Welcome to my new blog. I decided that I needed a place to put all the crafty projects that I do alongside my cakes. Although I knew it would interest my cake readers I thought having a separate blog would help people find my craft posts more easily and appeal to those who have no interest in edible crafting.
I’m kicking off with my biggest project to date, my costume for a new convention that Northern Ireland hosted over the weekend. Heroes & Legends was run by the fab Emerald Garrison who make the most amazing screen accurate costumes from a wide variety of movies and TV series. The convention was amazing with a great range of characters, sets, star guests and merch. While I have made costumes before and worn them in public this was defintitely the most difficult one I have ever attempted. As it was such a rush at the end there were lots of things I wasn’t 100% happy with but overall I received really positive comments and reactions. And to top it all off, I had an absolute blast wearing it.
I don’t have as many pictures as I’d like because I was so anxious to get everything finished on time but I’m going to share what I have and talk a little about how I made each piece. I’m also going to scare myself with details on the cost of everything too!
This is the final costume. Click through for all the progress pics, it is very image heavy so apologies in advance!
This coat was a charity shop find. I had been bidding for weeks on various retro/ vintage tail coats as I had hoped to save myself some time but alas I lost out on every single one. I had already chopped one part of the coat before I remembered to take a picture. I then cut each panel out of my blue fabric and stitched it by hand, onto the brown coat. The arms were definitely the toughest part and it made them quite tight. I’m still not sure whether I’d have been better finding a pattern and making one from scratch!
You can see the progress in the above pic. I had no real plan when I started, I just worked on one panel at a time. In the areas that weren’t to be covered in lace & gemstones I took a little extra care with the stitching but otherwise it was all about speed. I only finished all the panels a few days before the event.
Before I added the back panels I quickly stitched some navy material on the inside of the tails as the brown was visible when I moved. If I was to do this again I’d be more authentic and use the silver/white material as lining as can be seen in promotional pics of the movie.
The collar and lapels needed some extra strength and the collar also had to stand up on it’s own so I used some flexible plastic (from a folder I had in the house) that would move with the coat but be sturdy enough to stand up. I just cut the blue material to size and sewed the pieces back to back then turned them inside out and popped the plastic in before attaching them to the coat.
I tacked on all the lace pieces quite roughly then stitched them in place. The cuffs were the most difficult. I wish I had taken more care to make better pleats and maybe even ironed them before I stitched them on but again I was rushed for time. The effect was still great, I just wanted them to be neater.
You can see all my rushed stitching in the above pic, along with all the different coloured materials used, the brown of the original coat and the 2 blue materials. I had bought this button at the same time as the material and thought that I might just attach it and not create a button hole for it. It looked ridiculous on its own so I quickly stitched a buttonhole. I’m really glad I did as I needed to keep the jacket closed to get the right look when I put the whole costume together.
Then came a quite tedious part. I had been looking forward to this section for a few weeks but hadn’t accounted for the insane length of time it would take to glue every single gemstone/ sequin by hand! I am eternally grateful to Tilly at The Spinning Wheel for recommending this flexible fabric glue. It is so straightforward to use, dries clear and moves with the fabric so the stones don’t pop off as soon as you move your body inside the clothes.
I used a mixture of pound shop gems & sequins. The large stones were my favourite but I loved the effect of all the different colours and shapes. This was very time consuming and painful as I was kneeling on the floor to give myself some more room. Despite the pain I was so happy to see the end result. The best part was when I moved in the light and it reflected off all the different gems, it created a fab effect, hopefully enough to dazzle people into not seeing all the dodgy stitching 😉
I had some trouble sourcing a shirt that matched the unique collar of Jareth’s outfit. Again, like the jacket, I had several frustrating ebay bidding wars to try and get a shirt that had the right ruffles but alas I lost out every time. In a last minute panic I decided I’d have to make it myself. My genius OH found this skirt in the Primark clearance section for a bargain £1 and realised that it would be easily adapted for the neck detail. I bought a short, sleeveless white shirt and set about turning the skirt into a ruffled collar.
I used the elasticated waistband as the neckpiece and left a little material to fit under my jacket lapels and then set about making individual ruffles.
I roughly cut strips from the skirt ruffles and folded them into shape. I added a quick stitch in each one and then stitched them together as above. Again I wouldn’t loved more time to create more ruffles and give them more height but I was finishing this collar less than 24 hours from the convention!
I sewed the ruffles to the neckpiece and sewed a few pieces of velcro to either end to keep it round my neck. My OH helped me pick out some random £1 shop jewellery that she then took apart and reconstructed to make my brooch. I love how it turned out. We took some artistic licence with the design but it really sets off the bright white of the ruffles perfectly. I stitched it into place for extra security.
Now onto the mask. This was the one part I took a little longer with. I started this about 3 weeks before the event although the majority of work did get done in the few days before the con.
I started with a simple masquerade mask, some sweet tubes, a cereal box & lots of newspaper and PVA glue.
I added cereal box card below the nose piece and above the eyes to extend the mask. I then used scrunched up newspapers to build up the features, adding masking tape on top as I added each piece. It was time consuming but not as difficult as I’d first thought it would be.
I cut the sweet tub in half, added extra cereal box card to the back of each tube, angled to come to a point. I then tightly rolled up strips of newspaper and added them in rings to complete the base for the horns.
I used more masking tape to attach the horns to the mask. I knew that once I added the papier mache it would strengthen the bonds between all the added features.
I papier mached all the parts and started work on the handle and skeleton hand. I was frustrated at this point as I had ordered a small skeleton hand to use but as sod’s law would have it it didn’t arrive (despite chasing for a week) so I had to fashion a paper version and paint it on. I bought the dowel from B & Q then started buiding up layers of scrunched/ rolled paper to create the illusion of fingers.
It’s hard to see above but I then papier mached over the hastily fashioned hand and used more tape and paper to attach the dowel to the mask. An extra layer of mache and more glue kept everything secure and all that was left was to paint it all. I used dark brown, black & gold for the horns, red & black for the face of the mask and white with a hint of yellow for the skelton arm & hand. Once it all dried it was very secure and after a final coat of glue I was absolutely enamoured with it. At a distance the hand really does look properly 3D and the overall effect is great.
The piece de resistance was the moving element of my costume. I originally bought large marbles from ebay that I hoped would suit as props but I soon realised they were far too small and I wasn’t able to move them without them all falling off my hand! My OH came up with the idea of a small motor with christmas baubles on top. She spend a long time taking apart a child’s toy from the £1 shop and trying out ways to attach the baubles. At the last minute we discovered that our original design was not going to work as the 3 baubles were too heavy for the motor and it would just stop working.
While I was trying to think of manual ways to use the 3 baubles, my OH asked if I would consider just using one ball. After a little persuasion I agreed and once we’d added some glow in the dark glitter and got it all set up I was really happy with how it looked. I know the costume would have looked fab without moving parts but it really did complete the whole look.
The whole mechanism consisted of a motor from a small saw toy, a battery pack from a set of Christmas lights and a bauble from Craftworld. She used her skills and some solder to put the whole thing together ready to be strapped to me and postitioned down each of my jacket sleeves. I can’t say it was the most comfortable thing in the world but it worked really well. The ball was in my left hand and I had the switch hidden behind the handle of my masquerade mask.
The final touchs were the hair and makeup. I added some blue mascara to a blonde wig. I had tried to find a slightly longer and less honey coloured wig but couldn’t find anything to suit. I bought a cheap set of blue eyeshadow and eyeliner to create the distinctive eyes. I had intended to practice the eyeshadow but ran out of time so these were done for the very first time on the morning of the convention. I’m pleased I was able to get even an approximation of Bowie’s iconic look.
Now on to the truly scary part! Costs. This isn’t an exact or exhaustive list. I’m sure I’ve missed a few things as I was buying bits for a few months. I will state that I’ve included materials that were excess or that I bought but then changed my mind and bought a different style or colour. Bearing this in mind I know that you could do this on a significantly tighter budget than mine!
Coat – £4 – charity shop
Shirt – £3 – charity shop
Blue material – £20 – The Spinning Wheel
Lining material – £5 – ebay
Lace – £4 – ebay
Fabric Glue x 2 – £6 – The Spinning Wheel
Masquerade mask – £3 – Elliots
White gloves – £3.95 – Elliots
PVA Glue – £1
Wooden dowel – £1.50
Gemstones/ sequins – £6 – various pound shops
Gold ribbon (belt) – £1 – The Spinning Wheel
Large Button – 65p – The Spinning Wheel
Thread – £2 – The Spinning Wheel
Materials for moving ball – £12 – various poundshops
Large marbles – £4 – ebay (unused)
White ruffled skirt – £1 – Primark
Wig – £5 – Elliots
Hair Mascara – £1 – poundshop
Make-up – £4.50 – various
Jewellery – £6 – poundshops and Craftworld
Total Cost – £93.60