Pirate – Coat and shirt

I had been looking for a pirate jacket for a long time.  I wanted something in brown or black, with a fitted top, but something that opened up at the waist.   So when I found this long coat, in a neutral brown canvas, I was thrilled.

I thought that I would have to put brocade or trim or buttons on it to make it pirate-y, but it turned out (after a lot of trial and error) that as long as the other pieces were in place, it needed nothing.   And because I didn’t touch the jacket, it can serve in the future as a steam-punk coat, or a cowboy duster.

In face, I was really surprised at how quickly it went from being a pirate jacket (when worn with a tricorn hat) to a cowboy duster (when worn with a cowboy hat.)   In this case, the pirate accessories and details really do make the pirate costume.  The black pants turned out to be a critical piece.   With jeans, the jacket leans toward looking cowboy.

But another other thing that pushed the outfit solidly into pirate territory was the flouncy cuffs.   As with everything else, I first mocked up the sleeves by just stuffing some white fabric into the cuffs to see how lace or ruffled sleeves would look.   And it was immediately clear that they would greatly improve the look.

I went looking for a white gauzy shirt that I could add sleeve ruffles onto.   I was specifically looking for a white shirt with no collar, and ended up accidentally choosing a women’s blouse with a tuxedo-like front.  It turned out that the front pleats also added subtly to the pirate look.   All I did was gather some white fabric and stitch it on the ends of the sleeves.  The overall look of the sleeves didn’t matter, since only the ruffles would show.

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Mermaid – Final Costume

So here is the complete costume.    I’ve got pages on the tail, the top, and the crown and make-up,  if you’re interested in how the outfit came together.   And I also made the costume for my date – the pirate.

At the same party, there were a few other aquatic-themed costumes that I took pictures of because I thought I might want to try them later.  If/when I do put those costumes together, I’ll be sure to put the results on here.

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Mermaid – Makeup and Jewelry

I made a tail, bra and crown for a mermaid costume, but some other pieces and parts sort of washed up that added to the final costume.

A friend had a white and blue chunky necklace that she loaned me.   All I did was attach a loop of wire to a shell, and hang it off the middle of the necklace.  I could have done the same thing with a strand of pearls.   And since I didn’t glue the shell on, it easily came off so that the necklace could be returned to it’s normal, usable self.

I wasn’t going to do any face make-up, but they had a make-up booth at the party and I let them put some color on me.   They tried to make it scaly by using a mesh as a template, but it failed.   The make –up was just green eye shadow, brushed on over a thin layer of make-up base to help it stick.

My favorite part, though, is that they used false eyelash glue to make three small dots below my eye, and then gently brushed on a little glitter.   Those three dots came out so perfectly that I would definitely do them again.   And they stuck so well that I needed to use make up remover several times to wash them off.

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Mermaid – Crown

I have the tail and the bra for the mermaid costume.  Now, on to the head-gear.  I had a costume tiara, and used that as a model for the mermaid crown.   First, I cut a length of wire from a coat hanger and bent it into a sort of semi-circle.  I cut a hair comb in half, and hot glued each half of the comb to one end of the wire.

Then I twisted some strands of pearls around the wire.   Using hot glue, I tacked the pearls in place about every two inches along the length of the wire.   (I just poked the tip of the gun in between the pearls and glorbed a whole bunch of glue out.  Nothing too elegant or exact.)

Finally, I laid out the shells that I wanted.   I took the main, center shell and while wearing the crown, held the shell in place in front of a mirror.   The first one I chose turned out to be WAY too big, so I was really glad that I “mocked it up,” even a little, before actually gluing it on.

I’m very pleased with the results.    There were a couple of other accessories that fell into place to make the costume complete.

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Mermaid – Brassiere

Once I’d made the tail, the other key half of the costume is the bra.   I found a bra that was the right color – and bought a camisole that was close to the bra.   Then I went to the craft store and bought a ton of sequins and green mardi gras beads and stick on gems.   I also found a bunch of pearl-edged trim at the thrift shop – and solicited a bag of seashells from friends.

I tried to make the two cups of the bra symmetrical.   I failed.  But I think that by trying to make them alike, I ensured that each side had the same amount and distribution of texture, and color.   So even though they are not perfectly matched, one side isn’t more encrusted than the other.  One doesn’t have more pearls while the other side has more shells.

 

When I finally tried it on, I liked how it looked, but realized that I would feel uncomfortable wearing underwear (basically) as a top.   I took the camisole and hemmed it up so that it fit underneath the bra.  This way, I had a solid back rather than a strap, and it felt more like a cropped shirt than a brassier.   Also, it (almost) kept the stitches on the inside of the bra from poking me when I wore it.

An important lesson learned:   I bought a second bra (as a back up bra) that was not quite the right color, but the same fabric as the other, better bra.   This ended up being my “test it out” bra.  Everything that I glued onto the “real” bra got glued onto the practice bra first.   This got me comfortable with how the hot glue worked with the fabric and the pearls.  I was able to experiment before potentially messing up the actual costume.  I also mocked EVERYTHING up first.  I pinned the strands of pearls where I wanted them.  Then stitched them into place.   I laid out the shells on the bra before gluing them on.

Now that I had the two main elements of the mermaid, the tail and the bra, I could fool around a bit with other accessories.   I thought a tiara would make a nice touch.

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Mermaid – Tail

One of the tricks of thrifting for costumes is to thrift often, and to keep your eyes open for elements of costumes that are you aren’t working on right this minute, but which you have in the back of your mind.  Two of those things, for me, were a sequined skirt or dress that I could turn into a mermaid tail, and a coat with the right cut / shape to become a pirate jacket.

In an amazing stroke of thrifting luck, I found both at the same time, along with some fantastic dresses that could be used for mermaid fabric.   I knew that there was an ocean-themed costume ball coming up.  I’d sort of decided not to go, but when I hit the jackpot on these costume elements, I knew that I had to put together a mermaid costume and a pirate outfit for the event.

I knew for a long time that I wanted a green or blue sequined garment to become a mermaid tail.    So when I found this sequined dress, I was very excited.  What I hadn’t expected, though, was to find a dress that I could just wear upside down – and that’s pretty much what I did.    The dress is asymmetrical with one sleeve.   By opening up the sleeve, and turning the dress upside down, the sleeve became something like a swishy tail, and the lower hem became the waist of the tail.

While the dress was meant to be tight, the bottom hem of the dress (which became the waist of the tail) was still too loose to fit snugly around my waist, so I cinched it tight with a belt.  My plan had been to glue a big seashell to the front of the belt as a buckle, but instead I covered the whole belt over with an old belly-dancer belt that I had.   I really didn’t need to add more to the belly dancer belt, but since I had the strings of pearls, I hung them down from the belt to make it feel more mermaid and less belly-dancer.

I looked at a lot of mermaid tails, and liked the way that some had sort of ruffled bottoms that could be flukes or maybe foam.   I lucked out and found a pair of filmy nightgown/dresses that went along with the colors of the sequined tail.   Literally, all did with those was cut them into large rectangles, hem the sides, gather one edge, and stitch the tiers into the bottom edge of the tail.   On the inside, the edge looks rough and unfinished – and it would never stand up to a vigorous washing – but since it’s a costume, and I’ll only hand wash it a few times, it doesn’t matter.

The next step – making the top

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Snails – Final Costume

Here are the snail costumes, all put together.    I’m extremely pleased with how they came out.   We attended two parties and only one person didn’t immediately know what we were.  (Her guess was bees emerging from blue beehives?!?!!)    We won an award for “Cutest” costume at a party contest.    We comfortably did everything one needs to do at a party – ate, drank, stood, sat, etc.

I have posts on all the steps in the creation of these costumes (the eye stalks, shell construction, painting them, and making the shells wearable), in case you’re interested in trying this yourself.

at-amys

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