The Bad Fairy Project

May 2005

Yes, it's May and I'm already planning my Halloween costume. Actually, my friend Tara and I have been throwing this idea around for a couple of months. That's part of what makes costuming come out good: lots of planning and preparation time.

I was browsing for inspiration today and found this gallery of doll makeovers. Fabulous stuff. Lots of exquisite fantasy and fairy costuming here that we can get ideas from.

Tara wants to be the Evil Fairy Queen, with cherry-red hair and jewelry made out of little animal skulls and claws. I don't really want to be a bad fairy, merely one that's been a little bit naughty. We were thinking of having our husbands dress in Victorian working-class costumes with safari hats and butterfly nets. Then we can make belts and attach little birdcages and glass jars with holes poked in the lids.

One of the major parts of the costume is going to be the wings. has a couple of cute sets, and the ones on clearance are reasonably priced. They just don't have any that I really like, and besides, we really wanted to make our own.

I happened to be watching HGTV a couple weeks ago when they had a segment on a crafter who made fairy wings. They were gorgeous. I tried to tape the segment but video is not my thing and I ended up recording the show an hour earlier. Ooops. HGTV does have directions on their website, but it barely begins to describe how they were made. I've been trying to figure out what kind of wire was used. It was pretty thick, and covered in white plastic, and had a good stiffness to it, but wasn't nearly as heavy as coathanger. I think it might have been white household electrical wiring.

I've also been looking at my fabric stash. I've got some black stretch velvet left over from previous costumes, and various remnants of sparkly black material that could be useful. Glitter, too, although I'm not as much of a fan of glitter as some people. There's some halloween spider lace on clearance at a local Joann's that I ought to buy before it is gone, but I forget every time I'm up there.

July 8

Went to Origins last week, and while I was browsing the vendor booths I found some fairy postcards that gave me some good ideas. The Beads fairy has , guess what, strands of beads on her wings and clothing. Maybe I can find some black or iris strands to use. Maybe closer to Halloween, when black craft stuff starts appearing in stores. The Punk Fairy is, well, punk. I like the purple hair and red striped stockings. The Hermit Knight has big black wings and horns, and is wearing an interesting necklace that sort of drapes over the shoulders.

Here are some interesting costume designs for A Midsummer Night's Dream. I particularly like the fabric pattern/ tattoo combinations as shown on Titania and the Water Fairy. Too bad there aren't pictures of how the costumes came out on stage.

August 6

I had an email last week from Deidra, who sent me a link to her Fairy Wings gallery. Very pretty. She says she uses 17g and 22g electric fence wire (because you can get a quarter mile for $18), and a woodburning pen from the dollar store to burn holes.

I went fabric shopping last night. I was looking for black cotton for another project and I spotted a nice lightweight black lace on the $1.95 table at Hancock's. I also picked up a yard of black knit fabric, it's like a fuzzy sweater, not the sweatshirt fleece stuff, with multicolored flecks in it, I thought it might make good legwarmers or something. And then I got some tie-dyed black and grey stretchy fabric on sale which I will probably use as the basis for my dress.

Sigh. I looked at my receipt this morning and noticed they didn't ring up the $1.95 lace yardage correctly. I got charged the original price for it. So I had to drive back out there this morning and get that corrected. I was in there right before closing and had two different clerks cutting for me, and somebody got confused.

Interestingly, Hancock's is sponsoring a Halloween Costume Contest. The main requirement is that you use fabric bought at their store (and you have to turn in the receipts to prove it). The local prize is a $50 gift certificate and the national prize is $100. Kind of crappy prizes, but, hmmn. The deadline is Sept. 15, though, which I'm not sure I can make.

I'm thinking of using Simplicity 4959 for my dress. It's a cute little tunic with flared sleeves and it works well with really drapey fabric, like what I bought last night. This picture is a little woodsy and green, though.

While I was out this morning I went looking for halloween beads. I found some, but in a mixed 3lb bag of orange and black, and I really don't want to pay for an extra pound and a half of orange beads. I also picked up a pair of fishnet stockings and a pair of black pumps at the thrift store. The plan for the shoes is to cover them in sequins and glitter and turn them into 'fairy shoes'.

August 24

Tara sent me a design sketch of her Fairy Queen outfit. I think it's gorgeous. Elegant and sexy at the same time. She's going to use a purply-black glitter flabric for the skirt, black lace for the chemise, and black vinyl for the bodice.

We've been throwing around ideas the last two weeks. I like the idea of a spray of delicate flowers along the top of the wing, or in her case, dead flowers. We also both like the idea of wearing a tiara. Mine could have butterflies. Tara wants hers to be black and purple with white flowers, or moths. I'm trying to come up with a good use for feathers, I think they have great texture. I've even found some in lime green, which I think is what I'm using as my accent color.

I probably will end up doing a lot less than I want to, mostly because we had to take our car in for repairs last week and money will be tighter than usual. C'est la vie. It's only halloween.

I have another idea for my dress. I have a black silk "french maid" dress I started years ago and never finished. The skirt turned out shorter than I'm comfortable with, and it is an off-the-shoulder style, which I don't care for. All I need to do is finish the neckline and put in a zipper. And find some panties I don't mind everyone seeing. Then I can do some creative draping and pinning of the new fabric I bought, to give it more dreamlike-fairyland look.

I found a page of fairy stickers with too many cool ideas to list.

August 27

I found pictures of a stunning ballet dress trimmed in feathers. Makes me want to run right out and buy some.

I finished the "french maid" dress and decided it wasn't something I wanted to wear after all. For my husband, maybe, a bunch of 12 year olds, no.

After more thinking I realized I had to work with the fabric I have, which is soft and drapey, necessitating a soft, flowing style of dress. I came up with a design I think I can make work. It has a fitted bodice of black stretch velvet, with tiny straps made from ribbon or beads. There will be a drape of my tie-died slinky fabric across the bust and shoulders, hanging off the back shoulder.There is an additional drape at the hips, accented with bows. The skirts will be made from quarter circle panels, alternating slinky and black lace.

Here are some pictures showing how I cut the skirts. On the left, I just cut quarter circles out of the fabric. On the right, I laid the quarter circles on the lace to use as a template. Easy. The points cut off the quarters are where it will gather to the waistband of the skirt.

September 4th

Tara came over and we made wings. It went like this: First we went out shopping for pantyhose. Walgreens has the cheap knee-hi kind two-for-a-dollar so I got some in white and some in grey. Then we drove around to a couple of dollar stores looking for artificial flowers.

When we got back to my house she broke out the spool of wire and we looked at some pictures and came up with wing shapes we liked.Then, after much bending and shaping to get the desired outline we stretched the hose over the wire frame. Which was when we found out that the knee-hi is too small to make a very big wing, and the tube shape of the stocking was compressing the shape too much. So we went back out and bought super queen size white pantyhose and cut the legs off and used those instead. Except it still compresses the wire shape.

Now, the wire we used was pretty stiff, I'm not sure of the actual gauge, but it was only slightly more flexible than coathanger wire. My arms hurt for two days after playing with it. I think part of the problem is that the tube shape of the stocking just doesn't allow for nice round wings.

Oh well, I got tired of fighting with it pretty quickly and just decided I will have narrower wings than I had wanted. It's just a costume.

September 24th

I found a tiara today, in --of all places -- the bakery department of the grocery store. Five bucks. Apparently they sell them to go along with birthday cakes for little girls. Who knew?

October 12th

Wow, look at time fly. This is why we don't wait until mid October to start on Halloween costumes. I've done nothing in a month, I haven't been feeling all that well. Now a bunch of other stuff is out of the way and I have the next two weeks to work on this project, which is good because we've been invited to a party on the 22nd. This means I have to be ready a full week before Halloween.

Meanwhile Tara has finished her skirt and lizardskin bodice. I haven't seen it yet, but it sounds like it will be delightfully evil looking with the green and black "Poison Berries" tiara she made a few weeks back.

I was productive today, though. Finished assembling my wings and started painting them. Each section of wing is a loop of wire with a stocking over it. The four loops are held together with duct tape. I wrapped it down the length of the wire and then put a piece on legthwise to make it all smooth. For those of you who've wondered, I used an incense stick leftover from my college days to burn the holes in the stocking. You really want to use something like this (a woodburning tool has also been suggested) and NOT an open flame because the flame will melt through your stocking and make a much larger hole much faster than you want. I tried a votive candle and almost ended up melting such a big hole the stocking would have come off the wire. Keep the candle on the side (well away from your wings so there's no bumping or melting accidents) so you can relight your incense stick if necessary. And no, you don't want to use matches either. Open flame = bad.

The paint is plain acrylic craft paint, the kind you get for $1.29 at any fabric or hobby store. I used a 1/2" brush and drew the design after looking at some pictures of butterflies for inspiration. Give yourself plenty of time to paint, it doesn't dry very quickly and it's easy to get paint on your hands and get it smudged onto places you didn't want it. Bend your wings into the shape you want them before you paint them. After you paint the wings the stocking fabric will dry in that shape and it will get all wrinkly and ugly looking if you try to bend it after it's been painted.

October 16th

Got a few more things to do on the costume. The wings, the shoes, the skirt, the bodice, the tiara, and well, pretty much everything.

I started sewing sequins on the skirt back in August right after I cut it and put the panels on the waistband. My arthritis got bad and I never completed the sequinning. I got new drugs now and can actually see the joints in my hands again, so I'll be finishing that this week. I'm also planning to take the skirt apart and rearrange the panels. I made it with a layer of lace under a layer of the stretchy tie-died stuff, and have decided I don't like the look. The lace is coming off, and then we'll see.

Yesterday I pried the fake jewels out of the tiara so they wouldn't get painted over. If you ever try this be sure to aim the pointy object away from yourself so that when bits of exacto and plastic fly off they don't hit you in the face. I tried to spray prime the tiara so I could paint it black, but I've got 3 dead cans of primer.

Went by Joann's today and bought a small bottle of neon green glitter glue. I really wanted lime green sequins to put on the shoes. I can find bloody lime green anything except sequins. So I got the glue. Took my shoes, the ones I got at the thrift shop, and went down to the basement to paint them. At first I thought I would just paint the shoes with the glue and sprinkle on my other tube of glitter for a little added sparkle. Then I thought about it a bit and figured the green glue wasn't going to be very thick or show up well on the black shoe.

So I decided to paint the shoes lime green first. I wanted to prime them, but I have 3 dead cans of primer... so I just went with 2 layers of acrylic craft paint and a prayer. While that was drying I used the same green paint on my wings. They really needed some color.

With the green paint dry on the shoes I brushed on a thick layer of glitter glue, which wasn't all that thick, really. Then while that was still wet, sprinkled my irridescent glitter on. It's got little stars in it, which adds a nice dimension. I plan to put a couple coats of heavy spray gloss over that to protect them and the carpet.

October 18th

I'm still painting the wings. I spent about two hours outlining the black part on the front side the first night. Then they had to dry because they could not be handled. The second night I spent about an hour painting in the green parts, then left that to dry overnight. I wanted to touch up some of the black areas, but the paint was bleeding into each other so I had to leave it. The third night I did the black touch up on the front and painted the black on the backs. Left it to dry. Last night I spent another hour spreading glitter glue on the fronts in the green areas only. It looks really bad on the black areas. I also did some touch-up on the black parts again. Today I spent another hour or more painting green on the back side of the wings, as in a lot of places it doesn't show through from the front and was really blotchy. Later I will need to go over it carefully and touch up the black veining again, and spend another session doing glitter.

So that puts me at six hours of painting, with another hour or more still to go, plus multiple overnight drying times.

Costs to date: (excluding materials I already had)

  • Fabric: $32.73
  • Shoes: $3.50
  • Wings: $5.99
  • Tiara: $5.00
  • Other Stuff: $7.64

    October 22nd

    Wednesday I worked on the bodice some. Played around with various patterns and decided to use my old standby, McCall's 2253 because it had the curvy body shaping that I wanted. Made myself a test muslin and tried it on. Drew on it with a pen where I wanted my new neckline to be and made a few other adjustments like lengthening it by two inches at the waist.

    Thursday I used fusible interfacing on the stretch velvet leftover from last year's dress. This will stabilize it and make it a whole lot easier to work with. Sewed all the bodice pieces together (it's in 8 parts) and sewed some Ridgeline up the center back and side seams. It fits nicely under the 5/8" seam allowances. Sewed all the other seam allowances down flat on the inside. This will make it smoother fitting and less likely to be itchy (I hope). Then I just kind of stared at it for a while.

    I needed to put a pocket in the back for the wings to attach to. In the past I did this by opening the center back seam and putting the wing wire in between the lining. But I don't have a lining this time and I really don't want to make one. I end the evening by sewing black bias tape around the top and bottom edges of the bodice.

    Friday I sewed some elastic on for shoulder straps. I'm not too concerned about how it looks because it will be under the draping. Or something. At this point the problem I'm having is that there's no front closure yet, and I have no idea what I'll do, and as a result it's really hard to do the fitting trying to hold it closed in front with one hand. I need something to keep it closed in front. What I want to do is have it fasten invisibly, then I'll have decorative lacing in green ribbon across the front. I don't have any hook and eye tape, which would be perfect, and I'll be damned if I'm going to sew hooks and eyes on by hand.

    So I spend a lot of the afternoon staring at the bodice again and eating fattening snacks. I decide to take the skirt apart instead. I rip the waistband open and pull out the lace panels. I'll do something with them later. And then it occurs to me that if I can put buttons on by machine maybe I can put hooks and eyes on by machine too. Oooh, let's try this. And it works! As god is my witness I will never sew hooks by hand again!

    I wrap up the evening by fiddling with the draping across the front and shoulders a bit. I really need to sit down and spend some time arranging it properly now that I have a general idea of how it's going to fit.

    And here it is Saturday, it's 3pm, the party is 3 hours away, and I am frying onions for appetizers to take tonight.


    October 23rd

    We survived the party last night. I was sewing right up until it was time to leave and then I resorted to using safety pins on the rest. For the most part everything worked well. Nothing fell off or came undone except for two of the bottom hooks on the bodice. Oh, and the shoes peeled a little bit, but I kind of expected they would.

    Next year I am making a warmer costume.

    October 26th

    Definitely making a warmer costume. Maybe I can be the Snow Queen.

    I spent most of Saturday limping around on swollen feet hoping the drugs would make them small enough to fit into my green shoes by party time. It didn't. I was working on the dress right up until we left. The draping went fairly well, but took up most of my time. I sewed the lace panels onto the bodice, and that went fairly fast. Then there were the organza bows front and back. I had the bodice closing with hooks, but still needed to figure out the false front lacing. I eventually sewed two lines of thin black elastic cord down the front side seams, using a ziz-zaq stitch at intervals, to lace the neon green ribbon through. It wasn't until I was lacing it up that I noticed I has mis-spaced the intervals so they weren't even on both sides. Fortunately it wasn't too noticeable.

    I attached the wings by making a pocket in the back of the bodice right over the center seam. Remember that double row of boning I put in for stability? I cut a piece of muslin and just sewed it down on the inside of the bodice, making sure that it was a little bit loose and not completely flat so that the thickness of the wings would fit. And I prayed it would be firm enough and not flop around much.

    Never did get around to doing anything with the beads I bought for my wings, or the flowers. I grabbed a couple of the plastic necklaces and threw those on, and wrapped one around my wrist for a bracelet. Messed my hair up as much as I could, put the tiara on and we ran out the door.

    Saturday we had been fortunate enough to have an entire day of cold, gusty rain. When we left, it was pouring hard. We got soaked just getting into the car. I didn't have time to whip up the leg and arm warmers I'd planned so I just grabbed the piece of fuzzy fabric and wrapped it around me like a shawl. It was warm enough but it completely covered all the good parts of my costume. It was also a pain in the ass to keep on my shoulders and not sliding off one side or the other.

    My next costume is going to have sleeves.

    We also managed to rush out without the camera, so, no pics yet.

    Oh yeah, the tiara. I painted it black, barely, with my dying can of spray paint and a little touch-up with the craft paint. Then I took the glitter glue and put a tiny drop of glitter on each facet. Decided the green glitter glue by itself didn't have enough sparkle. I worked quickly, so after doing half the tiara it was still wet and then I sprinkled glitter onto it. Repeated for the other half. Sprayed it real good with clear gloss coat a couple of times.

    Would have liked to have done something more with my hair and face -- as much as I can with makeup allergies -- but we didn't want to be late. It was going to be dark anyway. :)

    Here's a link to some fairy tattoos with really neat wing designs.

    October 28th

    What can I say. It's a cake, with eyes. Too many eyes. Tara's husband Jon brought it to our pre-Halloween dinner last night.

    I was out today and saw the cutest little black lip paint shaped like a cat. And Halloween stuff is on clearance already because nobody wants to be stuck with it come Tuesday morning.

    October 31st

    This is it, the day we've been waiting for. And it's raining again. I swear...

    Worked on the dress yesterday. Fixed the lacing. Finished sequinning the skirt. Sewed the side seams down 8" from the waistband so I'm not flashing everyone. Worked on the shoes this morning. Painted over the cracked spots with more glitter glue, using a brush to work the glue under the edges that are peeling. It only has to last another 12 hours. I'm also baking cookies for tonight.

    Going to go attach some of the fake flowers to the dress and wings, if I can. Then I'll make the leg and wrist warmers and try the whole outfit on again.

    November 1st
    All Saints' Day

    I think the costume came out very well. It's the first off-the-shoulder outfit I've worn where I didn't feel like it was going to fall completely off. I got a lot of compliments on it.

    Below, from left to right, Jon in his Fairy Hunter outfit, Tara in her green lizard bodice and evil wings, me, and my husband Jay as Jack the Ripper. I got the arm and leg warmers done, which helped a lot, but I left the house without the beads and the green ribbon lacing for the front of my bodice. I had a piece of black eyelet tape that I used instead, but it didn't have quite the same effect. It kept the bodice closed though, I'd have been screwed without it.

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