Conquering Cosplay: The Princess Bride Edition

Conquering Cosplay is a monthly article written by Cosplay enthusiast Keriann McNamara-McCauliffe.  She shares her tips and tricks for Cosplay of various characters in the land of the nerd.

Con season is quickly approaching and if you guys are anything like me, your heads are already spinning with ideas for costumes you want to try out this year. February is Valentine’s Month so in honor of that I wanted to choose one of my favorite couples of all time and share some ideas with you on how to recreate their awesomeness at whatever cons you may be attending this year. Keep in mind you don’t have to have a boyfriend or girlfriend to complete any couple Cosplay, as long as you have a good buddy you can definitely try this out!

The Princess Bride: Westley and Princess Buttercup

They are one of the most romantic and beautiful couples of all time. When I think true love story, I think The Princess Bride. I was raised on the movie, and on more than 100 occasions I would run around in whatever dress I could find pretending to be Princess Buttercup. My Barbie dolls even had to battle R.O.U.S.’s quite frequently. For all these reasons, and the fact that Cary Elwes will be at DCC this year (gasp/swoon/faint/melt), I think there is no better Cosplay to break down for Valentine’s Month than Princess Buttercup and her dear Westley.

Princess Buttercup:

Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride

I love this Cosplay because not only is it design flexible, but it is pretty easily done. Buttercup has two trademark looks, the orange dress she wears when she is taken by the Dread Pirate Roberts and her wedding dress from the end of the movie.

I think the far more iconographic image of her is the orange dress so I will focus on that one here. First off, you’ll want to Google (or Alta Vista, I don’t discriminate) the hell out of the dress. Study it and decide how you want it to fit you and how much work you want to put into it. For the really easy going Cosplayer, this could be as simple as a thrift store bathrobe with craft store gold ribbon tied around the waist. It’s not the most detailed, but it absolutely works for those short of time or still a little weary to dive in and make their own costume from scratch.

Making your own dress gives you the ability to fit it to yourself and to lovingly add detail where you want it and it is still pretty easy. First off, you’ll want to make a run to your local craft store and pick up the following items:

  • Elastic (and width should do, but at least an inch or more is best)
  • Many needles and orange thread, if you sew. This is a costume that can easily be accomplished with a hot glue gun. If that is your preferred method be sure to get an abundance of glue sticks and still some needles to help pin your fabric in place before adhering it.
  • Orange fabric – there isn’t a determined amount. I recommend getting a little more than you think you’ll need to allow for mistakes. *Note: If fabric is hard to come by consider buying sheets in the color you need. I made a Bride of Frankenstein costume out of curtains I found at a thrift store and they worked perfectly.
  • Thick metallic and/or sparkly gold ribbon, thicker than two inches in width.
  • Orange ribbon to match your material

The next step will be figuring out your fabric measurements. Luckily this dress is pretty easily made with one giant piece of material for the main part, one smaller one for a bodice, two skirt extenders and two smaller pieces for sleeves.

Start with the largest piece of material and imagine how long you will need it to drape to the floor but not trip you. The dress is a V-neck and the way I’ve accomplished the main piece, or frame, in the past is honestly by using a large enough piece of material, folding it two so either side is the length of my body and then cutting a hole to put my head through. This is one of the reasons I like using sheets or curtains; you get a lot of material for cheap, and it’s easy to work with. Cut your head hole so it is a V in the front but round it on the other side so it fits up against the back of your neck well. Think of the Millennium Falcon and cut that shape. If there is an excess of material on your sides, go ahead and trim it down. You want to leave enough that your body is covered completely and its fits kind of like a moo-moo. It’s a flattering look, I know.

Princess Buttercup Dress Frame

 

You’ll want to take the dress frame off and either sew or glue the open edges together on either side, but only down to the waist. Again, it’s okay if the dress is loose, the bodice will make it form fitting. Once you have that taken care of, set that piece aside for now and start on your bodice.

Princess Buttercup Dress Frame 2

You’ll want it to start underneath your chest and stop approximately at your pelvis. The bodice will be relatively simple, just measure a piece of fabric out and wrap it around your torso. Fit it to yourself how you’ll want it to fit your frame. It should be form fitting but only what you’re comfortable with. The bodice should wrap around you and meet in the center of your back where it will lace up. Cut off any excess material and then fold the piece in half so the ends that will lace up are together. You’ll want to punch holes along the edge (but not too close!) to run the ribbon through to lace up the bodice in the back. You can use a variety of objects to create the holes, scissors, knives, sharp screw drivers, cork screws… anything that will piece the fabric and allow you to make a big enough circular hole to run the ribbon through. If you are using a hot glue gun, and are afraid of the material fraying, you can put a ring of glue around each hole to keep the threading in place.

Princess Buttercup Bodice

Place the bodice aside; it will be the last piece of your costume you put on. Next, cut two pieces of material that run from your waist (or just above where the bodice starts) down to your feet. You’ll want to attach these to the dress frame where the skirt is still open. These pieces will allow more bunching and a more flowing look once the bodice is applied. You can make them as wide or thin as you want, depending on how flow-y you want the skirt to be.

Princess Buttercup Skirt Sides

Finally, you’ll need to add sleeves, and these may be the hardest part. Use pieces of fabric by wrapping them around your arm to get an idea of how you want them to fit. Buttercup’s sleeves are very loose so take care not to make them too tight, but make sure they fit well around your armpits where they will adhere to the dress frame. Make sure the sleeves are long enough to go past your wrists; they should stop approximately at the tip of your middle finger. Seal off each piece of material to create a tube of fabric, and attaché the more fitted end to the dress frame at the armpit.

Princess Buttercup Sleeves

At this point you can either choose to stop and leave your sleeves loose, or you can put in one final detail and use your elastic to fit them to your wrists. Either way you will look amazing! If you want to fit the sleeves you’ll need to cut a piece of elastic in a size that fits your wrist comfortably and doesn’t cut off circulation, then attach the ends together either by sewing them or gluing them. The hardest part now is that you will have to bunch the fabric of the end of your sleeves up so it wraps around the elastic. Do not sew your material to or adhere glue to the elastic, it will no longer be flexible if you do. You need to seal of the fabric above the elastic. Think of a scrunchie (that really ages me, by the way) and how it was fabric bunched around that piece of elastic that made it a hair tie – that is the idea you are going for here.

The final touch here once your dress is all put on is the trademark gold belt. Use your gold ribbon and just tie it around your waist. You will probably need a little help day of to lace up your bodice with the ribbon in the back.

Princess Butter Cup finished product Princess Buttercup Finished Product Back

A few final notes on the costume:

I am a believer that hair style is a very key element to pulling off a costume or missing the mark. On that note, keep in mind that Buttercup has beautiful long blond hair and no bangs. If you are a wig enthusiast be sure to pick up a wig that matches her look. I always like to use my own hair for costumes if I can. I’m part of the school that knows that hair will always grow back, and it can always be dyed. On that note, if you have those long luxurious locks but they’re not the right shade don’t be afraid to dye your hair.

If you are using a fabric that is prone to fray be sure to seal your edges with a hem. Someone once told me that singing material is a great way to seal edges and skip the work of hemming. That ONLY works if you are working with polyester – which is plastic based – and even then it’s risky. DO NOT attempt this method with cotton; that shit goes up in flames. I tried it once and nearly lit my entire room on fire. My sister still will not let me live it down.

Westley, or The Dread Pirate Roberts:

Westley in The Princess Bride

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: sometimes men have it so much easier in the realm of Cosplay. So many elements of their costumes are more easily found at party supply and thrift stores. Westley, is no exception to that.

Things you will need to complete this costume:

  • Black tight fitting pants. Leather is best, but not always easy to find or make yourself.
  • A loose fitting black shirt, with a collar, that can be tucked into your pants.
  • Black boots, not cowboy or hiking, that come up at least to mid-calf length.
  • A black mask that only covers your eyes
  • A black sash to tie around your waist
  • A black sash to tie around your head
  • Black leather gloves
  • A sword, preferably with a decorative handle

One really great thing about the Westley costume is that you can really customize it to your liking. You don’t have to have the head sash, as he does not wear it all the time. If you want to go full Dread Pirate Roberts you’ll want all of the above items, but as the movie progresses, Westley loses many of those items which means if something is hard to find, you can easily go without it. You can easily lose the black leather gloves, the head sash and even the mask if you want. I personally love the post R.O.U.S. battle Westley with the torn shirt and bloody shoulder because it gives me a chance to apply a wound makeup, which I love, and it’s a nice touch of originality.

Most guys own at least one pair of black pants, but you’ll probably want to buy a pair for this costume. You can check thrift stores, but your best bet will probably be some sort of workout pant, something very tight fitting. Westley’s pants have to be tight. Please do not attempt this look with black jeans or Dickies because it won’t look right.

The shirt should be easily found at a thrift store. You’ll want one that is at least one to two sizes too big for you. The top few buttons will need to be left unbuttoned, but of you really want to go the extra mile, I recommend cutting off the top few buttons and poking holes where they were. That way you can run a black string, cord, or even shoe lace through the holes to complete that pirate shirt look.

You can use varying pieces of material for the pirate sash belt and headpiece. You can either buy some at your local craft store or you can find something to cut up at a thrift store. The thrift store option will most likely be cheaper than buying new fabric out right. I often find things at thrift stores for the sole purpose of cutting them up for spare fabric and pieces.

The mask and sword will be easily found at almost any party supply store. Most of them keep costume basics in stock year round, and luckily small black masks and swords are apparently universal necessities for all seasons. If you want your sword to be more unique than a generic store bought one you can always customize the handle. Westley’s sword has a very intricate silver winding around its handle which can be very easily recreated with tin foil. If you want something a step above that, I recommend getting a sturdy but pliable wire and rubber tubing from either a craft or home improvement store. Simply run the wire through the tubing and mold it into the shape you want. Once that’s complete, you can use a metallic acrylic paint or even spray paint to make it silver and then you can attach it to the sword you have either using extra wire or hot glue.

The Princess Bride Prince Westley

And there you have it. For minimal cost and stress you can pay tribute to two of pop culture’s most romantic icons. Keep following Hush Comics to get new Cosplay ideas, breakdowns, and musings each month from me. Next month I’ll be looking at some strong female characters in honor of Women’s History Month and something a little more goofy to pay tribute to the triumphant return of Community.

Do you have any questions, comments or suggestions for costumes you’d like a breakdown of? Leave a comment for me below, or find us on Twitter @hushcomics and me @msmacabre1314.

Images from The Princess Bride belong to 20th Century Fox. All sketches are drawn by Keriann McNamara-McCauliffe and belong to her.

Conquering Cosplay: Tips and Tricks for Daryl Dixon and Sally

Conquering Cosplay is a monthly article written by Cosplay enthusiast Keriann McNamara-McCauliffe.  She shares her tips and tricks for Cosplay of various characters in the land of the nerd.

Halloween is here! It’s the best time of year for any Cosplayer, new or novice to try your hand at Cosplay. It’s also the best time to stock up on supplies you might need throughout the year. Halloween is a great opportunity to try new tricks with makeup and fabrication because luckily if you get it wrong most people won’t notice and you’re all the richer for the experience

Follow along with me here to learn some tips and tricks from someone who’s been in your shoes. I’ve been making my own costumes since I was a kid, and I’ve screwed them up pretty royally at times, but I’ve also learned and created great tips and tricks to look awesome last minute while saving money.

If you are anything like me you probably realized that Halloween is on tomorrow and, holy crap, you don’t have a costume. Maybe you got caught up in work, school, or the return of The Walking Dead. Never fear!

First things first, and in my opinion this is the hardest part, you need to select a character. It can be ANYBODY. If you’re a last minute person this year, don’t select anything too ambitious. There simply isn’t time to buy and mold craft foam or anything involving airbrushing. Think simple but still great. For this article’s sake let’s pretend for the ladies you’re creating a do it yourself Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. For all you guys out there, let’s pretend you’re going to be The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon (swoon).

Sally:

Sally has a lot of little details. Her skin is very white with stitches in it, she wears orange socks, black shoes, and her hair is very red.

For Sally’s skin, don’t use the grease make-up sold at Halloween stores. 1. It will not stay in place and will rub off on you and everyone you hold dear, 2. It’s a pore clogging disaster that is really no fun to get off. Most of them require full on makeup removers which are just more oil. In the past when I’ve needed to change my skin color to look dead or something like that I’ve just gone to my local drug store and bought a cheap foundation and mixed it with color myself. Just look for a shade that will correspond with what you are trying to achieve, typically a lightest ivory white works best. Then, I know this sounds crazy, but look for an eye shadow or blush in the color you’re going for. For Sally, you’ll want a very light purple, white, and maybe some very light greens for accent.

When you’re ready to apply to your skin, or to do a test run, pour some of the foundation on a plastic tray or in a bowl and grind up the eye shadow or blush and start adding it to the foundation. Mix it until you get your desired color and apply to your skin with a makeup sponge or your fingers. This way your skin color will not run when you sweat, it won’t rub off if you touch it, and just regular soap and water will get it off in a jiff. Plus, if you choose a slightly metallic shade it adds a great opaqueness for zombie or dead skin. For the finishing touch of stitches you’ll just need a black eyeliner pencil. You can just draw them on top of your base face color.

For her hair, you have two options: a wig, or hair dye. Many times though, a wig is expensive. One tip I’ve learned in my travels is that food coloring makes a good temporary dye. The application can be very tricky, so I don’t recommend it for all over color, especially with long hair, but if you’re looking for washout streaks food coloring works really well. The easiest way to apply it is with q-tips for very small streaks or a sponge brush for larger pieces or all over color. Food coloring does stain, so take precautions and be careful.

Going to your local costume shop, you can look at the costume that is pre-made for her, and then don’t do that costume… Sally costumes for whatever reason are a solid piece with a print on the front of what looks like sewn together patches, but the back is a solid piece of fabric in bright yellow. For the manufacturer that is cheap and lazy, for someone wanting to do the character just that is a big no-no.

For the Sally costume you can either buy a few garments on the cheap in the right color or pull stuff from your own supply of things you no longer wear. Cut the clothes into large pieces that you will then sew back together. If hand sewing isn’t something you’re totally comfortable with I’d recommend picking up a dress that fits you and then just sewing your costume pieces to it so you don’t have to worry about making something from scratch. As a Cosplayer, you will ALWAYS want to have a hot glue gun and an abundance of glue sticks on hand. If you don’t want to sew anything you can piece what you want together and use glue. For the stitched together look of Sally’s dress you can just glue black yarn in place to give the appearance that your dress was stitched together. Luckily, your stitch job can be as sloppy and lazy as you want and you will only make your outfit look better.

You should look exactly like her now... except don't actually stitch your skin up.
You should look exactly like her now… except don’t actually stitch your skin up.

Daryl Dixon:

Daryl’s details include his bow and arrows, his angel winged vest and his zombie ear necklace. You can also add some wounds to make yourself look beat up.

For a Daryl costume, you could look for a crossbow and arrows that you can paint. You can also find bags of small body parts that people use for decoration at parties. If you can find a bag of ears you can pick them up to make Daryl’s zombie kill ear necklace.

Also, Halloween stores are a great place for FX makeup essentials like silicone and latex, and the do it yourself wound kits they sell are pretty good. I’d recommend stocking up on liquid latex for the year ahead, and if you see any wound kits that interest you go ahead and pick them up because you’ll never know when you need them or just want to test them out for fun. For the Daryl costume you can just pick up general latex wound kit to give your face a little wear and tear. Red food coloring always makes a great blood substitute, especially when paired with liquid latex. The zombie apocalypse is a scary place, after all.

Your final stop will be to a thrift store or your own closet. Look for various items that you can cut up or piece together to get what you need. Daryl is an easy one in this case, a pair of your own jeans and a black shirt will work. You’ll just want to pick up a leather jacket (because a leather vest is probably a lot harder to find) at a thrift store and cut the sleeves off to make it a vest. For his trademark angel wings on the back you can use a variety of things, you can buy patches from a craft store, paint them on yourself if you like, or fashion some from extra fabric and glue them on.

Your costume is together, but it's hard to be as badass as this guy.
Your costume is together, but it’s hard to be as badass as this guy.

When you put all these things together, ta-da! You’ll have a pretty spot on version of your favorite character and you will have done it yourself. Don’t fret if it’s not perfect, at least now you’ve gotten your feet wet, and your next attempt you’ll do even better!

The picture of Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon belongs to AMC.  The picture of Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas belongs to Touchstone Pictures and Skellington Productions Inc.