Instructables
Picture of Kidnapped Mermaid Costume
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Why choose between dressing as a sexy mermaid or a scary pirate when you could be both!

For Halloween this year my friend wanted a costume with the same kind of wow factor as the Headless Bride costume I wore last year.

We settled on a design that has everything: sex appeal, impressive size, an optical illusion and built in drink holders!

By buying a lot of the pieces pre-made we were able to save a lot of time and put together the costume in about 15 hours spread over two weekends of working in my messy kitchen.



*for more info on me, my costumes and my other crafts, check out my blog, http://modmischief.blogspot.com/
 
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Step 1: What you'll need

Picture of What you'll need
You might have a lot of these materials at home already.

From the thrift store:

-shimmery dress suitable for mermaid tail (alternatively, you could just buy the fabric from a fabric store)
-2 long sleeved men's turtlenecks
-long men's trousers
-trenchcoat
-backpack
-belt

From a costume shop:
-long wig (red for an Ariel look)
-sea shell bra
-pirate mask
-pirate hat
-eye patch
-pirate hook
-fake hand
-scarf
-mardi gras beads and assorted bling
-Styrofoam head (the kind used for wigs)

From a specialty shop or online:
-platform boots (the shorter your mermaid in real life, the taller they'll need to be)

From Walmart or somewhere similar:
-Styrofoam cooler
-gold spray paint
-duct tape
-masking tape
-craft paint
-2 plastic cups
-batting / stuffing
-small pieces of velcro (we took ours off of the thrift store backpack)
-straight pins
-rope or straps
-thin bamboo poles (wood dowels would work too)
-epoxy glue
-white glue
-skin coloured fabric to cover backpack straps (a pair of thick tights would do)

From your recycling bin:
-newspaper
-cardboard

Tools:
-glue gun
-sewing machine
-scissors
-paint brushes
-markers

From your social circle:
-Large male friend to wrap in duct tape


Costumes like this are so cool! Does this kind of thing have a certain name so I can look up more of them? Like illusion costume or something similar? I'm shocked and amazed at how many people made this and posted pictures! I think an excellent modification to this would be to add some sort of pull string mechanism to allow you to move the mermaid legs and REALLY confuse people when they saw the legs kicking every so often.

kwmermaid8 months ago
I made the Kidnapped Mermaid a few years ago and had so much fun with it that I had to try it again! This year's Key West Fantasy Fest's theme was "Superheros and Villians" so my fiance and I went as Snidley Whiplash, Nell and Dudley Do Right!! Once again I had a fantastic time keeping people guessing! Thanks for your inspiration!!!
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Eh Lie Us!11 months ago
Wow. that's great. Thanks!
declanshanaghy11 months ago
Brilliant!
evacooper11 months ago
that is such a cool costume!
kwmermaid2 years ago
Thank you for the great idea!!! I made this a few weeks ago for Fantasy Fest here in Key West, FL. It was a HUGE hit!!! I must have had my picture taken 1000 times! Had so many guessing about the costume and how it was done. Your instructions were very detailed and made it easy to construct. A few alterations worked well for me...I used a cooler with handles and ran a swim noodle through the arms and across the neck. I secured the head into the noodle with wooden dowel pins which made the head very stable. I also cut a bungie cord in half and attached each half to the ends of the swim noodle. I could then hook the bungies into the handles of the cooler. This made carrying the 'treasure chest' a breeze and made it easier to remove for sitting or bathroom breaks! I stiched gloves to the costume sleeves and secured the bungie hooks to the palm of the gloves so the 'hands' stayed on the handles. This costume was a BLAST!!!!
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ModMischief (author)  kwmermaid1 year ago
Thanks for posting the pictures! In the first one it's hard to tell which pirate is the real one!
sarahabijo1 year ago
Thanks so much for all your great idea. Everyone was so amazed with my costume. I reused the torso of my headless bride and added a Pirate Mask and dress him up....Now..the she become He...lol...it was so funny because the older people thought it was my husband carrying me...lol...I had so much fun making it...and again...I didn't want to spend money on shell bra since my wig was kind a expensive from Ebay...so I covered my old strapless bra with satin purple color and put beads around it to make it looked like a shell...and used my husband's gloves as his hands...
thanks for all your ideas...Here is my Kidnapped Mermaid
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ModMischief (author)  sarahabijo1 year ago
It's awesome that you were able to reuse the headless bride for the pirate! Thanks for sharing the photos!
studio91181 year ago
ModMischief! You rock! I followed your instructions and my costume won 2 contests (so far, one more left to attempt!)
To add my own touch, i cut clear, blank compact disks into small circles and glues them in groups to the tail to represent scales... it turned out great!
Thank you for sharing your creativity and talent!
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ModMischief (author)  studio91181 year ago
Congrats on winning the contests! I love the idea of using CDs for scales.
Thank you so much for the instructions! My 8 year old daughter fell in love with your costume and wanted me to make one for her this year. (By the way, she's already thinking about another illusion costume for next year!) I ended up using a leotard for her top with some flair from an old prom dress as the sea shell bra was a tad inappropriate for an 8 year old and cold for Colorado :) Best part is we had a blast making it together and she really enjoyed getting to duct tape Grandma for the pirate torso too!!! And I did use an old seat belt instead of a dress belt as that was easier for her to get on and off.

She won the 1st place in the school's costume contest and if there was one for the city's Trick or Trunk and community event, she would have won those too.

The first picture was waiting in line for the city's event and she was starting to blush at all the attention her costume was creating. I think we all had a smile from ear to ear everytime she wore it! Second picture was out trick or treating last night with baby brother, who had to have some flair of his own so we transformed his shopping cart into a pirate ship! Never really was able to get a great picture of both ;)

Thanks again!!!
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ModMischief (author)  SpankieLovesDan1 year ago
I love the blue mermaid hair! Thanks for posting the pictures!
Thank you for posting this wonderful costume! I wanted to top last years costume for my 11yr old daughter and came across this. I made some modifications of course but it turned out beautifully. She had a little trouble with trick or treating just because she couldn't move to fast and we were in a little bit of a time crunch. She also couldn't maneuver the porch stairs all that well either. Trunk or treating would have been an easier option. She was a huge hit though at our local costume contest. She won a prize for Most Outstanding and Homemade. I loved watching people trying to figure it out.
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ModMischief (author)  dpiercy risken1 year ago
Your daughter 's costume really is "most outstanding" - thanks for sharing the pictures!
What dimensions were the cooler?
ModMischief (author)  derbylioness1 year ago
I'm not sure exactly what size we used, but you'll want to measure your mermaids hips and find a cooler large enough to fit her.
sarahabijo1 year ago
I did your headless bride last year....and got so many compliments...I cannot walk 2 ft. without someone asking me taking a picture. I also won a netbook and $200 gc for a Halloween contest. This year, I am doing your kidnapped Mermaid version. I cannot seem to figure out how did you get the treasure chest carried by the Pirate....Did you attached a belt into it that will go around your waist? Pls. let me know.
Thanks
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gwen74782 years ago
Thanks for the great tutorial!
I live in The Netherlands and they had never seen something like this before.
I made the costume for a "fox-hunt" for a local boyscout-group. For a fox I was a bit easy to find, but they all loved it.
During the hunt I had to walk through the village and most people smiled and the reactions they gave were all super positive!

I could not get a box like yours where I live, so I constructed the treasure chest from styrofoam boards, wooden picks and glue. It came out a little bigger then expected, but it still worked and came out pretty good. :)
I even have a few rental applications in already ;)

But first I want to wear it myself to a few other fantasy festivals.

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jmoniz12 years ago
Everyone loved it. Thanks!
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ModMischief (author)  jmoniz12 years ago
Fantastic! Your pirate looks very convincing.
Thanks! The only thing is that I didn't have my hair covering the straps for this picture.
atate52 years ago
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this.
Here's how mine turned out ... I won the costume contest at my neighborhood pub. If you were anywhere near Phoenix, I'd buy you a drink! :)

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ModMischief (author)  atate52 years ago
Congrats! Great job on the costume!
irishpete52 years ago
This was the best ever! It took a little bit of doing to get it all worked out well but in the end we won the costume contest at the annual Columbia Gorge Hotel Halloween party in Hood River Oregon. It was awesome how people on the dance floor would sneak up and touch the pirate to see if it was real. A tip on the top: We used a nude bandeau bra from Target and sewed a set of cheap foam seashells on that we dressed up with some sequins.
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ModMischief (author)  irishpete52 years ago
Well done! I love the green mermaid hair!
aossai2 years ago
HAD SO MUCH FUN WITH IT
Angntrav3 years ago
I'm looking for the pic's of how you cut out the shirt to the backpack, do you have any that you could submit? or give more step by step instructions of how you did this part? I'm to this step of making the costume but, I'm not for sure how to do this.
ModMischief (author)  Angntrav3 years ago

I don't have any photos of this step other than what is already posted.

Basically you want to make sure that you can glue the backpack to the dummy's body and not just the shirt because the shirt could stretch and not hold the weight.

When you know where you're placing the backpack, just cut out a hole in the shirt, glue the cut edges down so the hole doesn't get any bigger or shift and then load up the backpack with glue and stick it down.

Even with the backpack glued to the dummy, we still tied it together to make sure it didn't come apart or sag.
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does the back pack need to be full size? i forgot to ask. i was just wondering because it seems very heavy without the dummy being attached.
ModMischief (author)  Angntrav2 years ago
As long as the backpack fits comfortably it shouldn't really matter. We used a fairly small backpack, there's no need for a really big camping pack.
okay thank you
just seen this on the daily instructable and I must say it looks amazing, well done!
D_mon3 years ago
THATS AMAZING! WOW. seriously well done!
shammc4 years ago
Fantastic, makes me wish a was a women so i could try it out!
r-ant shammc4 years ago
 "Mer-man, Dad, Mer-man!"
Zoolander! :0D
Sadao shammc4 years ago
you could apply this to many costume combos like gorrila holding man in a cage
i was gonna ask about that!
You know, they have mermen, and female pirates...
gafisher shammc4 years ago
So be a homely mermaid ... :-)
kenchato3 years ago
JAJA! It's Sooo COOOL! Great Instructable!
ClaudiaRN3 years ago
loved making the costume, got much of it at a thrift store for a few bucks. Spray paint was the most costly item, and the coin candy. The rest I had in house...For the tail I used a fan of pool cover ( hard blue bubble wrap-like) and attached it to a necklace, so I could move it around for extra fun. I used knitted chains for effect too, one of which sent through the loops on the raincoat of the pirate, I pulled on them to keep him upright and also did a few little humping sessions for entertainment LOLOLOL by pulling on it a bit..

. Loved having such fun making and wearing.., wowed em! THANKS MODMISCHIEF, for giving me the base instructable to take off from!
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ModMischief (author)  ClaudiaRN3 years ago
Great job! It looks fantastic!
I'm sure the humping pirate was hilarious
Wo0kiE3 years ago
I have to say, this is one of the more original and creative ideas for a costume I have seen...
well done!
Great instructions! Thanks for sharing.

I made this costume for Halloween this year, and of course it was a huge hit. I have a few tips for anyone who's thinking of trying it themselves:
1.) This should go without saying, but don't wait until the last minute on this one. From start to finish, it took up every spare minute I had for 10 straight days, plus I pulled an all-nighter the night before Halloween to get it done.
2.) I didn't know how to do the faux bois effect for the chest and wasn't able to find very detailed directions anywhere. I ended up painting the whole chest dark brown and after it dried, using a dish scrubber from the grocery store (not sure what to call it -- it was like a stiff, wiry sponge) to drag lighter brown paint along the sides, always working in the same direction. It took some effort to get it to look right, but I was surprised at how nicely it turned out.
3.) I tried to make two belt loops from duct tape and cardboard and stick them to the side where the styrofoam was cut away, like it shows in the picture. Within about 5 minutes, the duct tape had ripped away from the cooler. To fix it, I made belt loops out of twine that were long enough to reach my belt from various points inside the chest and duct taped them down really well. It worked great. They were all taped below the shelf, so they weren't visible when I was wearing the costume. I made about 6 of the twine belt loops in all.
4.) About 90 minutes before showtime, I discovered that the Velcro was worthless for keeping the pirate's hand on the chest. I guess I didn't get strong enough Velcro. I didn't want to glue the hand directly to the chest because it was easier to transport if I could completely separate the pirate from the chest, so I glued one of the bead necklaces down in just the right position so that I could slip the pirate's hand through the necklace and hold it up that way. The hand didn't sit flush against the side of the chest like I would have liked, but nobody commented on it.
ModMischief (author)  wonderrat20003 years ago
Thanks for sharing your tips!
Using a dish scrubber with lighter brown paint sounds like a great way to make it look like wood. When we did it, I just eyeballed it and painted on knots and long strokes in various shades of brown.
I'd love to see photos of your finished costume!
afridave3 years ago
arrr me hearties ,warms me to the very cockles of me art ,i needs a couple of them merry mermaids on this here good ship..Shiver me timbers arrrrr

great costume is what im actually trying to say.
MrSalvador3 years ago
I want this costume, then a random pirate will carry me around.
sojournerc3 years ago
This is a really awesome costume. Thanks for sharing your ideas! I made this for my 8-year-old daughter. She won the costume prize and got lots of compliments. Our version was sorta low-budget. Instead of making a body shell of duct tape, I used her school backpack. It has a handle that telescopes/extends. I taped an old pillow to the backpack handle for the pirate's torso, dressed it in a striped shirt and used a dress that buttons down the front instead of a trench coat (mostly to avoid adding too much extra weight). Originally we used a cardboard box that was cut and pasted into a treasure chest that fit around her waist, but later I discovered a basket we had on hand that worked better and looked nicer. We didn't have to cut it at all. I made the mermaid part of the costume so that she could take off the pirate part (it was kinda heavy and awkward) and play at the party.

All in all it turned out great. It was the best costume we saw all night. I think I spent about $25 or so on the whole deal, including the fabric that I purchased for the mermaid part of the costume. The only problem is, I have NO idea what we'll do for an encore next year!
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tbrunner343 years ago
Any tips/advice on how exactly you did the Beltloops?
ModMischief (author)  tbrunner343 years ago

We folded over some duct tape so it was sticky sides together and then used more duct tape to secure it to the chest.

One of the problems with using duct tape is that it stretches out, so we had to replace the loops a couple of times.

Using a stiffer material might be a good idea, but the duct tape was what we had on hand and easy to fix.
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I'm using this as my costume this year! I saw it and just had to try it. I changed a few things, but it's still basically the same costume. I stuffed it with carved couch foam, used painted rubber gloves for hands, and changed the pirate into a skeleton biker. Also my mermaid will be waring a sweater-shall as the evenings around here get quite cold. I'll put up pics when I've got it complete. The only thing I have left to do bling my treasure chest and put it together.
mrblu33 years ago
Nice mermaids :)
gedion40003 years ago
YAR! now there be booty worthy of the finest pirate! i remember seeing something like this when i was a kid, it was a gorilla with a guy in a cage and i thought it was the most amazing costume. great job!!!!
kenbob3 years ago
I especially love the foresight to include cup holders. Brilliant!
kenbob3 years ago
well done! love it.
goomy3 years ago
This is amazing, I'm totally doing this for next year!
tbrunner343 years ago
This is amazing!!! How did you end up attaching the tail to the chest??
If I remember correctly, it wasn't actually attached to the chest, but rather just was tucked into the pants.
ModMischief (author)  Pandy6273 years ago
Yup, the tail was just tucked in.

If your tail is too heavy or slippery to stay up that way you could tack the bottom to the treasure chest with a bit of hot glue.
Thanks so much :)
-chase-3 years ago
;0) - cool costume and fun to read blog site.

I've got to get to Burning man... definitly on the Lifes To Do List.

Happy Holloween to all,

- chase -
TorBoy93 years ago
A very creative and fun costume. I'll have to think of this technique for next year.
Looks freaky cool,
after having a secong look I noticed that pirates hand skin colour does not match the face. Easy to fix with a bit of makeup.
ModMischief (author)  pellepeloton3 years ago
I don't think I even noticed that until you pointed it out, but you're right, the colour of the hand it a bit off.
A little paint could fix that without much trouble.
Then again the pirate might have a transplanted hand :) It would be cool to see this for real as on pictures it looks so cool.
lidzy3 years ago
I am totally stoked by this wonderful costume..
If you were feeling really ambitious, doing the latex Davy Jones head fromm last week would be a great substitute for the pirate's head..yeah, really ambitious!
pyogazel3 years ago
Impressive!
potterrandy3 years ago
Really Effing creative, hot too. Good work.
mstar3 years ago
Great costume idea, makes me want to take up fishing.
Cherylb10033 years ago
As a kid I was a mermaid in a Peter Pan play. For the scales we used shiny vinyl cut into the shape of scales (maybe 1.5"x1.5") and sewed the scales onto a background fabric.
hammer98763 years ago
Did you have any drunks start talking to the pirate?

I was also thinking that the tail should twitch. I bet you could hide a fishing line (? LOL?) to the tail and attach it inside the cooler where you could pull on it once in a while. That would definitely add to the illusion, but it so a great costume as is.
mayday2954 years ago
I really like this idea, and since I am a guy and do not plan on being a mermaid, I think I will try it with a little bit different twist, like one I saw of a parrot on the back (where the pirate is), and me in a cage (where the treasure chest is)... Thanks for the great guide!!
Also dude on a real motorcycle with a baby on his back
pic was titled "the worlds worst babysitter"
Areli_N4 years ago
This is absolute genius! You've inspired me to try and come up with an equally clever and original twist for my own mermaid costume.
soeinegaudi4 years ago
A W E S O M E !!!!!
Hot-Tati4 years ago
This is RIDICULOUSLY CLEVER~! My hubby and I run a group called Arizona Costumed Revelers, and I have been searching for a way to do a mermaid that doesnt look like a store bought one. THIS IS SOOO AWESOME! I NEVER ever even thought of this. Thank you so much for sharing!!!!
Brilliant, I love it!
Luny4 years ago
I love this!  The only change I would make is to use a different fabric for the tail, something with sequins to mimic scales.  

One question - how in the heck do you go to the bathroom? 
ModMischief (author)  Luny4 years ago
We were originally looking for something with a scalier look to it but the shimmery dress was the best we could find at a reasonable price (sequined dresses=ridiculously expensive to cut up).

To go to the bathroom the treasure chest and pirate need to come off. It's not actually that hard to get into and out of the costume as long as you have someone to help. It's just a matter of undoing the belt that holds up the chest and taking off the pirate backpack.
You know what they say;
if your in your costume and you can't see,it's hot and you can't go to the bathroom,you're not having a good time.  :)
I hope you won one of those best costume things this year...
ModMischief (author)  PerfectionLost4 years ago
Sadly this costume hasn't won any best costume contests.. not yet anyways :)
Contests Shmontestes,
that  costume is brilliant.The best prize is making it with your two hands and your wonderful imagination.Bravo!!
Well, it DID make it to the newsletter! 
It gets my nomination!  Very nice work, and a really great idea.
LDW4 years ago
Absolutely brilliant! Hooray!

Shame you had the pics taken with that ugly industrial estate as background.

But what a superb project. Bravo.
ModMischief (author)  LDW4 years ago
I agree that the background isn’t ideal. Unfortunately, Ottawa is a long way from the nearest pirate harbour.
Saw something similar once, only it was a woman carrying a baby in a baby rucksack. The woman (at the front) was the dummy, hunched over forward slightly as though carrying a weight. The baby in the rucksack was a pretty ugly unshaven guy. It was weirdly disturbing in an unpleasant way.

This is way sexier!
neilmac4 years ago
Arrrr, hey that's one way to get a man in yer pants!!

-reminds me of the song " she ain't heavy, she's ...err.....me...."

Lotsa fun
Add Commarr lol one hell of a way for someone take you home
static4 years ago
 Just got around to looking at this instructable, just plain far out. And all the good things other's said
sedition4 years ago
Great Instructable, and awesome costume!
jerjod4 years ago
 What's not to love about this girl and her amazing creativity.
chaitanyak4 years ago
really awesome!
and creative 
startfresh4 years ago
I LOVEEEEeeee this!!!
Now this is Sharppppp!
WOW!!!!! Outstanding!
a few years ago I did almost the same thing, except I was a kid being carried off by death, it was real enough I had people talking to the death mask, best costume eve. I won $10 for it too :)
bd54 years ago
that is coooooool!  Great instructable!
neo144844 years ago
very nice costume, and designer, is very nice too :)
SLKestrel4 years ago
this is f**king brilliant.
kc5qnk4 years ago
THAT is COOL!  Amazing craftsmanship...and a great imagination to boot!
pretty cool!  More expensive, but you could modify this costume a little, adding a servo so the tail would move around a little, and so the pirate's head would move. You could conceal the controls in the box.
ModMischief (author)  titanium_geek4 years ago
That would be awesome!
You would definitely need more than two weekends to get something like that worked out but it would totally be worth it.
skipernicus4 years ago
I'm curious about the mask you used for the pirate's face - do you have a source, or was it "what we had handy?" It's perfect for this costume.
ModMischief (author)  skipernicus4 years ago
This awesome mask was found at Value Village in their Halloween stuff.
Unfortunately I don't know the name of the company who makes it or anything to help you find something similar.
eoutlaw4 years ago
Oh, man!  I wish that I saw this before Halloween!  It's great.  :-)
Not just staggering. Exceptionally staggering.
skipernicus4 years ago
This made me laugh out loud. Superior job all around!
amaze14 years ago
W O W ! ! Spectacular !
This is why I like Instructables

nbscloset4 years ago
Untoppable!
owln4 years ago
You make one very good looking mermaid. owln
R4Man184 years ago
where do you get the hot mermaid from? and someone needs to tell the pirate to lift with his legs not his back.
gnomedriver4 years ago

Theres just something I’m not sure about mermaids. Its hard to put your finger on it. There is something fishy about them.

Legutki4 years ago
How much did it cost to make the costume?
ModMischief (author)  Legutki4 years ago
I didn't buy most of the pieces so I'll have guess at the costs.

The pirate costume alone (mask, shirt, jacket, pants, hat, hook. eye patch, etc)  is probably $60 to $100.

For the mermaid costume (tail, bra, wig) $30 - $40.

Everything else (cooler, paint, tape, glue, tools, etc) would be at least $50.

By using stuff you already have at home, I'm sure you could make this costume for under $100. But if you want 6" platform boots you'll need to spend more than that.
Thanks sooo much!!
santy224 years ago
 Now, thing is not to confuse the chocolate coins with the gold wrapped condoms.
kcli4 years ago
All along I thought your headless bride would be the costume winner but the mermaid is even more spectacular...great job on both and good luck in the contest!
Stew24 years ago
 Gold wrapped condoms?! I'm definitely going to the wrong parties... 
frollard4 years ago
That's an awesome costume!  I'm curious - where do the backpack straps hide?  under the hair?
ModMischief (author)  frollard4 years ago
The straps are mostly covered by the wig but we also covered them in skin coloured fabric to help them blend in.

Thanks for reminding me, I'll add that to the instructions :)
hehehe...I was wondering where the straps went from blue navy to invisible :D
OMG that's so original! I love it!

It reminds me of the costume from "Super Troopers"; "Guy f&cking a bear."
ddpie4 years ago
 very creative and inventive! luv it!
KentsOkay4 years ago
 Very cool!
otoupalik4 years ago
 That is absolutely amazing! You have some serious talent!
JEEPBOY524 years ago
Cool custome!
Ward_Nox4 years ago
next year you aught to try doing lady Godiva on her horse
CaptPikel4 years ago
 I have to say I'm impressed. This is the first costume I've seen like this. Great job!
What a creative costume!  Well done!
F-174 years ago
 I like these kind of costumes.

mikeasaurus4 years ago
WOW! The process looks elaborate, but you pulled it off and it looks amazing! 
Great job!
ycc21064 years ago
Outstanding! =D

But aren't you cold?
insomniaSAH4 years ago
this is fantastically cute