This is an image heavy post. Pics up top are small, pics toward the bottom are slightly bigger. Click any to Embiggen.
At first I felt guilty for not staying home to pass out candy, which is enormous fun, despite the occasional idiot. But with Halloween on a Saturday, combined with my having been in nonstop work mode for about six weeks and desperately needing to blow off steam, I decided to accept two party invitations instead.*** When another uber-cool opportunity came up, and the organizer said it was fine if I wore the costume I was planning to wear for the evening, I threw that into the mix!
The plan for this costume was it had to be constructed from materials I already had in hand, as there is no free range money available in my household to purchase anything. I was going to build a period-accurate Elizabethan middle class suit, one that would pass the exacting muster of St. Ives, except that it would be a mummy suit!
Yes, it is an awesome idea.
Then I discovered I was out of boning needed for the bodice (consumed in other projects for friends earlier in the year I had forgotten about), and when it came right down to it? Actually I didn't feel like dealing with cartridge pleating if I couldn't also make the bodice. But I liked the idea so much I just altered the approach.
Wrap skirt for the bottom, reconstructed 3/4-length sleeve T-shirt for the top. I sacrificed my custom Chuck Norris Facts shirt for this costume. Chuck Norris does not write books. The words assemble themselves out of fear. I still can't believe my fabulous contribution to CNF did not become cannon, but I made it into a shirt for myself anyway.
What I had to work with:
- About four yards of black satin leftover from a witch costume I made for a kid a couple of years ago
- A giant bolt of mauve tulle, gifted by The Gardener of Eden next door
- A pile of cream linen
- A pile of natural muslin
- The linen/muslin came out to a combined total of 13 or so yards
Each gore was constructed from two layers, satin and tulle. Satin the provide a firm base to hold the whole thing together, tulle to soften the color bleed when the linen and muslin were laid atop. Gores made, the linen, muslin and tulle were then cut into strips. This pic is from early in the process, there were many more before I was done:
In truth, it bothered me that this suit couldn't be all linen or all muslin, because I'm Type-A obsessive that way. To work around not having enough of either to make a solid suit, the front gore was linen, the back muslin. For the top I used a mix of both for front and back. The front was mostly linen.
Due to time constraints - I got ambushed by Unexpected Things during the build period and had to set this project aside for a bit - I did not take a single picture of the construction of the top. I finished it on Halloween, about three hours before I had to garb up and get to the show site. The short version is I took a T-shirt with long sleeves, disassembled it so it was like a butterfly chicken breast, sewed the new elements atop the front, back and sleeves, then reassembled it.In all, it took about three weeks to build this suit. Had I not been Ambushed it would have taken about two, I think. Though I had planned to, I ran out of time and could not give the entire suit a coffee bath for false aging. That failure bothers only me. Even after splattering the final result with stage blood and clay, I think it looks entirely too clean. Nobody else who saw it had a problem with the look.
Originally this suit was made with the intent of wearing it at two parties, meaning standing around eating and drinking, or sitting around eating and drinking. Not a lot of movement. But through the fabulous people I met through Thrill The World event, word came down that a zombie team was needed to perform Halloween night at Halloween on Pine, a street fest in Long Beach. The LBC city fathers made a hefty donation to the Thrill The World LA chosen charity, Inner-City Arts, to get a team to come down for two performances during the festival and teach anyone in the crowd who was interested in learning the Thriller dance in between. (Another team performed as entertainment for the halftime show at the Clippers game that night. I don't know if the Clippers organization also made a donation to Inner-City Arts.)
I checked in with our leader, Zombie Slave Leia, to see if it was all right if I participated in my mummy costume instead of in the Red Carpet Zombie costume I wore for the big event. She said that was cool! So then all I had to worry about is if this outfit would work if I had to do a lot of dance movement in it. I would not know until we got on stage. Turns out it could!
But I did have to do a bit of last minute trimming in the 'green room,' a law office which I shed all over, and cut away some of the trailing bits on the skirt so I wouldn't trip on them.
Here's what the suit looked like from the back. Yes, the strips on the back gore are wider than those on the front. Urg.
Below, a group shot of my fantabulous zombie peeps that night. I am most jealous of the kid with blue hair, with his Most Excellent exposed ribcage outfit! (That kid could also dance up a storm):
Here's an outfit shot from the front our Zombie Slave Leia's hubby took for me. This was after I had slashed about two inches of trailing bits from the front of the skirt:
That grey on my hands and arms is potter's clay. It's also in my hair in giant chunks. Some of the stuff in my hair is leftover from the official Thrill the World event the weekend before, because I was all it'll be handy for Halloween next weekend! I added fresh clay to the hair that afternoon. As is typical when I zombie up, I later had to use pliers to get the bulk of the clay out, and it will probably be about three weeks before all of it is gone from my hair. TOTALLY WORTH IT.
The outfit was only part of the costume. Flesh wounds are necessary for zombies! My feeling about zombies is they should not have decoratively cute wounds. The wounds should be overt and gross.
As a dark-skinned zombie who has had the benefit of spending time in coroner autopsy rooms looking at a wide range of actual dead bodies, I have a sense of what brown dead bodies look like. That's why I have a personal aversion to the reverse minstrel look you often see darker skinned zombies use when they zombie up. I think this approach is taken because all of the DIY zombie makeup guides out there are predicated on white skin. That approach is perfectly fine for those with lighter skin, but it doesn't quite work for darker skin. I think that if you take an ichor approach over a traditional blood approach with darker skin zombie wounds, it works better. Happily, ichor works perfectly with mummy zombies!
Because of the length and heat of the day on the official Thrill the World event, I didn't do Serious Woundage (or for when the Zombies Of Debt rolled in Pasadena), but I did for this Halloween. I only wounded both sides of my face because I didn't have time or enough raw materials in hand to do my arms and neck. Using a combination of liquid latex, toilet paper, black/blue/purple greasepaint, crackle, and clotting fake blood I built up two disgusting wounds. That only took about 45 minutes:
Okay, maybe you can't see the gradient of bruise effect in that picture, but you could in real life.
What does all this come down to? Awesome Halloween!
*** I had one party invite in Long Beach, one invite to a hootenany in Hollywood. After our performance I wandered around for about an hour trying to find the LBC party site, only to end up in San Pedro the first time and Wilmington the second. I just suck at navigating the Here Be Dragons Lands outside of LA proper - especially at night, and eventually gave up. Headed back to the Silver City, hit up the H'wood party for a short time, then went home to shower and fling Moiself into bed.