Sunday, 30 October 2016

Those poor unfortunate souls! The Ursula costume

I love Halloween, and dressing up generally, I love the planning and thinking and working bits out. I was really annoyed with myself last year as I was a bit under the weather and tired and so had a hissy fit and just reused a costume. This year I was determined to do better!

I always find it had to decide on what I want to be. I am not a Halloween purist who thinks you have to dress up scary, but I do like my Halloween costumes to have some creepy element, or have some connection with death. Previous costumes have included Cruella deVille, a weeping angel and dead Amelia Earheart (I used to have blog posts about these but I removed a lot of material when I trained to be a teacher - Sorry!). This year I eventually decided on Ursula from the Little Mermaid, as she is excellently evil! I always think she gets a bad rep, she should totally have won, Ariel is a bit useless!

So.. to the costume! I decided right away that I wanted actual tentacles. Lots of the costumes online are a bit lacking in this respect, often with flat ones or teeny ones. There are also some amazing cosplays with enormous tentacles, but I wasn't going to be standing in a big empty convention centre so mine were going to have to be more practical! I was going to a semi-crowded pub so my costume needed to be squashable, not trail on the floor, not too hard to sit in and possible to use the toilet!

Now another key issue, as a fairly well endowed lady, I do not ever wear strapless bras. They just don't work, they are uncomfortable, need tugging up all the time and just look rubbish on me. But Ursula is very strapless. I decided to experiment -  I read somewhere that bustiers are better for the larger busted, but I couldn't find any size appropriate ones easily to hand. I instead compromised, and got a cheap corset from Amazon and wore it with a strapless bra, so the corset bits held me up. I wasn't sure if this would work but it did brilliantly! I didn't lace it that tight so it was actually very comfortable, and I never had to worry about the strapless bra at all! Frankly it was a revelation - I won't be wearing it under a summer top of anything but it would be great for formal wear. Here is Agnetha wearing it - its fits me better as Agnetha doesn't squash like I do!

I went round a bit on the plan for the skirt and tentacles, but eventually ended up with a series of layers.

I have to confess with slight shame as a sewist that the top didn't really involve any sewing at all. I ruched the front a bit with some elastic, but then I basically made a rectangle of t-shirting and just wrapped it round and pinned it at the front with a safety pin. I then just tucked it in to the corset at the back. I was going to hand sew it but when I put it on it worked fine so I just left it.

The next layer was a long, full skirt. I made it out of very thin slippy poly cotton. It's extremely full, and when I first tried it on I kept dancing round the flat like a Disney princess as it was very swooshy. BUT NO - I am not a princess, I am a villainess! I was going to gather it onto elastic but it was too full, so I sewed it on every couple of inches instead; as it is an underlayer it didn't matter that it wasn't all joined on. Conveniently, the width from selvedge to selvedge was exactly right for my height so I didn't have to sew it. (You may be sensing a theme, there is surprisingly little sewing involved in this costume!)

So, the tentacles... This had me scratching my head for a bit, but after some excessive googling I decided on stuffed tentacles, attached to a waistband. They tentacles are made of half black pvc, and half purple sequin. (I got all the fabrics from Leeds market.) I had to add another layer of black t-shirting under the purple as it turned out a bit see-through and you could see the stuffing. I just cut out long triangles that were rounded at one end. I made the purple sections slightly narrower so the black would curve round more. Once I had sewed each side, I added some medium thickness green garden wire, just bent into a long v shape. I tacked this into the seam every 6 inches or so. I then stuffed them with old pillow innards, it took 3 pillows. I then sewed the open ends up, using a longer section of the underneath (so the end was sort of squared off 3-dimensionally).

I needed to be able to take the tentacles off, so I wanted them to be separate from the rest of the costume. I decided to sew them onto a wide elastic waistband. This worked well, but was a bit tricky to do, as the tentacles got in the way once I had sewed a few on! Not the straightest sewing I have ever done, but it worked. I then used clear fishing line to pull them up at the front. I left the back not pulled up as they are easier to squash and were more flexible that way.

To cover the waist join and made it all a bit dressier I then cut a short circle skirt of weird black sparkly material (it's like a flat tinsel, close up it looks like woven binbags) and popped it over the top.

My hair and makeup were fantastically done by the lovely Vee Hartley - she did an amazing job! She also made my shell necklace from Fimo. Here she is showing some more excellent makeup work as Cleopatra.

Overall I absolutely loved it! I got loads of compliments and the dress is enormously fun to wear. I thought, what with the corset and tentacles, that it might be difficult to wear for long. It was actually really comfy and the fun to swish!

(I hadn't finished my arm makeup here!)

As I finished it quite late, the light wasn't great for pictures so I put it all on again (minus makeup) for more detailed photos in daylight today. I really enjoy wearing it - would it be weird to wear it to work?