Throwback Thursday: DIY Fancy Dress

Orkney Beef and I have been busy this week making fancy dress outfits for a party tonight.  All will be revealed in my week in pictures on Sunday, but as we were knee deep in masking tape and tin foil I was reminded of days gone by when I was forever making fancy dress outfits for the kids, and back further still when my parents made fancy dress outfits for me.  One of my most vivid fancy dress memories was a Queen of Hearts costume my parents made with a combined effort.  We are talking about the mid seventies when ordering one on-line was not an option, because the only thing ‘online’ in those days of course was the washing. My mum sewed heart playing cards onto a dress, my dad made me a crown with cotton wool lining, good old tin foil for the ‘silver’. Then the best and most precious beads were taken from my collection stored in a sweetie jar and glued carefully on to the crown.  Then he made a wooden heart, painted it with red paint and attached it to a wooden rod. I then carried it like those trophy stick things Miss World winners walk about with.  The whole thing cost next to nothing and yet some 40 years later I can still picture it and how happy I was to be wearing it. I was clearly rather partial to swanning about like royalty because one Christmas I was given a princess dressing up outfit which was blue 24 carat nylon with a pink sash and a crown.  To this very day I can picture myself opening that gift and thinking it was the most amazing, incredible present Father Christmas could ever deliver.  Years later when I still harped on about it, dad told me that he had bought it on Christmas Eve as he’d scanned the presents of my brother and sister and thought there was hardly anything for me.  He grabbed it off the shelf in desperation, thought ‘that’ll do’ and bought it.  Of all the presents they slaved away and worked hard to buy, that princess outfit is one of the few I can still remember.

When my turn came around, I too have made many a fancy dress costume for the kids.  I like the challenge of making something rather than buying, and sometimes I’ve had to magic something up in pretty fast time.  Like for example when one of them announced they had to have a red riding hood outfit for assembly the next day!  Granted the school would have sent a letter about it three weeks earlier but whether that letter made it into my hands was another thing altogether and probably highly unlikely.

The sunflower outfit pictured was a favourite of mine. I had advance warning on this one as it was millennium parade in the village. For weeks I saved cereal boxes to cut up and make petals, attached them to a piece of elastic which went around a young Miss Lashes face, and glued on yellow tissue paper.  A trusty pale green sheet with insects attached meant she went on to win a prize.  (Book tokens as I recall. This partially made up for the few months earlier when she had to be a shepherd in the school nativity play and wear a painted on beard.  I say partially because it was a momentary sticking plaster over the trauma and at it’s safe to say at nearly 23 she still has never really recovered from shepherd-gate.)

Miss Lashes in her award-winning Sunflower costume


Tech Support as a chimney sweep was another easy one.  It certainly wasn’t difficult to find grey school trousers with holes in the knees! add a flat cap, raggy shirt and genuine coal dust and you have another prize-winning outfit.

Chimney sweep.jpg
Tech Support when I used to stuff him up chimneys

When I told Tech Support and Orkney Beef that I was writing a Throwback Thursday  blog about fancy dress costumes my son said ‘I bet you anything the Willy Wonka picture will appear on there’  I don’t want to let him down, so son…..voila!

know it’s meant to be a golden ticket but it was one of those make in 5 minutes things and I only had red shiny paper.  He survived.

Willy Wonka.jpg
Tech Support as Willy Wonka

And added to these, I’ve made butterflies, queen of Narnia, the aforementioned Red Riding Hood costume, cybermen, and many more. Viva la tin foil!

You can achieve anything if you just think inside the the (tin foil) box!




One thought on “Throwback Thursday: DIY Fancy Dress

  1. Just a small correction – 18 carat not carrot. See you tonight. Any suggestions for a birthday present for Orkney Beef?


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