Introduction: Doctor Who Weeping Angel Costume
The Comic Expo was coming again and my Daughter wanted a new costume. And who am I to say no to another Dr. Who costume. This build took me three months. If I had more time in the day I probably could have built in two to three weeks. Before I started building this I searched the web for every picture I could find from the show. I've attached a couple here. This helped me get ideas on proportions and how it should look in the end.
One thing I will say before you start this build. A hot glue gun is going to be your best friend. I lost track of the amount of sticks I used.
Step 1: The Head Piece - Part 1
To start I dug out an old bald cap that was used on a previous build. I wanted to make sure the head piece fit my daughter properly. Using a dummy head may be more convenient, but will make it difficult to fit later. Using the actual head that will be wearing it works out better in the long run.
I used Crayola Model Magic to create the ‘hair’. I took small pieces of the modeling dough and rolled it into long tubes. I then started placing them on the bald cap, one piece at a time. I referred back to pictures from the show often to get the look I wanted. Remember hair is not perfectly straight. Make it wiggle here and there as you place it on. Some pieces will be longer, and some pieces will be shorter. I used a lot of small pieces to make the front of the hair. I connected them to the hair that ran sideways down the head. Now continue on placing the hair. I placed pieces at random, I didn't have a pattern, so I just winged it. If I didn't like a placement, I'd pull it off and re set it until it looked good.
All the angels have a hair band. Once I built up enough hair, I then made the band and laid it over what I had made so far. I used a larger piece of model magic and rolled a long tube, just like the hair, but much longer and larger. I then flattened it, and then placed it over the hair I already made. Once it was on the head I used a normal dinner knife to make the pattern in the hair band, which are the two parallel dotted lines in the band. I also used the flat back of the knife to make the hair part in the middle.
As you can see in the photos, there is lots of space you can see through to the bald cap. These spaces will be dealt with later.
It took me two days to make the head as I ran out of model magic. Do not worry if you have to stop and restart later. The model magic will still stick to the hardening part.
I did have some older white model magic, but because it had already started hardening before I started using it, It didn’t turn out that well, nor did it stick to well either. I didn’t like this version of the back of the head, so when I got new material I pulled off most of the white and re-did the back in the purple. The colour of model magic you use does not matter as it will be painted later anyway.
Layering the hair will give you some depth. So don’t be afraid to overlap at any point.
Leave the head piece to completely dry. Usually takes 24 hours depending on temperature, etc.
Step 2: The Head Piece - Part 2
Once the head piece is dry, you will start filling in the gaps. Some pieces broke while drying and that’s ok. A stone is never perfect, they tend to crack.
I took small pieces of model magic and flattened them out. I then placed them inside and pressed them to the inside. You can see in the photos where it took a few places to cover all the gaps.
If you find that the head piece is a little fragile in a few places, you can use glue on the inside to hold spots together. I recommend epoxy glue. It hardens like concrete.
You are now ready to pint the head piece. I used ‘Kills’ White primer to paint the whole things. It sticks well to most surfaces and is easy to paint on after. It took two coats to get into all the nooks and crannies of the hair. I then painted the hair with a dark grey spray paint I had. You will need this same paint later in the build, so make sure you have plenty on hand or can get more. You will want to find a dark grey that is close to the fabric you use for the costume.
To get the stone effect you will need a light grey paint. I used an effect called dry brushing. I sprayed some light grey paint into the cap of the spray can. I found this worked best as a bowl as it didn't dry right away in the plastic cap. Then using a small artists brush, I dipped it into the paint. But before I brushed it on the hair I wiped most of the paint off the brush into some paper towel. This is dry brushing. Taking most of the paint out of the brush before you use it, so that the brush is almost dry. I then lightly went over the hair, making sure to only hit the high points. Do not paint down into any of the grooves. This dark and light painting will give an effect that creates more depth than there really is, as well as making it stone looking.
Step 3: The Masks
Weeping angels generally have two faces. A blank face which is always covered by their hands, and a scary face.
In both cases I found masks that were already made. One was a blank face mask that I found at a hobby store that had a craft department. The scary mask is actually a Dracula mask. I found it at a dollar store for $1.
I started by spraying a white primer over both masks. I then painted them both with the dark grey spray paint I used for the head piece.
To get the stone effect I used the same process as the head piece. I dry brushed a lighter grey over the high points on the masks. In places where there were no high points I did streaks of light grey. Make sure all your stokes are up and down when you do this. It doesn’t look right if the strokes go in all different directions.
The Dracula hair on the mask was covered by the head piece so I didn’t bother trying to cover, hide or modify the mask.
To cover the eye holes I used some scrap material left over from the tights that will be needed later in this build. I put a dab of hot glue on one side of the eye and pushed the material on. I then stretched the fabric across the eye hole and hot glued it down on the other side. It took a few tries to get the fabric stretched how I wanted it. You need to stretch the fabric for two reasons. It’ll look better from the outside when tight, and it makes it easier to see through from the inside.
Warning: Do not let the hot glue gun touch the mask or it will melt the plastic.
Step 4: The Wings - Part 1
To make sure the wings were proportional to my daughter, I had her lay down beside a large piece of paper I had and I drew out the wing size I wanted. The edge of the paper is just under her shoulder as this is as far as the wing would go on her back.
I then made a small box frame out of wood that the wings would attach to. I made sure that the box would be the correct size to her back. The box frame will become the ‘backpack’ that everything attaches to as well as what will attach to my daughter.
On the paper I not only drew out what the size of the wings were, but I also drew out where the internal wire frame would go too. I used old wire coat hangers to create the internal frame of the wings.
The coat hangers were not long enough to do each loop out from the wood and back again. I connected the wires together by overlapped the ends of the wires by a few inches and then used Gorilla tape to hold them together.
I curled the ends of the wires with a pair of pliers and then screwed then into the wood using ¼ inch screws.
Step 5: The Wings - Part 2
Anytime you see any stone angels, you’ll see that their wings are curved. So to achieve this effect I started bending the coat hangers to what I wanted the curvature to be.
Once that was done I cut out my wing pattern I made and laid it out over the coat hangers. I wanted to check that the hangers would be inside the pattern. If they weren’t, just re-bend them until they do.
Next lay the pattern on a large piece of Foam Core board. You’ll need four of them to complete the wings. Only cut one at a time as you need them.
Once you cut the foam core board, you’ll need to make relief cuts so that you can bend the board.
I have a wooden meter stick, so I used the width of the stick as the distance between the cut lines.
You’ll notice that I did not cut lines over the whole board. The last 3 to 4 inches I left solid as this part of the wing does not bend.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you only cut the BACK of each wing, as the foam board need to curve forward. Also, only cut the board HALFWAY THROUGH. Do not cut all the way through or you’ll be starting again with a new board.
No slowly bend each piece forward until you get the curve you want. If you only cut halfway through you’ll hear a few cracks. That is ok; it’s just the foam cracking. The paper on the other side of the board will hold the wing together.
Now lay you wing over the coat hangers and use tape to hold them down temporarily. Once you are satisfied with its placement, use a hot glue gun to make the connection permanent. You will not need to cover all of the wire, just spots here and there.
Step 6: The Wings - Part 3
Once you have completed the left and right back half of the wings, it’s time to start the front half.
You need to cut the front half out the same way you did the back. Make sure to cut the relief lines on the correct sides. Remember that left and right get cut on different sides.
Before you go to attach the front of the wings you’ll need to make a little wing extension for the bottom of each wing. I circled the piece I’m talking about in the last photo. Make relief cuts in this piece the same as the wings and then bend it so its curved. Make sure the bend lines line up with the ones on the wing before you glue them in place. I again used hot glue and overlapped the extension with the wing by only a few inches. If you do not line up the bend lines, you get a twisted look. Again you can see in my last photo where this happened on the right side. It drove me nuts so I ended up cutting it off and doing it again, this time straight.
Now to glue the two halves of the wing together. I started next to the wooden frame. I laid down a strip of hot glue on the back half of the wing right next to the frame and then stuck the top wing on. Hot glue only takes seconds to dry, so you don’t have to wait long. Next peel up the front half and again put more glue down and then press the wings together again. What you are doing is almost like laminating the two pieces together with the coat hangers in the middle. The reason I recommend doing a little at a time is that the hot glue dries fast. If you glued the whole wing then pressed them together, most of the hot glue will have started drying, Unless you had a few people with glue guns helping you I wouldn’t recommend this.
As you get closer to the end it will get harder to put glue between the pieces. I would do the last six inches all at once or you’ll be squeezing it down cracks and it becomes allot more difficult.
As you can see in the pictures the wing ends don’t line up. This is ok. It will all be hidden later. I used clamps to hold the wing tips while they dried as they didn’t want to stay together because of the curve. The other reason to use claps was I wanted more curve to the end of the wings. The clamps held the curve I wanted while the hot glue dried.
Step 7: The Wings - Part 4, Making Feathers
To make the feathers I used craft foam. Again, colour doesn’t matter, but white is easier to paint later.
I cut each sheet into 4 equal slices. In my case, each feather was 3 inches wide and 18inches long. I went with large pieces of foam as I wanted the long feathers to be one piece. I then rounded off the ends of each feather.
Not to make the feather look I cut a long slice down the middle. Do not make this cut all the way through either end. Stop cutting a few inches from each end. I then cut random slashes at a downward angle all over the feather. Some were long, some were short. Some didn’t even go all the way to the edge of the feather. In a few spots I even cut out a notch, but I didn’t do that on every feather, just a few. See the close up photos of the feathers.
In total I believe I had to buy 12 to 16 sheets of the 12 inch by 18 inch foam to do all the feathers.
Step 8: The Wings - Part 5
Now its time to start placing the feathers. This is what will take a while as they are all placed one at a time. I started with the part of the wing that will face forward, the back side is a little more tricky so I wanted to leave that for after.
Again I used a hot glue gun to stick all the feathers down. Start at the outside of the wing and work towards the middle.
I placed the first feather on the wing extension I made. The top of that first feather only touches the bottom of the full foam core wing. Overlapping the wings I worked my way to the center. I overlapped them halfway between the edge and middle of the previous feather. See the photos for details.
Once I got one row done I started working up on the next row. I dry fitted each feather first to make sure I liked the placement. I then drew an outline of where that feather was so that as I laid the glue down I knew where to put it, that and there was no guessing on re-placing the feather after.
I also drew on the wing where the large solid piece of the feather will go. I have no idea what you call this section, but if you look at photos from the show, all the angels have them front and back. See the weeping angle photo; I have circled the part I’m talking about.
Once you have the feathers up to the height you want, lay a large piece of craft foam over the wing and trace where you want it to go. As you can see in my case the one side of the foam was not large enough. I added a small piece after to fill in what I needed. Again, see the circled section in the photos.
This annoyed me to no end, so I went out and bought a really large piece of craft foam. It came in a roll. I also used this new roll later on the back side of the wing.
Step 9: The Wings - Part 6
Once you have finished the front, the back is done in a similar way.
Again start placing feathers from the outside towards the center, overlapping them slightly as you move in.
Once I got the first row on I drew out where I wanted the larger feather cover that goes on last. I used that as a guide to know how many rows of feathers I needed. In my case I decided on two rows. Before I continued with the feathers though I wanted to cut the feather cover as I would lose my tracing lines as I placed the next two rows of feathers.
I measured out the height and width of the feather cover so I knew how large a piece of craft foam I needed. If you recall from a previous step I bought a large roll of craft foam. This is where I used the rest of it. I wanted the feather cover to be one piece. I then traced and cut it out. I dry fitted it to make sure it was what I wanted. I then set it aside and continued with the feathers.
At the end of the third row I ended up only needing a half of a feather as seen in one of the pictures. I did not worry about this as the costume fabric would cover this anyway.
Now I glued down the feather cover. Again I did it a little at a time starting at the middle. The easiest way to make sure it sits correctly is to lay it down how you want it and then just lift up the end towards the wooden square and hot glue it. Once that is set it is easy to work outwards without worry of the piece moving on you.
I again used Crayola Model magic to build up the edge of the wings. The material dries very light and I wanted to keep the weight of the wings to a minimum. I didn’t want to waste the Model Magic so I built up the largest parts of the wings with cardboard toilet tubes. I cut the tubes in half and then down the middle. I then folded a small tab over on each side of the first one to put the hot glue on. I wanted the glue hidden as it would show up as lumps after painting if I didn’t. Because of working on an inside curve you almost want to place every second piece with folded tabs, and the in-between pieces right over the other cardboard (see the photo for better details).
Step 10: The Wings - Part 7
Continue placing toilet rolls for about 12 inches around the top of the wings. I only wanted to take up the space of the larger parts of the wings. You could go further, but at this point I had had enough of toilet rolls. There were some gaps between the rolls once they were glued down and rather than try and place them perfectly, I just used Gorilla tape to cover the gaps. This would all be hidden when done anyway.
Once both wings were done I started placing the Crayola Model Magic I mentioned in the previous step. I started with the inside half-moon curve of the wings (the purple Model Magic in the photos). I just took chunks of Model Magic and flattened them out. I then placed them on the wings and rolled the edges down to create the look you see in the photos. Model Magic will stick to the foam on its own, no glue is needed. You also have plenty of time to play with the stuff before it dries. You can go back and adjust it an hour later if you don’t like how it sits.
Once the inside curve was done I worked my way down around the outside. The further I got from the top, the smaller the bulge gets. As I worked my way down I filled in the spaces where the inside and outside wing met by rolling the Model Magic into tubes and stuffing it in the cracks, see photo. Then I went over it again with more Model Magic to continue the tapering shape I wanted.
Step 11: The Wings - Part 8
Once the wings are fully assembled it’s time to paint them. I would recommend a spray primer first to cover the Model Magic and wings. It’ll make painting the wings in grey much easier and the colour will be uniform. I used the same dark grey spray paint that I used on the masks and head piece, to completely paint the wings. Once they were dry I used the same dry brush method to go over the wings with the lighter grey. Make sure all your brush strokes are up and down on the wings themselves. Over the Model Magic any direction will be okay as they are lumpy and there are lots of high spots to touch.
To hang the wings on my daughters back I bought a couple cheap belts from the good will store. They were only a few dollars apiece.
You will need both a lap belt and two shoulder belts. I originally only bought one belt as it was long and I thought it would do the job. Go with two.
I found that one belt glued all the way across the bottom of the back didn’t quite sit right. So I pulled it off, cut it and only glued the ends of the belt to the outside of the bottom of the frame. I’ve circled the four points I glued belts to the frame in one of the pictures.
I glued two smaller pieces a few inches below the top on the same side as the bottom belt. I then put a small screw on the other side of the frame at the top, one on each side. To wear the wings the two shoulder belts go up and over each shoulder and attach through the screw in the back, almost like wearing a belt (see photos).
I found that the wings didn’t quite sit straight up and down like I wanted them to. This was a quick fix with a piece of foam glued across the top with hot glue.
In total, the wings weigh 5.5 Lbs., so there is very little strain carrying them all day.
Step 12: The Arms
The beauty of this costume is that no makeup is needed. To cover the arms and neck you will need to buy two sets of dark grey tights. I found them at Walmart for a couple dollars each.
Set one set of tights aside for now. You will need them in the next step.
Turn the tights inside out and have the Angel to be put them on their arms. Have them spread their fingers slightly inside the ends (where the feet would normally go) and use a Sharpee to draw lines so you know where to cut.
Take the tights off and cut the fingers. Do not cut too deep. Tights stretch a lot. To sew the fingers you need to do a looping stitch, see figure 1, like the type they do after surgery. Sorry don’t know the name of that stitch. Just keep going around and around all the way down the finger and then up the other side. This will take some time, you want the stitches to be close together. If not, you get holes, as seen in the pictures, that you’ll have to go back and sew again after.
To cut the hole for the head to stick through, cut out the crotch of the tights, see figure 2. Again, only cut a very small hole as the tights stretch once on. I only cut the fabric portion of the tights, not the stretchy part.
Once this is all done, turn the tights right side out.
Step 13: Covering the Neck
Now use the send set of tights to cover the neck.
Have the wearer put the tights on and put their head up one of the legs and the other leg is off the back of their neck. Adjust the tights so that the material sits smooth over the neck. Cut the extra leg (on the back of the neck, Figure 1 letter A) off a few inches from the crotch.
Cut the leg that their head is in a few inches above their head so that there is loose material sitting on top of their head, this will be hidden under the head piece.
Now mark the spot between their eyes and take the tights off. You need to cut a hole in that spot. Make sure it is a VERY SMALL HOLE. I can’t stress how much these tights stretch. If you cut a large hole like I did you will be trying to pin it all closed later like I had to, see figure 1 letter B. So I would suggest start with a one inch circle and then try the tights on again. From there only cut a tiny tiny bit at a time until you get it how you want.
Once it was time to wear the costume, I had my daughter wear a tank top. Because the tights stretch so much it is difficult to get them to sit smooth and tight. We pinned the neck tight all around to her tank top and then had her put the arms on after.
I somehow managed to lose a bunch of the photos I took from making the costume so I will try and fill in the blanks with drawings best I can.
To make the main part of the costume we went to a fabric store and found some material that was the shade of grey we wanted.
I’m not very good with the proper sewing terminology so I apologize if some of my terms are funny.
I know fabric comes in a ‘bolt’ . We bought 2.5 meters of fabric for this costume. It only just did what we needed as I lucked out and was able to fix a few of my mistakes as I went. I’d recommend getting a full 3 meters of cloth (about 10 feet) to give you some wiggle room.
To make the skirt you will need a full 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) of the cloth. You should now have a very large rectangle. Do not cut any length off the skirt. If you were to hold it around your waist at this point there should be a lot of fabric bunched at your feet.
Lay the fabric flat on the floor. You will work with one side of the long edge only. Start folding the fabric over on itself as shown in Figure 1. Put a pin through on every fold to hold it in place. Once you have the whole skirt pinned on one side you can now sew the skirt. Sew as per the red dashed line in Figure 1, removing the pins as you sew. If you don’t have a sewing machine I’d highly recommend you hit up a friend to borrow one.
WARNING: DO NOTtell your wife just before your birthday that we really need one… especially if she has a shrewd sense of humor…. Ugh.
Once you have the one side of the skirt sewn together, sew the two short sides of the skirt together so that you will have a fabric tube once it is done. To simplify life I used a clip to hold the skirt closed while she wore it. It saves having to figure out how to put a belt in, and as she gets older she can still wear the costume.
Once the skirt is sewn up its time to put it on to set the height of the bottom of the dress. I found an old small Hula-Hoop. They can still be bought at toys sores if need be. I did open mine up to get rid of the sand noise makers that are put inside them today.
Place the hoop on the floor and push the fabric underneath it. Have the dress drape the way you want it to sit and then put pins around the base every few inches to hold it all together. Once this is done take the skirt off and you will have to do small hand stiches at every pin to hold the fabric in place permanently. A stich at each pin will be enough to hold it all together. Once the dress was stitched I turned it inside out and cut out the extra fabric we didn’t need.
Step 15: The Top
Now the fun part. Making a top that the wings can hide in.
You will need to cut four pieces of fabric out from Figure 1. The measurement across the bottom of figure 1 should be from just in front of the armpit, across the chest to just in front of the other armpit. I would suggest making one out of paper to check that it site right, you can then use it as the pattern to cut out the fabric.
Do the front first. Take two of the above pieces and sew them along the dashed red line seen in Figure 1. Leave the bottom open. Do this again with the other two pieces. Once done, turn them both inside out. You should now have two nicely sewn pieces with no stiches showing. Set one set of the tops aside.
Hold one of the pieces sewn above up against the wearer and take two measurements, See figure 4. Measurement A should be from armpit to armpit. Measurement B should be the height you want the fabric to hang, make sure to add an extra few inches than what you need for sewing.
Now take measurement A and triple it. You will need three times the fabric here to make the body because you need to fold the fabric over the same way you did the skirt. Take the long end of this piece of fabric and fold it over and pin it, the same as the skirt. Sew it across one end and you will have the bottom half of the top made.
Now to sew the two pieces together, lay them together as seen in figure 5. The parts of the costume you want on the outside should be laying facing each other. Now sew across the end of both pieces and once done, the seam will be hidden inside the costume.
Now for the back. This is where it will be a little tricky. I created a flap that would sit over the wing frame to hid it. You need to create three folded fabric panels for the back, and one plain piece of fabric that is not folded over and sewn. See Figure 2 and figure 3. Layer your panels so that the plain panel is on the back, then place the two side panels, overlapping the back panel. Then place the front panel overlapping the side panels. The space between the two side panels should be the same width as the wooden frame from the wings. This way when the wings are worn, the plain panel goes under the wing frame. The side panels sit beside wing frame, and the top panel sits over the wing frame. Now lay the top panel over the bottom panels same as you did on the front (the top panel is upside down at this point if you remember) and sew them across the one end. Again, when you unfold it the seam is hidden on the inside.
Now take your front and back parts and place them together with all the seeming seams on the outside. Essentially it is inside out. Now sew the two shoulder straps together just at the top. And then sew the sides together. Now turn the top right side out and you have a top with all the seams hidden inside.
Step 16: Creating the Stone Effect
To create the stone effect on cloth I used fabric paint. I couldn’t find the right shade of grey I wanted so I mixed black and white until I got a shade of light grey I liked.
Using a small brush I streaked the lighter grey on the high points of the cloth. Do not put any in the valleys. See my pictures for better details.
Step 17: The People You Get to Meet...
And that’s it, time to put it all together and have fun freaking people out.
Recognize a few faces? And yes, the gentleman with the scarf is a HUGE Who fan.