Friday, November 1, 2013

DIY Dalmatian Costume

Since her older brother dressed up as a firefighter this year, I got the idea that Abby should dress up as a Dalmatian.  Jonathan really adores his sister, so I knew that he would approve of their coordinating costumes.

After jumping onto Pinterest, I discovered that this wasn't such an original idea after all - in fact, tons and tons of search results turned up with siblings (or couples) dressed like this duo.  Oh well, I shrugged and continued on my merry way.

My first thought was to paint little spots all over Abby's white clothes with black fabric paint.  However, I hesitated because I didn't like the permanence of the idea, especially for just one night.  Then I was inspired by John (of Young House Love)'s costume as featured here.  Duct tape!  So genius.

I loved the idea of using duct tape because it meant easy-peasy clean-up and a fresh outfit that could be worn "spot-lessly" (har har) for the rest of the year.  And, admittedly, I was curious to see if the duct tape would really:
1.  Stay on for the duration the evening (which I doubted)
2.  Not harm the fabric at all

So I guess you could say that this costume was an experiment of sorts.  (This is as science-y as I get!)  Let's dive in, shall we?

This is what I started with:

Here's the breakdown:

Thrifted for a dollar.  My plan was to add black felt ears, but I realized too late that we didn't have any.  Instead I grabbed white felt (pink or beige would also have worked) and covered one side with a layer of black duct tape.  (I free-handed the ear shape by looking at pictures of Dalmatians online).

Then I cut them out and secured them to the hat using a small safety pin from the inside of the hat.  After closing the pin, I covered it with a piece of duct tape (on the inside) so it wouldn't accidentally open and prick Abby's head while she was wearing it.

Long-sleeved cardigan we already had.  It didn't bother me that it had little bows on it because I knew that they could be easily covered.  I purchased a roll of black duct (brand name "Duck Tape") tape from Target for less than $4.  Then I began the task of cutting out various-sized circles/spots from the tape.  Let me tell you, this is easier said than done.  What I thought might take about an hour ended up taking an entire afternoon (at the expense of a severely-cut thumb, too).

The main issue was that the gummy [note: not a good kind of gummy ;) ] nature of the duct tape hindered the effectiveness of my scissors.  In short, it kept making the scissor blades sticky, so I had to pause between every couple of spots to wipe down the blades (thus resulting in my cut thumb...but I am a klutz, so this may not happen to everyone). 

Be mindful not to make the spots too large (I kept worrying that the costume would be mistaken for a cow).  I read somewhere that keeping the spots about the size of coins (quarters, nickels, pennies) is the key.

**In the above "Before" picture, I included a short-sleeved onesie as well.  My original intent was to cover both with spots, but it proved to be too labor-intensive (and possibly unnecessary).  I kept the onesie plain and simply tucked in the cardigan.

Long-sleeved pants we already had.  I was pretty pleased that they had feet because I didn't have to worry about socks or shoes (or her toes getting cold, for that matter!)  I covered these with random spots of duct tape as well.

**You might notice that only one of the photos above contains a little doggy collar and tag.  I added some adhesive ribbon under the collar of the cardigan and wrote "Dotty" on an oval piece of yellow vinyl.  It had some trouble sticking to the shirt in some areas, so I secured it with little bits of duct tape.  However, when it came time to put the costume on Abby, the whole thing fell off.  I figured it wasn't worth the battle to put it on again (especially if it would fall off again sometime during the evening) and kept it off.

And here are my "scientific" findings:

1.  Did the duct tape stay on for the duration of the evening?
To my great surprise, none of the duct tape spots seemed to budge at all during the evening.  Abby contentedly was passed from arm to arm all evening, and even took a small snooze for part of the night, but none of the spots were transferred to other people's clothing.
Pretending to be an animal is exhausting!

Since they were stuck pretty well, the frugal-mom in me thought it would be great if I could SAVE the spots on wax paper (for whatever situation that might call for spots in the future)...especially after painstakingly cutting out so many.  I did this, but unfortunately it seems that the duct tape is for one-time use only.  It did stick to the wax paper, but with less confidence :)

Sooo many spots! If you can count them all, I will give you chocolate.
 2.  Did the duct tape harm the fabric at all?
Admittedly, the duct tape again surprised me with its ability to peel off so easily after sticking to fabric so well.  I did remove the tape as soon as we got home, so time might have been a factor.  Both the shirt and pants still felt soft and had no traces of stickiness from the tape, with the exception of one bow on the cardigan that had a little sticky residue.

The cardigan did fare better than the pants - it looks virtually the same as it did before the project.  The pants, however, have traces of black outline (which don't feel sticky).  Both the cardigan and pants are made of 100% cotton, but are different brands (Carter's and Kyle and Deenie, respectively).  I'm thinking the faint black traces on the pants will come out in the wash, but we'll see!

All in all, I was pleased with this simple, low-budget costume.  Two thumbs up for duct tape crafting! :)

Update:  After one wash, all of the clothing looks great! No permanent damage from the duct tape.

What other things have you crafted (or heard about crafting) with duct tape? Please share! (I have a large roll of leftover duct tape just calling my name...)


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks HB! :) It does help that my subject will smile no matter what I put her in :)