Friday, January 2, 2015

Budget Cosplay Series, Part III: Popeye on a Penny

(well, not QUITE a penny, but everyone likes alliteration, right?)

Happy New Year!! In 2015 I resolve to post more regularly, but I admit that now my goal timeline for posts is a lot less frequent with the little kiddo around.  When I do post, I'll try to make it count! So, in keeping with that...
The first two installments of my Budget Cosplay series received such overwhelmingly good feedback that I'm still trying to keep up with it from time to time.  In that spirit, this Halloween (our little girl's first), we decided to tackle Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Sweet Pea on a budget.  Our choice was partly in honor of the late Robin Williams, who did a great portrayal of Popeye in the 1980 movie.

This is what I'm talking about:

There is certainly no shortage of commercial options for Popeye and Olive Oyl costumes. A cursory review of price points for these costumes on popular Halloween sites averages $40 each, and let's be honest--they are pretty corny and generic looking.  So, not even counting the Sweet Pea costume, a commercially bought set of outfits for Popeye and Olive Oyl will run around $60-80 even if you use a coupon code.  I'm going to show you how I made all three for less than $50.

I have one caveat up front: about two years ago, I taught myself how to sew using YouTube videos and already had an old sewing machine to work with.  This project did involve a bit of sewing. If you cannot sew, I believe that most of the stitchwork can be replaced with fabric glue.  A bottle of Fabric Fuse will run you about $5-7 and should be enough for this whole project.  

There were three sources I used to obtain all the supplies for these costumes: Fabric store, thrift store, and home.

For Olive Oyl, the basics are:

Red long-sleeve top - I bought one from the thrift store for $3.99.
Long black skirt - Many women probably have one in their wardrobe, but I bought one from a thrift store for $3.99.  I had a small amount of red fabric from a previous project, enough to cut a 2" band to attach to the lower half of the skirt.  Make sure you leave a quarter inch extra on each edge to fold under when you sew/glue on the band, so you don't have raw fabric edges showing.  I pinned on the red band with edges folded under and then sewed it into place, but you could just as easily use fabric glue to secure it on the skirt.

White frilly trim - I bought about 1 yard of white lace trim from the fabric store for $2. I cut this to size based on the collar of the red long-sleeve top, pinned it to the top edge of the collar, then sewed it in.  I followed the same process for the sleeve cuffs, but sewed the trim on the inside edge of the sleeve to that it would lay correctly.  You could also Fabric Fuse the trim to the collar and cuffs in lieu of sewing.
Black hat or black wig - She sports both looks in the movie. I opted to go with a hat because wigs can be expensive. This can be a plain black winter hat from your closet, or (in my case) I made a black fleece brimmed hat using the baby hat pattern discussed below. I bought the black fleece fabric remnants for around $6 to make the hat.  I obviously had to do some guesswork to cut the fabric pieces larger to accommodate adult sizing, so it took some time.  The hat has a red rosette--I ran out of time to make one so I bought a red crocheted rose at the fabric store for $3.49 and pinned it to the outside of the hat.
Black boots - I already had some black combat-style boots in my closet. I used some black duct tape over some crumpled paper to fill in the front and back sides for that clunky "comic" look of Olive Oyl.

For Popeye, the basic components are:
White long-sleeve collared shirt - you might have one in your closet like we did, or can get one cheap at the thrift store.
Navy blue "neckerchief" and back flap - I used a small piece (1/2 yd) of navy blue fabric remnants I picked up from the thrift store to make this component.  Cost was around $3. It took some guesswork to get the fabric cut in a square and ensure that there was enough to come around the front of the collar, so there was a lot of safety-pinning and measuring before I did any cutting--not very scientific but that's how we do!
Pants- They're blue. If you want to be fancy go ahead, but a medium shade, faded pair of blue jeans will do the trick. Blue utility pants could work too.
White captain's hat - We are lucky in being former Navy folks that we retained a combination cover (very similar to Popeye's once you remove the framing) to use.  But to make one, you could easily use one of the baby hat patterns I discuss below with some white fabric and adjust the pattern sizes larger to fit an adult; or, if you don't want to mess with that, get a plain white ballcap and make the band with black duct tape or masking tape colored with a blue/black pen. You could even tape on a circle of white fabric over the crown of a black ballcap to give it a more baggy look like the hat in the movie.
Pipe - My husband simply used an old wine cork, colored the end black with a sharpie marker, and stuck a broken wooden chopstick in one side of the cork for the mouthpiece.
Muscle-bound forearms -  Cut off the toes of a pair of knee-high panty hose and stuff them with acrylic fiber stuffing (like what you would use for pillows).  A small bag of the filling was $2.99 at the fabric store.  We used elastic bands to secure the "stuffed" panty hose to his arms. For Popeye's tattoos, I stetched the hose over a piece of cardboard and drew on anchors with a black Sharpie.  The end result was not my favorite (see photos at end of post) and there's certainly better methods, but it got the job done in a limited amout of time.

Sweet Pea
For Sweet Pea, there are two outfits depicted in the movie. One is blue bunting with white frills and a sailor dixie cup hat with ear flaps (pictured). The other is a mini-sailor outfit similar to Popeye's.  I knew at the outset that I would have to make whatever outfit our baby was going to wear, because I was striking out at the thrift store.  So I went with the blue bunting ensemble because bunting would be far easier to sew than a sailor outfit with pants, trim and detailing. The basic components are:
Blue bunting - I purchased some blue fleece fabric remnants from the thrift store, about 2 yds.  It was clearanced out so it only cost about $4.  I found an Easy-Sew pattern for fleece bunting at the fabric store for $2.49.
White frilly trim - I bought a 1/2 yard of white sheer trim from the fabric store for $2. I pinned the trim to the inside collar of the completed blue bunting and sewed it in.  You could just as easily use Fabric Fuse to glue it on.
White dixie cup with ear flaps - I bought some white fleece fabric remnants at the fabric store, about 1.5 yds.  It was on clearance so it only cost around $3. To make the hat, I came across an Easy-Sew Pattern set for baby hats for $1.99. There were six different patterns, including a "boater's hat" which was very much like a dixie cup.  Luckily, the pattern set also included ear flaps, so I attached those to the crown of the boater's hat (you could also Fabric Fuse it on). If your child is a little older, you could probably just buy a kid's sailor hat on Amazon for around $8, but these were too big for our girl.  This part of the project was my biggest headache because it was challenging to get the sizing right for baby's big head based on the sewing pattern measurements provided.

So, here's a run down of the materials and associated costs mentioned above:
Red long-sleeve top $3.99
Long black skirt $3.99
White frilly trim (Olive Oyl) $2.00
Black fleece fabric remnants $6.00
Red rosette $3.49
Small bag of acrylic filling $2.99
Navy blue fabric remnants (Popeye) $3.00
Blue fleece fabric remnants(Sweet Pea)  $4.00
White frilly trim (Sweet Pea) $2.00
White fleece fabric remnants $3.00
Easy-Sew Pattern Set for baby hats $1.99
Easy-Sew Pattern Set for baby bunting $2.49
TOTAL COST: $38.94

Items that are not included in the above list were household items or leftover from previous projects:  White captain's hat (Popeye), white collared shirt (Popeye), black boots (Olive Oyl), blue utility pants/jeans (Popeye), red fabric strip for skirt (Olive Oyl), black duct tape, scissors, pins, and sewing machine.

Here's the finished product!

I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Budget Cosplay series. If you have any questions or suggestions on how you've done these costumes, or other money-saving tips, please comment below.  Thanks!