Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tips & Tricks: Wicked Wonderland Queen of Hearts Costume

I build costumes in totally the wrong order, which is to say I waste a lot of money. I buy a ton of fabric when it catches my eye, then try to make it into something, which generally means I've bought TOO MUCH fabric. I suggest you plan first. Though I didn't. I first found this red glitter netting that I was loving, and picked up a ton of that:

Then on another trip I fell in love with this silky red & black blotchy stuff, that sort of looked like blood spatter:

When Ryan came to town, we finally laid out a plan. In no time flat he whipped out a coat. We used this pattern, Butterick 4732, which I referred to as the "Michelle Obama Coat" without the sleeves. Too bad my arms don't look like hers ;)

Since it was one night only and I'd probably never wear it again, we didn't even worry about hemming or finishing raw edges. Later I picked up some frayed fuzzy black trim and ran it down the front from one edge to the other along the opening, and that seemed to finish it off just fine. The trim was from the Halloween collection at Joanns - I didn't end up using the red sequins:

Then we constructed the grand collar, which required a little engineering and a trip to Menards. We got two flexible plastic tubes from the plumbing department, they were sorta red and probably an inch in diameter. We bent each tube into a teardrop shape, and secured them together with zip ties in a heart shape. It was lightweight, but really secure.

We laid out the glitter fabric (doubled) and traced around the heart structure, leaving an extra couple inches all around. Then Ryan sewed around the top 1/2 of the shape to form a little casing. You can't sew all the way around, or you won't be able to cram the tubing up into it. The rest was handsewn, just a quick baste.

Here's where a little flaw came in - the fabric I chose for the coat was a little too flimsy to really support the collar, but we made it work. I basted it to the back of the robe, mostly down the center back seam and it held okay since the heart structure was so light. If you're keeping track, the red glitter was a great choice - very lightweight, but the bloodstained fabric was too lightweight.

Ryan had to fly back to the Big Bad Apple, so after that he left me to my own devices. I searched 3 fabric stores looking for the pointed lace trim from my inspiration photo, but everywhere I had a coupon for only had small amounts. On a whim I stopped in at Hancock Fabrics and they had tons. I had pre-measured (for once!) and knew I exactly how much I needed - it hurt me to pay $7.99 a yard, but it really made the costume. Overall, I spent nearly $100 on trim alone. Ouch. I glued it around the edge of the heart, on the excess we left on the outside of the stitching:

And I did the same thing on the back side of the heart, but on the inside of the piping:

After this photo, I added a gold starburst in the back center, to cover up the hand stitching - it was actually a lightweight Xmas ornament, but I never snapped a photo. I also added an inner line of trim in the same red & gold color pattern on the front, this helped camouflage the inner line of the tube you could sorta see through the glitter fabric. I just used simple fabric glue, which saved a ton of time but also made it so I probably can't re-use the expensive trim. It was a toss up - but I was short on time, so the glue was the way to go!

The base of the costume was just a black bridesmaid dress I scooped up at the Goodwill for around $8. It was a little too big, but Ryan took it in, and it ended up being perfect - and a lot cheaper and less time consuming than making something from scratch!

I rounded out the look with this GORGEOUS costume necklace from Ryan's costume collection. I'm in love with it. In fact, I fell in love with it on my last trip to New York, and definitely planned my costume with it in mind. And I may have worn it out for Chinese food as well.

The red fingerless gloves I ordered off Ebay, and I made my staff from a rubber human heart ( and a broom handle, with some extra fabric remnants tied around the top.

I had a hard time deciding on hair - first I was going to spray mine bright red, but then I cut it (twice) and really didn't have enough left to work with. So I ordered this Vampire wig from without reading the reviews - I have to say I agree with all the negativity, it certainly looked nothing like that smooth sculpted cut when I unwadded the one I was sent. As a last ditch effort I picked up a wig on my lunch hour from Party City, and it actually ended up being perfect! The coloring matched the cloak completely, and several people thought I should consider the color scheme for my everyday 'do (not likely, but thanks guys). Overall I wasted a lot of money on hair spray and the other wig, but the wig I did use was only $19.99 and is sure to come in handy again. It's the "Temptress" wig:

I wore a wig cap underneath, similar to a footie nylon you use to try on shoes at the shoe store. I ordered it from with the first wig, and it was under $5. It was really helpful keeping all my short unruly hair back and confined under the wig - and it was hilarious to see what I looked like bald. Hopefully not a look I will ever have to adopt.

The crown is actually a Christmas Tree Topper! It's from Macy's or Nordstroms a few years back, I saw it across the mall and heard angels singing like in a movie - I had to have it! In hindsight I wish I would have bought a bunch of them, they'd be great for all sorts of things. I think it looks like the perfect quirky fairy tale crown, I could just see the frog prince wearing it.

I planned to sew the crown to my wig, but when I did a costume trial the night before it actually worked just fine to bobby pin it right through the wig and cap, so that's all I did. I wanted it slightly off kilter (part of my metaphor for the off-kilter queen) and I'm sure it moved a lot, since every time I went down the stairs I whacked my head on the ceiling, but it was otherwise comfortable and I loved the look.

I had a minor disaster with the eyelashes that involved some screaming, gluing shut of my left eye, and a lot of redness and burning, but that eventually cleared and I had Al help me out. This is really the best option for affixing whole sets of lashes - it has to be a team effort. I absolutely can't relax my eyelids if I'm trying to hold one open and one closed, which is okay for applying individual lashes but a total fail for full sets. Al did a great job, and I had long black lashes with red jewels along the lid - picked them up at Party America and used glue I already had. I think they were around $6. I could have reused them, but due to the first glue incident I think I had too much adhesive and actually had a really hard time getting them off (this is the first time that has happened, I've never had a problem before). They were pretty chunky with glue (as were my eyes for a few days too!) so I just chucked them out.

I've never been good with makeup, but I did my best to achieve a scary smokey eye - I grabbed a random dark eyeshadow set at Target for under $5 and a soft black eye pencil. I put dark shadow all over my creases, smeared it around, and topped it with Bare Minerals silver glitter. Worked for me. I outlined my lower lids and did some minor work with the eye pencil, but mostly used it to give myself big black evil eyebrows. There was no great science to that - I just eyeballed and freehanded it, I knew the wig would cover a lot of it anyways. Red Rimmel lipstick topped it off. This isn't the best photo, but it's one of the only closer up ones I have:

I felt pretty good when I answered the door for a trick-or-treater and he said "Daaaaaaaaang!" when I popped my head out. Mission accomplished!

All in all I think it came together pretty well! I learned a few lessons - #1, fabric and trim are VERY expensive. For the price of this costume I could have bought a full out ballgown or the most elaborate costume in the shop. I'm going to have to find a better balance, which is likely through better planning. #2, whenever possible, re purpose something rather than make it from scratch. The basic black skirt & top I picked up is a great example. Also a good example of the colored tag sales at Goodwill :) The big heart collar was large and made a statement, but didn't impede my movement too much, just when it was really crowded around the buffet line or bar. A few people called it "wings" (I wondered what they thought I was?) but most people got it - at least in the context of the Wonderland party!

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