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Posts tagged ‘camel costume’

Alien Costume


Alien costume

For our Christmas program, (yes, I said Christmas program) we need 9-10 Alien costumes (yes, I said Aliens) so I’ve been busy working on a prototype.  Here’s version #2.  The fabric is uber-light and stretchy, which gives the odd, arched shape when it’s stretched as the trim is attached.

I started with a sleeveless tank and shorts which I cut and sewed without a pattern.  I sew enough that I often don’t use a pattern on something this simple. I usually just get the right proportions by folding a t-shirt in half and cutting out the shape based on that.  Ditto with the shorts, using a pair of pants or sweats I already own.

The trim is simply round pipe insulation which is pre-scored so you can easily split it open.  <Home Depot guy, you rock!>

I cut it in half, hot glued it to the fabric. (IMPORTANT NOTE:  I stretched the fabric as I went along).

I tried spray painting this trim with neon green spray paint, but then the costume lost the cool color contrast between the green and grey (the trim just faded into the costume)  and the spray paint flaked off.  Badly.  in. a. big. mess.

I asked one of our Alien dancers to wear it at rehearsal one night, and it was comfortable, moved well, and because the trim is soft foam, it didn’t hurt or create a problem with movement when she rolled around on the floor for some of the choreography.

My boss (Creative Arts Director at Rocky Mountain Christian Church – Phil Christian) asked that the dancer’s faces not be visible, so I needed to make a head-piece of some sort that the dancers could see through, but would disguise their faces.

The first version of the costume was a TOTAL FLOP in my opinion.  I didn’t like the trim or the fit, or the helmet, which was based on a 1960’s flight attendants’ accessory made by Italian designer Emilio Pucci.

1960's flight attendant uniform was my original inspiration

I really disliked the first prototype.  It was very time-consuming, and inhaling melted plastic fumes is not my idea of a great way to spend the day.  I originally made the helm by using two dollar-store plastic serving bowls.  The bowls were clear, but I decided to spray paint them… they ended up looking like 1970’s green tupperware which was an early indication that this plan was doomed.

I cut out a face opening and a neck hole, figured out a way to “hinge” it with velcro so it could be opened and closed, hot-glued the seam, and added some tree tinsel.  Blech.  It just looked trashy, not cool – and we have some really cool young dancers on our “Crew-X” so I wanted them to look like Judy Jetson, not some spacey version of Elmer Fudd.  🙂

I wanted a scooped collar and waist piece, but without using stiff interfacing or corset stays it was a floppy disaster… Here’s the idea I abandoned…

The model is an awesome kid, but this costume?  No WAY!  Back to the drawing board.

See what I mean? Great kid, but the costume misses the mark.

I decided to abandon the helmet idea, and go with a simplified (and surprisingly less expensive) head-piece made of foam.  I used egg-crate foam; the type you use to pad a camping cot, which I already had on hand.  In this photo, it’s not complete, but you can get the general idea.  I assembled it from strips of the foam alternated with strips of the pipe insulation trim, hot glued together.  The final version is spray-painted neon green, but I don’t want to reveal the final product until the Christmas Program is over… so you can look for it in a future post.  Here’s the idea, though…

Using tulle to cover the face lets the dancer see out, but effectively veils the face.

These are a little more “Predator”-looking than Marvin the Martian-looking, but I’m hoping it will all come together in the final assembly of all the pieces.  I’ve added a collar to the uniform and am hoping to find some inexpensive leotards and tights in bright green or grey to complete the look.  The dancers are going to wear knee pads, which they will provide, and I will either make matching fabric covers for, or simply spray paint them.  Shoe covers are in order as well, because our dancers will be wearing athletic shoes, not ballet slippers.

I’ll post the final project when it’s all finished, but  thought this would be a good time to post the general idea since Halloween is just around the corner and my blog gets so many hits from people looking for costume ideas.

hugs, v-


Knight Costume

Sir Ted of the Round Table

We need a Knight costume for Rush Hour, so here’s what I came up with.  It’s a simple brown cotton tunic and a tabard.  I cut the tabard trim out of brown fleece. That’s also what I used to cut out a graphic for the tabard (which I top stitched on).  I chose to use a sword for the tabard emblem … very Biblical y’know. Sword of truth.

Thanks to my awesome husband for modeling this for me after a long day at the office.  He’s such a good sport.  He would NOT however, agree to model the matching renaissance princess outfit.  Something about … posting that on the web ….  mumble… not wearing a dress… grumble… <snicker>

Camel Jumpsuits (for the legs of the camel)

For Scott and John to wear under the camel suit, I made a couple of jumpers.  They are basically overalls with elastic at the knees and ankles.  My intention was to give them shoulder straps, but time didn’t permit, so I just pinned the front and back of the “bib” part to their own t-shirts to hold them up. 

how I cut out the camel jumpsuits (click to enlarge)

The pattern I developed was basically a pair of SUPER HIGH WAISTED PANTS!  HAaahahahaha! 

I added elastic to the ankles and the knees and bloused the fabric out around to cover the elastic.  I tied the elastic around the outside. I know, I know, but  I TOLD you I ran out of TIME!  😀 

The proportion worked best for us to put John in the front and Scott in the back. Experiment with your actors in the suit to find the best fit for you.

Camel – The body frame

Here’s one of the more complicated steps to constructing the 2-man camel suit.  This entry describes the construction and assembly of the frame.   

The frame was constructed of PVC, padded, and covered with felt.


 I made the frame of the camel from PVC (that white plumbing-tubing available at hardware or home-improvement stores).  I used long lengths of 1″ pvc.   Heating this stuff in your kitchen is very do-able.  When it reaches the right temp, you can easily bend it with your hands.  A hack-saw made the necessary cuts, or you can heat a kitchen knife (this will ruin the knife!) and “melt” the cuts.  


                        Do not inhale these fumes!    

                        Melted plastic will give you nasty burns if you are not careful!   

                        This stuff will catch on fire, can leave icky melted plastic on your stove, etc.    

The original design.


                        You need to heat all sides of the tube for it to bend correctly.  Just heat the bottom, for instance, and the tube will “warp” as you apply pressure to bend it.  Then, instead of being a nice “flat” curve, it will dip down, or rise up, and the bottom of our camel will be uneven.   

                        PVC pipe comes with “joints” and “curves” you can buy.  I went the cheap way and bent it using heat, but alternatively, you could cut the PVC into the correct lengths and glue on elbow joints for the curves.  This would mean more time and expense, but you would have a much neater end product than my camel.   

I used duct tape to connect the various pieces to each other.   

Cover all this with padding, and then fabric. Padding the frame (I used an old blanket) will soften the shape some.  I hot-glued the fabric over the frame. WHEN GLUING ON THE FABRIC, LEAVE GAPS IN THE GLUE FOR ACTOR HANDS TO GRIP THE INSIDE OF THE FRAME.  My frame was actually sized so that the actors fit comfortably, but snugly inside the frame and the rear frame fit over the actor in the back, making the entire frame supportable by just his shoulders.   

NOTE:  I added straps of fabric to the inside of the frame for the front actor, like suspenders to make it easier to keep the “cage” of the body level.  It’s one thing to hold it all in place standing still, but when you are dancing with a partner and nearly blind inside it, the level of complexity rises and the actors’ concentration will shift from cosmetics to survival!  

 For the final outer layer of fabric,  I used 60″-wide lengths of camel-colored felt that I got on sale. (Most fabric comes on bolts that are either 45″ or 60″ wide. )   

NOTE:  this frame and the “skin” of the camel are the parts of the project that I would re-design.  I never did like the way the front “Chest and neck” just floated around loosely like a skirt.  With more money and time, I would have designed the frame this way…  

A new approach.


The new design would have allowed me to have an elastic or draw-string neck opening that could be slipped right over the hard-hat and under the loose edge of the faux fur that covers the neck… resulting in a smoother neck and chest that looked more camel-like.   

Well, the NEXT time we use the camel… he’s in for an overhaul.

Camel (or elf) shoes

Here’s how I made the shoes for the camel.  Our camel’s name was Aladdin, (what ELSE, right?)  so I made his shoes stereotypical harem guard shoes, with curved toes.  I did resist the urge to put tassels on the points!  

This same design would work well for elf shoes at Christmas.  Or do them in Blue for a Genie, for instance. And I think a Smurf clog has this same shape.  

hugs,  v- 

click to enlarge

Camel – Putting a good face on it.

The images below will walk you through the general idea of how I made the head of the camel for Very Merry Rush Hour 2009.   

It requires 

  • scissors,
  • hot glue,
  • faux fur,
  • brown and red spray paint,
  • a sheet of thin fun foam,
  • about 16″ of fringe or feather trim,
  • and 1″ foam (the kind used for upholstery, found at most fabric stores). 

The basic idea is to roll the edges of the thicker foam into a nose shape, cut out detailed features from foam, add some spray paint, build the eyes and ears, and cover with faux fur. 

Have fun!   v- 

Shaping the nose (click to enlarge)


shaping the rest of the head (click to enlarge)


See the separate entry for info about attaching the head-piece to the neck and hard-hat. 

hugs, v-

Camel Hat Assembly – and spit!

click to enlarge


Here’s a simple diagram that shows how the head of the camel was assembled.  You will need 

  • a foam camel head which you construct (stay tuned for a separate how-to)
  • wooden supports (1″ x 2″ will work, or heavy wooden dowels) 
  • a hard hat
  • duct tape and/or hot glue
  • upholstery foam
  • 6 ‘ of fish aquarium tubing (only if you want your camel to spit) available cheaply in the pet supply area of  “Wally World” or “PaySmart” discount stores.

Cut the wooden supports to size. You will need at least 3 vertical supports (perhaps more depending upon how heavy your camel’s head is).  Cut additional horizontal supports, attach them to the vertical supports to keep them from collapsing into each other.  Duct tape or hot-glue this structure to the hard hat. 

Cut, size, and hot-glue or duct tape together a tube of upholstery foam that will fit over the wooden support to pad the neck of the camel.  BEFORE you hot glue this to the supports, make sure it fits nicely with the head, shaped well, formed at the correct angle to look like a neck, etc.  THEN it’s OK to hot glue it to the supports. 

Slip the head-piece on and hot -glue it to the foam, BUT LEAVE THE OUTER FUR LOOSE AT THE BOTTOM, so you can come back later and attach the fabric that will cover the actor’s face.  When I made this costume, I just went ahead and glued that piece on at this point, and I regretted it later.  I have a new idea for this that I think would work better which I will describe in a separate entry about ways to improve this design.    BUT WAIT! THERE IS MORE! 

WANT YOUR CAMEL TO SPIT?   Leave small gaps in your hot-glued areas so you can run a 6′ length of aquarium tubing up through the neck and into the mouth of the camel (yes, 6 feet, it has to reach down the neck and through the body of the camel).  After testing to see that the water sprays out the mouth the way you want it, glue the end of the tube into place inside the mouth.  In our case, I ran the tubing over the top of the hard hat, up to the head between the faux fur and the foam support piece, and out through the mouth, clearing the tongue with about 1″ of tubing.  

SPITTING IS ABOUT AS LOW TECH AS IT CAN GET.  After experimenting with gadgets, pumps, and syringes, I finally realized the simple solution was best.  The actor in the back of the suit kept a bottled water with him, took a swig and literally blew it through the tubing to make the camel spit.  It took about 2 seconds for the water to travel from his mouth to the camel’s mouth, so he had to know the script and time the spitting with the other actors.  We used regular water, but you could color it, add milk (refrigerate that!) or other food-safe additives to make it show up against your stage’s backdrop, with your particular lights, etc. 

Fun fun!  hugs, v 

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