Saturday, January 17, 2015

Pinning Elsa

In November last year, I created a pin-up version of Disney's Elsa from the movie Frozen. The inspiration behind my outfit was to turn Elsa into the owner of a Soda Shop.

There were a couple of things that I saw as crucial to bringing Elsa into the 1950s. Firstly, her hair and makeup needed to stay the same, and the colour palate needed to stay within the bounds of the film. But I also needed to add the snowflake sparkle element. I brought this through in diamantes on the blouse collar, a snowflake charms in her hair and hat and the bra. This tutorial is going to look at how I modified a bra to give the desired look. I did a brief tutorial on covering a bra when I made my I Dream of Jeannie costume however, this one is a little more in depth and quite a bit different.

Please note that the bulk of the sewing for this project is done by hand. This is mainly because it is very difficult to get a domestic machine in around the spaces that you need to sew while dodging the wires. Some machines may also have trouble getting through the foam of the bust cup, so hand-sewing it is.

The first step is to choose a good bra base. I used one of my older bras that the straps had started to go on and had become uncomfortable. This one is a playboy bra. The main thing is to choose a bra that has cups that fit you nicely so that you can adapt it. It doesn't really matter what colour bra you choose, as it will be covered with enough layers to cover any colours.

Next, I took my bra and chopped off the shoulder straps and back strap.

I then took my lining fabric, which is just a scrap of cotton homespun and pinned it in place over the cup, creating darts to fit it around the shape.

I then stitched it all down, including the darts. As you can see, the red and black bra is pretty much covered.

I then took my scraps of teal taffeta and sewed the two pieces together to get a piece of fabric wide enough to fit completely over the bra cups, and added in a gathering thread either side of the seam. This is done by using a long stitch length and a loosening the tension on your sewing machine. You then pull the top thread of each piece to gather it up enough to fit to the centre width of the bra. I then stitched it in place.

Once the centre was sewn down, I smoothed the fabric across the cup and pinned it in place along the wire line.

I then stitched it in place along the wire, at the edges of the foam cup and the ends of the side band. I used a simple back stitch to hold it all. I then trimmed back the excess fabric so that the edges line up with the existing edge of the bra. This will later be covered by binding to finish the raw edges.

The next step was to add the decorative cobweb glitter fabric. I cut a strip long enough to cover the top edge of the bra and then hand pleated and pinned the fabric in place. There wasn't a lot of planning to this, I just went with what I thought looked good and then stitched it down in place at the centre and at the side of the bust cups.

I then cut two strips of my sheer blouse fabric leftovers and hemmed them with a fine hem on the sewing machine. These strips were about 20cm wide. I ran two rows of gathering stitches along the bottom on my sewing machine. I then gathered it up and pinned and stitched it in place along the bottom of the bra. I did need to make sure that I had the angle correct before stitching it on so that the fabric would curve nicely around the cup.

The next step was binding. I cut approximately 5cm strips of bias binding of the teal taffeta fabric. I folded and pressed them in half and then hand stitched the raw edges to the bra edges with the fold over the bra (as pictured below). I used a backstitch to secure this in place. I then folded the bias over to the inside of the bra and used a whip stitch to stitch it down on the inside. This step is to finish the edges of the bra. After doing the top, I proceeded to do the bottom of the bra (a bit more tricky as you will need to dodge the wire).

The next step was to make the side straps. I measured the height of the side fabric of the bra and my measurements around my back to draft up a strap. The bottom edge of the strap is straight, but the top edge angles down slightly. I cut this out in 4 layers of fabric, using two as an interlining layer. In this layer, I added a pice of boning to help keep the bra strap from bunching up. My boning is a cut piece of a plastic cable tie.

No photos, but I made the shoulder straps using a 6cm strip of taffeta and cotton to strengthen. I folded in the seam allowance and pressed the strip in half, before finishing off the edges with top stitching.

With right sides together and the interlining layer on the outside, I stitched the edges of the strap before turning out right-side and pressing. The shoulder strap was also stitched into place so that the raw edges would be encased. Make sure not to stitch all the way to the end of the edge that will be sewn to the bra.

Then I hand stitched the strap onto the remaining fabric of the bra piece with right sides together using a back stitch. I then flipped the bra and folded over the lining fabric to encase all raw edges and stitched it in place on the inside.

With some assistance, I then tried on the bra and marked out where my back closure hooks would need to be placed and pinned in the length of the shoulder straps and halter neck straps.

I then stitched in four hooks and matching thread eyes on the back of the bra.

I added two hooks and matching thread eyes on the end of the halter straps.

I cut the shoulder straps to the correct length and stitched them to the bra, making sure that I secured all layers. Any external stitches would be covered by the decorative halter straps.

Once the straps were secured, I draped the sheer fabric around the edge of the bra cup and up to the top of the bra where the straps are secured. I then stitched it in place.

 I finished the edges of the decorative halter straps by pleating the fabric up and encasing it in a small piece of the remaining bias cut taffeta. These edges I also stitched them to the halter straps about 10cm below the hooks so that it would sit neatly gathered in place.

These ends then tie decoratively behind the neck.

and the finished bra...


  1. Thank you so much for posting this! The tutorial is very helpful. I love this costume, actually I love all of your stuff.

    1. Aw, thanks. And I'm glad that it's useful. I've been trying to take more progress shots while I work of late so that I can put together tutorials. I'm normally pretty terrible at remembering.