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.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Run Away to the Circus

For Costume College this year, I was in charge of the Friday night social, titled "Run Away to the Circus".  My partner-in-crime Birda and I had a blast decorating the room in a circus theme, with a game midway, circus foods, photo booth and a live performer!  Joanne printed beautiful posters that we used for decor.

I wanted something easy but festive to wear as I would be running around during the event.  I came up with the following.

I saved a few Ringmaster jacket photos from Pinterest (love that site) and pulled elements from them that I liked and would be super easy. I really liked the stripes on this one, which is actually a costume jacket from Party City!

One jacket photo I saved looked like a pattern I had seen in the Simplicity costume section.  I found the pattern online and it was super easy.   I didn't like the flouncy sleeves, so left them off.

I bought some nice red fabric in downtown LA.   I had scraps of black and white stripe fabric left over from a pirate outfit.  Birda gave me some large gold trim she had in her stash, and I had small gold trim in my stash.

The under dress was made first.  I got the cheapest black cotton I could find, as it would be mostly covered.  It consists of a front bodice, back bodice and full, round skirt.  It slips over your head kind of like an apron. The edges are bound with black bias tape and simple straps hold it up.   In the final stages, I ran the larger gold trim across the front of the bodice, and the smaller gold trim around the hem.  I put a big fluffy crinoline underneath, giving it body and an extra layer of texture peeking out.

Next I decorated the sleeves.  I didn't have enough stripe for full cuffed sleeves, so I just added a flat layer around with gold trim.  Gold piping, left over from my 1960s Wonder Woman dress (see previous post) was placed around the top edge.

The fun part was the collar. I really had to stretch out my striped scraps, as I had barely enough after putting around the cuffs.  I used the last of my gold piping around the collar pieces.  I am sure glad I hoard my scraps!

Here is a photo when I was placing cut pieces on my dummy just to get a feel of what it might look like.

Next, I lined the jacket pieces and the peplum pieces.   That was a slippery job!  Then the jacket pieces were sewn together.  Its starting to look like something now!   

The pattern calls for laces through grommets to close the jacket in the front.  I decided not to do that.   

First, I sewed the smaller gold trim in four rows across the front of the jacket.  The same trim I sewed around the edge of the peplum. In this photo, its only pinned onto the dummy through the unfinished black dress, so its all bunched up at the moment.

Next, I added 4 gold buttons to each side of the horizontal trim.  Finally, I used gold ribbons, tacked to the front edges, to make gold bows to tie it on. 


Boots.   I had a boot decision to make.   Should I go with traditional black boots, or go with my flashy gold boots I wore to go with this outfit.   The gold ones won!
Top hat.   I've had this old hat for years, and just changed out the trim.
Wig.  My Wonder Woman wig, which is starting to get ratty.
Whip.  bought on ebay for $7.
Tights.   I love these.  I have a few pair.  These are from downtown LA. They also carry them in thigh high stockings, but tights are more my speed :)

Outfit fabric approximately $22 (red, black and lining)
Buttons $3.50    Trim all from stash.

My wonderful friends April and Joanne and awesome assistant Birda.  
                     Ringmaster General                                           Birda used the same pattern in blue and silver.


  1. Great job! I think this was the best social in years. The decorations were awesome and it was nice having entertainment.

    1. I agree with Tracey. I heard this repeated quite a few times. A lot of attention went into the details. Everywhere you looked, there was something going on, and so colorful.

  2. Thank you! I wanted fun things to do in addition to just socializing. The midway games and photo area were fun and everyone seemed to love Tina from The Dancing Fire group.

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  4. You look great! So do the decorations. The social sounds like so much fun. I wish I could have been there! Maybe next year. :-)

  5. You look fabulous Cindy!! What a fun costume and fun theme!! At a SASS convention one year we had that theme as well, so these pictures brought back great memories! I think your ring master outfit is the best ever!

    1. Wait!! Were you the lion tamer? I love the stuffed animal on the hoola hoop!!! Genius!!!

    2. Thanks! I was half Ringmaster half lion tamer :) As long as I got to carry a whip I was happy :)