Thursday, February 21, 2013

Amazing Peacock Costume

The starting point for this costume was the royal blue sweatshirt. I'd put the word out on Freecycle for yellow and red sweatshirts, figuring I could make cute and simple pineapple and strawberry costumes. No luck on the red, but one nice Brooklynite gave me two gorgeous XL sweatshirts in yellow and royal blue. The yellow soon became a pineapple (which nobody wore for three years!) and the blue got folded away for later inspiration. I figured when I eventually got hold of a red shirt, I might make matching slices of cherry and blueberry pie. Or maybe one day I might make a peacock costume.
Three years went by. At last, this year, having almost prevailed upon my girlies to CONSIDER being something other than Queen Esther for once, I began to paint glorious word pictures of my dreamed-of peacock costume. There wasn't a whole lot of interest, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed just the ticket for a sparkle-loving nine-year-old girl whose mother says enough princess gowns already.
I did a bit of googling and turned up these pictures. (These are definitely copyright and I intend to credit them properly, as soon as I get to it... if I forget, just remind me please!)
So that's how you do it: a cardboard backboard covered with shiny fabric, decorated with more shiny fabric, all in girly blues, plus glitter. Sounds good.
Here's the run-down of how I made all the parts of this amazing costume.
The headpiece: Take 2 pipe cleaners, twist together. Repeat until you have three two-tone sticks. Wrap the sticks around a headband (preferably one that comes with slits)... then braid them together a couple of times for extra stability. Using more of the sparkly paper, create fancy feathers to top the headpiece. Figure out some way to make them stick (super-sticky tape was not enough -- first time it failed me). (I actually made the headpiece last, but only because it's so simple! Also because I forgot to buy pipe cleaners on the first 99c trip.)
The shirt: Freecycle sweatshirt (excellent condition, size XL) minus sleeves, minus waistband, cut scalloped "hem", added shiny paper diamonds and sequins (sewed on for security). (I bought sequins for $1 and used less than 1/4 of it; now the rest of it joins my stash of craft supplies.) The cut-off parts came in handy as strong straps to secure the back-board. (Exhaustive details below.)
The belt is a piece of truly fancy fabric from my stash -- formerly a fancy head covering. Cut away whatever did not belong to a sash. Wound around with gold cord (from my stash). Closed with a large safety pin.
The tail:
I cut up a couple of grocery boxes, trying and correcting, until I had a good tail shape.
I bought a yard of 60" purple lining ($4 -- I think that's overpriced but ok) and selected four more colors. But lo and behold, the fabric store refused to sell less than half a yard of each. I tried negotiating but to no avail. Oh well. Nope, not spending $8 just for scrappy scraps. So I crossed the street to my trusty 99c stores, and found super-shiny, almost holographic, gift bags in some great colors. $5 for scraps is still way more than I wanted to spend, but it was a better deal than the fabric: paper is lots easier to handle than cheap lining, and the extra glim-glam is a definite plus!
Double-sided foam tape ($1) stuck the various shiny papers together while maintaining dimensionality. (I don't know if you can tell the difference in the photo, but you can definitely tell in real. 3D layers versus flat -- it's not even close. I love the 3D foam tape for all kinds of paper crafts.)
Covering the cardboard with the fabric was the tough part, especially since I don't have a sewing machine. After many false tries, I decided to hunt for a stick I could break into segments to frame the steps-and-stairs shape on the fabric itself before introducing the cardboard. Hm, how about a series of sticks that are already the right size? How about the bucket of old markers I've been saving for [this] craft? Yep, they worked just fine. I taped them to the fabric, a weird-looking straight dotted line going down the center. Then I draped this whaleboned fabric over the cardboard. Whew, it worked. Did some fine-tuning adjustments on the markers (I mean whalebones), then scotch-taped them to the cardboard. After this the fabric draped nicely. I used two-sided tape to close up the sides, and super-sticky tape ($1 for 3 rolls -- it's not labeled super-sticky, it just is!) to attach the shiny feathers.
I left the front open at the bottom so that I could incorporate some sort of mechanism for actually wearing the thing. This mechanism, now complete, involves two strong ribbons coming through slits to the front and then getting tied to the costume. Here is a diagram (neater than a photo)...
Since the royal blue peacock shirt is a former sweatshirt, I had some usable scraps of matching material. I cut 2" armbands (shown in the diagram) from the cut-off sleeves. I also had the waistband of the sweatshirt, still an intact circle. This I crossed over my daughter's chest and had her stick her arms through. (Diagram coming right up...) Then I put the upper ribbon through these straps, and tied the ribbon tightly and firmly in a bow. (The upper ribbon is necessary to keep the backboard upright. The bow may need to be re-tied every couple of hours, just to keep things sturdy.)
Like this:
(Hope the images post.)

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