Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sitting With Grandmother Willow | Erin of My Fantasy Bands

As part of our on-going series, Sitting with Grandmother Willow, I am happy to introduce Erin of My Fantasy Bands. This series of blog posts highlights artists and bloggers of all stripes with one thing in common: a passion for Disney!

Erin sells high quality, water-safe, vinyl decals for your MagicBands in a whole host of themes! Whatever your Disney passion, she has something that will make you squee! Our family and friends (and my travel clients) have been using these for over a year and we just love them! They are durable and adorable. I hope you will enjoy getting to know Erin as much as I have. A big thanks to her for taking the time to interview with us and offering a special coupon code exclusively for my readers! And be sure to visit her shop for a great selection of Disney themed decals for your MagicBands.

Disney By The Numbers (with apologies to Harper's)

# of trips you have made:  As an adult, four   I lived in Orlando for about 3 years as a child, and had a few day trips during that time.
Date of first trip:   February 2007, The Husband Unit and I were 28 and I was pregnant with our first daughter.  
Date of next trip:  Undecided, sometime in 2017 I hope!  
# of Resorts stayed in:  Five  (Pop, Art of Animation, All Star Music, French Quarter, Caribbean Beach ... my top 3 of these are AoA, French Quarter, and Pop)
Usual # in your travel party:  4 or 5, we had a neighbor friend who has come with us twice, but we have moved away from her now.  :(
Pairs of mouse ears in your cottage:  3 headband ears, 4 or 5 ear hats.

WDW or Disneyland (or other)?  I have never been to Disneyland  :(
How do you usually travel to Disney? We have driven twice and flown twice.  I prefer to fly!
Do you have any tips for trips?  Don't try to plan every moment of your trip.  Sometimes the best memories are ones that happen spontaneously.
Do you have a favorite place to eat while in Disney?  I love the Rose and Crown at Epcot, and Wolfgang Puck's Express at Disney Springs.  There are many table dining locations we have not experienced yet.  We usually have the Quick Service dining plan.  
What is your absolute DON'T MISS attraction?   Magic Kingdom is my favorite park, so all my favorites just happen to be there.  My top 3 rides are Peter Pan's Flight, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and oddly enough, the People Mover.  I could ride the People Mover all day. Some people think it's boring, but I find it relaxing and enjoy the vantage point of the park from the elevated track.  

My don't miss attractions for other parks:  In Epcot I love Test Track and SOARIN (although I have not experienced the new revamped SOARIN), and I enjoy the hydroponic tour ride at Living with the Land.  At Hollywood Studios I enjoy Toy Story Mania, and the Rockin Roller Coaster, and the Little Mermaid show.  At Animal Kingdom I love the Kilimanjaro Safaris, the Finding Nemo show, and the Kali River Rapids.  

Stage shows, yes or no?  
Parades, yes or no?  For both of these, it depends on crowds and weather.  If we are able get to a parade or stage show early with a good vantage point, we will.  We really play it by ear.  If the parks are crowded or the weather is hot, we avoid parades and try to stay on the move and hit more ride attractions.    Indoor stage shows are a great way to escape the heat. If crowds are lighter and weather is mild, we might slow down to watch a parade or outdoor stage show. We try to attend a fireworks show at least twice during our vacation, often more.  

Best Fast Pass to get:  SOARIN, Mine Train, Toy Story Mania.   
Favorite park:  Magic Kingdom!
One piece of advice you'd give a novice about WDW/DL:  Don't try to see and do EVERYTHING, it's impossible.  Make a list of your must-do attractions, and prioritize.  Also, be prepared for the unexpected, and try not to be too bummed at the end of your trip if something didn't happen.  Remember that you were at DISNEY WORLD and your trip was probably pretty amazing even if you didn't see that one show or ride that one ride.  
How do you create extra magic for your family:  I casually shop around for months ahead of time gathering little Disney-themed trinkets from clearance sales and dollar stores.  I pack them in a secret bag to give my girls gifts throughout our vacation, and also have left "Mickey Mail" in our resort room for them to find.  This saves on spending big bucks on park souvenirs.  Each family member has a gift card to spend on a few special items in the parks.  

How can we connect with you?  Email or Instagram!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Doc Terminus's Magical Potion Bottle | DIY Disney Halloween

I have been holding on to this idea for a while and I FINALLY had the time to sit down and hammer it out! And I am so glad to be able to share this downloadable with you too!

My regular readers will know that I have a love for all things Pete's Dragon. (The original Pete's Dragon - the jury is still out for us on the remake.) I grew up watching the original from the 70s as well as the Main Street Electrical Parade. It just isn't the MSEP until I see Elliot and Pete come lumbering down Main Street all aglow! This movie and its characters hold a special place in my heart. I've already posted two Pete's Dragon t-shirt designs here. You can sport your Passamaquoddy Tavern shirt or your love of Elliot design instead. And remember, as I always say, these designs come on several different products - not just Ts! I love my Be Brazzle Dazzle pencil case! It's so versatile.

One of my favorite characters in the original movie is Doc terminus, the snake oil salesman who comes breezing into Passamaquoddy in his crazy land-boat and even though he has duped these townspeople time and again, he plows forth and sells them his snake oil once again!

I was inspired by this great bottle (and empty Uncle Val's Botanical Gin bottle - which I HIGHLY recommend!) to make an homage to Doc Terminus to add to our very Disney Halloween Decor! If you would like to have this bottle label for you very own, you can download it for FREE by clicking here. If you use it, I would love to see how! Tag me on IG @merryweatherscottage or here on the blog! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Customizing Your MagicBands with My Fantasy Bands

If you have been to Walt Disney World lately you will notice that the DIY and customized Disney experience is at an all time high! LOADS of us are sporting our special shirts, hats, bags and now MagicBands. Of course, we at the cottage are TOTALLY into that!

Today I wanted to introduce you to one of my favorite products for customizing your MagicBand: My Fantasy Bands. These decals are professionally printed and can withstand the abuse of my family! We are still using these same magic bands a year later. And they have all been in the pool and the shower/bath and remain on the bands with no peeling. I am really impressed with the quality of these decals. In fact, if you have booked a trip with me in the last few months, you may have received a surprise package of these for your very own MagicBands!

These decals were really easy to apply, and they come with instructions on how to make them last. Plus she has ALL SORTS of great themes, some seasonal, some Disney related, some just for fun! I can't recommend these highly enough. And if you are on Instagram, you can see lots of her designs modeled by actual guests by following @myfantasybands. Have fun perusing Erin's site! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Chapeau | DIY Sleeping Beauty's Fairy Merryweather's Hat

In honor of Felt Hat Day (which is today for those of you unawares), I am rerunning this post about making my favorite fairy's fascinator! I hope you enjoy it!

I am in love with the hat shop on Main Street USA: The Chapeau. It's the place to find any hat your heart desires; as long as Disney makes it! I realize there are those who would never be caught dead in a Disney hat, and those of us who think they are AWESOME. If you fit into that latter category, then this post is for you!

I have an affinity with Merryweather, naturally, but she's not the easiest character to find in the parks. And neither is a Merryweather themed hat. So I put my DIY skills to use and created my very own Merryweather fascinator. This is my very first foray into the world of millinery, so I did a little research on hat making via YouTube. Just search for "how to make a fascinator" and you'll get plenty of videos to choose from! If you too are new to the hat making world, you'll want to become familiar with a product called sinamay. It's what the structure of the hat is made from. It helps it hold it's shape and gives it the body you need for it to stand up on it's own. The link will take you to several resources for purchasing sinamay.

I first created a pattern using scrapbooking paper (as it was large enough to experiment with, and I have TONS of it), a compass, and scotch tape. Once I had my basic shape together (which took several tries), I took it all apart and cut the pieces from the sinamay. I used a double layer of sinamay because I wasn't sure a single layer would hold the shape as well as I wanted it to. After all, that hat had to make it all the way to Florida without getting crushed!

After I had the sinamay cut out, I cut out felt about a 1/4" larger than the sinamay and machine stitched it to the sinamay. I then shaped the hat into it's 3-dimentional form and pinned it together. I hand sewed the hat together trying to hide my stitches where I could. Once it was together I realized it needed the organza on it to really make it work. What a difference that made! It went from ok, to cool. The devil is always in the details!

My hair is quite fine, so a comb was not going to work for me to wear this all day in the park. I decided to attach it to a thin, ribbon-covered headband I found at JoAnn's. It worked like a dream! The headband is small enough that it doesn't fight with my glasses for room behind my ears, is fairly well hidden in my hair, and comfortable enough to wear all day. For a first project, I couldn't be happier! I'd love to see any hats you may have altered or made for your trips to the Happiest Place On Earth.

Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

DIY Disney's Haunted Mansion Halloween Decor | Madame Leota Candle

As I have mentioned many a time, we like to use the Haunted Mansion as our inspiration for Halloween decor. And since we leave for Disney in just a couple weeks (yes, again!), it certainly puts us in the mood! I created a candle for my favorite spider candle holder (which it appears, PartyLite no longer makes.) This candle has Madame Leota's incantation printed on it. For those of you who may not be as steeped in Disney tradition as we are in the cottage, Madame Leota is the talking head in the crystal ball in the seance room of the Haunted Mansion, just before the ballroom in the attraction. What you may not also realize, is that Madame Leota was modeled after a long-time Disney Imagineer, Leota Toombs Thomas. You can read a little more about her over at Magical School House, in a wonderful interview with her sister-in-law.

Making this candle was easier that I expected. In fact, this decorative candle tutorial from Heidi Swapp was incredibly easy to follow! I love the endless possibilities it offers! So first, here's the tutorial:

Secondly, here's the print for my candle. You can download my Madame Leota's Candle jpg for free if you'd like to use it. It's made for a 4.5" tall candle with a 9" diameter. This is what it looks like flat:

I could go a little crazy with this! So many great things could be done. I love the idea of three different sized candles, each with a hitchhiking ghost! I'll let you know if I try any more. And please let us know if you try this too! We'd love to see what you come up with. Remember to tag us on Instagram, or leave us a comment below. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Another Great DIY Disney Luggage Tag!

Thursday's post has inspired me to create another cute DIY felt luggage tag for our family's upcoming Fall Break Trip!

I give you Donald Duck. I was a little worried about sewing around a shape with a lot more definition than the simple three circles of the Mickey head in the last post. But it was not as difficult as I first thought. As long as I went slow it was fine! Here's the trick, I like to make the stitches in the zig-zag closer together. So if your machine can shorten the distance between stitches, I would recommend it. It looks a bit more uniform in the end. I also love how the yellow felt pops on the blue background. You will DEFINITELY be able to spot your luggage on that carousel!

If you want the full description on the how-to, check out my original post DIY Disney Felt Luggage Tags. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

DIY Disney Felt Luggage Tags

Are you headed to a Disney Destination for Fall Break this year? If so, this is the perfect little project to get you in the Disney spirit!

You know how excited you are to get to Disney, and then you get to the airport and everyone's bag looks pretty much the same? Even with those snazzy Disney luggage tags they send you, your bag still looks like everyone else's, because they got the same tags you did!

September is National Sewing Month and as such, I thought it would be fun to share this easy Disney luggage tag. You can make it in any color your choose, but it will make your bag stand out as your own. That's a particularly good thing when you have antsy, anxious children pulling your pant leg, ready to get to Disney!

You could hand stitch this project or machine stitch it. I chose to use the machine simply for the sake of time. I was able to whip this up in half an hour. That's well within our nap-time window here at the cottage!

I first did a Google search for a Mickey Mouse silhouette, printed it, and used it as a template for this tag. I then cut out my Mickey from black felt, used it to determine the size for the background and cut out two rectangles of felt. (I chose yellow for the other side of this tag because that's what I had, but get creative and let your tag be entirely yours.)

I then took the red felt, pinned the Mickey silhouette to that and used a zigzag stitch to appliqué it to the background. I then pinned the yellow felt to the back of the red felt and used the overlock stitch to sew them together. You could also play around with the decorative stitches on your machine for sewing the two rectangles together. I love using felt for this project, because even if you use a strait stitch to finish this project, your edges will look good.

I'd love to get several of these together for our next trip, each one themed to our favorite characters. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hitchhiking Ghosts Products on Redbubble

 Since we just revisited these lovable ghosts on the DIY side of things, I thought it would be a good time to remind you that if you are overwhelmed with life right now (back to school is STILL a factor here in the cottage!), you can still get really cute T-shirts, dresses, leggings and bags over on my Rebubble site!

There are so many styles to choose from there. And you can see all my other designs there too! If you're headed to Walt Disney World this fall, or attending one of the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Parties, this could be exactly what you need to declare your love of all things Haunted Mansion!

Be sure to leave some love if you check out this design. Until next time, may all your days be filled wit fairy dust!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

DIY Disney's Haunted Mansion Halloween Decor | Hitchhiking Ghost Windows

It's officially time to start thinking about Halloween Decor! I am running one of my favorite Halloween posts today! Enjoy!

 When it comes to Halloween, I like the tamer side of things. I think that's why I gravitate to Disney's Haunted Mansion. It's spooky and fun without traveling into horror in any way. That's my idea of Halloween. And so we tend to be the Haunted Mansion house in our neighborhood, in that we play a CD of the area music, have a fog machine, carve our pumpkins to resemble the hitchhiking ghosts, and now, we will have the same hitchhikers in our windows!

I created these Haunted Mansion Hitchhiking Ghosts PNG files using photoshop. If you would like to purchase them for your own uses (scrapbooking or otherwise) you can find them in my Etsy shop. For this project, I simply imported the shapes to my Silhouette Studio software. I traced them using the trace tool and cut them out of adhesive vinyl. Remember when you are cutting out anything with words, think about reversing the image before you cut it. It depends on whether you want them to be legible to those in the house, or those on the street.

Once they are cut use the transfer paper to adhere them to the windows. I did not and wound up tearing off the middle hitchhiker's arm at the elbow. I just pieced it together again, but it was disconcerting! Now you're done! You have recreated the ghosts in the graveyard scene from the Haunted Mansion attraction! For a sharp silhouette, pull the blinds or the sheer curtains and turn on all the lights in the room so the light shines through, but the rest of the room is obscured from view. I can't wait to see how many trick-or-treaters (or their parents) recognize our grim grinning ghosts!

Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

DIY Small Zippered Mickey Mouse Pouch

As you know, I'm a fan of little bags and pouches for travel. I saw this little beauty and thought it could be Disney-fied with a little alteration. And while I would work a bit on the shapes of the ears, this came together very easily and I would certainly do it again!

I found the original pattern from Dog Under My Desk on Pinterest. I had all the necessary supplies already in my stash, so this project was definitely budget friendly! If you don't already have what you need, I would say this can easily come in under $5.00 a pouch. Still well within my Tinkerbell Treasure limit. And wouldn't it be so cute for all your pressed pennies? Of course the author of the pattern, Erin, suggests using it as a housing for your earbuds. I also love this idea. Keeping those things from tangling with everything else in my bag is forever my mission! And a great solution for the kids! Especially since this isn't too girly - Doc would even use it.

I tried using different circle shapes for the ears, and in the end, went with this: 

As I mentioned before, I would probably choose to go with bigger circles next time. It's always a bit tricky sewing around circles, but over all, I was still pleased with the way this pouch turned out. It will definitely get used! And I can imagine an endless stream of variations for the fabrics and for making it fit different Disney characters.

Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Disney Eyes T-shirts on Redbubble

Did you know that August is National Eye Exam Month? Well to celebrate that we are showcasing all our designs with Disney Eyes from my Redbubble shop! I still think Wall-E is my favorite!

Don't forget that you can find all these fun designs on bags, journals, tech cases and more! Head on over there and take a gander.

Don't forget to get your regular eye exam and until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Upcycled Disney T-shirt Trinket Bag

I have shared this tutorial on the blog before, but it is amazing to me how many of these little bags we use and how handy they are in my travel gear. So I hop you enjoy this rerun from March of 2014!

We are gearing up for another road trip, this time to Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort! In preparation for that, I am getting out all our road trip goodies. I realized that my previous case for all my electronics was woefully lacking in space for my new gadgetry. I needed something with a little more room that I could slip in my knitting basket or my purse without a lot of fuss. And I like having it all in one place, but not a tangled mess in my purse! As I was scavenging through my bin of t-shirts and clothing to recycle, I noticed a t-shirt that Little Chef was not too fond of because the printing on the front was uncomfortable. I didn't even put it in the rotation for Minnie. It was an 18-month Mickey T-shirt and perfectly suited for the job!

This was the easiest project I've done in some time. I simply cut the sleeves and bottom off the shirt, centering the Mickey image, and leaving the neck in tact as a ready-made casing for the drawstring. I used an overlock stitch and sewed up the three sides of the shirt. I then angled the corners in and cut them off, because I like a flat-bottomed bag. This is certainly a step you don't need to take, it just adds a nice touch. If it intimidates you, leave it out.

I then opened up a hole in the collar seam using my seam ripper, and slipped a ribbon through the casing the same way you would in a pair of pants. Because this is jersey, you really don't need to worry about the fabric unraveling, so I simply left the hole in the collar! I tied the two ends of the ribbon together with a knot, turned the bag right-side out and there you have it! Easy as can be!

Now I have a place for all my iPhone, Kindle and iPad cords, earbuds, etc., and they won't be a tangled mess when I want them! These would also be terrific bags for Tinkerbell Treasures, either to give filled with goodies or to give as a goody! And if you don't have an ample supply of 12-18M shirts in your cottage, the Goodwill is an excellent place to get exactly this sort of thing for a bargain price. In fact, I have found some wonderful park merchandise there that we wear in the parks! (No one has to know!) I do love a good bargain. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

WDW Abbreviations Cheat Sheet

Have you ever heard a Disney geek talk about going to Walt Disney World? It can sound like a foreign language! We can frequently be heard saying (or texting) that we are taking the ferry from the WL to the MK and hitting POTC first thing so we can make our ADR for BOG. It can make you wonder what in the world we were talking about!

Disney has gotten so big, and has so many special Disney experiences, that most of who deal with it on a daily basis have learned a sort of short cut language if you will. We speak in a lot of abbreviations, and I know I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to these coded messages

Well, for those of you newbies (or oldies who are struggling to remember!), here's a little cheat sheet for you.

So did you decode the original message? We were taking the ferry from the Wilderness Lodge to the Magic Kingdom to Pirates Of The Caribbean in order to make it to our Advanced Dining Reservation at Be Our Guest! You can see why the abbreviations come in so handy! I hope this helps you decode the Disney speak a little. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Kid-Size Vacation Package Now Available at WDW

Hello friends! I know its time to start thinking about he holidays and crafting but of my goodness this offer is too good not to share! You can head to Walt Disney World with your little for just $1055.00! Here are all the details:

If this package is in your wheelhouse, please give me a call as soon as possible! I'll get you booked and on your way to a magical vacation! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Practical Princess Dress Tutorial

Mouskateers!! This is a guest post from an AMAZING friend of mine. It is beyond the best! She has figured out exactly what I would want to wear to the parks if I were going to dress up as a princess (which I still might do!) I hope you enjoy this post, I anticipate it being one of my most pinned projects!

Practical Princess Dress Tutorial

My daughter was thrilled when we told her about her very first trip to Disney World! She twirled around, singing and giggling. It was as if Tinkerbell had sprinkled fairy dust in our very living room.

In the midst of this happy dance, the sweet girl turned to me and said in her most excited voice, “OH! I can dress up as the princesses every day!”

It was as if beautiful music were playing, then someone yanked the needle across the record. RRRRRPPPPPP. Silence.

The girl is not very princess-y. She has only two store-bought princess dresses. They are, indeed, magical. But have you ever felt them? Hers are practically made out of plastic. Several layers of hot, scratchy, airless, long-sleeved, sharp-seamed plastic. Why don’t I just duct tape her into sparkly sandpaper and call it a day?

(Here I will take a moment to say that children who have worn their storebought dresses to Disney World are super troopers who are obviously superior to my child. I bow down to these fashionistas who are willing to put magic over comfort. Seriously – these kids are splendid, and I wish my kid were less sensitive. But she’s not. She can wear those dresses for about an hour. But an entire day in 100 degree heat? Nope nope nope. So – moving on here.)

You know what I wanted her to wear? A cap-sleeved breathable t-shirt to cover her shoulders from the glaring sun, and soft skirt that was short enough to stay cool and long enough to cover up her dignity (as my grandmother used to call it).

Then the beautiful music in my head started to play again slowly . . . .

I’m no seamstress. But surely I could make something that would fit both sets of requirements? And the practical princess dresses were born. Here’s the equation: T-Shirt + Circle Skirt + Decoration = Practical Princess.

Step One:  Choose Your Princesses 

We are going to Florida for eight days (five days of Disney World, plus two travel days and one “free” day), so I decided to make eight dresses. This is insane. One dress is more than enough. They are easy to make, but don’t lose your mind, OK? OK.

My sweet girl loves these princesses: Elsa (obviously), Anna, Rapunzel, Merida, Ariel, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), and Snow White. I needed one more. What about the ultimate Disney princess . . . Minnie?! Then I came up with a plan for how to make each dress.

Top Tee
Bottom Fabric
shimmery rectangles on front, cape attached to back
dark green
royal blue
floral designs
dark lavender
darker lavender
pink laces on the top and stripes on sleeves
dark teal
dark teal
gold belt
green blue
green fish scales
floaty belt, purple seashell at neckline
medium pink
same pink
pointy peplum in lighter pink
Snow White
royal blue
red teardrops on sleeves, yellow stripe down the front
Minnie pattern
ruffle underneath skirt

Step Two:  Choose Your Fabrics

I started with the tops. I wanted inexpensive, soft shirts that were part cotton for breathability and part polyester to wick moisture away. I bought mine from Amazon here. You may have to shop around a bit to find the colors and sizes you want. That’s what Google is for, am I right?

Once the shirts arrived in the mail, I took them to my local fabric store to choose the skirt material. I included my daughter in this part, which she loved. We held up each shirt to the lightweight cotton quilting fabrics, and she helped me choose just the right ones. Fun!

For my tall 5-year-old daughter, I bought 1.5 yards of each 40-44” wide fabric, which allowed me to cut a single circle skirt. The Ariel skirt had a directional fish scale pattern (that needed to go a certain way to look right), for which I needed 2.5 yards of fabric. I will explain more about this later.

If you plan ahead, you can also choose trims for the dress belts while you are at the fabric store. You can make these out of the skirt fabric if you like, but I wanted to add a little something extra at this stage. Here are the trims I chose:
Belt Trim
blue and silver sparkle ribbon
gold ribbon
light pink scalloped eyelet
gold belt from home – taken from outgrown merida dress
green floaty fabric
medium pink grosgrain
Snow White
royal blue satin (I had a little piece of this at home)
black and white polka dot grosgrain

I measured around her waist and added enough length for a knot and maybe a bow for each belt.  And then I used a coupon to buy it all.

Step Three:  Cut It Out

Wash and dry the shirts and fabrics. Then iron the fabrics so there are no wrinkles. I hate doing this part.

Try a shirt on your child and decide where you would like the waist to fall. Keep in mind that the knit fabric of the shirt stretches quite a bit when the skirt is attached, so mark where the waist would be, and then cut about an inch above that. Even with the seam allowance, you should be good. My five-year-old took this photo to show her "glass" slippers.

Now, measure the width of the cut part of your shirt, across the front. When you multiply that by two, you now have the circumference (the size of the waist) for your skirt fabric.

Next, you use geometry (circumference, radius, pi) to figure out how to cut out the waist. I’ll make it easy for you – the next measurement you need (the radius) is the circumference divided by 6.28 (aka 2 times pi). BUT! Round down here. You can always cut a little more to make the waist bigger, but you can’t add fabric back to make it smaller.

For my skirt, the measurements went like this: Across the front of the shirt was 12”. That means that my waist would be 24”. The radius for my next step would be 3.8”. I rounded down to 3.5” just to be safe, and it worked perfectly.

Take your washed and ironed fabric (a) and fold it in half (b), then in half again the other way (c).

 Go to the corner fold (where all the folds are together) and measure toward the shortest part of the fabric out the length of your radius.  While you have your tape measure on this line, go to the end of your fabric, and note that measurement.  That’s how long the skirt fabric will be all the way around.  You can make it shorter if you want, but my girl has crazy long legs.  And don't forget you will be hemming the skirt later, so it will be a little shorter for that reason, too.

Keeping the zero edge of your tape measure in line with the corner fold, move the tape measure end in an arc from one edge of the fabric to the other, marking the waist radius (shown in the pictures with my finger) and the skirt length radius (shown with a pencil) all the way along.
Connect the marks you made using a curved line. 

With the fabric still folded, cut along the two lines you made.  Your circle skirt is now cut out!

(Note:  the circle you cut out for the waist makes an excellent barbie skirt if you cut a little tiny circle out of the middle.  My daughter designed her own dresses while I was sewing.  Hours of fun using scraps.)

If you are using directional fabric, the process is harder.  If you make a circle using the instructions above, your pattern will be upside down on the back and sideways on each of the sides.  Let me just say this:  if you haven’t made a gored skirt before, I highly recommend you start with a non-directional fabric. 

To make Ariel’s skirt, I had to make a paper pattern for the skirt, which essentially involved making the same circle described above out of really big paper, then cutting it into one-eighths.  I pinned each piece of paper on the fabric in the direction I wanted for the skirt, and I remembered to cut about ¼” outside the two sides of each paper wedge for the seam allowance.  Then, pinning right sides together, I sewed the wedges together to make the skirt.

Step Four:  Sew the Dress

Back to the easier part. Turn the skirt inside out, and then tuck the right-side-out dress inside it. I’m using Ariel’s skirt now, in which you can see the wedges I discussed above:

Make sure that the right sides of your shirt and skirt are facing each other, but not facing you. (I did this wrong the first time. Grrrr.)

Pin the sides of the shirt to the sides of the skirt. I used my fold lines on the skirt fabric (from when I cut it) to line up the sides with the side seams of the shirt. Also pin the front center and back center of the shirt to the skirt (again, using the fold lines on the fabric, if they are visible). Pin in between those four pins until you are pinned all the way around.

Now, sew the pieces together using a ½” seam allowance, starting at one of the side seams. Take out the pins and turn it right side out.

Step Five: Add a Belt

 Now, sew on your belt. If you want to make it out of the skirt fabric, make a fabric tube, turn it inside out, and topstitch the ends to make a fabric ribbon. Or, use something bedazzled for the extra princess factor.

Pin the center of the belt ribbon to the center of the waist seam. Using thread that matches the belt ribbon and just a few tiny stitches, top stitch the belt in the center. I used two or three stitches forward and two or three stitches back.

Remove the center pin and try the dress on your kid. The twirl factor is fantastic! Tie the sash around her waist to see where you should stitch it down on the sides so it will lay flat. I put a pin in the belt ribbon to mark the spot (but not through the dress, because that would hurt when she takes the dress off!).

Have her take the dress off, and pin the marked places to the sides of the dress, lining up with the side seams on the shirt. Ariel's belt needs to look fluffy, so it's gathered a bit here. Topstitch the belt sides down.

Hem the skirt to the length you would like. I let my five-year-old help with this, so the hems are imperfect. But she participated in making her own dresses. So it’s all good.

Have her try it on again, tie the belt in back, and breathe a sigh of accomplishment. Good job, lady (or sir)! You have done the biggest part!

Step Six: Extra Magic 

Whew. Almost done! Now you get to add any extra decorations. The hardest dress by far was Anna’s which required intricate colored patterns. Fortunately, I had a friend with a cricut machine, iron-on vinyl, and a heart of gold. She helped me cut out these patterns and iron them on (being very careful to avoid the meltable belt). BUT! You can do it without this part if you want to freehand it or create your own stencil using the butcher paper method. You then use fabric paint to paint on the designs.

The other designs are MUCH easier – a few Xs on Rapunzel’s shirt, plus a few stripes on the sleeves. Two teardrops on Snow White’s sleeves and a line down the middle. Just enough to reference the princess for anyone who has a drop of imagination. For Merida, I carefully cut off the belt from a storebought dress and sewed in the front strip as I attached the skirt to the shirt. For Aurora, I made a peplum that mimicked her princess dress, and then sewed it in as I attached the skirt to the shirt. I put the belt over it using the belt instructions, above. For Minnie, I sewed white eyelet trim along the hemline. For Elsa’s bodice I painted some shimmery acrylic paint in narrow recangles, then heat set the paint by pressing with an iron by pressing through the inside of the shirt. ) I also attached the floaty sequined cape fabric with a ribbon at her neck. My daughter picked out the cape fabric, but she now thinks it's itchy, so it may be ditched early in the day, which is A-OK with me.

And that is how my daughter can dress as a princess for every single day of our summer Disney trip. Cue the “Jolly Holiday” song as we exit stage right.