Wednesday, October 24, 2012

dress you up

Working on a film set in my previous life has given me the privilege of witnessing the magic of wardrobe geniuses create characters though either simple clothes or elaborate costume design.  One of my best wardrobe memories was working with a famous (gap-toothed) 70's model turned actress, who wanted her character to wear a high end designer suit for one particular scene.  Unfortunately the production budget didn't allow for such indulgence, so she made one phone call and two days later an outfit specifically designed (her sunglass-wearing-fan-waving designer friend had her measurements on file), was couriered to her from France, and it was worn for the scene. Oh the magic of movies!!!

Now that my "film set" is now a school gymnasium stage, I must admit that I still enjoy watching the creativity that's put into the costumes for school plays.  Although I rarely sew, since my daughter loves of all things hippopotamus, last year we created a simple costume for one of her school assignments that didn't require much sewing (as originally posted here)

What I loved most though, was working on this project together.  We worked on it much like a collaborative arts and crafts activity, and what was incredible to me, was watching her imagination soar as she was painting, tying and trying new things to make her costume work.    

When she put on her costume for school, she saw her handy work come to life.  She got into "character" and became a hippo.  She was happiest as can be...and to be honest, the world was her stage.  And to me, that was more magical than any movie set.

Hippopotamus Costume
Here's the directions of making this hippopotamus costume again.  The magic of this, is that it can be adapted to any animal you wish. The mask is a paper mache project and the "body" is a no-sew drawstring bag with armholes...easily done if you have kids who know how to tie knots.


For the mask

  • Newspaper strips
  • Equal parts of glue, flour, water (approx. 1 cup each)
  • Grey paint
  • Balloons (approx. 9" or the size of child's head)
  • Elastic
For the body
  • Approximately 2- 4 yards of felt material, depending on the size of your child. (check out your local thrift store for remnants...I found my felt fabric for $4 for 4 yards!  Just wash first.)
  • Scissors


For the Mask:
  1. Cut strips of newspaper, approximately 1 inch in width.
  2. Blow up the balloon. Gather all the materials.
  3. Create the "glue" by mixing equal parts of glue, flour and water.  I used approximately 3/4 cups of each.
  4. Wet the strips of newspaper with the glue and attach in layers on the balloon.  I only ended up using one balloon...for the snout, I attached scrunched up newspaper using the glued newspaper strips.
  5. Ensure that there are holes for the eyes, the side for the elastic bands to go through (to hold the mask onto the head).
  6. Creating mini cones with newspaper, attach as ears.  Scrunch up newspaper for the snout and attach.  Let dry overnight.
  7. When dry, paint with craft p.
  8. Attach the elastic bands to the holes.
  9. When the paint is semi-dry, paint the details
  10. Using a market, draw the snout.
For the no sew costume:

  1. Using a large piece of felt fabric, fold in half so it's approximately the size of the child. Cut one inch slits all the way down the open side.  
  2. Tie all the slits together, into double knots.
  3. Turn inside out, so the the "fringe" is on the inside (revealing the braid)
  4. Turn the fabric so the braid is on the back, and cut out the arm holes approximately 1 inch from the top.
  5. Cut the slits at the top, and then knot the two strips together.
  6. Fold the top and bottom approximately 2 inches, and cut slits approximately 1inch apart, all along the bottom and top.
  7. Taking a strip of 1 inch width ribbon (I used remnants of the fabric and cut strips), attach a safety pin to one end and weave through the slits along the top and bottom, creating a drawstring effect on the top and bottom of the costume.
  8. Pull the top drawstring and tie a bow on the front.
  9. Pull the bottom drawstring and tie a bow on the back (so it would look like at tail).

Lights, Camera...Action!

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