Coolest Ballroom Dancer from Labyrinth Costume
So I’ve always LOVED the movie “Labyrinth” with David Bowie, particularly the ballroom scene, with all its gorgeous gowns and vaguely depraved, goblin-like masks, designed by one of my favorite artists—Brian Froud. Of course, when I was younger, I didn’t have the know-how to create everything I’d need, but I’ve been practicing my creative skills, and this year I knew was finally the year!
Dress and underskirt: I was able to get 16 yards of cheap fabric ($1 a yard! Hooray!) at a discount fabric supply. It wasn’t my first choice as far as color, but luckily there are a few different dresses in the ballroom scene, and one was lavender, so I figured I’d go with it. I got 3 yards of blue and pale blue fabric for the underskirt, and 10 for the huge poofy overdress and sleeves. I sewed the underskirt (it was a basic A-line skirt, so I really didn’t need to make a pattern for this) with an elastic waistband and surged the hem with a rolled stitch. I saved the leftover pieces from the underskirt to accent the neckline on the overdress.
For the overdress, I made a pattern that would fit me with brown paper bags and then cut out and sewed the overdress and sleeves, and surged the hem with the same rolled stitch. I made the skirt HUGE—yards and yards of fabric! I had hoped the underskirt would add a little more volume to it, but when I tried it on, it didn’t look quite like how I had imagined—so I busted out an old crinoline I had gotten for another costume years earlier (one of those severely poofy underskirts brides wear under their gowns) and put it underneath, and the whole thing came together like dance magic!
Mask: I made my mask out of leather scraps (vegetable tanned) that I had left over from last year’s costume. I created the shape of the mask in paper and used the paper as a template to cut out the leather pieces. I then sewed the pieces together in a few places where it was necessary, and soaked the leather in water. When it was good and soaked, I molded the leather onto an old mannequin head and let it dry in place. When it was mostly dry, I put the leather in the oven at 200 degrees F and cooked it for half an hour so it would keep its shape forever.
After that, I got to do the fun part— decoration! I epoxy-glued scraps of several different fabrics and lace to the front of the mask. The horns I coated in glue then wrapped cord around, to give them a bumpy shape, then added a layer of dark gray fabric and some chunky glitter. When the glue dried, I painted the mask with a few layers of acrylic topcoat. When that was dry, I epoxy-glued on a bunch of glass gems and half-pearls to help give my mask that vaguely warty, goblin-y look the ones in the movie have. Finally, I added an elastic tie to go around my head, and some long ribbon streamers on each side of the mask near the ears.
Corset: Using a paper bag, I made a pattern for a corset that would fit my shape. I then cut the front of the corset out of the same taffeta fabric I used for the over skirt. I did not use boning in this corset, but instead used tough canvas material for the back and loops, to give it some strength. I laced it with ribbon on two sides in the front, and one in the back.
Necklaces: I made two necklaces. The larger one has four strands, which I made mostly from peach-colored glass beads, silver beads, plastic pearls I strung together on invisible thread. The second one, which has a large dragon’s head focal bead, was more complicated. To make it, I carved a dragon’s head in polymer clay, leaving a round notch in its forehead where I could glue a half-pearl. Then I made a mold of it with two-part silicon mold putty. I then mixed craft resin with pewter-colored nickle cold-casting powder (basically powdered metal, available on-line) and resin catalyst, and poured it into the mold (this part has to be done outside– liquid craft resin reeks worse than the Bog of Eternal Stench until it cures!) .
Anyway, when the dragon’s head was set and cured, I drilled a hole through it so it could be strung as a bead, and epoxy-glued the half-pearl into place. When the epoxy was dry, I strung the dragon’s head onto a six-strand necklace I made using mostly very small seed beads.
Hair clips: These were the easiest part of this whole costume—all I did was fire up the ol’ glue gun and covered two metal clips with ribbons. Then I sewed on some fake flowers and added some long ribbon streamers with leftover beads from my necklaces on the end.
Gloves: To make the gloves, I used one skein of Red Heart crochet thread in “Bridal White.” I cast on 50 stitches, knit five rows alternating knit and pearl stitches to create a ribbing to help hold them in place, and then I cast off and switched to crochet to make the fishnet part with a chain stitch. Finally, I cast back on another fifty stitches and knitted ten more rows of ribbing at the top end. Then I went back and crocheted a little line of ten stitches to go between the thumb and rest of the fingers to hold the glove in place. Of course, once I had one glove, I had to go back and make another one identical to it. Finally, when they were both done, I sewed a row of plastic pearls along the top and bottom edges of each glove.
Crystal Ball: The bubble-like crystal balls used in the movie are actually not made of glass or crystal, they’re highly polished acrylic contact juggling balls. I was able to order mine from a juggling supply on the internet, and while I need more practice, I’ve had a lot of fun learning some basic contact juggling moves with it from artists on YouTube. :)
Well, all that work took up most of my free time in October. And then, alas, Hurricane Sandy came along and really put a damper on Halloween! Oh well, as Sarah learns in “Labyrinth,” sometimes life is not fair, and you can’t take anything for granted. But after all those dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I just couldn’t let this costume go quietly into the closet, so I took some pictures to share here with you all. Enjoy!