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Creating costumes on a budget

Attending a Renaissance Faire? Halloween Ball? Disney Theme Gala? Here's help!

Author: Niki Newcomb/Monday, June 16, 2014/Categories: Savvy Living

Ever been to a Renaissance Faire? Here in the St. Louis area, it's an annual event held for four consecutive weeks. This year's themed weekends were “Quest for the Holy Grail,” (for the Monty Python fans) “Kilts and Kings,” (what exactly do they wear under those anyway?) “Wonders of the World,” (calling all the gypsys), and “High Seas Adventure.” (Arr, me mateys! Dress ye in yer pirate garb!)
 
This year, I was lucky enough to attend two of the weekends for the Wonders of the World and the High Seas Adventure and of course, I wouldn’t dare go without dressing up in full costume! The challenge; creating costumes on a budget.
 
First was the gypsy costume. After doing some quick research and endless Google image searches, I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for. I knew it would be a rather warm day, so I had to plan on finding enough clothes to be the modest gypsy I am, as well as keep cool – (us divas don’t like to perspire) while keeping my cost down. 
 
Lucky for me, I am an avid collector of corsets and already had a bright blue corset I picked up a few years ago and I repurposed it for the gypsy costume. I also had a white peasant skirt and blouse hanging in my closet that I was able to pair together so, my base was formed without even leaving the house. Next, I knew I would need some colorful scarves, and additional accessories so I set off to my local Good Will. There I found three scarves, a black beaded net-type to tie around my waist, a bright blue headscarf to match my corset, and a multicolored smaller scarf I could layer with the head scarf. Total cost: $9.00
 
I sewed on a few bells to lightly jingle with every step I took, added some bracelets and hoop earrings a hobo bag I already had and my gypsy look was complete!
 
I fit right in with the other gypsys, knights, pirates, fae folk and the rest of my new medieval friends sans the required accent and pewter mug.
 
One of the German Maidens who was nice enough to teach me an ancient German game of chance. Unfortunately, I was not able to keep the gold coin I won but nevertheless, it was quite fun!
 
The following weekend was my favorite – I got to dress up as a pirate wench! Arrrrrr! For this, again, I needed something cool, comfortable and inexpensive. I whipped out a sleeveless blouse with a ruffled neck, a pair of black capris, a brown leather corset and a scarf my mother-in-law gave me several years ago that I thought I would never in a million years wear. (Thanks for that, Mom!) I had some nets laying around that I pieced together over a pair of brown boots, and because I just couldn’t resist, I ordered a giant octopus pendant and a spyglass. I already had a sword but decided last minute to wield my mighty polka-dot umbrella instead as it kept me much drier in the rain. Total cost $18.63 for the spyglass and pendant. 
 
The night before the fair, two of my children decided they wanted to go so I took about 20 minutes to construct a Maid Marian costume using a previous Good Will find – a long sleeved velvet dress that I got for $2.00 and using some floral wire, toilet paper, burgundy toole and gold ribbon to create a headpiece and a Robin Hood costume using an old T-shirt of mine, some leather twine, a pair of my daughter's winter tights for his costume and some green felt and a feather to complete the hat. Because I had all of this in my craft room already, I whipped up the costumes in record time and the result was a very adorable and quite happy Maid Marian and Robin Hood! Total out of pocket cost – not a dime!
 
Never been to a Renaissance Faire? There are many vendors offering food such as honey wine, ale, giant smoked turkey legs and anything they could possibly fry in funnel cake mix, as well as jewelry, trinkets, handmade items, period clothing, and collectable swords and knives. These items can be a bit pricey and what I found is that the last weekend of the faire, vendors have marked down quite a few items. If you are looking to purchase something, make sure you do your research first, if it’s something you can get somewhere else, ask yourself if the instant gratification is worth the extra cost. Also, inspect it – one of the vendors offering belly dancing type tops with the metal coins hanging down offered a great deal at $15 a top, however upon closer inspection, many of the metal coins were tarnished and had rubbed off on the material ... not such a good bargain after all.
 
Many cities offer their own versions of a Renaissance Faire but for those of you close to St. Louis, check out their website for future faire dates, events and prices.

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Niki Newcomb
Niki Newcomb

Niki Newcomb

Basically, I'm a nerd. I am an IT Project Analyst, Programmer and Developer, and mother of five who enjoys gaming, Cosplay, and volunteering. Niki is also an OASIS IT consultant. Other posts by Niki Newcomb
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