Barbie Rapunzel

There seems to be a pattern in my choice of cosplays – it’s either elves/druids/mages with metallic borders or pink princesses.

This one falls very much into the pink princess category. So much so that I leave a trail of pink glitter wherever I go in it.

It was a simple cosplay made in a few weeks, and it should be a fairly comfortable one to wear. Since my feet are hidden under a huge hoop skirt, I don’t need to wear super fancy, uncomfortable shoes. I plan to add a bunny bag (based on this pattern from CholyKnight), both to have one of her friends and also to have a place to put my phone. I’m also working on a Prince Stefan (Ken) cosplay for my husband and hope that our friend will join us as the dragon Penelope for a full group.

Anyways – on to the cosplay. I watched the movie and realized that the animators didn’t really think consistency was important. Even though this dress is only worn in the last part of the movie, the skirt changes colours a lot. In the end, I decided that there is a light purple and a light pink colour, and the skirt has a pink glitter tulle layer on top, as do the puffy parts of the sleeves.
The glitter layer also moves from shot to shot in the movie – sometimes it’s the upper sleeves, sometimes it’s the lower, sometimes the middle front has it, sometimes it doesn’t.

I started with the hoop skirt. I needed a lot of mass, and previously I’ve achieved this with insane layers of fabric, but it’s hard to move in, heavy and takes up a lot of space, so I decided to go with a hoop skirt for this costume – also to get the cartoony proportions.
Originally I planned to make my own from scratch – but soon discovered that it wasn’t worth it with material costs. It was cheaper for me to just buy one and adjust it. I got something like this one from Amazon (not affiliate link). It has adjustable hoops, and I made them a bit smaller than the biggest it could go. I also added some strips between the last few layers to extend it, since I’m quite a lot taller than the intended buyer, so it was very short on me originally. I’m 1,73m (I think that’s 5 feet, 8 inches?) and it was missing like 15-20cms.

To make the pattern of the skirt, I measured the various circumferences on the skirt and used that to draw up a draft pattern. Basically – a lot of math. My first pattern was way too big at the top and not big enough at the bottom. So while this method made sense mathematically, it didn’t make sense in reality, because I didn’t get the amount of ease I wanted in the places I wanted them. I was also trying very hard to have only 3 panels to the skirt, but since the front one needed to be smaller than the two other, it didn’t give me enough fabric to work with (since I was limited by a 140cm wide fabric). In the end, I made 5 panels of which the front middle one is slightly narrower than the rest.

I will add a diagram later of the finished panel measurements, but I arrived at those measurements by draping pieces of fabric and pinning them until I felt I had a good amount of fabric with enough ease without being too wrinkly.

I measured my circumference where I wanted the skirt to sit and made a square piece of fabric of that length + extra 5 cms for seam allowance and to add hooks or bottons. The width of the square is the width of the waistband x 2 + seam allowance. I added interface to it as well to make it more stiff, since it’s carrying a lot of fabric. I folded the width, so it was double layer and pressed it.

Before I stitched the back of the skirt together, I added the gold trim on the front panels – it’s easier when the skirt can lay flat. Then I stitched the back together, leaving the top 15 or so cms open for a zipper.

I gathered the top and stitched it onto the lower half of the waistband. Then I added the gold trim at the bottom. The top half of the waistband is still only pinned in place in this photo, since the glitter tulle is still missing.

Before working with the glitter tulle, I decided to finish the top. This was in part because I knew there would be glitter EVERYWHERE once I would start on the tulle and I wanted to get all tulle parts finished in one go, and in part because I had bought 5 meters of tulle and my plan was to use all of whatever was left after I cut the sleeves for the skirt.

Now, this Rapunzel top is actually very similar to both the Disney movie Rapunzel top and the Disney holiday doll I cosplayed before. So I thought I could just use the same pattern and just modify it a bit, so that’s what is shown in this photo of my mockup.
I didn’t like this sleeve shape, though. The reference has her sleeves look more like what I’ve learned is called a “leg of mutton” sleeve than a regular puff sleeve – with most of the fullness at the top. I watched a lot of tutorials on that and on making regular puff sleeves of various types, and I honestly ended up just doing a few attempts in some cheap fabric scraps until I felt I had the right fullness and shape.

Then I started working with the actual fabric. I wanted to add spiral boning, so I started with the lining, which is a pink cotton and I used interfacing to help with stability (I’ll admit, I originally hadn’t thought about lining, so I just used fabric from my closet rather than buying proper coutil).
I was very careful to get the seamlines very exact and to press all the seams neatly with my home-made tailor’s ham (if you don’t have one, I recommend buying or making one to help iron rounded seams).

Once the body lining was stitched together, I tried it on. And the fit was horrible. It’s not very easy to show in the image, but basically what happened was that it was gaping a lot at the front. It was a horrible fit, and thinking about it, my previous Rapunzels have also not been great, but the different necklines and layerings have somewhat hid this, but with this low neckline, it was very apparent that the fit was actually really bad.

This sent me down a rabbit hole about fitting and various problems and how to fix them. I want to highlight this particular page, which I found very useful in understanding what my “symptoms” meant and how to fix them.
What I was experiencing was multiple issues, actually. One: The bust size and placement was wrong. Most average patterns are made for a B-cup, and I am a D-cup. I also have a longer than average torso. So I both needed to do a bust adjustment and to lengthen the bodice to move the waist of the pattern down to sit where my natural waist sits.

I did another mock-up which was a lot better. I did some minor adjustments from this to my pattern and then moved straight onto making new lining – still with cotton, but different colours and a softer interfacing because again, I used what I had in stock.

I added boning channels on all the seams and an additional in the middle. I used spiral boning, I think it was 6cm wide and 1,8mm thickness, but I’m not 100% sure. I also added flat steel boning on each end where the lace will go to help stabilize that. Since it’s narrower, I opted to use bias tape instead of the boning channel. I didn’t have enough caps for the boning, so I used shrink tube instead.

I repeated the same steps with the upper fabric and tried it all on. I still haven’t 100% managed to make a perfect princess seam pattern, but it does sit a lot better than my old pattern, so I’m still happy enough with this.

At this point, I already feel very princessy!

Next I worked on the sleeves. I stitched the gold trim on before doing the side seam of the sleeve. It’s quite huge as you can see – I did two lines gathering stitches , pinned it on at the reference points in the bodice and stitched it in place. I had to trim down the seam allowance and do a zigzag, because there was so much bulk it was making it sit badly.

I hand-stitched the lining to cover the sleeve stitch, but the sleeve itself is without lining (it’s a tight fit at the bottom half and I didn’t want unnecessary bulk).

I also hand-stitched the gold trim on, and added regular metal eyelets for the lacing and this is the final top!

Time to finish the skirt!
Previous experience with tulle has taught me that it’s an absolute pain in the ass to cut with scissors. Especially thin tulle and especially straight, long squares. So for this project, I finally invested in roller cutters (yes, I’ve been sewing for 14+ years without). 

They were a game changer, though, and I used all of my cutting mats (why have one if you can have 3?) to cut the length of the skirt. I used maybe half a meter of the fabric for the sleeves, so the remaining 4,5 meters I just used for the skirt. 

I bought a fancy gathering foot for my sewing machine and did two gathering stitches along the top. But honestly, I don’t think it improved the process much compared to just manually gathering it, since I still had to do a lot of manual gathering in this case.

I stitched the backseam together, again leaving a gap for zipper. Then I pinned it in place, doing my best to evenly distribute the tulle around the waist. Since pins don’t stay very well in tulle, I basted it in place while it was on the mannequin, then took it off and stitched it together. I added a zipper at the back and a button at the top (I was out of hooks) and the whole outfit is complete!

I have yet to do a photoshoot, but I did a little video to show the dress. Check back soon to see photos!