Friday, September 11, 2015

DragonCon 2015

Last year we were unable to go to DragonCon due to the fact that we were taking a trip to the UK, so we were really looking forward to going this year.  It didn't disappoint!  We've been making friends in the con community for a few years, so we knew more people than just our roommates, and we were looking forward to seeing them.  (We only ran into a few, which just shows how large DragonCon is!)

We started out Thursday night as Burt Macklin and Janet Snakehole from Parks and Rec. (Thanks to @tiarala for this awesome photo!)

We also met this fantastic Ron and Tammy 2 pair.  They were spot on and stayed in character!

While we were out roaming the floor, we decided to get drinks, which we never do, as they're SO expensive.  Also, we're not huge drinkers, so we barely drink at DragonCon anyway.  However, I thought it would be appropriate for Janet Snakehole to have an old fashioned in her hand.  Matt went off to order our drinks at the bar in the Marriott Atrium, and I lounged against the railing with my best Janet Snakehole expression on my face.  A few minutes later, an older man walked away from the bar.  He was wearing a hat, had a drink in his hand, and carried a cane over his arm.  It was Sylvester McCoy!  I gave him a small wave of acknowledgement, and he looked right at me and said, "You look very elegant, my dear."  I replied loftily, "Thank you, Doctor."

So that was pretty amazing.

On Friday we went to several panels and met up with our friend Katie, who was at her first con ever.  She is an enthusiastic person, and on an enthusiasm scale of 1 to 10, she's at about an 8 on a normal day.  At DragonCon, she was peaking at about a 15.  As an introvert, I can only exert so much energy to deal with that level of energy before I start to wear out like a wind-up toy at the end of its wind.

Katie - Just looking at that smile makes me tired.

We got into our LOTR costumes and went out on the floor for a while.  We ran into Frank Ippolito  and Bill Doran, who Matt follows on YouTube.  He'd used some of their tutorials for his armor, so he talked to them for a bit.  Then I turned around and saw Norm from Tested with his camera.  He was facing away from us, but I hoping that if he turned around and saw Matt, he'd snap a photo, and that's exactly what happened!  Matt even made it into Norm's photo gallery, which is pretty epic!

As Matt, Katie, and I were heading to Evening at Bree, we got into an elevator that was going up, as we'd been unsuccessful at catching the ones going down.  A few floors up, Michael Trucco from Battlestar Galactica hopped on with a friend.  It was all I could do to keep myself from elbowing Matt.  For the last few floors, it was just us and Trucco and his friend.  We chatted about elevators and people taking too slow to jump on or something I don't know he smelled so good and I was being so chill and not at all star struck and he smelled so good ...

Where was I?  Oh yeah.  When we got out, I waited for the appropriate amount of distance to elapse between us and Trucco's retreating back before I squealed.  I've only seen the show briefly while Matt was watching it so I couldn't even tell you his character's name, but DAMN, he is one fine specimen.

Katie wore the Eowyn dress that I made her, and I'll blog about that soon.  Three of the dwarves from The Hobbit were at Evening at Bree: Stephen Hunter, who was the emcee for the costume contest (and added his own bits of humor to the contestants' costume descriptions), Dean O'Gorman, and Peter Hambleton.  I loved seeing all of the costumes in the contest.  The creativity of Tolkien fans is inspiring, and I'm always impressed by the dwarf costumes.  One of my favorite costumes this year was made by JediElfQueen: Galadriel's battle armor from The Hobbit, which is a costume that only ever existed as concept art.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  I'd been following her construction of the piece on Facebook, and was thrilled to see it in person!

On Saturday, we finally dressed up in our Narnia costumes.  We've been working our butts off to finish Queen Susan's upgrades and Prince Caspian's costume before DragonCon.  Matt's got some posts up about his Caspian costume as well as Susan's bow, so make sure you check those out.

A random Dustin/Starlord appears ...

That night, we went to the Middle Earth 90's Dance Party.  We'd been to the party in 2013, and it was a blast.  This year, though, it was held in the Marriott Atrium, which is drunk asshole central.  At one point I left, and had to wait in line almost 15 minutes to get back in.  There were more random drunk people than Tolkien track people, but it was still fun.  The best part was wearing our 90's costumes!  Matt was Grunge Eomer, and I was Goth Eowyn.  My friend Tiara was my fashion consultant, and I think I looked brilliant!  I wish I could wear this outfit somewhere else, because it was phenomenal.  Unfortunately, I don't think anyone knew I was supposed to be Eowyn.

On Sunday, we wore our Back to the Future costumes (Lorraine and Marty) in honor of 2015 (the year that Marty travels to in BTTF2).  We ran into Disney Robin Hood and Maid Marian (and Skippy the Rabbit?) as well as the 12th Doctor and a terrifying Headless Horseman.

We later changed back into Prince Caspian and Queen Susan, and went to the Hobbit Drinking Songs event with Katie, which was great fun!  Despite all of the empty chairs in the photo, it ended up being a packed room.

We didn't just walk around in costume, though.  We both went to some amazing panels, including Hobbit/LOTR cast members, Historic Haunts Investigations, Ghost Hunters, and various prop and costume panels.  At the Sleepy Hollow panel, a fan asked Tom Mison if he'd ever been called "Super Hot Jesus", and that became the theme for the rest of the panel.  He seemed alternately bothered and pleased by the title.  We also went to the Shawn Trpcic panel, which was fantastic, as I'd been hoping for years that she'd make it to DragonCon.  She was the costume designer on Firefly, Dr. Horrible, and many other shows and films that we watch.  Shawna is down-to-earth and encouraging, and a real inspiration.

One of my favorite moments this weekend was when someone asked at the Hobbit/LOTR panel if they were the Donner Party, who would they eat first?  After some explanation concerning the Donner Party, Stephen Hunter slunk off stage while Sylvester McCoy staggered zombie-like after him.  A few moments later, they both returned, Sylvester missing an arm and Stephen licking his fingers.  Those two make a phenomenal physical comedy team, and I would love to see them perform together.

As we left on Monday, we were both starting to feel a bit of con crud creeping up on us.  By the time we got home 13 hours later, we were both suffering from full-blown con crud, which struck us in the form of a severe head cold/flu.  Four days later, I am finally feeling well enough to get off the couch and write this up.  I might even start unpacking!  It seems like almost everyone we knew at DragonCon got hit really hard this year, so something a bit more potent than usual must have been going around.

Make sure you're following us in the following places, and stay tuned for most posts:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

New Facebook Page

If you haven't followed us by now, check out our new Facebook page!  It's Casual Costumers (with an s) because both my husband Matt and I are posting to it.  We'll be updating it as we work on our projects, and you'll also be able to see some of the props and other projects that Matt works on, which generally don't end up here.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Caspian's Tunic

I've been gone a lot longer than I thought!  Well, I'm starting to really kick into gear for DragonCon, so I've been working on a bunch of costumes.  First up:  Caspian's tunic!

I finally convinced my husband to be the Prince Caspian to my Queen Susan.  He made the boots a few weeks ago (you can see that on his Tumblr here), and just finished the chain maile the other night.  I've been working on his tunic and trousers.

Here's the finished product, but I'll go into more detail below.

I made the trousers by ripping a pair of his old jeans apart, tracing the fabric, and then making a new pattern.  The fabric for the trousers was Soho Suede Green from  The fabric for the tunic is a brown suede from JoAnn Fabrics.  It probably should be the same material from, but you literally see just his elbows and collar, so Matt was kind of meh about what fabric I used.  I found the pattern for the tunic here - it's the same one that I used for Eomer's tunic.

Step-by-step instructions for constructing the tunic after you've made the pattern and cut out the fabric follows (the green fabric is for a Robin Hood costume):

Step 1:
With right sides together, sew the front to the back at the shoulders.

Step 2:
Open the tunic up, and then attach the right side of the sleeves to the right side of the tunic.  You'll want to put the middle of the sleeve on the shoulder seam.

So after you do that and open the whole tunic back up, it will be t-shaped.

Step 3:
Go to the edge of each piece of fabric and hem it up where you need it.  This is much easier than trying to do it once it's all sewn together.

Step 4:
Fold the tunic at the shoulder seam, right sides together, then pin and sew the sides.

Step 5:
With the right sides still together, sew the sleeves together.

Step 6:
Find the middle of the front of the tunic, then make a straight cut about 2-3" long.  Turn each side and stitch.

View of right side

View of wrong side

We go back to Caspian for ...

Step 7:
The collar, if you need one.  I had to make my own pattern for the collar.  I cut out four pieces and then attached them to the neckline.

Step 8:
Time for the eyelets!  I do these after I attach the collar to make sure that I have enough room to actually sew the collar on.  Mark the fabric where you want them to go, cut a tiny, round hole, stick your eyelets in, and whack 'em with the hammer!

Robin's Hood
Caspian's front. I swear I cannot get this suede to photograph at all.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Elsa American Girl Doll Dresses

In addition to making Elsa costumes for Halloween 2014, I also made three Elsa American Girl doll costumes as a commission.  I purchased the Snow Queen pattern from Dollhouse Designs on Etsy, and I absolutely loved it.  This was my first experience with making an outfit for an American Girl doll, and I was initially intimidated by the entire process. 

However, putting the outfit together was MUCH easier than it seemed at first glance.  I think the pattern printed out as almost 20 pages with even more for instructions, and so I felt a bit overwhelmed.  There are two patterns for some of the pieces, depending on whether the fabric that you're using is woven or knit, so as long as you know what kind of material you're working with, you can ignore about five pieces. 

There are also extensions for some of the pattern pieces, because the dolls that are currently being produced actually have smaller waists than the originals.  (I'll spare you the rant, but let's just say that I wasn't pleased to learn that they had become more hourglass-shaped!) 

In addition, because you're printing out a PDF file, several of the pieces actually get assembled together prior to cutting out the fabric, so that explains why there are SO many pages to the pattern.  I found that once I had all of my patterns put together, the actual construction was super simple.

The best part is that this pattern is so well-constructed that there was no need for any modifications!

The dress is actually two pieces - the skirt and top (the organza part), and then the bodice and cape.  The skirt/top has velcro in the back, and the bodice has velcro on the side, so the cape remains in one piece.  I think these turned out beautifully, so if you want to make an Elsa Dollhouse Designs on Etsy (or Anna - there is also a pattern for Anna's cape, and the Snow Queen pattern would work for Anna's dress as well), please go check out Dollhouse Designs.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Anna's Dress - Frozen

In addition to the Elsa dresses that I made for Halloween this year (well, last year), I also made two Anna dresses.  Like the Elsa dresses, I used Simplicity 1233 as a basis.

For the bodice, I used a black suede for the main body and a brown suede for the trim.  I used a turquoise satin for the sleeves and neck.  I also added a zig zig stitch to the collar and down the front of the neck to add some embellishment.  (Please note that I did not follow the pattern for the bodice, but modified it myself.)

The bodice attaches to the skirt, which was made with a royal blue broadcloth.  Overlaid on the broadcloth is a turquoise felt (purchased off the bolt).  All fabrics came from JoAnn's.

The bodice and skirt have embroidery, but since I wasn't going to embroider a bazillion flowers, my husband printed out some patterns based on the actual costume.  I then cut each piece out of various felts, which were all purchased at Michael's. 

These individual pieces were meticulously glued on with fabric glue.  I would have preferred to have sewed each one on, but that wasn't realistic based on my time frame.

The cape is my favorite piece of the entire costume.  It's a fuchsia felt from JoAnn's.  The pom pom trim on the top of the cape are 1 1/4" ball fringe with 1/2" pom poms from   The zig zag trim is 1/4" ric rac from  I also did a zig zag stitch around the top part of the cape, since that trim is much smaller than the 1/4" ric rac.  The clasp was from a filigree clasp from JoAnn's.  Of course, now that I don't need the heart-shaped clasp anymore, they have ones that look JUST like Anna's!

And here are the finished pieces!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Costuming for Beginners

If you were at the costuming panel at Chicago TARDIS on Sunday, you'll remember that just about the only thing I could shoe-horn in was, "go to my blog!"  I'm reposting my Costuming Basics information from my 2011 Chicago TARDIS panel with a few updates.  Enjoy.

Here are some of my notes from my Costuming Basics panel at ChicagoTARDIS.

Choosing Your Character

Decide which character you'd like to do, how much time and money it would take to create that costume, and if you can actually create the costume.  Personally, I love to see specific, unique costumes, like Rory with glasses and a magnifying glass from The Girl Who Waited.  Put time and effort into your research - learn the details of your costumes.  Details are what makes a costume go from, "oh, there's another Doctor", to "HOLY CRAP, I need a photo with the Tenth Doctor RIGHT NOW!"  The same goes for a unique costume.  You can do a basic Amy with skirt, sweater, and scarf, or you can make her kick-ass armor from The Girl Who Waited.  Keep in mind, it is absolutely fine for you to do a very basic costume, especially if you're new to cosplay.  However, if you want to enter a costume contest or even just stand out, then definitely try to do something that no one's done before, or no one's done as well as you'd like to see it.

Doctor Who Costuming Resources

Look at hi-res screen captures.  Watch Doctor Who Confidential.  Watch any behind-the-scenes footage you can of anyone in any film making props and costumes.  Visit websites for photos, how-tos, props, etc.  Follow famous cosplayers like Ana Aesthetic, who often talk about their costumes.

You can find a great Weeping Angel costume how-to here.

Sewing Tips:

- Find patterns on Ebay, or on sale at Hobby Lobby and* JoAnn Fabrics.  Never, ever, ever pay full price for a pattern!  *I don't support Hobby Lobby anymore.  If you can find somewhere else to shop, please do so.

- When buying a pattern, measure your hips, waist, chest, and shoulders (depending on what the pattern is for).  Look at the back of the pattern, and whichever size corresponds to your largest body part is the size that you should purchase.  It's much easier to reshape the rest of it by cutting the pattern down rather than trying to make it larger.
Keep in mind that pattern sizes are the same as formal wear - if you wear an 8 or 10 off the rack, you'll probably end up buying a pattern size of 14 or 16.

- Pattern companies like Simplicity or McCall's make patterns that fit a particular size, but no one is the exact dimensions of each size.  For instance, a women's size 14 will be a 36" bust, a 28" waist, and a 38" hip.  You'll probably end up matching the measurements for at least 2 different sizes, so you'll have to alter patterns so that they fit you correctly.  Make sure you always buy the biggest size - it's easiest to make something smaller - and then draw new cutting lines.

- If you want to make your own patterns, I recommend making your own master template.  This will help you make patterns that fit you exactly.  You can find kits to make your own templates here.  For homemade patterns or major alterations, I recommend purchasing pattern paper, a large cutting mat, and transparent plastic ruler or styling curve.  I put off purchasing these for years because they can be pricey, but now I can't believe I waited for so long.  I use these tools with every single project.

- If you want to try out altering/patterning before spending money on pattern-making tools, you can also buy a large gridded presentation easel from Office Depot or similar office supply store.

- Get a good pair of shears, and ONLY use them for cutting material.  Paper will dull the blade.

- Use the correct sewing machine needles for the fabric you're using.  Check the needle package to see if it's for lightweight or heavy weight fabrics.  If you use the wrong needle, you could end up breaking or even shattering it (which I've done when I accidentally put the wrong one in).  If a needle breaks, you could end up damaging your fabric, your machine, or yourself.  

- Plan on making the first version out of cheap material - learn what works and what doesn't.  Old bed sheets work great as a stand-in for cotton.  Sheer curtains from the thrift store work for chiffon.

- New costumers should stay away from difficult fabrics like chiffon, velvet, and silks and satins until you're more comfortable working with material.

- Advanced sewers should invest in a serger to make beautifully-finished seams.  A serger also makes working with chiffon and other thin materials much easier, as it will prevent the edges from unraveling.

- The seam ripper is your friend.  You will use it often.  You will throw it across the room.  Buy two.

- You will also throw your costume across the room, swear at it, threaten to throw it out, etc.  You will probably have to take the entire thing apart at some point.  Do not despair - everyone does it at one point or another.  Or every costume, in my case.

- You will probably have to make one piece of your costume over again.  Make sure you have enough time before the con in case that happens.

- Start a fabric book for every project.  Cut a swatch from each fabric, glue it onto the page, and write down the store where you purchased it, the item name, color, and SKU.  That way, if you want to remake part of it in the future, you have all of the information you need to buy new fabric.

- If you can afford a dressmaker's form, buy an adjustable one.  That way you can use it for you and a friend!  Check Ebay or JoAnn Fabrics.  Again, never pay full-price for a form.

- If you don't have the room or the funds for a form, you can make your own out of duct tape!  You can find a tutorial here.

- If you want to learn how to do something new, search YouTube.  There are thousands upon thousands of tutorials for making all kinds of things!

- Sign up for any mailing list your local fabric store offers.  Chains like JoAnn Fabrics offer weekly 40% off coupons that are good for anything, and often have additional coupons for fabric, notions, etc.

- Take your time!  If you read my blog, you'll see that I mess up from time to time because I don't pay attention to simple things like which way the velvet lies ... Everyone does it, so just be careful and make sure it doesn't happen too often.

Selecting Fabrics

- Keep in mind that the color of the costume onscreen may not be the color of the costume off-screen.  This is because the DP might use a filter, the editor might color correct.  This means two things:  one - you can either make the costume reflect the on-screen version or the off-screen version; two - you don't need to worry about matching your fabric color exactly.

- For the beginner, pick fabrics that look similar to the ones used in the costume, but are cheaper and easier to work with.

- Heavier fabrics = heavier and hotter costumes, so consider how hot (or how breezy) your costume would be if you decided to make it out of wool (or chiffon).  For instance, my Clockwork Droid costume is made out of stretch velvet.  If it was made out of wool, I'd sweat to death in about five minutes.  (Also, I'm extremely sensitive to wool, which is another thing to keep in mind when making your costume.)

- Drape is important, so keep in mind that heavier fabrics don't drape well, and lighter fabrics will show off every curve.

- Look for fabric in every department, even upholstery.  You never know where you'll find the perfect pattern or weight.  Also look in upholstery for trim.

- Thrift stores are great for finding huge batches of fabric.  Look for curtains, tablecloths, and bedspreads.

- In Chicagoland, there is a fantastic store called Vogue.  There are two locations, one in Evanston and one in Chicago.  Each location consists of room upon room of fabric bolts.  I know other cities have a fabric district as well, so do an online search and see what you find.

There are also some great online fabric stores.  Make sure you order swatches, because color might be different from the photo, and it's hard to tell weight and texture from a photo. (This is the online site for the store in Chicago/Evanston, and the selection online is hit or miss.  I recommend visiting one of the stores if you can.)

Accuracy vs. Cost

Your costume can be accurate, or it can be cheap, but rarely can it be both!  Decide before you start if you're going to set a budget, or if you're just going to go all out and screw the money (I usually have the latter approach).

However, keep in mind that there are lots of ways you can cheat and make a really good costume without spending tons of money.  All of the "buttons" on my Clockwork Droid costume are wood that I got from Hobby Lobby's wood aisle and are just painted gold.  If I'd purchased actual buttons, I'd have easily spent over $100.  And remember, you can always go back and remake parts of your costume later when you have more skills or more money.  Basically, I go cheap where I can so that I can spend the money where it's needed.


- Visit the Replica Prop Forum to start learning how to use different techniques.  Look at things you won't even use for your own costume - often it will give you ideas anyway.

- When building props or non-fabric parts of your costume, wander the aisles at Home Depot or other hardware stores.  The jewelry sections of craft stores are great for decorations and wire.

- A great substitute for leather and metal is craft foam.  There are some great websites that teach you how to use craft foam, like this one.  You can shape it, paint it, carve it, you name it!  I've used it for my Queen Susan vanbrace.  My husband made all of his Eomer armor out of it.

- Seriously - and I can't stress this enough - learn how to cheat.  Found items can be repurposed with a little paint and glue.  Plastic and wood can be painted to look like metal.  Just please, please, please do not make a sword out of aluminum foil!  As you get more comfortable making props, you'll be able to start making them more and more accurate, and out of more expensive or difficult materials.

The Cosplay Community

- Join to see if someone else has already made your costume.  If so, you can get an idea on how to go about creating yours, or see how you can improve upon someone else's technique.

- Google your costume to see what resources are out there.  I used the tutorial on the Lissie Rose website to learn how to do pleated ruffles. 

- As I said before, follow famous cosplayers on Twitter or Facebook.

- Pay attention to what other costumers are doing.  Ask questions.  Most people would love to share how they made their costume.

At the Convention

- Pockets are super important!  If you can sew a pocket into your costume, please do so.  I have a pocket on the inside of my Clockwork Droid costume in which to store my phone, keys, and business cards.  If your costume is a dress or something where you can't sew a pocket in, get creative.  I make a little bag for each of my dresses out of the same material using a drawstring bag pattern.  It blends right in, and if anyone even notices it, it looks like it belongs to the costume.  I've known people to hide compartments in their armor or weapons in which to store their belongings as well.

- Bring a quick-fix kit that consists of thread, needle, safety pins, double-sided tape, velcro, a hot glue gun - anything you might need to slap your costume back together.  Remember, even in films they're sometimes fixing costumes between each take, so don't be upset if things start falling off of your costume in the middle of the day.  Just run back to your hotel room and remember to do a better fix when you get home.

- Even if you have a basic costume, chances are someone is going to take a photo of you, so be prepared!  Practice a pose in your costume before you get into the halls - pick something your character does.

- Be confident!  Putting on a costume and walking around in public is scary, but remember - you're surrounded by people who are huge geeks and who love the same show that you do.  Cosplayers are icing on the convention cake.

- Connect with other cosplayers!

Next Year

- Learn from your mistakes.  If something didn't work before, why didn't it work?

- Recognize your strengths and weaknesses - build on your talents, and work on things you're having trouble with (it used to take me 8 hours to put in a zipper, I've got it down to about a half an hour now!)

- Think about what you liked best about your last costume and incorporate that into your new costume.  If you liked making props, then make a costume that requires a lot of props.  If you liked working with lots of fabric, then make a costume that contains yards of fabric!

- Challenge yourself.  It will make your costuming experience more rewarding, and it will make your costume more interesting.

- Branch out into other areas like masks, leather, or metalwork.  Even if you want to try, but you think you can't do it, try anyway.  Give yourself months to work on learning how to make molds or shape leather.  The worst that can happen is that you hate it and you find a different way to make that piece.

Good luck, and please feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Elsa's Snow Queen Dress - Frozen

A few months ago, my niece E asked me to make her Elsa's gown from Frozen for Halloween.  I agreed, because I wanted to give the dress a shot, and so I started looking for fabric.  I also was asked to make an Anna costume for my younger niece, K.  By the end of September, I was making two more Elsas and another Anna for some of my friends' kids!

I used the Simplicity pattern 1233 as a basis, but I made several modifications of my own.  I also had to make a larger size for my biggest Elsa, because the pattern I had only went up to an 8, and she was a 10.

For the bodice, I used the Turquoise Confetti Dot, the skirt was Turquoise Tissue Lame (only use this if you're a masochist!), and the yoke and sleeves were a light blue organza (all from JoAnn's).  For the cape, I originally purchased two yards of fabric off of eBay, but when I got an additional two orders, that fabric was sold out, so I ended up getting a different fabric.  They both are organza with silver snowflakes, and are super hard to work with, due to all of the glue holding the snowflakes on ...

I used the Simplicity pattern as a guide, but made a lot of adjustments.  First, I made the neckline a bit more heart-shaped, and the bottom of the bodice deeper.  I also cut a lot out of the skirt, as it was VERY full.  The cape needed no adjustment.

I cut out the bodice and attached the lining, which was just a turquoise lining fabric.  The bodice fabric was difficult to work with due to the glue (which is just annoying - make sure you clean off your needle frequently to prevent pulling, puckering, and thread breaking).  I then put the yoke together and serged the seams.  I then simply laid the bodice on top of the yoke and sewed it on.

See, originally, I was going to attach the cape using velcro.  I actually got as far as the first dress to do this (I was making them assembly-line style), but it turned out to not be as great as I thought it would be.  The idea was to make it detachable so that I could leave the back of the cape in one piece, and the girls wouldn't have to contort to get into it.

That didn't work so well, so I did end up ripping the yoke and sleeves out of the other two and then inserting the cape, prior to reattaching the yoke and sleeves.  I'll go into that a bit more later.

The skirt was a NIGHTMARE.  I used the tissue lame as a lining because I'd purchased the fabric before cutting the fullness down.  It shredded if you so much as looked at it.  Even when serged with a roll, it just shredded apart.  It also puckered and pulled like crazy, even with the thinnest needle I could find.  I ended up using a lot of seam stop glue.

I sewed the skirt to the bodice in the same way that I did the yoke.

I ended up with the following (see photo).  To neaten it all up, I then turned the yoke and top of the skirt over and sewed it to the bodice.  It's not the best technique, but it worked.

I inserted a zipper and then added trim, which I didn't get the name of, but purchased at JoAnn's.  I first turned the serged top of the yoke under and sewed it down, then hand-stitched the trim to it.  It was really easy to do the trim - it was very forgiving to the needle, and it went pretty quickly.

The very last thing to do was to attach the cape to the back.  I didn't want to go the velcro route again, so I attached two hooks and eyes, which are pretty hard to see.  I have one on each side of the zipper, and so the cape just hooks onto the back there and has a nice flow.

And here's the finished product!  This is the dress I made for my friend's daughter, and was the largest dress.  The bottom photo is the two larger dresses.  I'll have to get my niece's (the smallest, and with a different cape fabric) back after Halloween and attach the cape properly.  To get in and out of the dress is a bit of a trick, but I don't think anyone's had a problem yet.

Stay tuned - the next entry will be the Anna costume construction!  ETA:  You can view Anna's dress construction here.