—ain’t so cheap (and i used up all my coupons on the fabric!)
o2) she’s already got blonde hair, we just need more length.
o3) i’m not opposed to fake hair anyway--in everyday situations. yup, i’ve used it ;)
rapunzel hair

$4.99 at my local hair and wig store. i call that winning.
it’s synthetic, so you can’t do much with it in the way of styling. but it came out of the package already looking for all the world like rapunzel’s braid. i just braided gigi’s real hair to the back and attached this with a rubber band.

throw in some flowers you’ve got lying around and BOOM! rapunzel hair!
unfortunately there’s a distinct lack of towers in our neighborhood, so we hit up the next best thing--
the playground was the perfect place to throw down your hair!
right when i took this picture a man walked by and said “wow! that’s really long hair!” in a tone of voice that said is it real? nah—it can’t be. buuuttt… i think he was thoroughly confused. ;)
so you’ve got your pascal, and you’ve got your hair. what about the dress? that’s the easy part.
you can customize any basic bodice pattern to look rapunzel-ish. i started with a standard sleeveless scoop-necked bodice pattern that i had already drafted for gigi. i traced it onto the fabric with an erasable fabric marker, then sketched out a new sweetheart neckline and extended the waist into a point.
i cut that new shape out and got to work…
rapunzel collage

lace some pink ribbon through the grommets and you’re set! i added some lace around the neckline, and sheer pink sleeves—just for authenticity’s sake. ;)

to finish i simply made a full skirt—sewing in a contrasting triangle right in the front. it’s gathered to fit and attached to the bodice.

and that’s it! you’ve got yourself one lovely long-haired, pan-toting, bare-footed, tower-bound princess! we had so much fun playing with this dress!

andrea—thanks so much for inviting us to join your handmade costumes series!
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  1. You made Pascal? Wow, you are super mom! He looks so good! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you for this! My two-year-old spent a LONG time gazing longingly at the Rapunzel dress at Target yesterday, I think I might have to make one.

  3. Hello! I just love your blog! I know this is an older post, but I was wondering if you might be able to tell me how you attach the bodice to the skirt in front. I've tried to make one like that before, but it never seems to look right. I have some sewing experience, and I usually make my own patterns, so technique is something that has always been trial and error...with extra emphasis on the "error" part. :) I'd really appreciate it! Thanks.

  4. This is by far the prettiest Rapunzel Dress I have seen! I LOVE you Rapunzel hair idea too! I would love to make this for my daughter. I just have one question. What kind of grommet punch do you use? Where did you get it?

  5. This is by far the prettiest Rapunzel dress I have seen! And I LOVE you idea for making the Rapunzel wing with hair extensions instead of yarn! I would love to make this for my daughter for halloween. I just have one question. What kind of grommet punch did you use? Where did you get it? I've never worked with grommets before, but I've always wanted to.

    1. hi tiffany! thanks for your kind words! i bought my punch at joann's--here's the link:
      it's a touch confusing to use, and i'm sure there are better ones out there, but i don't do snaps and eyelets very often so it works okay for me! hope this helps. :)


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