New Elevé Dancewear!

Hi all, this post was supposed to go up last week, but I’m pretending last week didn’t happen altogether, so there we are. I’m also still out of ballet and we’re going on six months now. I am considering going tomorrow but we’re just going to have to wait and see how it goes. My husband’s been working a lot, I’ve been trying to see how long I can go between food shopping trips before we literally have no food in the house, it’s just been crazy. I’m also still in a lot of pain. So even though we need to do things like eat (I should really just sign up for Amazon Fresh at this rate) I’m basing my attendance off of my pain scale and how much I’m willing/able to just suck it up. Right now there’s like a 50% chance I’m going, which in all fairness is way better than the zero percent it was last week. I really just need more injections. Not just to be able to do ballet, but just to be able to live. IDK, I’m expecting my doctor to call me by Friday. If he doesn’t I’m going to call to make an appointment on Monday and I’ll leave a message for him then. I’m lucky, my doctor is awesome. I actually have his home number and he told me I can call him any time. But I hate being “that patient” so I leave him alone (except that one time but I meant to call the office).

So even though I may or may not be wearing these anytime soon, I wanted to share my new leotards. I bought them forever ago so I can’t remember how long production was, but I don’t think it went outside the normal quoted times. I did have contact with the company. I asked for the solid fabric on both my Anna, and my Tri leotards and Jessica their awesome customer service rep contacted me to be sure that’s what I really wanted. I told her I definitely wanted to do a solid back on the Anna, but that I had been waffling on the Tri when I placed the order. I told her to surprise me. They sent the mesh and I was right, I did love what they picked! So it was kind of a fun surprise. I know some of you might not want to play that game. But I’ve bought from them so many times I felt confident I’d love whatever was sent.

First up is the Anna. This one is a Large, no back hole, and a bust liner. The colors are Bluish Purple and Orange, both are matte.

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As you may have guessed, I had trouble getting the colors to photograph accurately. There will be a photo at the end that shows all three leotards with a more accurate representation of their colors. But this one is still a little off. The color is deep, but not anywhere near this intense/fluorescent. I would say it is more blue, calmer, and very pretty. It’s a great contrast to the orange which I really like. I had debated getting the trim in white, but with the intense colors of the rest of the leotard, I was worried it wouldn’t stay crisp. Any bleeding and the look is just ruined. Knowing how some of the more intense colors have bled on me, I didn’t want to take the risk. I actually have this in the washing machine right now, on the delicate cycle so I can’t say if these colors do bleed. Probably should have washed it by hand for reviewing purposes. But I just wanted it done and I tossed it in without thinking. I probably should take this opportunity to point out, none of my reviews are paid. If I were being paid I’d probably be a LOT more thorough and wouldn’t skip the little things. But I buy all of these with my own money and my reviews are 100% my own thoughts! So while I miss a bit here and there, you can rest assured I’ve not been swayed in any way.

The fit on this was standard and comparable to my other Anna’s. I love the fit of this one in particular. The length is good, it’s not too tight or too loose. It’s a fantastic style if you want or need to wear a bra. Especially if you get a solid back. No one will ever see it. Obviously you’ll get lines or indents where it is, but you won’t have straps or anything peeking out. So great for fuller busted women. The style never seems to ride up either. So all around, perfect for those who are looking for something simple, easy to move in, but also don’t want to flash a ton of skin. It’s still really cute so you won’t feel dowdy in it either. It really is the ideal blend of traditional ballet leotard functionality and modern styling.

The next up is the Laico With Sleeves. This one is size X-Large, has the full back, bust liner, and the “above elbow” length sleeves. The base is Velvet Roses, and the top is Black Mesh.

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Once again, the colors of this are off. The base is very much a true Navy. The color you’ll see in the last photos with all three is almost 100% spot on for color accuracy. The color looks so weirdly intense here but I liked that because the trade off is a very clear look at the flocked rose design. I have to say, comparing the flocking on this to something like my Wear Moi leotards, this is miles away better. It’s very well done, there doesn’t appear to be any shedding, and it’s very soft. It’s not at all stiff and crunchy like this stuff can sometimes feel. The fabric really flexes well and the designs don’t split apart. I have so many leotards that my Wear Moi ones aren’t worn enough to show serious wear. But just based off of my initial impressions of both, I feel like this fabric would hold up far better over the long term. No flocked design lasts forever though so I would generally recommend hand washing this one if it’s a real favorite to preserve it’s lifespan. I did buy this one in an X-Large. It’s a size that Elevé really only offers in this style. I do feel that this particular style runs smaller than some of the others. So if you generally buy a large, you may want to go with the size up in this one. If you’re unsure you can always contact the company and Jessica is fantastic. She’s always happy to help. You can send her your measurements and tell her what size you usually wear in their brand and others and she should be able to help guide you. If you do want a leotard with sleeves, and you don’t have those amazing, incredibly thin dancer arms, having the X-Large option. I have thinner arms. Especially for someone 31 with a kid, but they’re hardly twigs. You can see them in some of my other review posts. I have normal person arms. These sleeves are seriously my perfect fit. It’s also worth mentioning that I do have disproportionately long limbs (we make a lot of positive ape index jokes in my family as I’m not alone) yet these sleeves literally stop, right above that first bone in my elbow (not the part that sticks out, but if you feel on your arm, you’ll find it it’s like that first divot above the joint). I would so trust them to make me a long sleeved one. I’d probably contact them first to give my measurements to be sure. But I feel like they cut the sleeves long. Yay!

*You can see my review on the Wear Moi ones here, please excuse how heavy I look in those photos! I was on a med that made me gain a lot and I didn’t know how bad it was at the time, so that review is a little skewed on sizing as well.*

The last one up is the Tri. I bought the size Large, no sleeves, with the bust panel. The base is Dragon, and the top is Arabian Mesh. Sadly it would appear that Dragon has been discontinued, Maharaja would be the closest alternative. I actually debated between the two when picking a fabric for this one. Overall I’m happy with my choice though I may still add Maharaja to my collection (availability permitting) in the future.

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Before I say anything else, I want to take the opportunity to point something out here. The design is perfectly centered on this leotard, both front and back. Some people won’t notice things like this, or just expect it as a given. But I do notice these things. This is something that takes extra effort when cutting the pattern and it’s an added expense for the company. When you cut fabric with a pattern like this you’re wasting quite a bit. When working with a solid, or a busier pattern you can just cut with a focus to getting the most pattern pieces out of every yard. With fabric like this, you’ll ultimately throw yards and yards, from every bolt, away. They did not charge extra for this fabric even though some small Etsy businesses would probably (and fairly) add a surcharge.

That said, I love the feel of this fabric. It’s definitely different from all of my other ones. With patterned fabric you never really know what you’re getting. Some are shiny, others are matte, the stretch is often different than that of a similar fabric that’s solid. This one is incredibly soft and would go as far as to say this is not their standard milliskin but more of a microfiber. I haven’t contacted the company to ask, but it’s a very different feel. Despite that, it had decent stretch and wasn’t restricting. I do feel that this particular style is cut a smidge shorter than some of the others, so there is that. But it’s not restricting in any way. This feels on par with my other Tri styles. So it’s not the most comfortable, that probably rests with my Anna styles. But it’s not going to bother me during class. I do sometimes notice that I have red marks on my shoulders after wearing leotards in this style though. So something to keep in mind if you’re going to be in this all day, or if you have a long torso. I have an average length torso, my height is 100% in my limbs. I have my measurements listed on another Elevé review but I can’t remember which one. If you’re here just for these reviews (and I know some of you are) then you’ve probably already seen them. Keep those measurements in mind when considering what size to buy.

I wanted to include a photo or two of all three side by side, the colors in these photos are most accurate.

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I feel as though the first photo shows the Velvet Roses most accurately and the second photo better showcases the Bluish Purple. It is still a bit more blue than purple in real life, but this is much closer. If you’re looking at the Elevé website the swatch they show looks pretty much identical to this, but the real life color is not this purple. It’s just very difficult to capture in a photo.

I’m often asked questions about liners, how transparent different fabrics might be, and so forth. It seems like Elevé has settled on using a piece of the leotard fabric to do their bust liners. I support this. They did use a plain piece of white spandex for the last one, but it matched the interior color of the fabric. I find that matching the leotard often works out better than going with a “nude” color because not everyone is the same version of nude! At least for the bust, it hides a colored bra a bit better. That’s just my opinion though. I found all three of my fabric choices to be opaque enough to hide a bra. I don’t usually fuss over the color of the back so I didn’t double check with the orange color. But I feel confident that most of my bras would hide well under it. I personally don’t care if my bra is visible under mesh. Sometimes I wear one, sometimes I don’t. All of my bras are purchased with the awareness that they may be seen. So bright colors and cute patterns, I don’t mind if they peek out. Or even if the entire back is on display.

I’m sorry there aren’t any shots of me in them. I’ve just really not been up to it. I did try them all on and record my thoughts so I could share them. I’ve taken photos of myself in these styles in the past and you can refer to those to consider fit. I hope to get better at the selfies in the future and one of these days I’ll find a full length mirror I like! At that point I promise to update this post.

If you want to see more of my Elevé posts, click on the links below.

https://thekoolchicken.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/my-eleve-leotards-are-here/

https://thekoolchicken.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/my-newst-eleve-leotards-a-review/

https://thekoolchicken.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/my-leotards-are-going-back-answers-from-eleve/

https://thekoolchicken.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/my-replacement-eleve-leotards-have-arrived/

https://thekoolchicken.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/a-review-of-my-newest-eleve-leotards/

https://thekoolchicken.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/eleve-skirts-and-pointe-shoes/

Heaven help me, I think that’s all of them! As always if you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them down below. I always try to reply in a timely manner. The company is also super great about answering customer questions so I highly recommend contacting them. Good customer service is kind of a big deal with me, and this company is one others could stand to learn from. They have started a Ready To Wear line. Every style is limited stock and once supply is gone that’s it. So if you’ve wanted to try the brand but were unsure if it was worth the 6-8 week wait, this is your chance! They also accept returns and exchanges within a 2 week period on RTW items. So if you were hesitant to order based on size you can buy the size you think you are to try them out. But be fair! Don’t buy just to size them and then send it back and place your “real” order. They’ve made these in their most popular styles and color/pattern combos. So order something you’d really want to keep. There’s plenty to pick from!

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Something else worth mentioning, the absolutely beautiful Secret Garden spandex (shown above) and mesh appears limited to the RTW line. I hope it’s eventually added to the custom options. But even if it isn’t it’s great that they’re thinking ahead to help limit the cookie cutter look with fabrics only available in one form or the other.

That’s all for this post. For those of you that have been waiting for this I’m sorry it took so long. I don’t have any more leotard or ballet posts planned as I’ve been out for so long. Elevé did have a Fourth of July sale but I didn’t partake in it given my circumstances. Perhaps during their next sale.

My Spoonflower Review

After all the hassle with the fabric for my Anna skirt I thought I should give a proper review on Spoonflower.

If you’re not aware Spoonflower is a website where you can have custom fabric made up. They also do gift wrap, wallpaper, and decals (although I think they’ve been phased out in favor of something new). You can buy fabrics other people have created or make your own. Really it’s perfect if you’re into costuming and want a specific pattern, or just want something no one else will ever have (you can keep your designs private). It is quite pricey though. For example a yard of Kona cotton will usually run you around $5-6, but on Spoonflower it’s $18. Is your wallet crying yet? Their silks and performance fabrics aren’t much more though, so it’s not so bad if you really wanted something in a more thrilling fabric. They also have a discount of 10% for designers when they buy their own prints (you can’t just become a designer and get a discount on everything). You’ll also get a small commission if other people buy your fabric. 

The site is pretty straight forward and easy to use. The search bar at the top can be modified so you’re only looking at fabric, wallpaper, designers, etc. Not all images can be printed onto all materials. I saw some where you buy a fat quarter and it had a newborn onesie printed on it. You just cut and sew. Obviously this design would make for weird looking gift wrap. But there’s a lot of flexibility to make different things. It just basically has to fit onto a yard because the pattern simply repeats. Here’s one of those project panels, I’m very tempted by this one.

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I think it’s kind of awesome and for $20-25 why not right? They have a lot of things like this. Now obviously these will pretty much only work for infants and toddlers, but it’s still a cute concept. I don’t think I could ever generate something like this myself so my hat’s off to these designers. 

Now you can do all this fun stuff on Spoonflower, and there’s just sooooo many fun prints. I could (and have) literally browse the site for hours. Even though it’s expensive, some of these prints are just so amazing and there’s really something to be said for getting to get exactly what you’re looking for. But the problems start when you don’t get what you’re looking for, even when you’re staring right at it. 

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know I’ve been sewing a Anna costume. I bought my fabric from Spoonflower and was just so excited. The CG image looked great, so did the printed sample shown by the designer. Here’s what it looked like.

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It looks great right? It even has the flecks that simulate the “fuzzy” look of Anna’s skirt. Sadly this is not what I received. My fabric was dark, very dark. The flecks were difficult to see, the upper blue blended into the hem blue, and the “embroidery” just seemed to fade into the background. If I hold the fabric in very bright sunlight it looks okay. But who is only going to stand in direct sun only? I want to wear this skirt to a Halloween party, at night. If it’s just going to look navy blue with virtually no detailing at night I could have saved myself a fortune and just bought blue Kona cotton from JoAnn’s and called it a day. But I spent more than three times that much per yard because I thought this print was worth it. How could I have known how wrong things would go? Here are some side by side images. I took these photos closeup in very bright sunlight today, it’s produces the best effect with the Kona. Otherwise it’s very difficult to see the pattern.

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Sorry for all the fuzz on the left fabric. My son stole my lint roller and I still can’t find it. 

The basic combed cotton is on the left and my original order of the Kona is on the right. As you can see the “flecks” are clearly visible on the left and just sort of fade into the background on the right. It’s also easier to make out the “stitches” on the left vs. the right. Again, this photo was taken in very bight sunlight and it’s the only way you’re even able to see this level of detailing or such brightness with the Kona fabric. 

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Here again we have the basic combed cotton on the left and the Kona on the right. 

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Basic combed cotton on the right, Kona on the left. 

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Basic combed cotton on top, Kona on the bottom.

I think the differences are pretty pronounced. Especially since for some reason the basic cotton holds it’s color even in dim lighting and the Kona seems to look even darker. I’m guessing since it’s so dark and kind of purpley grey to begin with. I don’t think the purple hue comes across in photos, but I promise you it’s there in real life. It’s just so dull. I was devastated when I opened the package and would have been so embarrassed to wear the other fabric had I been left with no other option. 

After seeing the fabric I did what anyone would do, I went back to the website. I looked at their contact info and called the phone number. It was just a recording that hung up. Okay fine, it was late at night I’d just send an email. So I fired off an email and waited- for two days. After 48 hours with no response I went back to the website during their chat times (noon to 4pm EST). Chat was offline, so I tried calling again. All I ended up with was the same recording that told me to send an emil and hung up. Left with no other option I went to their Facebook page and complained. Suddenly, as if by some miracle chat popped back online! Tara was really interested in helping me (I’m sure) and wanted to know what the problem was. Clearly she spends too much time on Facebook and not enough time on email or chat. I told her what was happening, gave her my order number, and she found my email. I sent her an image of the fabric as requested and she agreed it was pretty bad. So she told me it was probably just some error and they’d reprint my fabric and she’d supervise the process personally. She then logged off chat without so much as bothering to say goodbye so I was talking to myself for a while. A few days later I was devastated to get a new email saying my new fabric printed out exactly the same and would I just like to pick a different print? Umm, no. I was very explicit in why I bought this particular print, so no, I didn’t want something else. There was some more back and forth and eventuality she agreed to print again using a different fabric. That printed out fine and she FedExed the new fabric. I got it, and whipped the skirt up, and now things are okay. But I think Spoonflower still has some major issues to work out. 

I looked at a few reviews yesterday and it seems like most people are really happy with their fabric, and that’s great. But the few that aren’t couldn’t seem to get into contact with the company so just gave up or didn’t even bother to try. Likely because of the nature of the product so they figured they’d be ignored. I get that, I was almost one of those people. Actually I feel really lucky I even got in touch with someone. Because while they were dealing with me they had been actively ignoring someone else who’d bought $3,000 worth of wallpaper and every last roll was printed incorrectly (the patterns didn’t line up at all). I feel horrible for her and really hope she got things sorted cause she’s out quite a bit and that’s not funny. For a company that claims to serve over a million individuals they certainly aren’t doing a great job. I really don’t know how a company gets so big without having great customer service. 

Spoonflower has a chat program and really, it’s the only way to speak to someone at the company. That is, short of driving to their offices and banging on the door until they let you in. They claim to offer tours but I don’t know how you’d set one up when no one will get back to an email. Or perhaps they only respond to positive emails and just ignore the complaints? All I know is that if you offer a phone number and say “call this number for help” it needs to not be a recording that simply hangs up on you. And if you’re really only going to have chat up for four hours a day it needs to be available. It’s just not okay to have no one available to help when something goes wrong. Because something will go wrong, nothing in this world is perfect. It is possible that they grew too quickly and need to expand certain departments but just haven’t yet. That’s fine, but they need to work on that and the sooner the better. 

My other issue was with the excuses for the color variations. I’m sorry but if they know one fabric will always print light and another will always be dark, then they need to adapt the file to the fabric type they’re printing. To try and shift blame onto the designer saying they made a dark file is unacceptable. Take Michael Miller fabrics for example, you can get his prints on all sorts of fabric, minky, flannel, quilting cotton, etc. The colors are usually exactly the same despite the fabric type and the reason for that is simple. They adjust their colors to meet the needs of the fabric they’re printing on. Spoonflower needs to be the same. They cannot just say “buy a $5 swatch and see if you like it” there needs to be more consistency. Because otherwise you’re going to spend a lot of time and money trying all the fabric types and if you still don’t like the color you’ll need to tweak it yourself or hassle the designer. Or just learn to live with a custom fabric that’s not what you want. 

I think if they can work on these issues then the company will continue to grow and will see even greater success. No company can expect to ignore their customers long term and do well. 

Here are some swatches of samples I had bought in the past and was very happy with.

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The first three with the larger pattern are Silk Crepe de Chine. It’s quite lovely, thin, drapey, and a smidge sheer. The last one with the tiny design is in their performance knit and be warned, it has zero stretch. I’d meant to buy one of these in that fabric and another in their performance pique but somehow ended up with two in the performance knit. I’ve been debating going as Rapunzel for the Disney Princess Half Marathon, if I do I’ll be buying one of these prints. I’d want the modern jersey as it’s the only fabric with a 4 way stretch. They seem to be out of stock with that one right now. I really hope they get it back in stock before December if I do decide to go this route. I wouldn’t need much, a yard of each, maybe even just a fat quarter for the skirt (the center panel is printed, the rest of the skirt is plain colored). A fat quarter is 21″ x 18″ and the skirt will obviously be short so that should work. Though even if I bought a yard I’m positive I could find use for the scraps in the form of cute things like headbands and even a scarf. The performance pique (which is made for workout gear) is 56″ x 36″ so that’s more than enough for an outfit plus accessories. I’ll also be making a top that resembles her bodice, just a basic tank I think. A yard should more than cover it. 

So I’m not completely out of love with this company. They do have some issues to work on but it’s a great concept and when things print as shown they look beautiful. I think I’ll just keep an eye out for when they do free swatches. They did one a week or so ago and I picked this little gem. It can be found here, I had it printed on their Eco Canvas. I think it looks a bit blurry but that’s just the photo, it’s much crisper in real life.

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Recognize that? It’s the facade of the It’s a Small Word ride at Disney! Someone just posted an image of an infinity scarf they made with this and I’m in love. I will be copying that design! For now I’ll probably play around with this for a bit. Finish the edges and do a little freehand embroidery to embellish it. It’s 8″x8″ so I’m going to cut it to fit a 4″x4″ frame and use it as artwork in my soon to be sewing room. It’s something I’ve done in the past and I think it’d be the perfect way to help decorate the space. 

So basically, I say order from Spoonflower knowing that if the fabric turns out the way you expect it to you’ll be thrilled beyond words. But if it’s not what you expected it to look like, you’re pretty much on your own. I’m lucky they bothered to help me, it seems like they ignore most people. It’s expensive, and you need to be sure of what you’re getting before you buy. I suggest waiting for their free swatches and if you like what you get then order. Or look for people who have used the fabric you’re looking to buy. Sometimes the designers can help you out too, so ask!

Anna Costume, The Completed Bodice

Sorry this took so long to get up. I had meant to post this sooner, but I ran out of the trim. Couple that with the fact I had to pick up my new embroidery dongle, and the manager of the sewing store is only there certain days, and…. Long story short, I was forced to wait so this wasn’t finished until the other day. I am done now, and here’s my completed bodice!

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I like it, and I think it looks pretty good. If I had to do it over I’m sure there would be changes but I’m not 100% sure what those would be. I suppose I would raise the center design slightly and maybe widen the shoulder straps. Possibly trim the trim, I’m not too sure. I feel the trim is the right width, but to widen the straps would make them too wide. I couldn’t bring them out any  further, so they’d have to come in, eating into the neckline. I suppose that would be okay, but to me the size of the neckline feels right. I guess this is where the difficulty of creating a real life dress based on a CG one comes into play. I know a lot of people have complained about Elsa’s dress because the color shifts throughout the film. Anna’s bodice is one of those things that’s a bit difficult to bring to life. The embroidery is also slightly wonky on the back. In reality it’s only slightly off, but the trim seems to exaggerate it, it’s also on the form a smidge lopsided. Everything else was pretty much a mirror image though so I can’t complain. The fact I managed to hoop everything separately (and not even really hoop everything but float it) and have it come out so symmetrical is pretty amazing considering it was my first time doing, well, all of it. I’ve never floated anything before, I’ve never tried to do matching designs, and I’ve actually only used the embroidery feature a dozen or so times since I bought the machine. I can’t see beating myself up over a few millimeters given all that.

The skirt is going to be another issue, but probably not a huge one. As you can see I’ve pinned my (junky wrong color) fabric to the dress form adding four large pleats. It’s obvious in certain scenes she has pleats (like the moment she’s about to jump out that window into the storm with Olaf), but in other scenes it looks like a basic a-line. I’ve pretty much decided on pleats because it’s going to enable me to keep the right volume, pattern on the bottom, and it is the “right” design at least some of the time. And I don’t know if I mentioned this previously, but the green skirt she wears at the very end of the film has more obvious pleats. Here are some of my reference images.

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The blue skirt appears to be designed in a very similar fashion. I’m no expert but I’m guessing we don’t see that detailing because it’s usually covered by her cape, and it’s a lot of time and money to spend adding such a tiny detail that’s very rarely, if ever, seen. I just think it’s fair to assume these two skirts would be designed similarly if Anna were a real person. In the time period she’s supposedly from (1840’s, but I’m guessing more 1890’s due to Anna’s hemlines and the bicycle) it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume most of the dresses and skirts available at that time were basically the same. So I feel pretty confident going with this design. It’s also really easy to pull together without a pattern. I just hope I have enough fabric, the fabric I’ll ultimately be using kind of shrunk a lot- like a lot, a lot. Really the fabric drama has been more stressful than necessary. I’ll eventually do a post on what’s going to become known as The Fabric Incident of 2014. But for now I need to focus on just getting the skirt done.

Last night I trimmed and hemmed the skirt fabric, and I added in the horsehair braid (yeah, I’m using horsehair braid). I’m planning to measure and cut the lining material and will probably also add the ric rac tonight. I don’t know if I’ll get more than that completed tonight. I’m hoping I do but I’m trying to manage expectations. I’ve been extremely tired lately and I haven’t a clue as to why. I’ll be so glad when this is all finished. Although then it’ll be time to start my husband’s Kristoff costume. Stay tuned….

Anna Costume, Sewing The Bodice

After spending all last night on this, my Anna bodice is almost complete. As I mentioned in my last post I shared the embroidery, this one will talk about assembly.

 

The first step was to transfer all my pattern markings to my fabric. I had already completed this on the lining, I did it while my machine was embroidering. So I really only had to do the velveteen and it went quickly. Once I did that I pinned the darts and sewed them down.

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I did the same with the lining. The next step had the potential to be very tricky. I had to press my seams. Now if you’re at all familiar with velvet or velveteen you’ll know they can’t really be ironed. You usually need what’s called a needle board and even then you can still crush the pile if you’re not careful. Velveteen can be a little easier to work with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mess that up too. The method I used is slightly dangerous and not something I recommend anyone without health insurance try. I stood my iron and passed the fabric over the plate.

I couldn’t exactly take photos of this process. That would have been really stupid and reckless. So I’ll have to try and describe exactly what I mean. I turned my iron to a medium setting, and let it heat up. I found having the steam on made it easier, you may wish to experiment. To be sure it wouldn’t be too hot I ran the iron over the board a few times and touched the fabric. If it was too hot to touch I turned it down until I found something manageable. I stood the iron up facing 4 o’clock and held it by the handle so it wouldn’t boggle. Then I laid the fabric over my hand (right side against my palm) and held it to the plate. My fabric was thick enough and my temperature setting low enough that it didn’t get too hot. When I had to apply a bit more pressure or press close to the edge, I used a scrap piece (right sides together!) to be sure my hand would stay safe. It worked phenomenally well. Just see for yourself!

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After I finished all my pressing I serged the shoulders and side seams of both the velveteen and lining separately. Then I put them together (wrong sides together to hide the seams) and started pinning. I pinned both layers together and machine basted them together. In hindsight I probably should have just hand basted, it probably would have taken me less time. Either way, it came out fine. I then popped it on the serger. The entire perimeter will be covered with gold trim, so I didn’t even have to do that, but I don’t want to ever have to worry about things unraveling so I finished them. Besides, it’s nice to have a well made garment.

Here are my two separate pieces waiting to be serged together.

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And here they are serged together and with the zipper installed just waiting for trim.

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My shoulders are a bit more broad than the dress form so it looks a bit off here. But this is it! All it needs now is the trim. I am a bit concerned about installing that. The stuff I bought is really cool, but I’m worried it will be really difficult to work with. If it is I’ll have to get something different and I really don’t want to. Not just because it’ll cost me even more (I can’t return this trim), but because I can’t think of anything else that’ll look as good. So I really need it to work.

With any luck my next post will be in the next day or so, and will be showcasing my completed bodice!

I do still have the crummy Spoonflower fabric, they haven’t asked for it back. So I’m thinking of using it to practice pleating, just to get an idea of what works. Anna’s skirt looks to have four huge pleats which wouldn’t be difficult. I just hope it translates well  to real life.

On the subject of skirt and Spoonflower they contacted me again. The woman I’ve been talking to said she made a mistake with what she told me and had the fabric reprinted on a different base. It supposedly looks much better and will go out as soon as Monday. All I can say is it better look good. If it doesn’t I’m going to be stuck making a skirt in the wrong colors. After all the work I’m putting into this I’d like it to look how I’d envisioned. But with the base color of this skirt so dark and it so difficult to see many of the details it may as well be a different pattern, not just a different color. So it’s disappointing. I’m not saying making this costume has been especially taxing, but it does take effort and it has cost me a bit. I’d like to be really happy and proud of the end result. I know my son won’t really care, he’ll just be happy that his Mama is Anna (or Nana as he calls her). But I’ll care.

Anna Costume, Embroidering The Bodice

So I finally finished making the muslin for the bodice. I ended up using a sewing pattern and heavily modifying it. I happened to have this one, Simplicity 2813, laying around and it was a decent fit, if a bit boxy.

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I added a few inches to the body, and tweaked the hips and shoulders. I also changed the neckline and the back of it. And most obviously, I left off the skirt. Here’s a quick shot of the muslin just so you can get an idea of what it looks like.

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It’s exactly what I wanted. Although in the end I decided to leave out the center seam, even if Anna’s bodice has one (and it does), just cause I didn’t want any issues with the embroidery.

I purchased a nice cotton velveteen at JoAnnes and was lucky enough to get it on sale so it only cost me about $10 total and I bought a yard and a half. It does fray and drop pile quite a bit, but that’s sort of what happens with these fabrics. So I basted the edges to keep anything horrific from happening and tried my best not to touch it. I think it went fairly well.

Now to do the embroidery on this was a bit tricky. There are a lot of designs and obviously trying to get them all to fit into a single hoop just isn’t realistic. So I had to hoop each design separately (except for the center front design, I merged those two with my software). It was a pain getting everything exactly perfectly right. I think I was getting super tired towards the end and it’s why my only slip ups were on the back pieces. Even then, the difference between the two sides is minor. And getting them to be mirror images really isn’t possible without me going grey. So if something’s off a couple millimeters I’m fine just living with it.

I tried making my own designs and it was not going well. I really did try my best but I’m still very, very new to this software. So I ended up buying my designs. They were very inexpensive and the woman I purchased them from was kind enough to offer a discount when I asked. If anyone’s interested, I bought them from OCDEmbroidery on Etsy. Here’s a shot of my tests, they came out really well so I didn’t bother to do the opposite side (please ignore the back right shoulder design, it says right but it should say left, oops).

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Just as a quick note, you will not see the back design in her shop. That was a custom order. She does have a different one available that I think is very pretty. Also, she may still be able to make that one if you ask. I believe the boot designs I had her make are now available in her shop, so it’s possible this one will pop up too. All I can say is I hope to become as good at this as her someday. She managed to make both of my requests in just hours!

Anyways, after I was certain everything would stitch out properly I cut out my fabric. Here’s a shot of all the pieces.

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At first I thought about just marking the fabric, embroidering it, then cutting it our once the designs were on there. I think that would have worked too. But I’m happy enough with the way I ultimately did things.

Hooping the fabric was an ordeal. Basically because you can’t actually hoop it without ruining it. The pressure would cause something known as hoop burn, and it’s not reversible on this type of fabric. So I had to do what’s called “float” the fabric. What I did was hoop a piece of stabilizer, then I measured where I wanted my fabric to go based on where the design would stitch out. Then I used a piece of this water soluble stabilizer on top. That keeps the embroidery from getting sucked too far down into the nap and helps it to sit on top better. It looks better with it, just trust me. To keep everything from shifting I found I had to pin, it was just non negotiable. I pinned in the seam allowance or places that will be covered by trim whenever possible. I also did a basting stitch. I actually found the basting stitch to be a great help when it came to lining up designs. I would just do one, or part of one and then use the marks on the top stabilizer to tell me where I needed to put the fabric so both sides looked the same.

Here’s what my velveteen sandwich looks like.

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For the most part it pulls off cleanly. But for any tiny little pieces I can just steam them off or rinse this in a bit of water and it’ll all melt away. My fabric is cotton and machine washable so I’ll probably just toss it into the machine when I’m finished. You can see the basting stitch here as well. It’s great if you really can’t use pins at all, but I was lucky and they didn’t seem to leave marks. So I kept using them.

Finally here’s a shot of all the pieces embroidered.

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This fabric attracts lint like there’s no tomorrow but I don’t care. It’s so soft and lovely and the embroidery looks so good on it. Right after I post this I plan to haul my serger out of the closet and get to work assembling it. I am lining it cause you really can’t leave velvet or velveteen unlined, it just doesn’t look right. While my machine was embroidering these I took that time to cut the lining fabric and transfer my marks. I need to transfer the marks for the darts onto the velveteen and it should go together fairly quickly. I expect the most issues will come with attaching the trim. It’s a gold “something”, I’m not really sure what it’s made of, but I know it’ll look good if I can get it on there. We shall see. The zipper shouldn’t be an issue. I bought a basic black separating zipper and I’m actually really good at installing all types of zippers. I absolutely hate doing them, but it’s apparently my special skill. Go figure.

My next post will be showcasing my fabulous new bodice. I can’t wait, so I’d better get to work!

Anna Costume, The Shirt

I’m still working on my Anna costume and it’s slow going at best. I have the muslin for the bodice done and I have all the supplies I need to finish the costume, sorta. I’ll explain in a bit, but for now lets focus on the shirt. I bought this shirt from Amazon.

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I picked the Aqua color and it’s a bit paler in real life. It looks very much like the color Anna wears in the film. The only problems this shirt had were the collar and sleeves. Anna’s collar is more of a mandarin or Nehru collar, this one has your typical spread collar. To remedy that I simply took a seam ripper to it and pulled the top part of the collar out. It created the perfect shape. The only downside is this was not the best made shirt. So the fabric wasn’t placed with care when it was sewn originally and it’s impossible to get it to lay flat now (unless I want to dismantle the entire collar, but I’ll still have issues cause of the button hole). I’m not going to fret too much over it though. It’s a costume and not something I plan to wear out and about.

The sleeves were also an issue. They feature a double cuff, Anna does not have a double cuff. Now for some people this might just be a slight annoyance, but for me it was ideal. I have very long arms and as usual the shirt fit me everywhere but the sleeves, which were literally two inches too short. So I measured and cut off the excess, turned the cut ends under, and stitched it back up. It did leave me with the issue of too much cuff, not enough button- if you know what I mean. So I took the extra button, and one from the bottom of the shirt, and put on two new button holes and stitched the buttons in place. 

I did do a bit of decorative stitching just to make it a bit more reminiscent of Anna’s shirt. It went okay on the collar but it could not be done well on the cuffs or at all near the buttons down the front. The fabric is not the best of quality and even adding a bit of stabilizer wasn’t going to help much. Besides I wasn’t interested in wasting stabilizer on this shirt, at least not at this time.

All in all I’m happy with this, despite the $22 price tag. It saves me a lot of work and it’s the right color. I’ve been keeping track of my supplies and I’m still way under what some of the eBay costumes are going for, and light years away from the better ones on Etsy. It’ll probably cost about $100-$120 when all is said and done, but that’s really not that bad for a custom outfit. 

Here’s some shots of what I did with this shirt. 

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I alluded to some supply issues in the beginning of this post. Sadly they’re with my skirt fabric. It in no way resembles the images shown on the Spoonflower website, color wise. After much issue trying to contact the company I was finally able to talk to someone via chat (you cannot talk to someone on the phone, it’s just a voicemail that hangs up). The woman was nice and said that my fabric did look much different than what the designer shared. So she looked up what the designer bought, it was the same exact fabric I bought. Yet they’re very different colors. The designers fabric is bright and beautiful, mine borders on navy and the details are difficult to see, some are almost impossible unless you’re under direct light. Here’s the picture of my fabric next to an image of the designers fabric.

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Mine is on the left, the designers is on the right. Supposedly they’re both Kona cotton.

The Spoonflower lady told me they would get the fabric reprinted and she was sure there would be no issues. Well she emailed me today and told me that it printed out super dark again. And she said she talked to the design team and they told her the colors in the original file were dark so it’ll probably keep happening even if they try and print onto a different base. They also said the designer must have used a flash when she took her photo. Well, I did my best to recreate the image the designer posted. I turned on the flash on my camera and even got out our torches. Basically they’re these huge flashlights that when I shine them out my second story window they illuminate the entire parking lot below. Yet, even with all that light, I could not make my fabric look like the designers sample. So either she photoshopped it (which would be insane and highly unlikely) or the issue is with Spoonflower’s system. I spent $60 total on three yards of Kona cotton. A sum I’d have been happy to pay, if I’d gotten what I wanted. Instead what I received is something I’m embarrassed to use and a “Oh well, it must be someone else’s fault. Soooo, do you want something different?” from the company. I’ve bought swatches from this company before and they were absolutely lovely. They were actually from the same designer as this most recent purchase. Yet I don’t know if I’d ever shop with them again. When I emailed them to tell them I had a problem they didn’t get back to me. Their phone number leads to a recording that hangs up on you. Then when I went to use their online chat during the four hours a day they’re available it said chat was offline. Only after I wrote an angry little message on their Facebook wall did chat magically pop back up. What are the odds…

So I’m pretty disappointed in this company. I feel like they should be doing more. I’m not asking them to change blue to red, or add flowers, or anything stupid. All I want is what they say they can deliver. You’d think I’d be safe buying the same fabric the designer bought and shared (and I loved) but I guess not. And I think it’s fair to warn all potential customers. Think twice before using Spoonflower. It’s expensive and you may end up with something you can’t use. And the company really isn’t any help.

Anna Costume, Constructing The Bodice

I’ve been a bit sick these past couple of days but I still wanted to try and get some work done on making the pattern for my Anna costume. I’d debated using a pattern but I’m better at just draping on me or even just cutting at random and starting to sew while refining later. So I didn’t know if I wanted to experiment on something that has an actual deadline. This is my first time draping on a dress form and I have to say I’m pleased. It only took me one hour as opposed to two or three and I was able to do it mostly seated. A big plus for me right now since standing leaves me feeling wiped. Here’s what the top looks like so far.

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I think it’s pretty obvious this is just a first draft. But it’s looking pretty good so far. I regret not ironing the fabric before I started, but as I stated before, I was really tired. I don’t think it’ll make or break the final product anyways. The wrinkling was minor and I caused the bulk of what you see myself. I’m getting kind of excited to start basting it together so I can try it on. I don’t expect any major issues in fit. I did have a tough time getting the dress form to be my exact double. Mostly because I forgot I’ll be wearing things like a bra and top under this vest. So I had to take the cover off and adjust the form, add a bra, and measure about 30 times to be sure it was right. If anything that probably took more time than the draping. But I’m confidant the measurements are correct now, so hopefully it’s smooth sailing from here on out!

And in related news my skirt fabric shipped! I really can’t believe it shipped so quickly. Supposedly it’ll be here Monday. If that’s the case then I need to get to work draping the skirt!

My Elevé Leotards Are Here!

I had no intention of writing this post so soon. But that’s 100% due to the fact I never thought these leotards would be here so soon. The tracking said they’d be delivered Saturday, so imagine my surprise to find them in box today! 

I bought two different styles. Here’s what they look like.

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This is the Anna style, I added a bust liner. 

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This is the Nicole style, I added a bust liner to this one as well.

I want to take this time to point out. There was no reason to omit the bust liner as unlike Yumiko, they do not charge extra for it. If you want a full front liner it is an additional $8 charge. That’s very reasonable considering it’s a $10 fee to add a bust liner or a full front liner on a Yumiko.

 Here are the photos of my leotards.

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As you can see, the bust liner is just that, a liner. It is not a shelf bra and offers no additional support. It is the same material as the rest of the leotard, whereas the crotch liner is beige. From what I can tell, the crotch liner is made out of the same type of fabric as the rest of the leotard it’s not the thinner stuff.

The colors I picked are Steel for the base color and Orchid for the mesh and trim. 

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This one features a beige bust liner. I’m guessing because it was easier since the front has two colors. It was really well done too. 

The colors for this are Black for the side panels, Vampire for the base, and the mesh is called Paint Your Roses Red. 

I will not be including photos of myself in these because I’ve already tried to take them and I hated how they came out. The cutouts make it a little more obvious I need to keep working hard in class. I’m almost exactly the same weight I was pre pregnancy (I’m off by like 2 pounds) I’m just a bit more doughy than before and in weird places like my back (seriously, how do you get a fat back?). I’m lucky, I’m not spilling out of the back. I just don’t like the way it looks on me. I’ll still wear this to class, but I’m not keen to share photos just now. However, if you are self conscience or are heavier you may want to skip leotards with the cutouts. 

If you do not specify what kind of fabric you want (shiny or matte) Elevé will pick for you. I elected to let them pick for me and they chose matte. While I love it, you need to be aware it makes every lump and bump visible. My various bumps and such were much more apparent in the Steel/Orchid leo. You could see the outline of my ribs and even the indent where my c section scar is (for the record mine barely goes in, this is just how obvious things are underneath this fabric). I can wear tights and undies underneath and it’ll be fine, but you need a lot of body confidence to wear this type of fabric. I would pick it again, but probably only if I’m getting a darker color. The red and black leo is the same matte fabric yet it does not show everything underneath. Something to keep in mind, not every color is available in both finishes. At present Vampire is only available in matte, same goes for the Orchid.

You do have a lot of control with these leotards, but Elevé reserves the final say. If they feel the colors/patterns you pick don’t match their aesthetic then they will not make it. If they can’t reach you to discuss color changes they’ll do it themselves. So to play it safe I opted to just pick from the list of colors under the mesh swatches. The list of colors is just what colors are featured in the mesh (the rose mesh had seven colors in that design) and since this was my first order with them I figured it would be best to play it safe. 

Size wise this brand is my perfect fit leotard. I bought a Large, but possibly could have gone down to a Medium. I think the material that they use is forgiving enough that even if I dropped 15 pounds I could still wear the Large. But I bought the Large to be safe since I’m so tall and I don’t regret it. They’re very long are I would 100% recommend them to people who are tall or have a long torso and have a hard time finding leotards that fit. So listen up tall people, this is your brand- stop looking. I took these out of their bags and all I could think is, “Wow! They’re so long!”. They’re very comfortable and I don’t expect there to be any issues with riding up or digging into the shoulders.

As you can see, there is a huge style difference between Elevé and Yumiko. I personally like both, and can see myself owing a number of pieces from each brand. But if you told me I could buy another leotard today I would pick Elevé. I just love that they have soooo many options and I’m in love with a couple more of their floral prints. They buy their patterned fabrics in small quantities too, so that their leotards are even more unique. So hopefully they’ll still have some of those prints when I’m finally ready to order again.

I also want to say that this was a fantastic company to work with. I ordered the Orchid/Steel leotard first then a day or so later decided I wanted to buy another. I was fully prepared to pay for shipping twice because it was my fault for not buying them at the same time. But there was something weird going on with the website and it kept trying to charge me extra for the shipping saying I was out of the country. So I contacted them and they got back to me so quickly. At that point I asked if they would just tack this on to the original order even if it bumped it out of line and they said it was no issue. So A++ for customer service! They’re also a U.S. based company and all of their leotards are made here. So if it’s important to you to support U.S. companies then this is the brand for you. 

Price is also something I wanted to talk about. For what you’re getting these are very reasonably priced. These were $63 and $65 plus $6 shipping for both, I do not recall paying tax. I’ve seen basic black ones selling in dance supply stores for at least that much. And while it is important to support local businesses, they do not have to overcharge to the point your credit card melts going through the machine. So if you’re looking for a custom leotard that won’t break the bank then Elevé is a great brand to consider and technically you are supporting a local business, assuming you live in the U.S..

I hope everyone liked this review and that people find it helpful. I’ll try to do an update after I’ve worn these but I don’t expect to run into any issues. The fabric feels sooooo soft and lovely. And my ring actually caught on one as I was putting it on and you couldn’t even tell so it’s sturdy stuff. My only concern is with the red one bleeding, but even there I think I’ll be okay. I just couldn’t be happier with these two and can’t wait until next week when I can wear them!

 

Anna Costume

As I mentioned in my last post I’m creating a Anna costume. I’m attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party next month and I need this done within the next seven weeks. Though I’d prefer to see this done by the 10th of next month, just to be safe. I’d hope for sooner, but I’m waiting on my Spoonflower order. I expect it to take at least two weeks if not a bit longer to get to me. So I’ll be held up waiting on that. That’s okay, I’ll just use this time to work on my embroidery patterns, the bodice, and shirt. For reference I’m planning to make Anna’s traveling outfit, here are the reference shots I’m using.

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They’re good, not great. Just because they don’t show the embroidery from straight on. I am using some other reference material. Mainly these two images.

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These images are from MomoKurumi on DeviantArt. She’s a genius and incredibly generous as far as I’m concerned. I’m forever grateful to her for providing these images as it saves me a wold of time and effort.

Now I’m new to machine embroidery, brand spanking new. Truth be told this is only my third attempt at using my new software. Prior to this I’ve only used patterns that came with my machine. I drew this design, scanned it, and made some very minor changes to the image. I’m still doing things wrong I’m sure and may try to tweak it as I’m not 100% thrilled with how my embroidery came out. But on the whole it’s not bad considering I’ve never really done anything like this before. And if I did want to put this onto a finished garment as is I could.

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The design is exactly the right size for adding to the bodice. I made it to fit my largest hoop which is 360mm X 200mm, so it’s quite large. I’m going to have to do some tests on the fabric I plan to use. Just to see what I can and can’t do with it. I bought 1.5 yards, so I have plenty to work with. It’s 100% cotton velveteen and it can be machine washed. But naturally I’m still very concerned about hoop burn. I’m also afraid of floating the fabric and basting it because it could leave stitch marks. I am very fortunate to own a number of hoops though. I own the Mega Endless Hoop and Metal Hoop.

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As you can see, both would be great for avoiding marks on the fabric, or at least minimizing them. However I could not use them for the large design on the front as they’re much smaller. They’ll be ideal for the little designs on the shoulders and back, but that’s about it. So experiment I shall, there’s time. What I need to do right now is focus on getting my patterns made. It’ll be difficult though. My software requires the use of a dongle (something I always hated). And today while I was trying to save the image my son decided it would be the perfect time to jump up and down on me and try to pull my hair out of my head. It was like he was possessed by the devil himself. Well, in an effort to try and get him to stop acting like a lunatic my laptop slid off my lap and hit the floor. Of course it landed directly on the dongle, this is what it looks like now.

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Needless to say my son is in a world of trouble. This software cost more than a thousand dollars and cannot be used without the flipping dongle. We bought a lot of different warranties when we were purchasing the software and my machine, I’m just hoping we have this covered under one of them. Or perhaps I could contact the company and ask about a replacement dongle. Surely such a thing exists. It still works, for now. But it’s seriously messed up. I’m actually really angry at my son. It would be one thing if I had been ignoring him. But I remembered I hadn’t saved my design and became paranoid. So I stopped playing with him just so I could take the few minutes to do that. Apparently this was an issue for him. Well, it looks like full scale punishments will now be put in place for all misbehavior. He’s only 20 months but it’s been clear for some time that he knows exactly what we’re saying to him and he’s even started to answer us when we talk. He actually lied to me the other day. I saw him messing with my computer and when I told him to take his hands off it he looked me straight in the eye and said “I didn’t do it”. Yeah, nice try, I watched you do it. The kid does nothing but mumble or say mama from one day to the next but he can suddenly string a perfectly clear sentence together just to tell a lie? Looks like the jig is up pal. He will now be getting timeouts or whatever punishment I deem appropriate for the infraction each time he misbehaves. I just will not have this kid tearing my house (and the things in it) apart.

Please forgive my parenting rant. The anger is all consuming right now. It’l be better in the morning I’m sure. But it’s still pretty fresh right now. Moving on…

I bought my skirt fabric from Spoonflower. It’s a fantastic site if you’re unfamiliar so check it out! Here’s an image of the fabric I’m using for my skirt.

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It was designed by the ever talented Aimee Steinberger. She has made some of the most amazing costumes I’ve ever seen. If you’ve ever searched for a Rapunzel costume you’ve seen hers. It’s hands down the best one out there and it’s considerably nicer and more accurate than even the outfits the Face Characters wear at the Disney parks. I fully intend to use her fabrics to make a Rapunzel inspired outfit for the Disney Princess Half Marathon I’m doing in February. You can do no better than to use a fabric Aimee designed. I was going to draw the Rapunzel print myself when I saw she’d already done it. And I’m sure mine would never have been as good as hers so I’m grateful. I own a few swatches of the Rapunzel fabric she’s made so I have every faith that I’ll be more than pleased with this fabric. It’s the first time I’ve bought yardage of her stuff, but the level of detail is so amazing I’m more excited than nervous. It’ll really do a lot to save me from having to appliqué the bottom of the skirt and do all of that additional embroidery. If I were a cosplayer it might be worth it to me, but I’m not. The print is good enough that my son will be happy, and so will I. I could always do a bit of hand embroidery over it in the future as well. I do like doing that sort of thing. I have some scraps of Japanese fabric with amazingly cute scenes I’ve embellished just for fun. So I could see myself adding a bit to it here and there.

My only concern about the skirt is that it (obviously) has a border print. Ordinarily I would have cut the fabric into panels before sewing it back together to give it the a-line shape I’m looking for. But I can’t do that without messing up the print. Now I’m going to have to come up with a different plan. I have a few ideas for darts or pleats, but I really need to wait for the fabric to get here before I can experiment with it. I’m also toying with how I want it to go on, zipper or elastic (I’m thinking a wide 2″ elastic waistband). I’ll figure it out though, I always do.