Introduction: The Other Mother From Coraline
"Buttons? Do you like them?...I'm your Other Mother silly!"
One (because one is never enough!) of the Halloween costumes I made this year was the Other Mother (in mid-transformation) from the movie Coraline. It's pretty fun to wear - turns out having buttons in your eyes really unnerves people - and it's fairly simple to construct if you have a little bit of sewing knowledge (ie you can follow patterns.)
Step 1: Gather Supplies
For the dress you will need:
- Sleeveless Top and Pencil Skirt Pattern - I used Butterick pattern 6109 and made top A and skirt D
Notions for top and skirt, depending on pattern (for me, I used two zippers and two sets of hooks and eyes, and a bit of interfacing)
Black Dotted Fabric OR Black Fabric and white/silver fabric-paint to make your own (you can add the dots before or after sewing the pieces together.)... Or if you have the time/money, custom print a dotted fabric at a place like Spoonflower or Fabric On Demand
- Red Fabric
Big piece of cardboard (or really stiff buckram)
Bit of stuffing
- Needle, thread, scissors, sewing machine
For the wig you will need:
- Black wig (I got a black 'Royal Tiara Lace Front Wig Shaggy (660)' for $25)
Small piece of craft foam
Hot glue gun and glue
You'll also need some accessories/a bit of makeup:
- Big black buttons (and eyelash glue)
- Red Shoes (check the thrift shop or eBay!)
- Red Lipstick
- Red Nail Polish (and long fake nails - I didn't wear any as I was dealing with children and didn't want to scratch anybody)
Step 2: Sew Top and Skirt
First make your top and skirt, "mostly" following your pattern. The only changes I made for the skirt was increasing the length, so that it went past my knee. For the top, I lengthened it to end at my hip and I changed the back zipper to a side zipper. A back one would interfere with the collar that gets added later. I recommend using an invisible zipper.
Step 3: Draft Collar/Hip Patterns
Grab some old fabric or newspaper and draw out the top shape of the collar - it's kind of like a weird sort of cosine curve. I cut out the excess above the curve, then pinned it to the top, adjusting it so it was at the right height. Then I followed the line of the top's head-opening, drawing it onto the collar pattern. I then finished cutting out the collar (If this sounds confusing, look at my sketches.) Repeat this process for the hip section. Also make a pattern for three long triangles. Using this pattern, trace and cut out cardboard pieces. I used cardboard instead of buckram, as it was what I currently had!
Step 4: Make the Collar/Hip
Adding 5/8" around all sides of the pattern pieces, trace and cut out the fabric for the collar and hips. You'll need 2 black collar pieces, 2 hip, and 1 red and 1 black for each triangle. Cut out three smaller red triangle pieces.
Stitch/appliqué the red triangle pieces to the black ones.
Sew the collar pieces, hip pieces, and three triangles pieces with right sides together, leaving a large opening on one side for turning the fabric inside out and adding the cardboard......and then do just that! Turn the collar, hip and triangles inside out. Place their cardboard equivalents inside. Then stitch up the opening (I use a ladder stitch.)
Finally sew the hip and collar onto the top; I did this by hand.
Step 5: Create the 'Bump'
To get the skirt "bustle", cut out 6 small (black) rectangles and stitch 3 pairs together, leaving one side open (like a little pillowcase!). Turn them all inside out, stuff them, and stitch the up! Sew one little plump rectangle to red side of each triangle piece. Then stitch all the triangle pieces together. Then stitch those to the hip piece/top!
Step 6: (Optional: Add Dots!)
I didn't buy polka-dot fabric. The Other Mother's dress had a small diamond pattern made up of dots, and I couldn't find a fabric that was close enough to hers that I liked. So after I had sewn most of my pieces together, I painted dots on them. I made a little template by hole punching a tiny diamond onto a piece of paper, and used that when painting the pattern.
This took a LONG time.
I recommend printing custom fabric or just going with regular a polka-dot print (for your own sanity).
Step 7: Style a Wig
Unless it's already styled as you like, cut your wig into a bob (the better option I find is to wear the wig and have a very awesome friend cut the bob on you!). Keep the excess hair. Make a small cone with craft foam and hot glue (simply by cutting out a circle, cut the radius and overlap the circle ends). I recommend painting the foam but you don't have to. Cover the foam with the chopped hair from your wig (carefully do this with the glue gun!). Pin the cone in place at the back of the head.
Step 8: Accessorize
All that's left is to paint your nails red and put on your top and skirt, along with some red lipstick and pumps! Pin your wig on and add the buttons to your eyes.
People were curious as to how the buttons stayed on (and if I saw out of them). I had large buttons, and I wore them just like one would a monocle ... you just kind of wedge them in there! This was better than using, say, eyelash glue to help hold them in place, as I was frequently taking them in and out (for the sake of the kids...and adults!). The buttons are so close to your eyes that it's quite easy to see out of the four button holes.