New Limited Edition BELLE Costume (a review of sorts)

I’ve received a lot of questions from readers about the new Limited Edition Belle costume. I apologize that I’ve been slow in responding: absolutely swamped here with wedding stuff! BUT, I did stop by the Disney Store a few weeks back to see the new dress and I have some thoughts.

(Note, I’ve updated my original list of all the LE costumes here.)

WHY BELLE?

Yes, I know we’re celebrating the anniversary of the movie, but I get pretty bummed after waiting a whole year for a new LE costume only for it to be a duplicate. So far we’ve had two Cinderellas (cartoon and live action), two Rapunzels (wedding and regular), and now two Belle’s. It’s frustrating when there are so many princesses that we don’t have costumes for. Personally, I would have voted for a blue Sleeping Beauty before a second gold Belle ballgown!

SAME AS BEFORE! 

And unlike the other examples of duplicates, this Belle costume is Belle’s gold ball gown… just like the original LE dress was. How about an LE Christmas gown or an LE blue country outfit?

 

NO, REALLY, IT'S THE SAME DRESS!

So here is my biggest gripe: the dress is very, very similar to the original LE dress, except slightly less fancy. At first glance it could pass as a knock-off of the original. Almost identical design. The biggest difference I noticed was that this new dress is lacking the laces on the bodice (which is one of the details I love about the original) and the roses are less, and darker. I do like the subtle book design in the gold bodice, and the jeweled broach pin at the collar, very nice details, but I don't like them more than the original, unfortunately. And the sequin hem, to me, looks more like what I'd expect to see on a Deluxe costume, than an LE.

Compare for yourself....

YOU SHOULD PROBABLY BUY IT ANYWAY!

All that said, Belle was the second LE costume released, way back in 2010 (that's 6 years ago!) before the dresses were as “popular” as they are now. Because of that, and the time which has passed, Belle is one of the harder dresses to find used online. And when it sells used it’s usually for well over $200. So if you DON’T have the LE Belle costume, then this re-release is a solid choice. It’s a beautiful dress, beyond the quality of the Deluxe and regular dresses. If you have a Disney Visa or other discount coupon, you can even pick one up below retail which would be a great deal for the quality of this gown. I’d be buying one myself if we didn’t already have the original LE Belle in our collection.

Belle is one of our favorite princesses and with the great experience options at Disney around Beauty & the Beast (Be Our Guest Restaurant, Enchanted Tales with Belle) it’s one of our must-have costumes for our Disney trips. In fact, on our last trip I noticed that our LE Belle is starting to look a little high-water on my 8-yr-old, might have to take back what I just said and see about getting a bigger size for her for the future... 

 Look at those bare ankles! The scandal!!

Look at those bare ankles! The scandal!!

But... oh hey, guess what. 

You know what I just found out? Guess who has a Belle Gold Ballgown that manages to definitely be gold, and a ballgown, but doesn't look like a knock-off of an earlier version? Chasing Fireflies! They're a very overlooked source of fantastic Disney costumes. You should go over there and check it out before you make a decision on the new DisneyStore LE costume! Remember Belle's gown in the movie didn't have giant red roses all over it. Just sayin'... 

Chasing Fireflies Belle Gown


What will the next LE Costume be?

Personally, I’m wondering if there’s a Jasmine dress option in the works. There’s the new (controversial) redesign of Jasmine’s costume that I know a lot of folks are not thrilled with it (neither am I), but the first thing I thought when I saw it was…. “Hey, that looks like an LE costume design.”  I could definitely see this interpreted as an adorable kids’ LE dress that I’d be excited to add to our collection! And the 2-piece Jasmine LE costume didn’t seem to sell particularly well. This would go along with the having two versions for every princess that we seem to be getting into.

Alternatively, Moana merchandise was released yesterday and I noticed that it did not have an LE costume for sale (to compare, the LE costumes for Frozen were released ahead of the movie which was part of what caused the great Elsa costume crisis of 2013), so it’s possible that depending on how the reception for Moana goes she’ll get an LE edition. Personally, we’re super excited for the movie and I hope it does well! (Moana's coin purse, by the way--- omg, could it be cuter?)

If it were up to me (which, unfortunately, it’s not!) I’m personally be hoping for a Mulan or Tiana LE costume. Neither princess has an LE costume which is really unfortunate considering that Cinderella and Belle and Rapunzel have two each now! Tiana’s wedding gown was a lovely Deluxe costume and would make a great LE design, and Mulan is one of our favorite princesses (she also has a theme-park redesign for her costume that's recently released...). 

Whatever the next costume is, I’m hoping we won’t have to wait 12 months for it, I much preferred when we were getting new LE costumes every 6 months there for a span…. Unless I missed one after Jasmine? Totally possible, as we’ve been crazy-busy since last December with wedding stuff!

I hope everyone is doing great and enjoying the fall season getting ready for Halloween! I can’t promise that there will be many more posts between now and wedding (first week of November) but I’ll do my best and definitely check back mid-November for an update and so, so many pictures! 

2015 Frozen Costumes Update

  Do a google search for "Frozen Costumes" and you'll quickly get a sense for the overwhelming number of variations and options!

Do a google search for "Frozen Costumes" and you'll quickly get a sense for the overwhelming number of variations and options!

So it's been a while since I did my in-depth review of the variety of Frozen costumes available from the Disney Store, and I thought I should do an update as there've been many, many more costumes released in the last year. I kept meaning to update the original post but, honestly, there's been so many costumes released and variations that it's been hard to keep up. So, instead I put together this 2015 Frozen Costume Roundup! Note that these are for the Disney Store versions of the costumes only; I'm struggling to keep up with those versions, there's no way I can review the zillions of department-store options as well! If you've seen an especially unique Frozen costume outside of the Disney Store, please feel free to share it in the comments section!


ANNA'S GREEN CORONATION GOWN

  Original Deluxe costume     

Original Deluxe costume

 

  Standard Version (sold out)

Standard Version (sold out)

  Current Deluxe version available from the DisneyStore.com ($99) - Aug 2015

Current Deluxe version available from the DisneyStore.com ($99) - Aug 2015

For my original review of Anna's Green costume, go here.

Anna's green coronation gown's original deluxe design was re-released last year (as you might recall, the original release was recalled due to bleeding issues with the fabric dye). It was also released as a standard version at the $49 price point. The standard version is quite cute and I highly recommend it in terms of quality for cost. The skirt is a big shorter than in the deluxe, but otherwise it's just as beautiful as the deluxe and significantly less expensive! Additionally, a second deluxe costume was released at the $99 price point. This also has a shorter skirt than the original deluxe and a slightly different bodice design.

Chasing Fireflies (my other favorite costume seller, besides Disney) has released two lovely versions of this dress. I like them because the skirt is pleated and the design embroidered instead of painted. It's $124 and you can check it out here.

Anna's black coronation shoes received a redesign as well: the originals were black sparkly and the newer version has this flocked velvety pattern, but the jewel remains similar. 

  Original, first release shoes

Original, first release shoes

  Second version

Second version

  Current version (Aug 2015)

Current version (Aug 2015)


ANNA'S BLUE TRAVELING COSTUME

  Original Standard Anna costume

Original Standard Anna costume

  Standard version with single skirt design

Standard version with single skirt design

  Current standard version available from DisneyStore.com ($49) - Aug 2015

Current standard version available from DisneyStore.com ($49) - Aug 2015

For my original review of Anna's blue costume, go here.

There have been several versions of Anna's blue costume over the past year. However, (unless I somehow missed it!) there has not yet been a Deluxe version released for some reason. The Deluxe seems to have been reserved for Elsa's blue dress and Anna's green dress. Anna's blue costume continues to be one of my favorites. The differences in the versions tends to be around the design of the skirt with it's floral pattern and scallops. There was briefly a version released where this design was one piece instead of two layered pieces, but they seem to have realized the error of that design and returned to the two-piece approach. The earlier versions remain the best quality, in my opinion. It also has a two-tier cape.


ELSA'S BLUE COSTUME: STANDARD VERSION

  The current Elsa standard costume available from the DisneyStore.com - $49... it sings!

The current Elsa standard costume available from the DisneyStore.com - $49... it sings!

For my original review of Elsa's blue costume, go here.

In addition to a restock of the deluxe Elsa costume, there have been several standard versions of Elsa's costume released. The main differences tend to be in the cape (length) and bodice. In general, the bodices on the later version have less and less beadwork (in that the beads cover less of the bodice, in the original version the entire bodice was beadwork and in later versions the spangly beads are becoming more like trim). The differences can be subtle, so I suggest that you look very, very carefully if buying these dresses on the resale (eBay) market this halloween season and be sure to ask questions (like "when did you originally purchase this dress?") to help pinpoint what version it is. Always ask to see photos of the actual dress, not pictures from the Disney Store that the seller has uploaded, to help determine the version as I've seen mismatches between the stock store picture and the one actually for sale---- I don't think it's malicious, I think it's because the differences are subtle. The current version has a singing pendant which is a nice touch! 

Elsa's snowflake shoes received a small redesign, with the addition of a strap which should help keep them on! We still prefer a turquoise pair of shoes that we found outside the Disney Store which are more wearable and less pinchy than these clear rubber shoes.

 Original Shoes

Original Shoes

 Current shoes (August 2015)

Current shoes (August 2015)


ELSA'S BLUE COSTUME - LIGHT UP EDITION! 

The Disney Store just released a "Light Up" version of Elsa's blue costume. They aren't calling this deluxe or Limited Edition, but it is at the LE price point ($199) and arrives in a dress bag like other LE costumes do. This is an intriguing dress because the design is very different than other Elsa costumes we've seen. It has the same fancy buttons of the LE costume, but a very re-imagined neckline and bodice. Alas, my girls are on their way out of Frozen costumes, or I'd be very tempted to order this dress! The cape seems to be made similar to the cape on the LE costume, which is less-sheer than the other versions and very pretty.


ANNA / ELSA SUMMER COSTUMES

  Anna/Elsa "2-in-1" Frozen Fever costumes from DisneyStore.com

Anna/Elsa "2-in-1" Frozen Fever costumes from DisneyStore.com

Ahead of the Live Action Cinderella movie, Disney released a Frozen short called "Frozen Fever". In it, Anna and Elsa have bright springtime costumes. Disney released a whole line of merchandise to accompany the short, including new dolls, new LE dolls, and a costume set. I originally assumed the "2-in-1" that they advertised meant that this costume was a reversible. However, upon closer inspection it's actually 2 dresses in one package. The cost was $99. This was a bit of a strange move by Disney in my opinion. It was frustrating for us because my girls (4 and 7) like to play Anna/Elsa together, with the big sister being Elsa and the little sister being Anna. Having to buy both costumes in the same size sort of precluded this type of play, unless I wanted to buy 4 costumes! I would have been willing to buy two dresses separately, but because they came together we skipped this costume. Though I'm thinking of picking up a set if/when they go on sale. We visited them in the store and they are quite pretty! Anna's costume is definitely the nicer of the two.

If you're interested in the Elsa Summer costume only, Chasing Fireflies released a version ($150) that is on par with Disney's LE costumes and is just gorgeous!  Take a look!  Again, if my kids were still into their Frozen costumes, I'd be all over this, but alas they seem to be Frozened-out.

  Elsa's summer costumes from Chasing Fireflies

Elsa's summer costumes from Chasing Fireflies


ACCESSORIES

Original Anna/Elsa Crowns (1st version)

Floral Anna/Elsa Crowns with wands (2nd version)

Current Anna/Elsa crowns with metallic cameo (3rd version)

The new crowns (currently available from the DisneyStore.com as of Aug 2015) are the prettiest version by far!

Mini-Stepsister Dresses: 1900 Park Fare Dinner

I wrote separately about the odyssey that was sewing the girls mini-Evil Stepsister outfits. I can say definitively, though, that no matter how frustrating that project was it was totally worth it for the fun we had on our last trip. The girls wore their costumes to Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare (which I've reviewed previously) and received so many kind compliments and special attention.

From the minute we stepped into the Grand Floridian's lobby the girls were in heaven. While we waited for our table the explored the big, beautiful space, asking to pose for photos next to the sumptuous decorations. 

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My husband and I have a running joke that goes back to our first Disney trip in 2011.... Viola (who was only 3 at the time) was chosen to participate in the kids' parade as part of the Festival of the Lion King Show and my husband was responsible for video taping it. He taped the whole thing, zooming in and out, and it was super cute---- or so I'm told, because he never pushed the "record" button, and I've never let him forget that he never pushed the "record" button. We went back two years later and I was sure to take video myself, but still, it's not the same.... 

Anyway, I digress. Before being escorted to our table we had our photopass pictures taken. We felt a bit rushed through the photopass station even though there wasn't a line behind us; perhaps the photographer was reaching the end of his shift. The photopass pictures we get are usually very high quality but I was a bit disappointed with these ones. Still, they're better than the ones I took myself by far! 

We were seated at a table near the front of the restaurant, just as you walk through the doors. In the second room the characters were putting on a bit of a show where Cinderella and the Prince dance and the stepsisters heckle them. The girls ran over to watch and when Anastasia turned around and saw the girls in their mini-Stepsister dresses she made quite a fuss, pointing it out to everyone. I was right there with my video camera and I captured the entire thing..... or so I thought. 

That's right, I forgot to hit "record". And now my husband won't let me live it down! What a jerk, right? We returned to our table and waited for the characters to visit us. And visit, us, they did! Our visits with Cinderella and Prince Charming were brief, maybe because the girls made it known that they waiting to see the real stars of the night, the Tremaine family.

I am, by the way, a terrible photographer, did I mention. That's another part of why I'm such a fan of the photopass service. So, please excuse the poor quality of the pictures... 

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Every time Anastasia passed by I thought Eva was going to pass out from excitement and anticipation. Before we met the stepsisters, however, we met their mother, Lady Tremaine and she was spectacular! She spent a lot of time with the girls chatting with them and she even gave them a private singing lesson. That's right, they sang "Sing Sweet Nightingale" together and it was adorable! Don't believe me? Check out the video below! 

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Finally, there was no one left to see but Anastasia and Drizella! They tried to trade Viola for her hair bow, and requested that I make them a sweater for Lucifer. The girls were unusually shy (I think they were surprised by the level of special attention that the dresses brought) but they have talked about this dinner nonstop since! 

I'm so grateful to all the cast members for making our dinner such a special, memorable experience! We still have the dresses, of course, and I want to get them photographed since the girls will grow out of them before our next trip --- I tried my best, but as I mentioned above I am a terrible photographer so I'll have to find someone who actually knows what they're doing!  If I do, I'll be sure to update the blog so stay tuned! :-)

Sewing Project: Tremaine Sisters' Costumes

1900 Park Fare is one of our favorite restaurants. On our 2011 trip, we did the "Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner" and on our 2013 trip we tried the "Supercalifragilistic Breakfast". (You can read my comparison of the two character meals here). When I was planning our 2015 trip the Cinderella dinner was at the top of both girls' wish lists to do again. The girls were excited to see Cinderella, of course, but what they really wanted was some time with the Tremaine family. We've always enjoyed our witty and irreverent meetings with the evil steps sisters. 

My girls are girly-girls and they love costumes (in cases you hadn't noticed!) The fancier the better. At some point (probably when we were making the Anastasia / Drizella halloween masks!), the idea came up to make Anastasia and Drusilla costumes and we started keeping an eye out for suitable materials at our favorite thrift store.

I was able to find some pretty good used clothing items (skirts, shirts, etc.) in fuschia and lime green that I thought would work, as well as a costume that looked like a close match in terms of the cut of the dress that the sisters wear in the parks. I wish I could say these costumes were made with up-cycled clothes like our Harry Potter sundresses are but, unfortunately, things didn't work out exactly as I would have liked with the pattern/sizing and we ended up having to shop at JoAnn Fabrics for material about halfway through. 


Making Anastasia Tremaine's Pink Dress: 

IMG_4491.jpg

The thrift store fabrics that I originally started with is on the left. Because of the placement of buttons on the outfit and my own ineptitude laying out the pattern, and because my daughter is bigger than I realized!, I had to start over. Pretty much, if I'd just winged it like I did with the Harry Potter sundresses I would have been fine, but because I was trying to follow a pattern fabric got wasted that I couldn't afford and I ended up with not enough to complete the outfit. 

Below is my second attempt with the fabric store materials. (So, so much more expensive than upcycling, btw!)

IMG_4501.jpg

She's thinking, "What is it that those mice sang about needing 'Trimmin'?"  That it's good for covering up sloppy seams, my dear! :-)

There was a little gap in the hem of the overskirt and it let the tulle spill out behind like a little train. Evie loved it, so we left it that way. I'd also bought some strands of magenta beads to make a gaudy necklace out of, but we simply ran out of time....

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Making Drizella's Tremaine's Lime Dress: 

Learning from my mistakes with the pink dress, instead of following the pattern for Drizella's dress exactly, I decided to create the bodice from a thrip-store button down I found and attach it to the sleeves from another thrift store button down I found. I also tried to make the bustle out of the same green shirt, but there wasn't enough material and despite my best efforts the bustle never really worked out as nicely as it did on the pink dress and ultimately I had to tear it out and replace it with a new bustle made from teal fabric I found from the fabric store. 

The original skirt was meant to be made from this awesome lime green curtain I found at the thrift store. However, when we went to the fabric store my daughter found this fancier material and convinced me that her skirt should be beaded like her sisters. I'm a sucker for pretty material, I guess, so I gave in. (Have I mentioned how much more expensive buying fabric is compared to upcycling from old clothes?! Even with my 20% off entire purchase and 50% off one-item coupons from JoAnn's the shopping trip really hurt!)

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The final skirt had a tulle underskirt (gathered with a running stitch) and a really pretty lime green detailed top skirt. I tried to find a way to incorporate the green curtain I love so much, but in the final dress the only place it stuck was as a lace accent on the sleeves. As is a common theme with my sewing projects, the area where the skirt meets the bodice got extremely thick and when I was trying to sewing it together I kept breaking needles. Super frustrating! I certainly could have used some little mice and bird friends to do that part!

IMG_4556.jpg

These dresses were also my first experience with sewing on a zipper, which was both harder and easier than I expected. I've always used buttons or ties wherever possible because the idea of zippers made me anxious, but in retrospect button holes are no easy feat either!

At this point I apparently stopped taking process photos because I was so frustrated. I tore out the bustle and replaced it with a new one, and I folded up the sleeves and added elastic / trimmings to make it look like the poof sleeve in the cartoon. I would like to say that it was substantially easier to use the sleeve off an up cycled shirt and to just shorten it than it was to make a sleeve from scratch (as I had to do with the pink dress). I added tulle to the poofy sleeves as well as to the bustle on both dresses to help them keep their shape.

The girls were super excited about the bustles and couldn't wait until the dresses were done to start playing evil step sisters. Every time I needed them to try it on in the  middle of the process I lost the dress to 20 minutes of flouncing around and evil stepsister posing! (Note to self: time to get a mannequin!)

To complete the outfit, we made Anastasia/Drizella themed headbands. I bought the big flowers at the same time I bought the fabric (they were really inexpensive, on sale for .50 each!), and was fortunate to still have lots of ribbon leftover from our fancy halloween crayon hats from the year before! 

The dresses were a big hit at the 1900 Park Fare dinner! My only disappointment was that the photos photographer at the Park Fare entrance didn't do a little bit more with that photo. I'm hoping to get some better pictures of the dresses taken sometime soon, because I'm really proud of how they turned out!


 

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Star Wars Sundresses - sewing project!

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Happy May the Fourth, everyone! 

You might not have guessed it from all my Princess rants, but I'm a really big SciFi geek at heart! And my favorite SciFi of all is Star Wars! Oh, how I'd love to go to Disney for the Star Wars weekends someday!

About a year and a half ago, well before we started planning our 2015 trip to Disney World, we were spending time with our good friends --- who also happen to be Eva's godparents --- when they remarked how the girls remind them of R2D2 and C-3PO.  Eva, at a little over 2 yrs old, communicated through gibberish punctuated by lots of squeals, and Viola was always nearby to translate in her flabbergasted 5-yr-old-going-on-15-yr-old tone: 

"She wants another cookie, mommy, obviously." 

"She's saying she doesn't want to take a bath, mommy, duh."

"What she means is she wants to keep coloring, mommy. Didn't you hear her say: COLOR MORE?"

In fact, Eva didn't really find her voice truly until last summer when her sister went away on vacation. Then she suddenly had lots to say for herself! 

But, I digress. 

After the R2D2 / C-3PO connection was brought to my attention, I thought it would be funny to buy the girls tshirts, so I ordered some tshirts online.

The R2D2 shirt was just fine, but the C-3PO one, despite being a child's Small, was waaaaay too big for Viola! 

So, I decided to alter it from a tshirt to some sort of a sundress.  My original plan was pretty simple: cut off the sleeves and add some straps and maybe a tie-back and turn it into something like a pillow case dress.  

As I did a little research (you can see my pinterest board for the project here) and started getting into the sewing, though, I decided that a pillow case dress was just too plain. I picked up some gold lamme and glitter tulle at JoAnn's for the C-3PO dress and, of course, then I needed to pick up some blue outerspacy tulle to make a skirt for the R2D2 dress, too. 

 My sewing assistant. Super helpful for unwinding spools of ribbon!

My sewing assistant. Super helpful for unwinding spools of ribbon!


R2D2

R2D2 was pretty straight forward: I created a tulle skirt by panelling together the two styles of tulle that I'd bought, the regular shiny blue with the "metal-infused" sparkly one (I told Eva that those were robot bits). Underneath the tulle was a metallic blue mini skirt to give it some extra robot-y-ness, too!  

I then also removed the tshirt sleeves and added a little ruffle to the shoulder. Finally, some blue holographic ribbon to tie it all together!


C-3PO

C-3PO was a bit trickier. I used the same dress pattern as I was using for our Harry Potter sundresses to create the collar, then attached to it the graphic portion of the tshirt that I wanted to keep on the front and the back. 

The skirt was perplexing and I tried LOTS of different variations.... 

 attempt #1 was to do the same thing I'd done with the R2D2 dress, but it was too... I don't know. Too not right!

attempt #1 was to do the same thing I'd done with the R2D2 dress, but it was too... I don't know. Too not right!

 Attempt #2 was too princessy.

Attempt #2 was too princessy.

For attempt#3 I thought maybe a more mini-skirt type ruffle skirt might work, (I was inspired by this grey skirt that the girls had) but that was too.... again, I don't know. Too not right.

My husband pointed out the C-3P0 would be better suited with just the gold lycra pants, but that didn't fly with Viola, who kept insisting that the gold pants would look great under a skirt, so that was out as well...

(Let's call that one "too not fancy enough".)

Finally, I returned to the ruffled skirt idea. The first version was WAY too big... 

Way, way, ridiculously way too big.

But close!

As much as I hated to do it (because by then, as you can imagine, I was so over this outfit), I had to entirely remove the tutu, pare it down, and reattach it. I was pretty happy with the end result. 

I was only able to find gold lycra pants in sizes too big for Viola, but that was fine. I trimmed them down by stitching along the inseam and tucking in the waist, then I cut off some of the leg length and used the excess material to make "gloves", that Viola prefers to wear like sleeveless. nd I found these amazing gold sneakers from an overseas vendor in eBay! They took a few weeks to arrive, but totally worth it!


HAPPY DANCE!


Even though it wasn't the initial inspiration for the outfits, we did take them with us on our 2015 Disney vacation for the girls to wear to Hollywood Studios. We knew we were going to try to get Viola signed up for Jedi Academy Training. The outfits garnered lots of compliments and I think played a part in Viola getting placed front stage for the show. 

Of course, there are some things I would change if I were to make them over again, but all told I'm really happy with how they turned out!

For those of my readers who followed this sewing odyssey on my Facebook page, I thank you for your patience and feedback as I was working through the designs. I'm so excited to finally be able to share with you the final costumes and pictures from our trip, and of course make sure to check out the video of Viola participating in Jedi Training Academy!  


 

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