Thursday, June 19, 2014

"Frozen" Pillow-Case Dresses with Applique

"Frozen" Dresses - the perfect birthday outfit for "princess" granddaughters and their "Frozen" Party! Here's my easy directions and photos for the pillowcase dresses and "Olaf" Applique! 

I love the "Frozen" Movie, and when it became official that granddaughters Abby & Aleyna were having a "Frozen" Birthday Party, my first thought was, "They need "Frozen" dresses!" Buying those dresses would have cost a small fortune, but luckily sewing is a passion of mine. I ended up making "Frozen" dresses with "Olaf" appliques for all 3 granddaughters!

I found "Frozen" Clip art online and used it to draw Olaf. Fortunately, I can look at pictures and "free-hand" draw them, so I was able to easily draw Olaf in 2 sizes for the dress appliques and a larger snowman for the Free-Standing Olaf

I found the beautiful blue chevron and purple-dotted cotton fabrics for the dresses on sale 30% off at Hobby Lobby. It took 2 yards of the chevron fabric and 1 yard of the purple-dotted fabric to make all 3 dresses (Size 12 months, Size 3, and Size 5).

Materials (for 3 dresses):
2 yards of chevron fabric 
1 yard purple dotted fabric
1/2" wide elastic (2 yards for all three dresses)
Wide single-fold bias tape 
Small white buttons (2 for each dress)
Black buttons (3 for each dress)
Thread for sewing the dresses and the appliques
Black Quilting Thread to sew on the buttons

I had an old pattern that I used for cutting the Size 5 dress, but I sewed the dresses differently from the pattern directions. I estimated and cut the Size 12 months and Size 3 patterns out of freezer wrap. The Size 12 months is shorter that the other dresses so it would not interfere with her walking!

Tip: I always prewash fabrics and check for colorfastness. The dye in the purple-dotted fabric "ran" even after soaking it in salt water. I also tried soaking in diluted vinegar with no success.

The solution: Soak the fabric in white vinegar (undiluted) for 1-1/2 hours. Rinse in cold water, and then wash and dry with dark clothes. 

For proper placement, I cut out the dresses before I attached the appliques.

After I was pleased with my designs, I traced over my sketches with a Black Fine-point Sharpie Marker.

I then laid my designs on a Light Box and covered them with another sheet of paper and traced another copy.

Tip: My Light Box was a favorite Christmas gift from my husband. Light Boxes are available in toy and craft stores. This sure beats holding drawings on a window to trace like I used to do! The grandkids love it!

I ironed "Wonder Under" onto the back side of white flannel fabric by following manufacturer's directions. I also ironed "Wonder Under" onto a small piece of orange, brown, and white fabrics. The fabrics were cotton and/or cotton blend fabrics. The brown fabric was a "suede cloth" which closely resembled the color of wood.

I then cut out the snowman pattern, turned it over to the backside, and drew around it on the backing paper. This step allows the snowman to be on the right side when completed. I carefully cut out the snowmen. I did the same with the noses on orange fabric, teeth on white fabric, and "stick" arms on brown fabric.

After peeling the backing fabric off the snowman and arms, I placed them on the dresses in the lower right-hand corner. I then followed manufacturer's directions to fuse the snowmen to the dress fabric. I then fused the noses and teeth in the same way.

I set my sewing machine on a narrow, close zigzag stitch and used white thread to "applique" around the snowballs and tooth. Orange thread was used around the carrot, brown thread around the "sticks", and light grey around the mouth. I hand-stitched the eyebrows with black quilting thread. 

With right sides together, I pinned and  machine stitched the side seams of the dresses using a 3/8 inch seam. I finished the seams using a zigzag stitch, and pressed the seams toward the back.

Dress Band:

With the fabric folded, cut the 2 of following size rectangles for the dress bands:

Size 12 months 6" x 7-1/2" 
Size 3              7-1/4" x 8-3/4" 
Size 5              7-1/4" x 9-1/2" 

Sew the side seams of the 2 dress band pieces using a 3/8" seam. Press seams open. With wrong sides together, fold the band together, matching side seams. Press. 

With right sides together, pin and stitch the band to the the dress bottom, matching seams and centers. Finish the seam with a zigzag stitch or serger. Press the seam toward the dress.

Dress with band

Press wide, single-fold bias tape open. With right sides together and edges even, slightly stretch and sew the bias tape to the armhole with a 1/4" seam.

Clip curves, being careful not to cut through the stitching. Press the bias tape to the inside of the armhole. Pin the edge of the bias tape under approximately 1/4", and edge-stitch it around the armhole. Press.

Turn under the top edge of dress front and dress back; press.With edges extending 1/2", pin and sew a length of wide, single-fold bias tape to the top edge of the dress front. To prevent raveling, turn edges of the bias tape under and stitch to itself. Leaving the ends open, sew bottom of the bias tape to the dress, creating a "channel".     

Using a safety pin, insert 1/2" wide elastic through the "channel", and adjust to fit. Sew both ends of the elastic securely to the dress, and trim excess. 

Tip: Using elastic makes it very easy for this dress to fit over her head!


From the purple-dotted fabric, I cut 2 straps in each of the following sizes:

Size 12 months    7-1/2 inches x 4-1/4 inches
Size  3                9 inches x 4-1/4 inches
Size 5                 12 inches x 4-1/4 inches

Fold the strap fabric in half lengthwise. Stitch the length of the seam using a 1/4" to 3/8" seam allowance, leaving ends open. Use a safety pin to turn the straps; press. 

Machine-stitch the ends of the straps using a wide, close zigzag stitch.

Zigzag the ends!
Completed straps - 3 sets!

Pin and securely machine-stitch the straps to the front of the dress along both bias tape stitching lines. Try the dress on the child and adjust the back straps to fit. Pin and stitch straps in place, allowing additional length of straps to hang inside dress. 


Tip: The additional length allows straps to be lengthened as she grows!

And now for the bows. From the purple-dotted fabric (folded), I cut 2 sets of fabric ties 24" by 3-1/2" and 1 set 28" by 4". I folded each lengthwise and pinned. Starting from one end, I sewed using a 1/4" seam, stopping the seam about 1" before the middle. I did the same from the other end, leaving about 2 inches open in the middle for turning. 

Trim the corners. Use a dowel stick to "turn" the fabric to the right side by placing it at the end of the seam and gently pulling the fabric around it to start. Press the fabric ties flat, and top-stitch the opening closed at the edge of the fabric..

Top-stitch the opening closed
I tied bows and pinned them onto the dresses on the left front just below the strap. The bows can also be hand-stitched into place.

"Zombie" Snowman! (before button eyes)

The last step was hand-stitching 2 small white buttons for eyes and 3 black buttons for coal. Using black quilting thread made the eyes "pop" and made sewing easier. After sewing, I applied "Fray Check" to the threads on the buttons and "start and stop points" on the appliques to make them more durable.

Now it's time to enjoy the "Frozen Party"!

Nancy's Notes:
  • I loved making these dresses! Making 3 dresses at one time was actually faster than I thought! I used the "assembly-line" approach, doing each step 3 times before going on to the next!
  • Clip-art, coloring book pictures, and drawings can be used to make other appliques.
  • This dress could also be shortened for a cute top!
  • A ruffle could be added instead of the band, or the dress or top could be lengthened and the band eliminated entirely. The possibilities are endless!

"Birthday Girl" Aleyna with Olaf
"Birthday Girl" Abby
Cousin Mia loves her "Frozen" dress, too!

New Dilemma: The 2 younger grandsons complained because they wanted something "Frozen" to wear! Solution? That will be in another blog post!  

To be continued...

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  1. Thank you so much for posting this! This is exactly what I was looking for to make for my friend's daughter's 5th birthday party! Great tutorial, thanks again!

  2. Thanks so much. Good luck with making the dress for your friend's daughter, Mitzi! I would love to see a photo!

  3. What a great idea to make a dress like that. I will have to wait to have a girl before I can make one. And it looks great on as well!

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