This was the first year we decided to do a couples costume, so we wanted to really knock it out of the park. All we wanted to do was have fun, but when we put on our Magneto and Mystique costumes last night, we were shocked by how great they came out and decided we should submit them to a contest.
We were both huge fans of the movie, “X-Men days of future past” that came out this year. Magneto is awesome and Mystique is sexy and powerful. What better characters to emulate? Plus, we really wanted our costumes to be relevant to something that happened this year. The X-men movie was an obvious choice for us. What we didn’t realize at first, was how much effort the costumes would require. We are the definition of amateurs when it comes to costume making. We didn’t have a clue where to start and boy, did we make mistakes!
For Mystique: We got a blue unitard, thin sheets of foam to make scales, contact cement, a red wig, blue spray paint, yellow contacts, and insoles to put inside the unitard so no shoes would be required.
For Magneto: We got a maroon long sleeved under-armor shirt, maroon and navy fabric for the cape, black work gloves, and foam floor mats to make the armor and the helmet.
Mystique: Mystique is more than just a blue lady. She has these scales all over her body that are noticeably raised on her skin. We wanted to recreate that. We looked at different fabrics but found nothing that emulated the look of her skin. So we decided to make the scales ourselves and glue them to a blue unitard.
- We took thin foam sheets and spray painted them navy blue.
- Painstakingly cut out hundreds of small pieces in various shapes. Long slender scales for the arms and legs, “crazy shapes” for the shoulders and flanks, small circles for the breasts and pelvic area, and bigger circles for everywhere else (This took several evenings and our hands were literally aching by the end).
- The issue with the unitard was that it didn’t show any cleavage and Mystique is practically naked. So we attached elastic bands to a bra and attempted to glue it to the unitard. Unfortunately, it stained the chest horribly. So we borrowed a sewing machine, learned how to sew, and turned it into a V-neck unitard. This step also taught us to try other glues for the scales (contact cement worked great).
- Then came the gluing. Endless gluing! Cement glue was applied to every foam scale one at a time, and individually applied to the unitard. The key was to make it look random up close but have an overall structure and flow. This came out perfectly!
- We glued insoles to the inside of the unitard.
- The red wig was selected for the widows peak that Mystique has, but it came too long, so it had to be cut.
- The day off, we used blue makeup for the exposed skin, and used a paint brush to apply black, blue and indigo acrylic paint for face scales. We didn’t want to use raised scales on the face because we thought it would look less pretty.
- Put on the unitard, the wig and put in the yellow contacts. All done, it took weeks!
Magneto: The defining characteristic of Magneto is his nearly iconic helmet. We had no idea how to make this. We even considered buying one but that wouldn’t be any fun! So we put our heads together and came up with a way to make one. We don’t have any fancy materials or even a great workplace, so we needed to use simple materials. Foam seemed like the best option. You can cut it and shape it and glue it. This foam had to be thicker than the scales. We went with interlocking floor mats.
- Wrap a mannequin head with foil and then tape.
- Draw the shape of magnetos helmet on the tape.
- Cut out the shape, and cut it into four pieces so they can lay out flat.
- Use those four pieces as a template to cut out foam pieces.
- Use a hair dryer to heat the foam to shape it.
- Glue the pieces together.
- Oops! The mannequin head wasn’t big enough. It still fit but the side pieces didn’t come forward enough. We had to cut more pieces to tack on and extend it further forward.
- Used thin foam pieces to make the trim of the helmet around the front and the U shape on the head.
- Paper mache was applied with toilet paper to the helmet (at least three total layers). The toilet paper was used because we expected it to wrinkle and give it a stone appearance like it has in the movie (got this idea from the internet). Worked great!
- Oops! The paper mache dried and shrank the helmet. Very carefully, we cut the foam out from under the paper mache. Luckily it fit without the foam.
- Then painted it maroon. Awesome!
- Next was the armor. Again used the foam. We messed up the armor templates horribly the first time and it looked ridiculous. The second time was the charm (we used a measuring tape instead of relying on our poor artistic drawing abilities).
- The pieces were obviously flat and required a lot of shaping. We cut grooves into the back side, applied contact cement and bent the sheets around that grooves. The glue made the foam keep the desired shape.
- The armor pieces were attached to a navy blue short sleeve under-armor shirt with safety pins.
- The cape has a high collar in the movie. We made this collar with cardboard and cut small wedges into it, so it would fit the contour of the shoulders.
- We wrapped the cardboard frame with maroon fabric.
- At this point, we had already borrowed a sewing machine, so decided we could make the cape with an inner lining (just like in the movie). The cape is unevenly tapered at the bottom, so we took that into account. Somehow, that came out great without complications.
- The cape also had these two small triangles on the collar that we again made out of foam and spray painted maroon.
- The cape was attached to the armor with safety pins.
The very first person we ran into saw us and said, “Oh look! Avatar!” Seriously?! Which Avatar had red hair? Well, we laughed about it the rest of the night. No one else made that mistake. Mystique got the most attention. Probably because she has become an iconic character. Everyone we saw was shocked and even more shocked when we told them we made it. They didn’t believe we made the helmet until we explained the process of making it. We had a blast showing off all our hard work!