Custom Style

Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

Christmas Parade Costumes

Over the summer, I was part of a small team of costumers that helped build some walk-around character costumes for a Christmas parade at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.

It had been years since I had helped make true mascot type costumes, so it was a fun break from the norm and a good reminder of why I don’t want to do this kind of sewing all the time. Foam, fur, curved needles, and seriously wacky pattern pieces – give me real clothing any day!

Lime-Green-Stretch-Crushed-Velvet

Radioactive looking shiny lime green stretch crushed velvet. Lime green is my favorite color but this fabric causes some retinal burn-in when you look at it too long!

We constructed 2 moose heads that perched high (as in 12 feet high!) atop giant Santa hats, 2 big candy canes, and 2 elves that looked like Christmas tree ornaments. All were based on the designer’s sketches and completed with hundreds of LEDs.

There was lots of stretch crushed velvet and glittery stretch velvet for me to create striped yardage from.

Piles-of-Stripes

Stitching-Stripes

All those stripes are why I met Spray n Bond and we became good friends.

Spray-n-Bond

A little more about that in this post.

I stitched faces.

Constructing-the-Face

Looks a bit like Lady Cassandra. “Thin and dainty!… Moisturize me moisturize me!

I made eyeballs.

Making-Eyes

And I shoved large amounts of foam fabric through a small domestic sewing machine. I was really wishing I had a long arm machine to use for this!

Stitching-on-Yards-of-Foam-Fabric

I had to do some of the sewing standing up so I could see what I was doing over all that bulk!

Moose-Head-Construction

Moose head construction.

Ears-in-a-Row

Moose ears all in a row.

The moose ears made nice bunny ears too. I kind of want some!

Ears

I love this selfie with the ears so much it has been my Twitter avatar since I took it. (I’d use it for my Gravatar too if so many blogs didn’t do circle style avatars – it just doesn’t work as a circle.)

It’s a little weird to have your work stare back at you while you hand-stitch its ear on.

Looking-at-You

“I’m looking at you!”

I have tons more photos, but it’s more interesting to watch video because you can see all of the lights and get a better sense of the size. I was actually one of the test models for the elf costumes in order to help work out some of the awkwardness of wearing them – glad to see that no one was tripping and falling during the parade!

Happily, there were plenty of YouTube videos posted of the parade for me to choose from. (Ironically, the official Silver Dollar City one was not the best and was filmed on a night when not all the lights were working.) So I’ve chosen two of the best videos.

(See timestamps below each if you want to fast forward through them.)

This first one is nice for closeups:

  • 1:14–1:32 Moose heads on giant Santa Hats
  • 2:22–2:38 Big Candy Canes
  • 3:00–3:33 Elves that look like huge Christmas ornaments

And this video is a view of the parade from a little farther back, giving you a better look at the whole 12-foot moose on Santa hats costumes:

  • 0:48–0:59 Moose
  • 2:33–2:52 Candy Canes
  • 3:19–3:42 Elves

This year has been full of Christmas projects for me! And I still have one more to post about next time!

Happy New Year, everyone!

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19 responses to “Christmas Parade Costumes

  1. gilliancrafts December 30, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    WOW! Those are seriously cool costumes!!!! I can’t imagine how on earth those were sewn on a home sewing machine. Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Brooke December 31, 2014 at 10:12 am

      You’d be surprised how many things we sew on domestic machines in a costume shop. Poor abused machines. Glad you enjoyed seeing some of the behind-the-scenes and so glad I had a video to show (I don’t usually see the final costumes as they were intended when I work on something). =)

  2. mrsmole December 31, 2014 at 6:51 am

    Be sure and clean out your bobbin case after all that glitter as it can really build up and turn itself into little glitter balls with the heat and speed of the spinning…ask me how I know! Those eyeballs and lashes just cracked me up and making all those on a home machine must have caused you to sweat a bit along with the thickness and weight of the costumes…oh my but what a super job!!!

    • Brooke December 31, 2014 at 10:21 am

      Thank you! =)

      Luckily, this was not my machine. The university costume shop has 6 of these old machines, and trust me, they needed to be serviced before I ever used them. I probably cleaned and oiled the one I used at least 3 times during the time I was there. (You should have seen the completely blunt needle I changed immediately when I first sat down to use it!) Jobs like this remind me why I never want to own a Bernina. It was definitely a workout to get everything put together.

  3. Fifty Dresses December 31, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Now I know whom to contact when a need a fake moose – although those look awfully real! You are definitely a good sport, Brooke, to take on such a project!

    • Brooke December 31, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      I never would have agreed to do this kind of job if I weren’t part of a team. The lady who patterns the crazy foam structures and engineers how something can be worn is amazing! I have no idea how to even start doing what she does! I just know how to make the outside look pretty after everyone else has patterned and cut the fabric. And the lighting guys definitely made everything look cool when I was finished! There’s a lot of making-it-up-as-you-go in costuming.

  4. Bird and Bicycle December 31, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Amazing work as usual! What fun projects you get to work on.

  5. witness2fashion December 31, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    That basting adhesive sounds wonderful — and I know you’re an experienced professional. However, I was not able to find a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Spray-n-Bond basting adhesive online. This product may be safe to use indoors — but I’d want to read the can very carefully first. Home stitchers and crafters need to know:
    Spray adhesives can be very dangerous to work with. When using any spray adhesive, we need to take the instructions for use and protective gear very seriously — and read the MSDS.
    For example, here is a passage from the MSDS on 3M (TM) Super 77 (TM) Multipurpose Adhesive (Aerosol) — A product used by many home crafters:
    “Single exposure may cause target organ effects:
    Central Nervous System (CNS) Depression: Signs/symptoms may include headache, dizziness, drowsiness, incoordination, nausea, slowed reaction time, slurred speech, giddiness, and unconsciousness.
    Single exposure, above recommended guidelines, may cause:
    Cardiac Sensitization: Signs/symptoms may include irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), faintness, chest pain, and may be fatal. . . .
    Contains a chemical or chemicals which can cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.”
    The complete MSDS can be read at http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/mediawebserver?mwsId=SSSSSuUn_zu8l00xMx2SNxtePv70k17zHvu9lxtD7SSSSSS–
    Sorry to “vent” like this, but TV shows and how-to videos never seem to mention the need to read the Material Data Safety Sheet before using a spray product in your home.

    • Brooke December 31, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      From all my experience in working with glues in a costume shop, I do have to say that Spray n Bond was definitely one of the least offensive smelling glues I’ve ever been around. It doesn’t have the fumes that so many of the stronger professional glues have. (Barge, which is used in shoe-making and a lot of costuming, is probably the worst and you actually have to put your name on a government hazardous substance list if you buy anything bigger than a toothpaste tube sized amount of it.) The Spray n Bond didn’t give me the usual glue headache and had very little odor so it was nice to be able to use something that didn’t make me feel like I needed to open a window. I wonder if it’s because it’s a “temporary” adhesive that it isn’t (or at least doesn’t seem) as toxic.

  6. Athene December 31, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    That is super cool. Those costumes you worked on reminded me a lot of the characters Ellen has every year during her “12 Days of Giveaways.” This year’s reindeer mascot (“Dancer”) was really funny.

    I hope we go to Silver Dollar City when we go to Branson next time! I already have it in my plans. 🙂 We didn’t make it there last time.

    • Brooke December 31, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      Mascot type costumes are so strange to work on. I’m sure a lot of the materials and process was similar to what you saw on Ellen. I’m so glad it’s not my regular job!

      I remember going to Silver Dollar City with my family when I was a kid. I got to dip candles in colored vats of wax and do some leather stamping. It was also the first place I rode a log ride. =)

  7. Tia Dia January 2, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    What a lot of work and fun this looks like. I can’t imagine having my work watching me while I was stitching her poor ears on. Thanks for posting, Brooke!

  8. Chuleenan - C Sews January 3, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Wow – so amazing to see all those things you worked on! It was really fun and funny to see those things walking around in the parade. I really enjoyed seeing all your photos on IG – especially the moose ears!

    • Brooke January 3, 2015 at 10:51 pm

      I found it really nice to be able to see the final costumes myself! I usually don’t see the end result of most of what I build. Glad you enjoyed the teasers and the final parade! =)

  9. Cecilia June 15, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Great costumes, I enjoyed all of them. Awesome pictures, too. Thanks.

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