Guest post: What to Consider When Choosing a Costume for a Long Parade

(The following article is a guest post! We thought it would be useful to anyone who wants to wear a costume in a parade, especially since some of the larger conventions have costume parades that people can participate in!)

They say everybody loves a parade, but you can quickly become the exception that proves the rule if you choose to march in a costume that is uncomfortable or inappropriate for the weather. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make marching in even the longest parades a pleasant, memorable experience. While your local search might provide you with limited options, with enough planning you can build your own costume or special order pieces to open up a whole new world of possibilities. Before selecting your costume, decide to be a savvy participants and make sure you considered these top four questions for choosing the best costumes for long parades:

Does the Costume Accommodate Comfortable Footwear?

Whether you are marching or walking, taking part in a long parade can be demanding on your feet and ankles. Hard, asphalt surfaces and uneven pavement can quickly start you down the path to a night full of aches and pains. Keep this problem at bay by selecting a costume that accommodates comfortable footwear. Avoid high heels at all costs, and if you can, line your shoes with soft, comfortable gel inserts.

Is It Appropriate for the Weather?

In most locations, a skimpy costume made from wispy fabrics will be a poor choice for a parade scheduled for a brisk December afternoon. Similarly, in the summer, a full-body sports team mascot outfit with a fully enclosed mask could lead to heat exhaustion or worse. Fortunately, during hot weather you can often keep yourself cool—even in the bulkiest outfits—by choosing a costume that includes an internal fan. You can do plenty of research online, include searching sites like Halloween costumes for inspiration and planning. Beyond your costume, make sure that you wear appropriate clothing underneath.

Is It Made of Breathable Fabrics?

Even in cold weather, you can quickly work up a sweat as you proceed down a parade route. In the summer months, getting hot in a costume is a given. Wearing breathable fabrics will help keep your temperature regulated as well as keep you comfortable and free from chafing. Both your costume and the clothing you wear underneath it should breathe easily. While a detailed latex mask or accessories might be tempting, remember that they will hold in moisture which could make you miserable.

Does It Pass the Run Test?

Complicated, spectacularly adorned costumes can be a real temptation when you want to make an impact on parade viewers. Unfortunately, if they are not put together carefully, they can easily make walking uncomfortably or cause you to look like a disaster. Imagine trailing your accessories along or having a critical piece of your outfit fall off en route. To avoid this, try using the “Run Test.” Put on your costume and move or run vigorously for a minute or two. Anything that comes loose or falls off needs to be removed from your costume and reattached securely. A successful run test can keep you comfortable and looking as good at the end of the route as you did at the start of the parade.

Marching in costume in a parade should be a fun, memorable experience. Choosing the wrong outfit can make that an unlikely outcome. When deciding what to wear, apply a healthy dose of common sense. With a little searching, you can find any number of costumes that will “wow” the crowd and without making you miserable.

Work, work, work.

Yeah, we’ve been absent from our blog. If you aren’t a fan of our Facebook page, then you probably have no clue what we have been up to, but that’s okay. I’ll update you!

We have been…

Building Parn’s armor (and sword with sheath) from Lodoss War.

Making Benni’s staff, from Looking For Group (comic).

Working (slowly) on Alexstrasza’s wig.

Going to an amazing wedding, and

getting ready for our own wedding, as well as

building Elspeth’s sword, from Magic the Gathering (for this lady right here).

Soon we’re off to our honeymoon, then a busy summer getting ready to move to a new state, but we promise that more tutorials are coming, as well as some previews of upcoming personal costumes for San Diego Comic Con!

Also happening today (or in a few hours, as I write this) is Diablo 3, hooray! Mario and I are quite sad that we don’t live in Southern California, or we would be all painted as Witch Doctors and enjoying the festivities. My Witch Doctor is still my favorite costume that we’ve made so far!

Don’t forget to follow our page on Facebook if you want to be kept more in the loop on what we’re doing, since I do tend to like to put up more lengthy posts than “here are some progress photos!” on the blog.

Starcraft Medic Shield Commision

Back in the start of 2011 a friend asked up to help her out with a fan art inspired Terran medic.

I took on the project even though we were knee deep in the Kerrigan build at the time. I have love of prop weapons and accessories making it very hard to turn down the opportunity to make a something as cool as a 4foot shield!! Continue reading

Queen of Blades tutorial Step Nine: Painting your pieces (for foam latex!)

For foam latex, there are many ways you can paint it, and each way has significantly different materials and its important to look at the positive and negatives of each method. I’ll list the ways you can paint it first, then detail the way we painted our suit. We decided to airbrush our body suit, due to the fact that paint brushes are poorly suited to the task, and using sponges would take way too long.

Materials to paint foam latex with:

RMG paint Continue reading

Queen of Blades tutorial Step Nine: Casting your pieces

Finally, after you’ve molded your parts, sculpted your pieces, and cast your molds, you can cast them in your material! We used foam latex, so that’s what this tutorial is for.

To bake foam latex, you need an oven that you do not cook food in, that will go as low as 160 degrees Fahrenheit. It must also be able to fit your molds into the oven, which is why we built a huge one, to fit our body mold in there. You also definitely need a scale that measures in grams.  Continue reading

Queen of Blades tutorial Step Eight: The Wings

Alice has been diligently updating every week so I’m sure you can see how complex this build truly has been. It was a learning experience at every turn, and during a trip to our local Tap plastic I found they carry a machine wound fiberglass tube in several sizes. We decided to by one and see just how strong it was.

After some testing, we were willing to give an idea that I had running around in my head a try. I had spent some time in my youth backpacking an I knew that if there was any way to make the wings full sized then the weight would have to be carried on Alice’s hips.

We had already looked at a using a corset to help “enhance” Alice’s figure and it would also lend its self nicely to a mount for the wings. Continue reading

Queen of Blades tutorial Step Seven: Molding the smaller pieces (or: how to make stone molds!)

Now, one of the things that was the least stressful for me, stone molds. The basics of making a mold (no undercuts, mold line, the dreaded clay wall…) are covered in the fiberglass mold tutorial, so check that out first, I’m just sticking to what makes a good stone mold in this.

As with the fiberglass molds, make sure there is a key in the stone part of the mold, to help line up the mold with the inner piece when you’re casting. Put a layer of clay covered with saran wrap under your sculpture so that the details aren’t ruined by laying on the table, and make sure to mark out your mold line with a sharpie. Continue reading

Queen of Blades tutorial Step Six: Molding the body suit

So I’ve already covered how to make a fiberglass mold, these are just tips about how we went about doing the body mold.

If you are making a body suit, or making a mold of something just as large, then have at LEAST one other person who knows what they’re doing with fiberglass working with you, but try to get more people to help. The more people who are making the mold, the quicker it will be done. Mario and I worked two 17 hour days, only stopping for quick meals, to get the body suit finished.

Make sure to have proper ventilation, and wear gloves and masks. If your suit has a lot of detail, it’s crucial to do a layer of gel coat. We used clear gel coat to help us see any air bubbles. I covered all of this in the previously mentioned post on molds. We had some issues with the gel coat sliding, thin layers are better than thick, trust in the material. It’s better to do two or three layers of thin gel coat, than one thick layer. Make sure to read the directions on the can for multiple coats, because it’s specific on timing.

Oh, another important note, when you clean out the clay from the body form, make sure to put it in a bucket, and measure it so that you know the amount of foam latex you’ll need for the suit. Also, work quickly but also take your time with laying the fiberglass, so that there aren’t any air bubbles, or messiness.

As always, let us know about any questions or concerns. Happy crafting!


Queen of Blades tutorial step two: Smaller lifecastings

Okay. Now on to the smaller castings of your body parts. We purchased 15 lbs of alginate from Monster Club, we got a lot of our materials from them and Frends. We may have used 12, maybe, but it’s best to have extra, and to make sure that in case you mess up (we did the first time, you have to learn how to feel when the alginate is about to set up). We also purchased 4 boxes of 12 rolls of bandages, and we almost used all of them up. We suggest prepping your area before you begin, of course. We put a cardboard box on our table to protect it, but you could use a cheap plastic tablecloth instead. Have at least two people other than the person getting cast to help, one to wet the bandages and help apply alginate, and one to apply and mix alginate and apply bandages. Also, make sure you cover the floor you’re working on, plaster is pretty hard to clean up if it gets into carpet or tile, you have to scrape it off and I know you don’t want to ruin your floors! Continue reading

Queen of Blades tutorial Step One: The full body cast.

The absolute first thing you need to do after research and gathering your materials is make your body cast. If you are lucky enough to have the exact dimensions of a mannequin, you’re welcome to use that as what you sculpt on for your body, but you need to make sure that mannequin has the exact height, weight, and measurements of your body. A few inches off, and the body suit will not fit you correctly. Also make sure that it’s not going to melt if you stick in into a 100 something degree oven.

We did my body cast before we did everything else, because if we couldn’t do the body cast, then we couldn’t do the costume. I went by this tutorial  and I suggest you do the same, but here are some things you need to keep in mind:

Cover the floor where you are doing this. I used two tarps from the hardware store. Continue reading