Since today is the last Thursday of the month, this would normally be a Thrift-Shop Thursday post*, but because it is also Halloween, I have another treat for you: I’m going to show you how I came up with my costume!
You may have already met my archaeologist daughter in her debut guest post here at CYC; my original costume idea was for us to go together to our Halloween tango party as The Archaeologist and her Mummy. (Well, I thought it was funny.) In the end, though, she wasn’t really in a costume kind of mood, but that didn’t stop me! Here’s how I did turned myself into a different kind of mummy, starting with a list of criteria, mostly based on dancing needs:
- Length can’t be longer than mid-calf. (Trust me, you do not want to risk catching your high heel in your dress.)
- Must be stretchy, or at least allow for flexibility (think doing a lunge).
- Should have an element that flows, swishes, or otherwise creates movement, particularly in the back.
- Must not interfere with dance partner, i.e. ability to put his arm around my left side, nothing on my hands that would be uncomfortable on either his upper back or left hand, nothing on the right side of my face that would be uncomfortable for both of us while cheek-to-cheek.
- Should not involve serious expenses (ideally under $50.00 total).
- Should be within my ability to make myself.
- Must have minimal wardrobe malfunction potential.
- Must be relatively quick to make.
- Should at least attempt to combine costume with chic.
- If at all possible, make main garment wearable as non-costume.
That’s not asking too much, is it?
Starting with the mummy idea, what first came to mind was Hervé Leger’s famous “bandage” dresses, so-called because they look as if they’re made by wrapping a continuous strip of fabric around the body until it (more or less) covers the wearer. I checked through my patterns, and found a Vogue pattern by Donna Karan that looked perfect, especially when I considered #10 on the above wish list:
I thought I’d like to incorporate something wrapped around my head, and this hat pattern helped me clarify that idea:
So at this point, the plan was to make the dress and the hat, then add long strips of fabric to make it mummy-like. This was all fine and well until I had to figure out exactly how the strips would go on:
- Do I just put on the dress, then have someone (hmm, like an archaeologist, perhaps?) wind the strips around me? But then how do I keep the strips from falling down and/or off, especially while dancing?
- Maybe I could make a sort of sheer overdress, then basically rip it to shreds except for enough solid fabric around the shoulders for it to stay on?
- Or could I fasten the strips on to the dress?
The last option certainly seemed like the sanest way to go, but even so, there were issues to be resolved. For instance, since I had just bought the dress fabric, a stretchy pale silvery-green jersey with subtle silver sparkle, wouldn’t sewing strips of non-stretchy fabric interfere with the stretch (and therefore the fit and comfort) of the dress?
Speaking of the strips, my original idea was to use white linen (a nod to ancient mummies, you know); my daughter convinced me to also use a pale beige rayon georgette, which was in her words, the most mummy-like color she could find. So the appropriately faded color palette turned into the palest green and beige, accented here and there with pure white. Personally, I think this resulted in a much more interesting costume than if it had all been white.
Fast-forward to the finished pale-green dress and hat. (I apologize for the lack of photos of this part of the process; I was concentrating on getting my costume done on time, not really considering post-party posting necessities.) When I tried on the dress, I realized that the fabric was actually a bit sheer for my taste, and I thought that, even with a lot of fabric strips covering it, I might still be a little self-conscious (not good when one needs the proper costume attitude). And since I’d already gone to the trouble of making it, I didn’t want it to be a total loss, even if I wouldn’t be able to wear the dress after Halloween. (I also decided to use some flesh-toned tricot I had on hand to make a sort of full slip to wear under the dress; this took under an hour to cut and sew, using a pattern for a close-fitting dress.)
After doing some therapeutic tearing of beige georgette strips, I started sewing them on at the top of the dress, anchoring them into position. While doing this, it occurred to me that I could weave some strips together (creating more coverage), leave some loose, and possibly tie others in loose knots. Here’s a detail:
Note on fabric quantities: I used 2 yards of 54″-wide beige georgette ($7.99/yard), and 3/4 yard of the 52″-wide white linen for all the strips. The linen was the most expensive ($15.99/yard); the pale green jersey (60″ wide) cost $8.99/yard, and I used 2 yards for the dress, hat, and gauntlet combined.
Dealing with all the strips of fabric was by far the most time-consuming part of this project, but definitely worth it. And it was a fun process for me too, since I could just make it up as I went along, rather than following instructions. First, I used up all the beige strips between the dress, the hat, and the long gauntlet I’d decided to make for my right arm (see detail photo, below); after that was done, I had a good estimate of how much of the linen to tear into strips as accents.
I’d also decided on a whim to order a pair of fingerless gloves I’d seen on Etsy; after adding a few decorative fabric strips, here’s what I wore on my arms:
From the back, including what’s left of my ancient tango partner:
My “dead” makeup:
Here I am, your Mummy Dearest, all dressed up and ready to tango!
This is not the best photo (the room was quite dark), but you can sort of see Mummy Dearest getting ready to dance with her favorite pirate:
Total cost to make? Since I already had the patterns (which can really add up), and most of the thread, elastic, etc., that I needed, I spent just under my $50.00 budget for materials, plus another $13.95 (including shipping) for the skeleton gloves. I wore the palest hose I had, and of course my black tango shoes. For a costume, including the hat and gauntlet, that’s good-quality (and dance-able!), that came together over 3 days or so, I say this was a wickedly successful project!
Happy Halloween, everyone!
* Next Thursday, I’ll bring you Part 1 of an epic re-fashioning of 2 thrift-shop jackets, with Part 2 coming on the next Makeover Monday (November 11). Don’t miss it!