There are only a few costumes on my must-cosplay-before-I-die list and Beetle Ball Thumbelina from the animated movie Thumbelina is at the very top. I watched the movie hundreds of times as a kid and despite it being cheesy and silly it is still one of my favorite animated movies. The costume always intimidated me, especially the helmet and "feelers!" It took me many years of on and off contemplation of how I was going to construct it before just sucking it up and taking the
plunge. I completed the costume for Dragon*Con 2012 (my first D*C
on!) and realized a childhood dream!
Construction from the bottom up:
Petticoats- the costume is worn with 5 petticoats: three I made and two I purchased. There are three floor length and two knee length.
Chevron underskirt-the blue and fuchsia underskirt is made from Jo-Ann's quilting cotton and was self-drafted, has an invisible back zip, a straight waistband and a snap.
Scalloped overskirt- made from white twill and several quilters cottons. the light blue scallop is also a facing and is hand sewn to the white scallops to finish the edge. The yellow circles are appliques. The skirt closes with a large snap in the front.
Bodice- the bodice was drafted from a combination of flat pattern and draping techniques. The front has a yoke, two darts and a straight collar stuffed with batting. It zips up the back with a separating zipper. The sleeves have thick home dec piping in them and appliqued panels. The lower portion of the sleeves were entirely handsewn since the piping was too thick to fit in the machine! The fuchsia and blue "wings" are starched, interfaced and boned cotton panels that are sewn directly onto the back of the bodice. They also have snaps and hooks that help hold up the larger wings.
Cincher-the waist cincher is stuffed cotton that snaps onto the back of the bodice
Helmet- the base of the helmet is a rounded bike helmet that I tore the plastic off of, exposing just the styrofoam base. I then built up a large wire framework out of 12 gauge wire to thread the "feelers" onto. Over this I shaped the basic shape of the helmet by glueing large portions of batting over the entire thing. Then I used felt to drape a basic pattern. Once I had the pattern I used fosshape (a thermoplastic fiber that hardens and shrinks with heat) to build the base. To finish the felt-like texture of the fosshape I used several layers of modge podge then sprayed about 6-7 layers of plasti-dip spray to give everything a rubbery texture. Then it was all sprayed blue. The black portions of the helmet are stuffed cotton, the blue circles on the side are painted vinyl, and the yellow pieces are paperclay covered styrofoam. The large antennae are thin pvc pipes that slide onto the wire structure emerging from the fosshape. This allows the whole helmet to disassemble and fit into a car or suitcase.
Wings-the wings were built out of 12 gauge wire and slide into slits in the back of the bodice and in between two corsets I wore underneath the costume. The wings were made with 108" white sheer that I heavily starched and painted with diluted acrylic paint. The large wings are held up by a snap and hook onto the back of the costume to keep them from flapping around.