When I first started this blog, I was an unemployed costumer attempting to create period gowns and costumes with very limited means. Although now employed, I still try to be as thrifty as possible. I am still "The Broke Costumer"!

In addition to posts about the outfits I make on a budget, this blog includes short research articles on fashion, history, accessories, styles, or whatever interests me at the moment.

I hope you enjoy my journey into the land of inexpensive costuming and short articles.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Costume College Part 1 - A Mermaid's Tale

Another wonderful Costume College!  This year I was thrifty and only made two new outfits for the weekend.  The first was for Thursday night's Mermaids and Sea Sirens pool party.  My friend Joanne Weikel and I decided to make matching mermaid skirts, and do something on our own for the top half.  We went to a wig store in town that was going out of business, and we each got red wigs for half price - mine straight and long with a beehive, and hers long and curly.

We took a trip to LA fabric district and found a pretty turquoise sequined fabric we liked.  We each paid $11 for our pieces.  Joanne had a dark blue shimmery fabric already that we used for the base.  I lined my skirt with an old aqua sheet.

We started with this pattern for the base. Butterick 4954.  Joanne drafted the body and tail on paper which she tucked into the waist of the finished skirt while I was wearing it.   We then laid the pattern down on the sequins and cut it out.   Once the sequin shape was cut, I laid it face down on a piece of scrap fabric I had and sewed it all around, leaving the waist open.  I then turned it inside out and it was similar to a giant applique.

I wanted the tail to hang freely at the bottom but it was too droopy, so after I hand sewed the  "applique" onto the front of the skirt, I tacked down the tail at a few points. I added some green sheer ruffle at the bottom for "seaweed".  In this picture, the waist sequins are just tucked into the waistband.

I wore a turquoise top I found at Burlington that had seaweed like ruffles on it.  I cut the sleeves off.  I added some shell necklaces I had, glued a starfish on to a plastic crown, tied a piece of left over green fishing net around my waist and hung a string of shells down the side of the skirt.

I got some matching flip flops and carried my 1960's seashell handbag (which went perfect with my 60s beehive).   Here are a few photos from the pool party taken by Jerry Abuan.

Unfortunately Joanne was not able to attend Costume College on Thursday night.  But here she is in her beautiful wig which she did get to use on Sunday at Costume College during the Pirates of Penzance tea.  This photo was taken by Debbie Boyd.
 Breakdown for this outfit:

$11.00     Sequined fabric

$10.00     Turquoise top
  $5.00     Jeweled flip flops

TOTAL    $26                      (Wig - $25 and can be used for other costumes)

For the rest of Costume College, I wore:

Friday Day:  Mourning costume previously blogged about for the 100 years of mourning fashion show put on by Valarie LaBore (She calls us a Murder of Crows). Photo by Mary Jennings.

Friday Evening Ice cream social (1950's garden party theme) - I wore this dress from the Bettie Page store. Look how cute April's outfit is!  

Saturday Day - Pirate!  This is an outfit I already had for Ren Faire.   Saturday night I wore my Dark Marie costume which is in the post before this one so I won't post any photos of it.

Sunday outfit gets a post of its own.  Costume College Part 2.   First I have to get the pics downloaded.  See you in a few days!.


  1. Don't you think its funny that we stay in the same room at CoCo but hardly even see each other in costume except in the photos? The mermaid was really cute.

  2. I know, Val! I didn't see half my friends' costumes except in photos.