Chocolate Cupcake complete!

Posted on Dec 19, 2011

The Chocolate Cupcake is finally finished! According to the date on one of the first photos I took for this project, it appears I started construction in February of this year. Um, yeah; it’s December. That’s a 11 month costume right there.

I’ve got a photobucket album loaded with over 100 photographs of the process. I am slowly adding captions and details.

However, instead of going through that process here, I thought I would make this blog about some of the key things that I have learned from this costume. This is my 5th handmade costume and I am starting to get the hang of things. HOWEVER, there is still room for improvement. A LOT of improvement. There are many things that I would change about this costume if I had to do it all over again. But because of time and construction issues, I will not. Instead I’ll just chalk it up to a learning experience and move on. That’s how I roll.

So I present to you, the DOs and DON’Ts of making a costume.

I’ll do the DOs first because I like to start with the positives.

  1. DO use a nice firm base for your bra and belt. I used EZ-Felt and a thick Aida cloth for my base and I love the way it turned out. It was easy to sew through, yet firm and stable. I think this will be my go-to base from now on. This picture shows the front and back side of the bra straps. The front side is the side that will be covered in fabric, pictured on top. The inside (the strap below) is the Aida cloth. I just sewed the two pieces together using a machine. It was super easy. The plus side of having the Aida cloth on the underside is that it holds knots really well.

    Side straps for bra

  2. DO use high quality Swarovski sew-on crystals and rhinestone chain. This was the first costume where I really splurged on the crystals. I bought a bunch in all different sizes and I was not afraid to use them. It makes a huge difference. Just compare the sparkle of my pearl costume that used fake crystals with the sparkle of this costume and you will really see a difference. I bought my crystals from Rainbows of Light and the rhinestone chain from Rhinestones Are Us. I got a nice little discount and then I split my order with a friend and it really helped to keep the cost down.

    Swarovski rhinestones

  3. DO sketch your design before construction begins. This is something I’ve been doing for most of my costumes, and I came pretty close to my original design with this costume. Since I am no artist, I use Photoshop to sketch out my designs. I downloaded a plus-size croquis and I just draw on that using the paint tool. I’m sure you could use an easy program like Microsoft Paint or just print out the croquis and draw on it by hand if you’d like.

    Design on croquis

  4. DO check the costume for fit frequently. It only takes a few extra minutes, but it’s a step that can be easily overlooked. Try on your costume pieces as you go and use a dress form if you have one. The most important thing about getting a really good fit is starting with a really good bra base. The bra I chose for my costume was a sturdy strapless bra from Wal-mart of all places. The only thing I would change about the bra would be to have the cups slightly more angled, instead of cutting straight across. However, the shape of the bra I chose does give the costume a nice vintage look.

    Strapless bra for cup base

And now for the DON’Ts…
  1. DON’T use beads with sharp edges. This one right here can make or break a costume. Unfortunately, I didn’t know a lot about what kind of beads to use for costumes when I bought the supplies for this costume. I bought Bugle Ceylon beads and they are prone to breakage and sharp edges. If you look at the beads on Egyptian or Turkish costumes (or even the expensive brand-name beads they sell at places like Fire Mountain Gems), you will notice that there are no pointed or jagged edges on the sides of the beads. The ones I bought had to be picked through in order to find ones with the cleanest edges. However, they are still too sharp and they are constantly breaking the thread. I have had to replace bead work on this costume more times than I can count, and I even doubled up the thread! Not to mention these beads scratch my skin when I put on the costume.  This has to be my biggest mistake and something I will certainly not do again! The quality of  the beads make the difference between a costume that will last and be comfortable and costume that won’t.
  2. DON’T use cheap stretch fabric for your skirt. I used a crushed panné purchased from a national fabric store for both the costume and the skirt of my costume. But you’ll notice I just mentioned the skirt in the DON’T. The reason is that I found the crushed panné to be lovely to work with for covering a costume base. It has a two way stretch and it is easy manipulate around a variety of shapes and dimensions. However, it was awful to work with when I was making a skirt (and a failed attempt at a U-top that I have too much pride to post–or wear for that matter). Because the fabric was so cheap was not made with a straight weave meaning that the knit ran at nearly a bias instead of up and down in certain places. It caused some funny issues when I was putting the panels together and one particular panel hangs crooked around the hips. Luckily, the belt and the fringe cover it up nicely. My advice: Save your money and buy a skirt made to your measurements from a place like L. Rose Designs or splurge and buy a higher quality fabric from a place like Spandex World.
  3. DON’T design a belt that cannot be easily re-sized. I love the design of this belt, but it is flawed. It is based on a Sim costume belt. However, it is not ideal for those whose weight fluctuates frequently, if you know what I mean. The belt closes in the front and the hooks are covered by a medallion. Sure, you could simply move the medallion back and forth and that would work for a lot of costumes. However, this costume features a symmetrical design on the front, so if you were to re-size it to make it smaller, then you would have to re-do the beading motif on the front of the belt. I did end up adding a little bit of elastic on the inside of the belt in order for it to conform to my body a bit better and to resize it a little. You could just pull in the elastic a little (but not too much or else you risk puckering!) if you needed to take it in just a bit. Luckily, you could size up the costume fairly easily–but I don’t plan on needing to do that anytime soon!

    Inside the belt

I hope that was helpful. I will try to update this post if I think of anymore DOs and DON’Ts that relate to this project. Please feel free post any questions you may have about this costume or any other general costuming tips!

Here’s a pic of the final costume:

Edited to add close ups per Tiger B’s request!

    5 Comments

  1. Great information here! Thanks for sharing it! Close up pics of beading??? Pleeze??

  2. Sure, just give me a little bit of time to update it.

    And thank you!!!

  3. I love your beading work, and those colours are so good together. Thanks for all the useful info. I am pretty much at the beginning of my costume making learning curve so this is really useful stuff.
    When you mentioned fake crystals, did you mean plastic ones? or just glass ones that are not swarovski? The reason I ask is that after almost needing to take out a loan for the crystals on my last costume, I have been tempted by some pretty good looking glass ones that are not swarovski.
    Nothing sparkles like the genuine article I know 😉

  4. Thank you! I’m glad that you’re getting into costume making. I’ve got some older posts on this blog that may also be helpful for you.

    Yeah, so the crystals I was talking about were glass crystals–actually more of a bead since they didn’t have flat backs–from Joann’s. I’ve also used imitation crystals from Tutu.com and have been disappointed. Yes, real Swarovski’s are expensive, but they are so worth it. Also keep your eyes out for sales as some online vendors occasionally have them. Good luck!

  5. OMG ….. I watched this come together on Bhuz, I had NO idea this was YOU!!!!! I love this costume!!!!

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