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  • 2013 DIY Costume Contest Winners – Group Costume Category

2013 DIY Costume Contest Winners – Group Costume Category

2013 GROUP COSTUMES CATEGORY

Some things are just better when they are shared with a bunch of your friends or family. If our group category costume contest winners are any indication, Halloween dress up as a themed group compounds the fun exponentially and the creativity simply runs amok! We’re so tickled about our group category winners that we just can’t stop smiling!

FIRST PLACE: Hanna Tomhave, Herndon VA

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THIS COSTUME?

After meeting Princess Merida at Disney World this summer, my daughter bought a Merida dress and decided she wanted to dress up as Merida for Halloween. We decided it would be a lot of fun for our entire family to join in and dress up together, something we haven’t ever done before.

 

WHAT ITEMS DID YOU USE TO MAKE THIS COSTUME AND HOW?

We knew that Merida needed red hair to go with her dress. My daughter has blond, curly hair, and we thought about dying it orange with Kool-Aid. However, we were afraid it would stay orange for a long time. I decided to crochet her a Merida wig. This was a big part of the Do It Yourself portion of our costumes. I made an orange hat and then crocheted about 40 individual curls to attach to it. Each curl took me 45 minutes to crochet, so the wig took a LONG time to create. In addition to the wig, our daughter added tan boots and a bow and arrows to her costume. I bought a renaissance dress to wear for Queen Elinor. I put a green sweater underneath it to look more like Queen Elinor’s dress. I bought a long black wig and gold ribbon. I made two pigtails and criss-crossed the ribbon around each. I used a gold, stretchy headband and cut out some green foam to make Queen Elinor’s crown. For King Fergus, my husband bought a green kilt and some green, plaid fabric. He wore chain mail underneath and tucked it into the kilt. He wrapped the plaid fabric over the top and then wore fake fur over it. He chose some long socks to wear with it and his hiking boots. He got a red wig and a Viking helmet. He took the horns out of the helmet and attached it to the wig. He got some red facial hair and added gray paint to it before attaching it to his face. He also carried a sword. We dressed our son in a store-bought bear costume with a green, plaid shirt and green pants underneath to match the family’s colors. Since Merida had triplet brothers and we only had one baby, we used two large stuffed bears to be the other two boys. We put a green, plaid blanket in our wagon and put the three bears inside.

WHAT REACTION DID YOU GET WHEN WEARING THIS COSTUME?

Everyone commented on the wig and how impressed they were with the making of the wig. We participated in a kiddie parade, and many people mentioned that they hadn’t realized there was actually a kid in the wagon. They thought it was just 3 stuffed bears. When we went trick-or-treating as a family, we got a lot of great comments. Many people said we had the best costumes they had seen. They were really impressed with the King Fergus costume. And one older lady who we didn’t know came out of her house to admire our costumes. She told us we had made her night.

  


SECOND PLACE: Natalie Conforto, West Jordan UT

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THIS COSTUME?

We love steampunk, and this year our kids wanted to get in on the steampunk action with us. My husband has recently grown a bushy beard, which we wanted to utilize as well. One of his favorite aspects of the steampunk style is the celebration of the pilot. We brainstormed: which bearded pilot comes with a group of other characters? We laughed when we thought of the North Pole bunch, who are typically off-limits and out of mind at Halloween time, but the more we thought about it, the more it fit. Santa Claus IS a pilot, after all. I became the stylishly welding Mrs. Claus, while our five kids pitched in as workshop elves. All of their steampunk leather and metallic accessories would be “tools” for “making toys.”

WHAT ITEMS DID YOU USE TO MAKE THIS COSTUME AND HOW?

The kids and I (Mrs. Claus) used dress clothes we already had as the base of our costumes. My dress was a relic from my mom’s high school days: she wore it to her winter formal! My boys wore dress pants and shoes. I added Christmasy striped socks for everyone, along with corsets of different colors for all the girls. I sewed two ruffly neckties for my two sons. I had to tea-dye the white corset, along with the bright white pirate shirt I ordered for my husband (Santa) from the internet. I sewed bands from the corsets to the hems of three of the dresses to hike them up in the front, showing off under petticoats and the Christmasy socks. I handmade one of the corsets; the other three were purchased online. We also ordered seven pairs of goggles online and a leather WWII pilot’s helmet. In my son’s old physics set, I found a bunch of plastic gears and chains. We spray painted these gears with different colors of metallic paint to sew onto our corsets, top hats, gauntlets, and Santa’s coat (as buttons).

We made the two top hats out of craft foam and exercise mats, following instructions from a youtube video. It was very tricky to achieve the right shape. We almost gave up several times, but were amazed with the final result! 2-part epoxy dots were applied all over the hat, to make it look like it was all nailed or riveted together. We spray painted the hats (one black, one copper), then spot-burnished it with Rub ‘n Buff for an antique look. Finally, we accessorized the hats with ribbons and gears.

Elves’ workshop accessories were fun. We used old soccer shin guards to create gauntlets for two of the elves, by spray painting them and adding accessories like gears and part of a toy gun, which of course she would use as a drill to make toys. All of these were antiqued with Rub n Buff. We spray painted a bunch wrenches and other small tools to hang from leather purse straps which we slung around the elves’ waists as tool belts. I made my son a leather apron (out of leather-look vinyl), for him to store more toy-making tools. We fashioned a medium wooden box into a backpack for our son, mounting it atop a real leather tool belt. We affixed two green glass cones (once outdoor lanterns) on top of the backpack and filled them with actual Christmas lights that really lit up. He called it his “Christmas Tree Decorator.”

Santa’s pants were plain gray pants from the thrift store. We made stripes with masking tape, then spray painted them black. The resulting gray-and-black striped pants looked fantastic! Santa’s coat was my masterpiece. Following another youtube video’s instructions, we found two similar suit coats at the thrift store. They were both gray corduroy. I cut off the bottom half of one coat and sewed it to the bottom of the other, to create a long trench coat. We then spray painted the whole thing red. I sewed white fur fabric all around the edges of the coat, and added large metal-painted gears as buttons. To make Santa’s toy bag, we sewed together nine black leather purses from the thrift store. Santa’s belt was a metal-studded strip from one of the purses.

I borrowed a gray wig with glasses, and we used hair dye to whiten my husband’s beard and my eyebrows. We used black makeup to create the sooty goggle impression on Santa’s face. He gets pretty dirty going down all those chimneys.

WHAT REACTION DID YOU GET WHEN WEARING THIS COSTUME?

Everyone loved our costumes! All the time (30+ hours) we spent on them was worth it for all the fun we had showing them off. While Santa was instantly recognizable alone (though a little bit off from the traditional Santa), the rest of us had to explain who we were when we weren’t together as a group. We had fun wishing everyone a merry Christmas. People kept saying, “I know I should know who you are, but . . .” I feel like we nailed the steampunk style, which made people think they’d seen us before somewhere.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT THIS COSTUME OR YOUR EXPERIENCE?

Bonus: We used our Christmasy costumes as a great excuse to put up our Christmas lights early this year, while it was still warm and snow-free. We actually turned them on for Halloween night as part of the joke. Also, our Christmas card photo is DONE!

The great thing about the steampunk style is that it can be added to pretty much any character. We can definitely use all the homemade accessories again next year to steampunk some different characters. It was so much fun dressing up together as a family.

 


THIRD PLACE: Angie Tucker, Raleigh NC

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THIS COSTUME?

My boys (ages 7 and 4) wanted to be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My 7 year old asked if Lyla (his baby sister) could be a pizza (since the Ninja Turtles love Pizza) and if Ryan (his Daddy, my husband) could be Shredder. So- we went with it to make the boys happy and had a blast!

 WHAT ITEMS DID YOU USE TO MAKE THIS COSTUME AND HOW?

For Lyla’s costume, we used tubing and a washer from Lowes (to make the ring) and cotton (jersey) material to make the pizza (crust, sauce, cheese, pepperoni and mushrooms). My mother stitched it all together on her sewing machine and ta-da! The pizza hair bow in Lyla’s hair is made from the scrap material. 🙂

For Ryan’s costume, he used (yes- my husband made it all by himself), a card board box and duct tape. He cut the card board box into the shapes that he needed and then covered everything in duct tape to give it the look of metal. We cut two old gray shirts to make the Shedder skirt and face mask. We bought the purple material from Michaels and used that as a his cape (cutting a whole in the top middle and letting it drape down his back). He was so proud of his creation and I was too! Still can’t believe that he made it all from scratch!

For the T-Rex I started by making a little scale drawing to make sure the leg of the dinosaur would be as tall as me. Then I made a full scale drawing using a big roll of craft paper. Next using the full scale drawing I started to make the wood frame. The head and arms were carved out of foam. I cut a ping pong ball in half and painted it to make the eyes.

Then I covered everything with a layer of paper mâché. The rear legs were cut out of a roll of cushion foam, and I hot glued and old pair of shoes into the feet. The belly is covered in fabric that is sheer enough for me to see through. Finally I found a picture of an Iguana and painted the T-Rex to match. I spray painted the dinosaur with leftover house paint using an airless sprayer.

The last step was to hand paint the detail in the face. 

WHAT REACTION DID YOU GET WHEN WEARING THIS COSTUME?

People in the neighborhood LOVED it! We had such a great time trick-or-treating this year. The boys were over the moon happy- and that is what it’s all about!

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT THIS COSTUME OR YOUR EXPERIENCE?

We’d love to be chosen as this year’s winner. TURTLE POWER!

  


FOURTH PLACE: Christopher Kinsella, St. Louis MO

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THIS COSTUME?

I wanted something that would be instantly recognizable, had a lot of characters in it (so that our friends could be involved), and that would make people happy to see it. Everyone loves Pixar movies and UP is about the most popular Pixar movie ever made. My wife I an watch it all the time.

We settled on UP because Kevin would be so hard to do well. We had no idea how we were going to pull it off, and that was the most fun part of the project.

WHAT ITEMS DID YOU USE TO MAKE THIS COSTUME AND HOW?

Tools: glue gun, bread knife, scalpel, needle and thread, marker, ruler, scissors, pins

Steps with materials:

To make the heads, you need a huge block of low density foam. You draw the character on all sides of the foam block (profile x 2, front-facing, top of head). You measure everything out so that all sides match each other. Then you take a bread knife and start carving away the biggest chunks of foam that should be outside of the drawing. To then carve out the facial features, it helps to have a scalpel (and most of this is just artistic license and making mistakes). Once you have the foam skeleton done, you carve out the center of the block of foam and put it on your head. You mark where the eyes need to be and you cut eye holes, a mouth hole, etc. At this point, you should be able to wear it and walk around the house.

Now your head needs skin. So you go to the fabric store and buy yards of skin-colored felt, hair-colored faux fur, etc. You drape the felt over the head and start gluing everything into place. In order for the felt to bunch up where you need wrinkles, lie flat where you need it to be smooth, and disappear the excess so that you have as few seams as possible, is a chore. This is the most time-intensive part of the process and just about impossible to describe. You just have to fail a lot. The hair is done in a similar manner.

But there are always seams where you wish there weren’t. I took needle and thread and dunked the seams as best as I could. Now your head needs tone, so you steal some of your wife’s makeup and start blotting and drawing to bring out cheekbones, accentuate wrinkles, etc.

Additional elements (like the ears, hats, nose) are made in an analogous way, just on a smaller scale. The eyes are made by cutting a pattern out of the side of a styrofoam cup and just gluing it into the eye hole you made earlier. The glasses for Mr. Fredrickson were made by cutting a pattern out of stiff, black, particle board. The joints were pinned into place and glued.

Making Kevin involved a different approach. Instead of carving the body en bloc out of one huge foam piece, I bought sheets of 1″” thick foam and joined them together. I tried to wrap this around her to get a sense of the shape. I cut several partial thickness lines to relax the foam and allow it to fall into the shape I wanted (kind of like an egg). Then I took a pool noodle and glued it into the middle of the foam sheets to act as a spine and as Kevin’s neck. Then the foam sheets were joined in the front with thick wool stitching and I cut a face hole and arm holes. I had her try it on a couple of times to make sure it would be wearable.

Covering the body with felt and then feathers was relatively straightforward. Lots of glues, lots of looking back and forth at pictures from the internet. The hardest parts of the costume were the neck and the head.

I didn’t want the head to be made of foam. I wanted it to look hard and shiny like a real bird head. So I bought a jug of Instamorph plastic granules, melted them together into a large bowl, and then worked it with a rolling pin to make plastic sheets. If I was going to do this over, I would have just spent more money on Wonderflex sheets and be done with it. Then, I carved the bird’s head out of foam to use as a scaffold. I covered the head with tin foil and then placed the warm, flexible sheets of plastic onto the foam/tin foil mold. Burning myself, I used my hands to mold the plastic as best I could to the shape and then let it cool. After trimming the excess plastic, the head was ready for painting.

Using acrylic paints, we painted the head. Paint flakes off of plastic pretty easily, so I also did a coat or two of Mod Podge to give it a nice shine and protect the paint job. Then I glued the top and bottom bills together and it kind of looked like Kevin’s head.

This was very heavy, and attaching it to the end of an unsupported pool noodle doesn’t work. I attempted to reinforce the neck with straightened coat hangers (the same way concrete is reinforced with rebar), but the coat hangers were way too flexible and didn’t hold. I started asking around for help with this problem and my father, a mechanic, just went straight to the store and came back with an $8 brake line. Moldable, stiff, lightweight. Absolutely perfect. We fed the brake line through the pool noodle, then bent the noodle and brake line to give Kevin’s spine and neck the correct shape.

To attach the head to the brake line, I took a coat hanger and bent it into a shape the supported Kevin’s head and the end of the coat hanger fit into the central portion of the break line. Then I filled the hole with more felt-covered foam and glued it into place. The feathers on top were just faux peacock feathers at the end of some metal wire.

WHAT REACTION DID YOU GET WHEN WEARING THIS COSTUME?

Mostly shock. We had our pictures taken with most of the people that we met. People had a great time and we got a lot of compliments.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT THIS COSTUME OR YOUR EXPERIENCE?

 


 

Some Additional Contest Entries in the Group Costume Category


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