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Fancy Costumes

( Originally Published 1932 )

The making of a fancy costume is a test for any one's ingenuity. Here, we can let imagination run riot and appear in frills and furbelows to our heart's content. Because it is worn only once or twice, such a costume should be inexpensive, but at the same time, smart, appropriate and colorful.

No material will cover all these requirements quite as well as crępe paper. It comes in a variety of lovely colors and designs, and its strength and fine texture give it many advantages over cloth materials. Many spectacular effects may be obtained by its use that can be gained in no other way except by using very expensive fabrics.

The simplest way of designing a costume is by making it over a "slip-over." This is made of one piece and, as the name implies, is designed to slip over a frock or suit, forming a foundation for the costume. They are extremely easy to make, require but little material, and may be adapted to costumes of any nature.


This does not require a muslin foundation, as many costumes do. Obtain a straight strip of crępe paper, any color desired, which will reach from the shoulders to the floor. This is now folded in half, and a round hole cut for the neck. This forms the waist. Make it the correct width by folding a pleat over each shoulder and fluting the edges. "Fluting" means to stretch the paper slightly across its grain to give a ripple effect.

The neck may be trimmed with a strip of beading pasted on to give a neat finish. This is made by folding a one-inch strip of crępe paper in half lengthwise. Beginning at one end of the strip, twist it between the fingers until its entire length forms a narrow edging.

Ruffles, fringe, or flower petals may be added to this simple foundation to form a skirt.


As the skull cap forms the foundation for many of the hats given here, its construction should be thoroughly understood. Cut a straight strip of crępe pa-per about ten inches wide and long enough to fit around the head. Paste the two ends together forming a circle. Turn the paper back around its lower edge making a double thickness at the brim.

The top is now gathered together and tied with fine wire. Do this while the cap is on the head, so as to obtain a tight fit. Excess paper extending above the wire may be cut away resulting in a small wired knot. If this knot or stem is not desired, the cap may be turned inside out.


This beautiful costume is made of yellow tarlatan and red-orange crępe paper. The paper may be purchased under its color name "sun glow." As it is the only color used, all references to "crępe" indicate this color of paper.

The costume is made over a foundation of muslin, or a silk slip will serve nicely. The underskirt is made of uneven points of double thickness crępe. Each point is made separately—as a panel—and cut in a bias line at the bottom. Four of these panels are used for the underskirt, and sewed to the slip at a high waist line.

The overskirt is made of pale yellow tarlatan, as wide as you wish the skirt long. This length must be sufficient to hold the four large wheels made of ruffles which complete the skirt. The ruffles are made of three-inch strips of crępe, which are ruffled on the sewing machine. This is done by gathering the crępe in pleats as you stitch it along one edge. Divide the skirt evenly in quarters, so that each wheel will cover one-fourth of the skirt, and sew the ruffles to the tarlatan while it is still in one flat piece.

When the four wheels are completed, the tarlatan is cut at the bottom of the skirt to correspond to the curve of the wheels, making four large scallops. Gather the tarlatan into very fine tucks and fasten around the waist, over the crępe underskirt.

The bodice is made of crępe and should fit snugly. It is trimmed with three ruffles of crępe, made as those used on the skirt. The bottom ruffle should conceal the sewing at the waist line. The shoulder straps of the slip are also covered with crępe, and trimmed with a ruffle of the same.

The shawl collar is made in two separate pieces—one fastened to each shoulder. These are made from one layer of the tarlatan, edged with three-inch ruffles of crepe.

The sleeves are also made separately. They extend from the wrists to a point halfway between the elbow and shoulder, where an elastic in the top hem holds them in position. This leaves the balance of the arms and shoulders bare. Their foundation is of pale yellow tarlatan, cut circular, so that the sleeve will flare at the bottom. Sew up the tarlatan, and complete by sewing five three-inch ruffles of crępe on each sleeve.

The hat is made on a skull cap foundation. Trim both sides with small wheels of two-inch ruffles of crępe on yellow tarlatan foundations, which are made in the same manner as the larger wheels of the skirt.


This may be made on the usual muslin foundation, or the crępe paper can be attached to a muslin belt. The former is recommended, as it can extend to the knees, where a small hem is made to hold a round wire, which gives the skirt its necessary hoop.

A full-gathered skirt is made from any decorative crępe paper in a conventional flower pattern. This is made in two parts. Attach to the hem of the muslin foundation a gathered flounce long enough to reach the ground. The upper part of the skirt is arranged over the muslin foundation, and a double ruffle of bluebird crepe is sewed around the bottom of the up-per part of the skirt, being wide enough to also hide the top of the lower part. The lower edge of the ruffle is then sewed to the lower flounce of the skirt.

The panniers are of delft blue crępe paper arranged over the skirt, puffed out, and sewn into place. The bodice is of the same crępe as the skirt, and is made separately. It is trimmed with bluebird crępe around the neck, and delft blue crępe for the sides and edging. The sleeves are of the same crępe as the skirt, and are trimmed with delft blue crępe. A white wig adds greatly to the effectiveness of this charming costume.


This delightful costume is made of gray and Indian Summer crępe paper, with an underskirt of orange color tarlatan. The Indian Summer crępe can be bought by this name, and is a brown, mottled and blending to orange tones.

A slip-over of gray crępe is made for a foundation to which is sewed a double skirt of orange color tarlatan, cut into points around the bottom. The over-skirt consists of three rows of long leaf-shaped points. These are made of two thicknesses of the mottled brown crępe—each of which is stitched around its entire edge on a sewing machine.

Sew the first row of these points to the foundation four inches below the waist line. The second should come two inches above the first, while the third and last row is sewed on the waist line. This is done to pre-vent excess bulk at the waist.

The bodice is another gray crępe slip-over sewn on top of the first one. It should be made long enough to reach below the waist line, so as to hide all stitch and joining marks, and bound around the neck and down both sides with two-inch gold ribbon. This ribbon is also used to tie the slip-over under the arms and at the waist.

A gray crępe skull cap of double thickness forms the headdress. Its wings are made of double thickness, mottled-brown crępe. They- are stitched around the edges. Wires are inserted between the two layers of paper so that they will be stiff enough to project from the head.

The wings are fastened to the back of the cap with wires, which pierce the cap and are tied on the inside. Adhesive tape should cover their ends as a protection for the hair.

The frail horns, called "antennae," consist of wire wrapped with black crępe and tipped with gold crępe. Note that one pair is longer than the other. These are fastened at the front of the cap in the same manner as the wings.

A long scarf of orange tulle will soften the neck line and add considerable charm to the costume.

Small moths made from the brown crępe may be worn at the wrist and tied in place with gold or black ribbon.


A most effective, interesting, and unique costume can be easily made from store boxes. Eight shoe boxes and one large box are required. Any shoe store can furnish the former, while the latter can often be found at department or cigar stores. (Figure 19.)

The large box should be square if possible, and must be large enough for you to get over your shoulders with ease. A cigarette carton in which dealers pack cigarettes makes a splendid one.

To prepare the shoe boxes, remove both their ends and glue the covers in place. Both ends of the large box are also removed, and its cover glued in place. Two shoe boxes are used for each arm and leg, so they must be tied together in groups of two. This is done with ribbons which should be long enough to give knees and elbows plenty of room. To the tops of the leg boxes, ribbons should be fastened long enough to reach over the shoulders. These should be measured and tied when the boxes are in place, so as to insure a perfect fit. The large box is also held by ribbons over the shoulders. The two arm units are fastened together with ribbons also. Place them in position, and run ribbons from the left arm boxes to the right arm boxes over the shoulders.

As a foundation for our costume, a middy blouse and bloomers should be worn. To dress in our "box" suit, the leg boxes are put on and their ribbon suspenders placed over the shoulders. The large box is now put on over the head with its ribbons over the shoulders. The arm units must be put on together, and their connecting ribbons slipped over the top of the large box.

The boxes may be decorated in several different ways. Any color or combination of colors may be used, or each individual box can be given a different color, which presents a rather vivid effect. Another interesting method is to decorate the boxes with colored "comic" strips. These may be cut from Sunday newspapers and pasted in place.


The bodice for this gay costume is made of a heliotrope crępe paper slip-over, which is made with a double thickness. It is bound around the V-shaped neck and down the sides with two-inch ribbon.

The skirt is made of several panels of very finely fringed crępe paper, which is stretched for softness. To make fringe, stretch the paper, and cut a piece the desired length and width of the panel. It is now rolled to within one inch of its end. This one inch is not fringed, being left as a border for the top of the skirt. With the scissors make cuts through the roll an eighth of an inch apart along the entire width of the roll. When unrolled, the panel will have a finely fringed skirt with a one-inch border at its top. If a heavier fringe is desired, two thicknesses of each panel should be used.

Across the entire back, a single fringed, violet crępe panel is used. The center front panel is three inches wide and is made from fringed dark amber crępe. On both sides of this is a two-inch wide panel of purple fringe. Two panels of heliotrope fringe complete the skirt, and are placed between the purple panels and the violet section at the back.

Place each of these panels in position along a one-inch tape, and sew them to it by stitching their one-inch border to the tape. This is now sewed to the bodice around the waist line.

Cut three large petals of double thickness violet crępe paper. Run a wire between their thicknesses to give the petals necessary stiffness. These are now fluted deeply around their edges, as shown in the photograph. At this time, make three smaller petals of heliotrope crępe in the same manner. These are for the bodice, as will be shown later.

Fringe a three-inch strip of dark amber crępe and cut crosswise to make a fine confetti. Coat the large petals with a two-inch strip of paste, starting from their bottom and continuing along half their length. This should be applied at the center of the petal. Sprinkle the fine confetti along this strip of paste and allow to dry. When the paste is dry shake the petal gently to remove any loose pieces. This forms the center color section of the petal, as shown in the photograph.

The petals are now bent to proper shape, and sewed to the tape at the waist line. One of the large petals is sewed in the center at the back over the skirt, while the remaining two drape over the skirt at the sides.

The three smaller petals are now fastened in place over the bodice. Two of these are fastened at the back, while the third is sewed directly in the center at the front.

Pointed strips four inches wide, made of double thickness leaf-green crępe paper, are sewed at the waist line between the large petals. Stitch gold ribbon around the waist to hide stitch and joining marks, and tie the slip-over on each hip with the same ribbon.

For the hat foundation, a skull cap of heliotrope crępe paper is made. Leave the wired knot on the out-side. Around this tie a strip of fringed dark amber crępe, which forms the center of the flower on the hat.

Three heliotrope and three violet double thickness crępe paper petals are now made, and wires inserted through the thicknesses. Place the three heliotrope petals around the wired stem of the cap, and then add the three violet petals. Tie these around the knot with spool wire.

Cover the wire with a narrow strip of violet crępe paper pasted in place. Now bend the three heliotrope petals up and the remaining petals down and apply crępe confetti of dark amber to the center of each of the violet petals.


The bodice of this lovely dress is made of a double thickness coral crępe slip-over. Paste a strip of fluted coral crępe around the neck, and fold the crępe back on both sides of the bodice and flute the edges.

The skirt is of the same color, finely fringed, and made in two panels. One of these is sewed to the back of the slip-over, while the other is attached at the front.

Two large old-fashioned bouquets of daisies, cosmos, rose buds, and violets, artistically grouped with fine points of summer green crępe, cut with the grain of the paper and added between the blossoms, have paper lace doilies around them. Their stems are covered with silver paper. These flowers can be purchased at any five-and-ten-cent store.

One bouquet is fastened to each hip by means of wide, pale-green maline ribbon, which also fastens the two sides of the slip-over together.

The headdress is a Watteau hat of silver made on an oval cardboard foundation. The edge of the top is covered with a double row of narrow coral-pink ruffles. Wide green maline ribbon is drawn through a slit on each side of the hat, so that it crosses over the top, and its ends are tied at the back of the head to hold the hat in place.


This costume can be made in any color desired. Light shades or pastel colors are recommended. The bodice is a crępe paper slip-over. To this, a skirt made of double thickness ruffles is sewn. Flute the edges of each of the ruffles. (See Fig. 22, Page 127.) Turn up a hem around the edge of the bottom ruffle. Flute its edge, and run a wire through the hem to hold the skirt out.

Small hearts cut from colored crępe or "pinwheel" paper are pasted over the skirt. Two large hearts are cut and decorated with paper lace and gum seals. One of these is attached at the back, while the second forms a heart-shaped waist. A large tulle bow is sewed at the back on the waist.

A ribbon is sewed around the waist to hide all joinings. A skull cap is made of crępe paper, and a large heart attached at the front of it. Decorate this heart with paper lace around its edge, and pierce it with an arrow. This can be cut from stiff cardboard. Smaller hearts are tied to the shaft of the arrow with ribbon.

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