HOW TO: Creating My Anna from Frozen Costume

Well, I never thought I would be in a position to say this but I am actually writing a post by popular demand.

When I set out to create my costume for the 2013 Wine & Dine Half Marathon, I really just wanted to create something that would love.  By October/November, I was already following news about Disney’s upcoming animated film Frozen quite closely.  It quickly occurred to me that this would be a unique opportunity to create a costume that probably really hadn’t been done yet.  Now, I’ve seen people do some really new, creative takes on some of Disney’s most popular characters so this is not a knock on the “oldies but goodies” by any means.  What really catches my attention when I browse the interwebs (I giggle a little anytime someone says that), are costumes that are unusual or reference some rather obscure Disney things.  Need a few examples?  Check out Cinderella in rags from Run, Karla, Run! and the ever-so-adorable Flight Attendant for Minnie’s Fly Girls Charter Airline from Fiddle Dee Me.

As I started to read up on what to expect from the two Frozen female protagonists, and as soon as I saw Anna, I just knew that would make a great race costume.  Her main costume in the film is fairly simple and I felt I would have a good chance at being able to recreate it.

So, I sort of really deserve some extra credit points due to the fact that in October when I was dreaming this whole scheme up, there were very few good images of Anna released.  Actually, the image above was one of my primary reference images – thanks Google Image Search!  I took a bit of a leap of faith that I would a) love Frozen and b) love Anna as a character.  Well, it wasn’t a huge leap since I have tremendous confidence in the work that Disney produces but you get the point.

Let me begin by saying thank you to everyone who had been part of the tremendous outpouring of admiration for the work I did on this costume.  Between Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and this blog, I have received so many kind compliment.  I never expected so much attention and really helps to justify the time and effort that went into this costume.  I have also been overwhelmed by the number of people asking for more information about how I made this costume.  Ask and ye shall receive!  Here is my little “how to” guide to this costume.  Construction was time consuming and required a little artistic flair but was not very complicated really.  As we creep up on Walt Disney World Marathon weekend and many people are in the heat of planning for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February, I hope you find this guide helpful!  I will only ask for one thing in exchange (keep scrolling to the bottom for more on that…)

Becoming Anna: How I Created My Frozen-Inspired Running Costume

What you’ll need:

  • A royal blue skirt from Sparkle Athletic
  • A basic black cotton tank top (I purchased mine for under $10 at Target)
  • 2 small bottles of sparkly light blue fabric paint (the brush on kind)
  • “Puffy” fabric paints in gold, pink, green and purple (I bought the glow in the dark variety when it was available in the colors I needed since this was a night race.  This attribute is definitely optional and, to be honest, I’m not sure how much I really glowed anyway.)
  • Gold ribbon (I used a wire edged ribbon that looked really close to the reference image but see what your local craft store has)
  • A small paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Something to pour the blue paint on and test the puff paint before applying to fabric (I used a simple throw away paper plate for this)
  • Reference images – you’ll want decently close up images of the pattern at the bottom of her skirt and on the bodice of her dress)

The project breaks down to 2 parts.  Creating the skirt and creating the top.  The top requires more artistry but the skirt requires a lot more time.  One thing not to under-estimate is drying time!  I had just enough time to get the project done but you’ll want to start with plenty of time to spare since you’ll have to probably work on painting the skirt just a little bit at a time…I’ll explain why.

The Skirt:

Purchasing the base skirt was quick and painless thanks to Sparkle Athletic.  Once I mentally committed to the idea of this costume, I placed my order (with always-free shipping) and the skirt arrived extremely quickly!

IMG_5351The skirt fit well and then it was time to start the painting process.  Although the Sparkle Athletic skirt is fabulous, I soon found out that the material is almost a sort of very tight mesh that definitely lets the paint bleed through.  While this was not an issue, it did mean that news paper, magazine, or another disposable painting backdrop is a must.  Although the paint dried the skirt to the paper (which then needed to basically be torn off), it seemed best to leave the skirt to dry on the paper.  When I tried to remove the skirt from the paper while wet, it did not allow the little bit of puff paint to remain visible (it bleeds through to invisibility otherwise).


The Top

For the top, I knew getting the beautiful embroidered pattern on Anna’s bodice right was key.  Using my reference image as my guide, I started to create the design freehand.  Now, I’m sure this could have really gone awry but it turned out relatively well (slightly lopsided was my only complaint).

IMG_5367It’s probably a bit difficult to tell but I made tiny marks with a light blue fabric pen at the top and bottom of the tank top.  These were my reference marks for when the time came to cut the top.  I actually slipped the tank on to be sure I was making these reference marks in the right spots.  I did not worry too much about cutting neatly or precisely since I knew I would be covering the edge with the ribbon trim.  I focused mostly on keeping things symmetrical and in the right shape.

Finally, I added the ribbon trim using the most unsophisticated means of attachment: a hot glue gun.  While this was pretty simple, it really gave the top a finished look.

The Final Look

IMG_5414All in all, I think I came pretty darn close.  I layered the light blue sports bra underneath to simulate Anna’s light blue shirt.  The weather for Wine & Dine was much too hot for anything more but a long sleeved or even short sleeved shirt could easily be layered underneath instead.

More questions?  Feel free to ask me in the comments.  I promise to answer each and every one.

Now, can I ask something of each of you?

Please consider donating to an amazing cause on my behalf.  On May 4, 2014, I will run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in support of Steel City Greyhounds.  This Pittsburgh-based Greyhound rescue group does an amazing job giving these beautiful creatures who have spent their lives racing for human entertainment a second chance at a new existence in a loving home.  This is a cause near and dear to my heart as my family has adopted “retired racers” since I was in high school.  These amazing animals have been among the most loving, gentle pets we have ever owned and I am quite certain that my life would not be same without them.  Charles and I plan to adopt one day when we have the time that a dog deserves so I look for ever opportunity I can to support these dogs at a time when it is not possible to own them myself.

I have just a modest goal set by the organization but I would really love to exceed this amount.  Won’t you please consider making a donation?  This is the very first time I have ever led a charitable fundraiser mostly because I truly hate having to ask others for money.  I know everyone’s budgets are tight coming out of the holidays and it can be tough to make a contribution.  This, however, is a cause I feel strongly enough about to really take a stand and ask you to open your hearts to this particular fundraiser.  While I have received a ton of support via social media, I have not received many donations.  Please help me turn that around as we enter the new year – no donation is too small!  I thank you all for your consideration and generosity in advance.  Click here to learn more and make a donation.


Have you ever made a race costume?  What was your inspiration?


31 thoughts on “HOW TO: Creating My Anna from Frozen Costume

  1. Run, Karla, Run says:

    Thanks for the shout out! I LOVED your Frozen costume when I saw it. I’ve got 3 more costumes in the works for Walt Disney World Marathon. They’re so much fun to do, aren’t they?!

    • whyhellodolly says:

      Thanks Karla! I can’t wait to see what you’ve dreamed up for Marathon weekend! I’ll be running the half without a costume this time but I already have my sights set on new ideas for Dumbo Double Dare later in the year 🙂

  2. Kaylee says:

    Thanks so much for posting this how-to! A group of friends and I are running the Disney Princess Half Marathon next month and wanted to all be different princesses. I LOVED Frozen and was wondering how I could be Anna or Elsa. This is great inspiration and a helpful tutorial. Thanks! Happy running!

  3. Kaylee says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! A group of friends and I are running the Disney Princess Half Marathon next month and all wanted to be different princesses. I saw Frozen and LOVED it and wanted to try being either Anna or Elsa. I found your post on pinterest and I believe you have convinced me to be Anna! This is great motivation and a helpful tutorial. Thanks! Happy running!

    • whyhellodolly says:

      Thanks Kaylee! I am so glad to hear that you found my post helpful and that I’ve swayed your princess choice 🙂 I hope you have fun building your race day look and I’ll see you out on the course! Thanks for reading!

  4. Lindsey says:

    I love your costume idea and am definitely using it as a reference to how to do my Anna shirt for the Princess half… Did you do the ribbon to the back of the shirt as well?

    • whyhellodolly says:

      Hi Lindsey! I’m glad you found this post helpful! That’s a Great question – I did run the ribbon around the back of the tank but BEWARE. The ribbon I bought did not stretch at all and the tank needed to when I put it on. I ended up having to cut vents on the side to allow for some stretch. I would recommend planning for that from the start. Let me know if you have any other questions as you dig in! Thanks for reading!

  5. Julie says:

    Did you use the brush-on sparkly blue paint for the lighter areas around the hem of the skirt (the part that draws up to where the flowers are)? I’m doing the SGK 3-Day and, since my team is Disney-themed, I definitely mean to wear something like this for one of the days. Thanks so much for posting the how-to! You did such a great job on this outfit.

    • whyhellodolly says:

      Hi Julie! Thanks so much for reading. That is correct, I did use the brush on sparkly blue paint for the lighter areas on the skirt. I actually exclusively used the light blue brush on paint on the skirt with the exception of the pink little accents. I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions as you go! Happy costume making – I’m sure you will look fabulous!

  6. Mel says:

    Nice tutorial; I’m thinking of going as Elsa for Halloween with some modifications to this. I kind of feel like trying to make a tutorial, too, if I get around to it. 🙂

  7. Suzanne H says:

    I keep seeing this outfit when I research Anna Running Costumes. It is so amazing! And even more so that you did it before you had access to all the images that are out there now! Again, Great job!

  8. Courtneu says:

    I just want to say I love your outfit and I wish I would have found this sooner to make a donation for your race. My aunt has a Greyhound named Cleo and we do lots of things with her like going to libraries and hospitals to read. When the time comes for me to have a dog if love a greyhound!! Can you please email me the next time you run for a greyhound charity?! I would love to donate for you!

    Happy running!

    • whyhellodolly says:

      Thanks so much Courtney! I hope to return to Pittsburgh to run for the greyhounds again in the future and will let you know. If you can find a local Greyhound adoption group in your area, they are usually very open to having volunteers. It’s a great way to give back when you are not in a position to adopt a dog of your own just yet. Volunteering with the dogs was a great outlet before I had my own. Happy running and thanks for reading!

  9. Amy says:

    I was going to attempt to make this outfit this week! (My only week off before life gets crazy and the PHM is coming up!) I had a few questions for you though. I am super nervous about messing up the skirt with fabric paint do you have any tips for me? I am not the most crafty person in the world lol. Secondly, how did you wash the outfit? Just hand wash only?

    • whyhellodolly says:

      Hi Amy! I worked on one section of the skirt design at a time so they could dry. I tried to match up the height from one part of the design to the next. One tip – I used a blue fabric pen to sort of “sketch out” each part of the design before filling it in with additonal fabric paint. I was able to correct any mistakes without them being too obvious. Just keep things as simple as possible while achieveing the look of the design and I’m sure it will turn out beautifully! I stuck with hand washing as everything is so delicate. You may need to touch up things like the hot glue that keeps the ribbon down depending on how it holds up. Good luck on your crafting! I’ll see you on the course at Princess again this year!

      • Amy Reed says:

        Thank you so much! 🙂 I will definitely try those tips with my new endeavor. I did Rapunzel one year and that wasn’t too hard. I just have a cool glue gun (it gets hot but not super hot) should I use a regular hot glue gun? My husband wants to go as Kristoff so I have to figure out how to make his costume as we are both running the Frozen 5k :). My mom is doing the Glass Slipper Challenge and my two girls are running the kid races. Very excited about our PHM weekend! Your blog has to be the best tutorial on this outfit so glad I found it!

      • whyhellodolly says:

        Thanks so much Amy! The positive feedback really means a lot. That sounds like it will be an amazing race weekend! I dont have experience with using a cool glue gun but I would imagine it should do the trick to keep everything in place at least during the race. A liquid stitch or other fabric glue might also work but I have never tested it out. Let me know how it turns out!

  10. Alex says:

    I’m doing this for the PHM too! Thanks so much for posting this and your tips – I am not a crafty person at all, but my daughter loves Frozen and I’ll be using this as a go by!

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