Alice wants to grow her hair so long it touches the ground. She'd like to toss it out of a tower window and let people climb on up. She thinks that would be fun.
I'm still hoping she outgrows (ha!) Mission Rapunzel before she realizes the mismatch between her vision and reality. But for now, anyway, she is committed to the fantasy.
So, when I saw a long blond wig in the toy aisle the other day, I thought it would make a fun little treat for her.
And of course it would be even more fun if she had a Rapunzel dress to go with it, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money and didn't have a lot of time to make one.
Then I remembered the most important lesson I've learned about making princess dresses: They're not too difficult.
At least, not necessarily. If all you're looking for is a fun addition to the dress-up wardrobe, the gown doesn't have to be a perfect facsimile. With the right color palette, all you really need is to suggest a few signature details - kids' imaginations will take them the rest of the way.
For Alice's version of Rapunzel, those details were the sleeves and lace-up bodice. With that in mind, I tried to think up the simplest foundation possible and decided to try making a dress out of two T-shirts. This gave us a dress that is softer than most store-bought costumes, and a lot easier to get into.
It came out pretty well, I think! You can get this done in a couple of hours. Here's what you need:
- A T-shirt sized to fit your child
- A T-shirt sized to fit an adult. (I used a medium)
- Basic sewing supplies
- Quarter-inch thick elastic
- First, cut across the child-sized shirt, a couple of inches below the arm holes. This will be the bodice.
- The adult shirt will be the skirt. Decide how long you want it to be, then cut across the top of the shirt accordingly. For Alice's dress, I cut the adult-sized shirt right at the base of the arm openings.
|Cut each shirt, roughly where indicated above.|
- Depending on the size difference between your bodice and skirt pieces, you might need to gather the skirt a bit. If so, do that now. Then, sew the two pieces, right sides and raw edges together, with a 5/8 seam allowance. Using a zigzag stitch will make it easier to work with the knit fabric.
- Instead of trimming the excess fabric, stitch another line into the seam allowance, about 3/8 of an inch away from the original seam. You're creating a little casing for elastic to give the dress some shape - make sure to leave a 2-inch opening.
- Using some of your child's existing clothing as a guide - leggings work well - measure off a length of elastic. Attach a safety pin to one end and thread it through the casing you created. Sew the elastic ends together, then sew the opening shut.
Now you get to add some details.
The lace-up bodice and slashed sleeves were beyond the scope of what I wanted and had time to do with Alice's Rapunzel dress. Instead, I tried to suggest those details with some pretty trim and ribbon. Finally, I added a little embellishment to the hem and neckline.
She was convinced.
I'd love to try this with other costumes. Cinderella and Snow White could be really fun, but those ladies are already represented in our dress-up drawer, so perhaps Tiana or Belle? Princess Anna might be too tricky for this method, but I bet you could pull off a credible Elsa. And why not non-princesses like Wonder Woman or Super Girl?
Update: We tried an Elsa version.