Tentacles | Summer 2010, Summer 2011

Fabric / Materials: Hunter green acetate taffeta, lots of polyfill
Pattern: I make stuff up...

July 30, 1010

In honor of an upcoming Halloween masque, I decided to make a hat/wig with lots of shiny green tentacles in different widths. I think I may pair it with a matching mermaid skirt/corset combo and the mask from the Pride dress last year.

September 3, 2010

Remember all of those acetate taffeta tentacles stuffed with the contents of two bags of polyfill that I intended to wear on my head? About that... I made the hat. It was a simple semi-oval affair with a thick elastic band. I even attached the tentacles in different widths with the idea that it would look like grotesquely elegant sea creature 'hair'. Unfortunately, it weighed so much, I couldn't stand it. So, I abandoned the hat idea and went instead for a sort of apron affair that clips around the waist. It looks just as grotesquely elegant, but hurts a lot less.

The bodice is an altered version of Truly Victorian's off-the-shoulder 1870s early bustle ballgown bodice. I modified it so it was more natural form. I also shaped the back into two points to it would sort of resemble a fish tail and make a nice outline for the tentacles. The skirt is the straight up TV Fantail. I meant this project from the beginning to be a costume rather than a serious reproduction, so there are more than a few concessions.

For the bodice, I was thinking of a long row of tiny mother of pearl buttons. Possibly some glass pearl beading at the neck line, or maybe some orderless self trim with some dangly bits to further suggest "sea witch". I have yet to put in buttonholes or anything else, and the bodice is unattractively pinned to norma-jean (the dummy) whose dimensions are slightly different than my own corseted dimensions.

The tail is the top half of a tea drop shape inverted. The tentacles in various widths were sewn in between the layers and where the waistband attaches for a cascading effect. The base is reinforced with cotton twill and clips together using flat skirt hooks. This will be much more comfortable than wearing them on my head. Now I just need to figure out some kind of train hitch so the fantail doesn't get in the way while doing the waltz and tango.

November 24, 2010 - Not the greatest pictures in the world, and not quite as alien sea creature as I originally intended, but still a bizarre little twist on the 1870s. I ended up using Norwegian clasps on the front because I didn't have a machine I could use to put buttonholes in it. I think it worked. There are cable ties stiffening the center front.

June 29, 2011 - I had a little bit more of the dark green acetate taffeta lying around, and I thought the Tentacles looked a little bare and in need of embellishment. Step one was a gathered ruffle about 7 inches wide before hemming. I used three lines of stitching for a nice tight gather, and zigzag stitched it to the 1878 fantail skirt, hanging down about two inches lower than the hem. The skirt was just a bit too short upon examination of last year's Halloween pictures. Also, I added puffed sleeves, which I now see are in desperate need of dangly kelp-like venise lace.

I'm looking out for some dark green venise lace about 3 or 4 inches wide. So far, all I found was an esty seller who seemed to be all out. I wonder if I buy just plain white, some bridal shop can dye it for me. I might also need some velvet ribbon or an inch-wide row of ruching out of the same taffeta to hide the edge of the ruffle. To me, Victorian-inspired Lovecraftian creature costumes look better with heavy embellishment.

July 11, 2011 In Louisiana last year, I acquired a few gator claw keychains that I intended to make hat decorations out of. Below is an image map of the hat from the Ruby 1880s Ensemble that got taken apart and re-invented for this costume.

Site map

The gator claws are delightfully creepy. I hot glued a pin back to one of them, along with a shank button and small cloak clasp in brass. I may have to attach matching buttons to the bodice now that I see the color combination.

Friday, July 15, 2011 Tentacles Progress

I added copious amounts of bullion fringe to the pannier overskirt as well as the bodice. I think it adds texture and a level of interest that it lacked before. Finding trim in hunter green has been difficult. I may end up experimenting with dye. I'm going to try it with some venise lace I had lying around and a bottle of Rit from JoAnn's.

The bag is for my hotel key card, wallet and cell phone. The little green jeweled embellishments I took from a pair of fancy flip flops that I destroyed through wear a few years ago. Something told me I would find a project for them.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

If at first you don't succeed...

...dye, dye again. I know. I know. It's bad, but I couldn't resist. I hunted everywhere on the internet for hunter green venise lace and other trims. I found absolutely nothing, so I turned to dye. My first attempt on a bit of ivory venise lace came out very dark. I used 2 tablespoons of Rit's "dark green" dye, and a tablespoon of salt in very hot water for about 45 minutes. I think with some teal and less cooking time it would be a fine match to my fabric. The second go around I cooked for a lot less time, used 1/2 teaspoon less dye, and cooked for a a quarter of the time. The result was much paler. I guess I'll have to throw it in again.

I tried dyeing a small piece of one of my favorite tassel trims from JoAnn's in white. It took the dye beautifully, except for the threads it was bound together with. Those were still white while the trim itself was almost black. I tried again with an old scrap of sage green, and it took the dye much better.

I knew this would be a process of trial and error, and I hope it yields gorgeous results.

Friday, July 29, 2011 A near perfect match.

My second attempt was much more successful. I filled a chowder pot with just enough water to fully submerge all of my materials, and then added 2.5 teaspoons of Rit Dark Green and Teal. I also added a teaspoon of salt. This seemed to do the trick pretty damned well.

The finished product! Fancy dyed lace, ruffles, sleeves on the bodice. Packing the stuffed tentacles into a suitcase was less than awesome. It took up half the space. The Lovecraftian masquerade costume was a big hit.