Fake Two-character Costume

When done really well, a costume that uses part of your body as one element and part as another (horse and rider, for example) can be really good.   But it needs to be done well.

And for me, it needs to meet all sorts of other criteria.   Can I sit down?   Could I dance?  Can I use the rest room without needing to take the whole thing off?

While I don’t particularly care for any of these, I like the general idea of how they are put together.   And they seem to meet my criteria – unlike the old horse-and-rider version where your legs become the horses front legs, but your torso and head are those of the rider.   The most effective one – and the one that makes the most sense – is the Bavarian Beer guy, I think.   Why would someone be riding on the shoulders of a snowman or a teddy bear?     But I don’t like drinking-themed outfits.

So I’m just going to park this here until I decide who the lower person should be.



Alice in Wonderland

This is the pretty-much completed Alice in Wonderland costume.   I have two previous posts showing the base garments, as well as the little modifications that I made in order to pull the costume together.

The only difference between the final picture (on the left) and the one where you can see the back in the mirror is the length of the sleeves.   I shortened them at the very last minute.  I also decided against the hair bow.  I just couldn’t get it to both look right AND stay on my head.

Overall?  I’m going to call this one a success!

Alice in Wonderland – The sewing part

So I bought the basic ingredients for my Alice in Wonderland costume.    The next step was to do as little as possible to them to get them to work.

I don’t have a ton of photos of this part, but in short what I did was:

To the blue dress?

  • Removed the shoulder pads.  Duh.
  • Shortened the hem – quite sloppily.    I wanted the bottom of the white wrap-around underdress to show below the hemline, so I took up the hem of the blue dress.   Except that all I did was pin the hem line up, and then stitch it into place.   The sewing machine kept skipping stitches, the hemline is uneven, etc. etc.   But it’s a costume, and I didn’t have much time.  Oh well.
  • Removed the decorative bright brass buttons and replaced the functional ones with some dull, dark blue buttons.   The only goal here was to keep the buttons from being seen through the rather thin apron material.
  • Added a snap to the very top of the neckline, just below the collar.     The first picture here shows the front of the dress with half the buttons (the ones for show) removed, and the other half replaced with dark blue ones.  If you zoom in on the photo, you can just barely see where the decorative buttons were removed on the left, and you can also see the snap that I’ve put up on the collar.    The second picture shows exactly where the snap pieces are, and the third shows how it looks with the snap closed.   Not quite the peter pan collar I was looking for, but not bad.


To the white underdress?   I did absolutely nothing.

To the nightgown?  I practically took the whole thing apart and sewed it back together again.   The real advantage of using a nightgown is that I was able to keep trying it on and marking it as I modified it.   Specifically, I started by trying it on as-is.    It was so small that I cut it up the back and put it on like a back-button shirt.   I saw that the straps were too short, so I cut them and tried it on again.  Or rather, sort of held it into place.   I marked where the neckline SHOULD have gone, where the waistline SHOULD have been, where the side edges of the apron should be, etc. etc.   Then basically cut it down and hemmed all the edges.      At that point, I had an apron with with no shoulder straps and no tie around the waist.    But I did have marks where those should be.   So I used the extra material to make straps and just basted them sloppily in place.

And, being me, I already had the black mary-janes and the white knee socks.

For reference, this is what the outfit looked like at this point, before I got input from friends on what else to do.

Alice Front 1

Primary suggestions for improvement – if time permitted – was to shorten the sleeves and add ruffles to the apron.    Personally, I would have liked adding a pocket to the apron.  Also, if I had it to do over again, I would have made the apron wider.   Right now, it doesn’t really flow with the skirt.  It’s just too narrow / small, basically.

Alice in Wonderland – The Base Garments

Recently, I received a last minute invitation to one of those murder mystery parties.        I was expected to come as Alice in Wonderland.    I had about four days to put the costume together.    This is my story.

I knew that the costume itself was actually pretty straightforward – blue dress, white apron, black mary-janes.    So I went to several thrift shops looking for the raw materials, fully expecting to have to modify them at least somewhat.

I suspect that this will be a good tutorial in sort of “making do.”   There were lots of parts of putting this together that were completely accidental.  And I needed to stay very very open to how the costume would come together.   I compromised on almost every step – but I still think I ended up with an okay result.

I was looking for a dress with a) a full skirt, b) a peter pan collar, and c) in a light blue color.   This is the best that I came up with on such super short notice:

Blue dress 1

The color isn’t SO dark that it won’t work – although it’s darker than I’d like.   And I thought that I could maybe turn the double-breasted front into a button up thing?  Or put a zipper (or even Velcro) up the front.   If I pretend that there is yet another button, the very top of the lapels sort of make a collar.   Anyway, it’s the best that I could find.

Then I went looking for something to fill the skirt out a bit.   I was actually looking for a crinoline, or a skirt (or dress) with a built-in crinoline that I could rip apart and add to this dress.   What I actually found was a white dress with a full skirt that, even though it didn’t have tulle inside, was quite full and poofy.   Much more so than it seems in this picture.  It was also small enough to be completely obscured beneath the blue dress., if I sort of tucked in the collar.  It’s an extra small or some ridiculous size, but it’s a wrap dress, and all I want it for is the skirt.

You’ll note that this is only just barely sort of what I was really looking for – a crinoline.     But it gave me the right end result – a poofy skirt.  And it actually worked out better than that.  In the end, I let the last inch or two of this dress show beneath the blue and it looked great.

Finally, I needed an apron.  And I was really stumped on this.  I looked for aprons, but none of them were very good.  Not frilly enough at all.   Too utilitarian.   I knew that, in an apron, what I was really looking for was a wide, flat, white front part, with narrow or strappy sleeves.   I thought I could even use a white belt to cinch it, if need be.    I found a nightgown that was sorta-kinda-not-really-but-maybe what I wanted?


Sarah Connor

In my last post, I showed how I painted this ENORMOUS toy gun.  I realized at the time that the gun really was the costume.  I just needed the appropriate character to carry it.   I settled on two possible options – Ripley (Signourney Weaver) in Alien, or Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in Terminator Two.  It was really just a race to see which outfit I could put together faster.

Ripley would involve a gray flight suit, whereas Sarah Connor would require black cargo pants, a black tank top, mirrored sunglasses and some sort of black boot.   Sarah won.

I won’t go into all the details on putting the costume together – because there are very few.   The remaining pieces (pants, top, shoes, belt, etc) were very straightforward.   I went to the thrift shop and the next thing you know, I have everything I need.  (Less so with the gray flight suit.)

Here is the final result.


Sarah best

And here are a couple other photos to show the relative size of the gun, and how it was strapped to my back.  These are not great photos – but they’ll give you the idea, at least.     As you may remember, if there is a critical prop involved in a costume, I like to be able to physically wear the prop.  Otherwise, I’m likely to put it down during a party and lose the whole concept of the costume.    Since, in this case, the gun pretty much WAS the costume, it was essential that it be with me the entire time.

Sarah back

Sarah 1













The one thing that I would do, if I had more time, is to change the location of one of the rings for the strap on the gun.   You’ll see that the strap connects to the very front of the barrel (good) and then about 3/4 of the way along the top (not so good).   If the strap connected to the very very back of the gun (at the “top” of the gun in the picture on the right), it would lay along  my back almost vertically.   As it was, I was knocking the back end of the gun into people, doorways, etc. etc.

But now I’m nit picking.    I got plenty of compliments on the weapon, the paint job, and the costume as a whole.   So I’m satisfied.

The Huge, Ginormous, Amazing Gun

Last year some time, while thrifting, I found the largest toy gun that I had ever seen.

Unpainted cropped
Remember the Space Gun paint job that I did before?     I bought this gun, thinking that I would paint it, too, sooner or later.  That day has come.

Using the great ideas in the Steam Punk Gun Tutorial (which I previous saved), I set about transforming this amazing weapon.

First step is to photograph every part of the gun.    I’ll spare you all those photos.

Then, draw an outline of the gun on cardboard or paper.    When you remove a screw, tape it down onto the outline in the location where it belongs.   Like this …

Disassembly 1

As you take the gun apart, continue to photograph it as each piece comes out.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  I thought that I had taken just about every photo that could possibly be taken of this thing, until I tried to put it back together.    Because I was unable to get each piece in place exactly right, it no longer fires, the front end doesn’t come off anymore, the back end is not spring loaded, etc. etc. etc.     You can’t take too many photos.  Seriously.

The next step is priming this bad boy.   I asked my friend, also known as The Handiest Man in the Primer
Universe, what I could use to de-gloss the plastic, he recommended “Self-etching Spray Primer.”  I struck out at Home Depot, but did find it at an automotive supply shop.     I thought that the best part of this stuff would be that the top coat would stick well, or that the paint wouldn’t come off easily.   But no.   The best part was that the color was just perfect for a military-style weapon.   Perfect.

So I set about painting the disassembled gun.  Most of it remained this grey color, but I chose to paint some parts black, and some chrome/silver.    There were also a couple of parts that were already grey that came off easily.  I didn’t bother painting those.   Here is the picture of the first layer of primer.

Disassembly 3


Finally, I wrestled the whole gun back together again – or almost together again.    There were springs that I couldn’t figure out, a barrel that I KNOW I put in backwards, etc. etc.   But overall, I’m happy with the results.  Here is the final product, plus a before-and-after.

Painted 1



Various Era’s – Saved here for reference

You know I like period costumes – but it can be hard to find “the look” that you are trying to emulate and how it differs from other decades.

I stumbled across – okay, Facebook stumbled me across – this video showing ” 100 years of fashion in 2 minutes.”   I just know that I’ll want to look at it again later, so I thought I’d stash it here for safe keeping.