Costumes for all occasions

Where to find costume ideas and materials

Steampunk Costumes
Steampunk Costumes
Mad Scientist & his Clockwork Doll

As the calendar moves from August to September we head towards the last days of sun for a few months here in the Pacific Northwest. With the fall comes the rain, and for me that is the sign that it is time to start sewing costumes again. Having weather a touch too icky to want to go out makes it all the easier to get going on the next round of costuming.

Even though we haven’t seen the rain yet, I still need to get my sewing area back in order. We have already started discussing ideas for Halloween and Orycon this year. Nothing new for me this year, at least I don’t think so. However, my daughter will need a new costume and probably my son as well. For my daughter this year it is a belly dancing outfit that uses the same pattern mine does, but in different colors and without the vest and waist-cincher. As for my son I am not sure. Finding costumes for the nearly teen boy is challenging at best and downright impossible at worst. Especially when you have to rule out anything that involves a mask or face make-up. At least he tolerates hats these days so perhaps that might help.

Costume Ideas

Here are some links I get ideas from for costuming as well as some new finds that look fun. Perhaps these links will spark an idea of your own…

Patterns & Fabric

Once we get our ideas in place it is time to get patterns together and some materials to make our costumes with. In some cases I make my own patterns by using newspaper and the kids’ clothing to help with sizing. I have had mixed results by doing this. Likely that is because I am rarely being very precise when I take that approach. For better results I use a commercial pattern. For my husband and son I can usual use them as-is out of the package. However, my daughter and I are more of a challenge and it usual involves merging several different sizes of the pattern pieces together. Thankfully this has usually worked out for me quite well.

Here are some of the places I like to shop for patterns and fabric. I am sure there are likely some great options in your neighborhood (and if they sell online we would love to hear about them in the comments), but no harm in knowing a few more places to look.

What are your plans this year?

I would love to hear what your plans are for you and/or your kids for Halloween this year. Or for the next convention you are going to. Please share in the comments below.

Cheap Sci-Fi Costume Ideas

While most of my costuming tends towards the elaborate and rather expensive, I also have made some pretty low-budget costumes as well.  Here are a few ideas for cheap Sci-Fi themed costumes.  I hope you find something here that you can use.

Mech Pilot: Decorate a helmet with a number or logo of your choice.  Find a tight fitting shirt and pants and decorate the shirt with a matching logo.

Homemade mummy costume
Halloween mummy

Mummy: Buy a white sheet at the second hand store and tear it into strips.  You can either sew or hot glue the strips to some old clothes you don’t care about anymore.  Put them on and wrap a few around your head as a mask.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mech Mechanic: Find a pair of overhaul and smear them with grease.  If you want to make sure it won’t rub off an anything then use a black sharpie to create the look of grease.  Use some black face make up or the black stuff that football players use to dirty up your face and hands.  Carry a wrench around with you.

Zombie: This is pretty easy to do, it just requires a bit of make-up and staining up an outfit you don’t care about anymore.  My favorite zombie I have done was wearing a girls dress from Value Village, had my hair up in pig tails and carried around a teddy bear I had used a red sharpie on and half removed its head.  Guess I should mention I am only 4’10” so could really pull off the young girl thing.

Cat Girl: Any cute outfit can go sci-fi/anime with the simple addition of cat ears and a cat tail.  No back story or justification required.

Mad Scientist: A white lab coat that has been stained up with a number of different colors.  To that blacken up your face and use copious amounts of hair spray to make your hair fly back, in that my experiment just exploded in my face sort of way.

I would love to hear your ideas.  Please share them in the comments section.

 

Cheap and Easy Sci-Fi Convention Costumes

Costumes galore…

One of the aspects of the Science Fiction convention we go to each year, Orycon in Portland Oregon, is that people dress in all sorts of great costumes.  And while most of them are more inclined to be grouped with a genre, such as Steam Punk or Pirates, there are others that pick a specific character from a movie or television series and dress as them.  Depending on the movie this could be either super simple or terribly challenging to manage.

Here I will cover a couple ideas that have struck me this weekend that I think would be fairly easy to accomplish, even on a tight budget.  And for some of them the reference is back in time about 20 years and will make people have to stop and ask you who you are supposed to be.

The Jetsons

The JetsonsSo The Jetsons may be an animated cartoon, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it for costume ideas.  Any of the family members, outside of Rosey the Robot, would be fairly easy to dress up.  You just need some clothing in the right styles which may be found at your local discount retail store or resale clothing store.  If it isn’t the right color don’t worry, just get it in the lightest version you can and use some RIT Dye to dye it the color you need.

George Jetson – White, long sleeved, high collared shirt with the collar up and added black cord for trim work; Blue pants that are tighter fitting, and a dark green, wide belt should do the trick.  Then just a matter of getting your hair the right color and a standard guys style.

Jane Jetson – A bit harder to manage, but a tighter fitting, flared skirt dress dyed purple and add a collar of starched white triangle.  Then a pair of purple tights and a center part medium hair do in light red and you are good to go.

Judy Jetson – A red sleeveless, short crop shirt with the added red, starched triangle collar and a pair of snugish red pants and you are good to go.  The hardest part of this one is the white, high ponytail hair – afraid I am not sure how to manage that one, but if anyone has any good ideas please share

Elroy Jetson – White t-shirt, and some green overalls complete with green shoe covers and you are almost there.  Add in a red, starched full-circle collar and the baseball hat adorned with the antennae and you are good to go.  Standard boy cut hair in yellow is the last touch.

Inspector Gadget

Inspector Gadget
From www.mycomicsandstuff.com

Here is another cartoon from my childhood that crosses over to the sci-fi realm, guess it isn’t too much of a wonder how I got into this stuff huh?  Since the setting of Inspector Gadget was modern day, at least for the 1908’s when it was created, the costumes are pretty easy to manage.

Inspector Gadget – A gray double breasted shorter length trench coat, if you can’t find double breasted then get single and replace all the buttons with a matched set to make it look double breasted.  You will also need a gray belt, and may need to add belt loops for it if the coat didn’t come with some.  A blue pair of pants, and some gray shoes.  Oh and don’t forget the dray hat, brown gloves and black fly-away hair.  Since you obviously can’t do all the gadgets you could pair it down to jazzing up the gloves with the Gadget Phone look and that should do the trick.

Penny – A basic T-shirt in red and you can add the white stripe or get a shit shirt and figure out dyeing it red in top/bottom stripes.  Then green pants and some red shoes, which may require dyeing white shoes or making shoe covers.  Then some basic blond pigtails and you are good to go.  If you could locate something that could be her watch or her computer book that would help the costume along to make it obvious you are in costume, especially if you had the computer book worked out.

That’s a wrap…

So ends another costume idea blog post.  I hope you enjoyed this way-back, flash-back to my youth as much as I did and if you get a chance to work out any of these costumes for your next dress-up event send me a picture and let me see how it turned out!

 

 

 

A Seamstress’ tribute to the Safety Pin

A Brief History of the Safety Pin

I have been gone from my site for a while as my attention has turned to costuming and prepping for our upcoming convention.

But tonight I felt that I needed to put into pictures why I love the safety pin as part of my standard kit of sewing supplies.  I can’t imagine an easier way to install elastic then with this wonderful little invention.

According to IdeaFinder.com, the safety pin was invented in 1849 by inventor Walter Hunt.  He is said to have sold the idea for $400, which allowed him to pay back a debt to a friend, but ended up missing out on the boat load of money he could have made.  But thanks to him we now have a super handy device that works great to add another set of hands to the equation of elastic installation.

How to use Safety Pins to Install Elastic through a Casing

Tonight I was working on the sleeves of my daughter’s Princess Jasmine inspired costume.  This requires elastic bands on both sides of the sleeves.  Here is a pictorial step-by-step of my process for installing the elastic bands.  It isn’t anything terrible earth-shattering, but once you know how to do it the process is so much easier.

Step 1

Put the safety pin through the end of one side of the elastic band, and secure closed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2

Insert the elastic into the casing.   Push the safety pin in while pulling the material further away from the pin.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3

Keep working the elastic until the lose end lines up with the casing entrance you started with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4

Pin the lose end into place with a safety pin so that it will not accidentally slip into the casing and cause problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5

Here I have worked the elastic from one of the casing to the other using the safety pin I attached in step 1 to give me the grip on the elastic I needed.  Once I have it to the other end I pin it in place to the fabric.  Now I know both ends will stay put until I can sew them into place as per the sewing instructions.

 

 

 

 

 Questions/Comments

I hope that this mini-tutorial has been informative and helps you with the struggle of getting elastic into and through a casing when sewing clothes or costuming.

If there are any other step-by-steps you would like to see please let me know.

99 Cent Costume Workshop – From Orycon

99 Cent Costume Workshop

Every year that I have been to Orycon (which is the last several) the Portland Costumer’s Guild has put on the 99 Cent Costume Workshop.  I am sharing this great idea so that other groups might stumble upon this post and decide to do the same thing at their convention as well.

So what is it?

Well the guild brings in multiple boxes of scrap material and other various bit and pieces of electronics and other stuff.  All of it are things that no one really wants anymore.  Some of the fabric is sizable, like a half to full yard, but most are smaller pieces like remnants from a pattern cutting.  All of these items are dumped into a mound on the floor in the front of the panel room while the attendees gather in the chairs for instructions.

Once the appropriate time has come and everyone that needs to be there from the Guild is there the “workshop” begins.  Each year there is a different theme and we are instructed to not only make costumes from the items in the heap, but also generate a short back-story for our character.  While there are not many kids that go to this workshop it is a shame as my kids have really enjoyed going to this every year.

We are given about 45 minutes to generate our costumes and stories.  In addition to the various scraps of fabric, ribbon, electrical cords and the like we are provided with glue guns, duct tape, and scissors to assist our endeavors.  There is a good amount of teamwork that happens as people see where others are going with their costumes and either offer to help them or find items in the heap that would add to their décor.

Is it a contest?

In a manner of speaking it is, but the prizes are generally low key.  The first couple years I did it the Costumer’s Guild gave out prizes that they made during the event pulling from the same material that we used to make our costumes.  Of course to do this requires you to have enough base material to draw from.  One year they decorated CDs, another year it was hats, and one year it was these odd disk shaped things (see the picture from 2009 below and look at what my kids are holding).

There are also usually other prizes that are given out for things like “Best Costume”, “Best Back-story”, “Best Robot”, “Best Animal”, and “Best of anything you can think of”.  Usually there are enough small prizes like kid’s books, candy bars, or light switch plates that everyone gets something.

And then when all is said and done there is the packing up of the event and the endless encouragement from the Guild to take home anything you want from the heap.  This is because if they wanted this stuff it wouldn’t be in the heap in the first place.

Themes and Pictures from Years Past

2010 – Alice in Wonderland

This time we were to make characters that would be auditioning to be in Alice and Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

This is my daughter in her completed Multi-Color Cheshire Cat Costume

My son made himself into a robot which would protect Alice from the Red Queen.  He did pretty much all of this himself, I only assisted with a small portion of the hot gluing until he figured out how to manage that himself.

My entry was of Little Blue Riding Hood who was rather upset about having being beat out by Little Red Riding Hood for the other gig and decided to try out here instead.  Sadly as I was wielding the camera I didn’t score a picture of me.

2009: Alien Dreams

We were all aliens whose alarm clocks had sadly woken us each up from a great dream, and as we rushed to get ready for our day we had just enough time to piece together the great inspiration of our dream that we had been having prior to waking up.

Here are the three kids that attended the workshop in 2009. Left is Z, who dressed as a kind of robot complete with his weaponry.  Right is my son, who was a statue that was protecting someone (this picture does not show the great lampshade head armor he had engineered).  And Center is my daughter who was a teenage princess complete with her cell phone crown.  [Note: I just finally got the piece of material she is wearing as her dress removed from her dress up bin this last weekend]

Sadly, again, there is no picture of me and my great costume from this year that I have a copy of.  I was so busy helping these 3 with their costumes I didn’t have time to work on my own.  So in the last 5 minutes Guild members and the kids were throwing together a costume for me.  It included a dress type look, complete with two Earth idols, one of each from the great icons of the planet as understood from space, Indiana Jones and Sponge Bob.  I believe I still have both of them around somewhere.

Beyond Orycon

I think that this is not only a great idea for a Science Fiction Convention like Orycon, and I sincerely hope it will be back again this year as me and my kids look forward to it all year, it can also carry over to a birthday party or other gathering.  I can see this working well for a pre-teen or teenager Birthday party.  I can even see it working at something like a bachelorette party where you make wedding gowns.  The possibilities are virtually endless.  So have you been to an event like this one?

 

Couples Costume – Big O


There are a ton of cutesy costume ideas out on the internet for all the regular people, but us gamer folks tend to like things a bit more interesting.  This costume idea doesn’t even really require that you purchase or make all the items, there is the off chance you may even own some of them already.  So you ask, what did I find out on the web.  Well, I found costumes from the anime series The Big O for Roger Smith and Dorothy.

For those that haven’t seen this series, I recommend it as this anime is quite entertaining. It is set in a future time, where people have lost their memories. Roger Smith is an expert negotiator, who befriends the android R. Dorothy Wayneright and uses his giant robot to help battle the evil forces that try to influence the world.  He is at odds with the local police, but is also an asset to them as well.

Roger Smith Costume

Roger Smith’s look is a simple black suit which he is always in. I found that you can buy not only the suit, but also order a wig to don his coif if you can’t manage it with your own hair.  While ordering the costume is the easiest way to get the look, any black double breasted suit jacket and sufficient shoulder padding and tailoring could provide the desired effect.  Just don’t forget your dark sunglasses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R. Dorothy Wayneright Costume

R. Dorothy Wayneright, usually just called Dorothy on the show has a more particular look; plus with her being an android there is a greater challenge in really pulling of her character.  Thankfully her motions are only slightly stiff and will not have you out needing to learn to do the Robot just to imulate her.  I think the biggest challenge would be to pull off the monotone voice pattern.  Just watch the episodes a lot and you should be able to get it down.  Her dress is also basic and in black, though her hair is red, and you have to have the black headband as you can’t be Dorothy without it.  On the same site as Roger’s outfit, I found you can pick up a Dorothy dress and even order a wig to have the same hair style.

Bioshock2 Little Sister Costume

Little Sister Costume

So despite the business that comes with the end of the school year, especially when you have two scouts and a mom who is graduating college, I have managed to find time to discover the ultimate in cute costumes for my daughter. A bit of back story if you will, my daughter is of the girly-girl type. Thankfully she is not over the top, but compared to me she is quite girly. Though she is not beyond a bit of dirt, she is girly but not too princess. Think Fairy-Pirate-Princess, a nickname she got from her step-father.

Anyways back on topic, so I found that I can order the dress from Bioshock 2 for her. Granted I could make it, but due to the time constraints put on my by work and motherhood I am not sure I have the time. That and I would like a new costume for me this year too. So she wants the dress and in purple. My girl also wants us to make her feet and hands look bloody so she plays the part. I can just see her creeping people out, “X their eyes daddy, X their eyes”.

I am also considering getting her the Big Daddy doll to go with it.
What could be better?

This will be a good Orycon!. Add to it that this year’s theme is The Lighter Side of Horror.

Spiky gloves

So while searching the web for fidget toys for my son to use in class I discovered these great pair of gloves from The Therapy Shoppe.  Obviously they are designed as therapy gloves for people with sensory issues, but I can help but see them as also being potentially cool costume additions.  I must admit I have no idea what costume I would use these with, but they are simply too neat to keep to myself.

Also if you are looking for a quiet fidget toy for the gaming table this website has a pretty good selection.  That way you can manage your ADHD without driving your gaming group bat crazy clicking a pen in and out, or constantly rolling your dice.  I haven’t ordered anything for my boy from them yet, but hope to manage to sit him down soon and make a couple selections to try out.

If you have any ideas of a costume that would go with the gloves let me know.

Instant Con Costume Eyeshadow

Instant Eye ShadowSo being perfectly honest, make-up was one of those things I never did really figure out. Sure I know the basic idea of what goes where, in what order, and how to apply it. But I never went through middle school looking like a peacock with all the other girls, and so never really got the hang of it. This doesn’t bother me in my day to day life, especially since I grew up with both a mother and grandmother who never wore any either. The only time it gets to me is at convention time. When I get in costume for Orycon I would love to do up the make-up, especially with my wench costume. So I think before next convention I am going to order some of the instant eye shadow kits that are out there.

The one here is from a company called ColorOn and they have a wide variety of choices from the mild modern to the pretty out there like this one. Though, even the more out there ones have a home, as I am sure there are some convention costume out there, perhaps for Kumoricon that scream the need for this set. But it seemed to me to exemplify what these kits can do for an outfit. After all, the devil is in the details. Now I just need to figure out which of the many purple based kits would go with my costume best.

Always triple check before you sew

I was rather proud of myself yesterday morning, when I was quickly reminded that pride even in its smallest moments is a deadly sin. I no more then said something like, “This shirt proves I can sew well”, when I noticed that I had sewn the main panel on the back of the shirt inside out. Oh those most pesky white on white cotton patterns. I had made it half way through the shirt, front panel with the double layer sections for buttons completed, back panel with its double layer shoulder sections complete and firmly attached to the front. Even the two part, double layered collar was attached and I was adding the first sleeve when the error was noticed.

Ah but will anyone notice? In a dark room, probably not. If he never takes off the vest and coat that I am making to go over it, no they wouldn’t. But I must remember that this is a costume for con, which of course means that it will be looked at closer then the clothes we wear in our everyday lives. And I hang with the costuming people as much as I can at con, so this will not do at all. Can’t just undo and start over as seams have been clipped and trimmed so I am committed and past the point of no return.

That leaves only one options left. Back to the fabric store and start over. Lucky for me I was transporting my boy to and from his dad’s for a Cub Scout meeting yesterday which put me near the fabric store I frequent. So after dropping him off I headed over to Fabric Depot, to pick up some more of the dreaded white on white. Also managed to get some more material for my costume as well as my daughters. And most exciting of all found the crinoline for our costumes, it wasn’t in the section I had looked before, but now I know where they keep it.

Still need some ribbon and my daughter to pick out the material for her fairy wings. I fear once I know how to make wings and more importantly she knows I know how to make wings, I will be making lots of them. I hope they are easy to make, it may be a good home-made birthday present for her friends this year….