Introduction: Zombie / Serial Killer Corset
This Instructable will show you how to make your own meat corset (or corpse-t as I like to call it!) by building on top of a pre-made corset. You can do this from scratch if you're feeling particularly crafty, but I prefer using pre-made corsets as they're cheap, easy to buy, and I can destroy it without feeling bad about all the work I would otherwise be putting into making it.
The techniques here can be applied to a multitude of different costumes, props and ideas, so don't let the fact that it's written for a corset stop you. I've used this technique to make table cloths (you can see that here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Flayed-Human-Flesh... ), aprons, books...you name it!
The first thing I did was find some inspiration. Of course, everyone knows about Lady GaGa's meat dress. Cool, but not sanitary...pretty expensive, and let's be honest, I have dogs...not a good combo.
I started by sketching my design idea and realized realistically that for cost, maneuverability and ease, I'd rather have just the corset be meat and make the skirt out of something else
Step 1: Get Your Stuff Together!
For this project you will need
1. Acrylic paint in various gory colors. I used the cheap stuff from Michael's (about $1 a bottle or less with coupons) in the following colors: Red, Black, White, Brown.
2. Foam brushes. LOOOTS of foam brushes. You'll go through a ton for this so get a pack of 10 from Michael's for about $4.
3. Liquid Latex. You can pick this up either online or at any Party City, RIP, Spirit Halloween...etc. I bought 2 16oz bottles (about $14 a bottle) and had a bit left over at the end.
4. Headliner foam in tan. You can get this at Joann's fabric. By far the most expensive thing on my list at around $18 a yard, so bring along your coupons when you go. I used a 60% off one and scored 2 yards for around $15.
5. Clear acrylic spray/sealer (for the end)
7. Waxed leather working thread in black. I got mine at Tandy leather but I think you can also buy it at Michael's in the leather section. I like the thick stuff because it really stands out but it is harder to sew with.
8. BIG sewing needle. I used a leather needle.
9. Hair dryer -- Not essential, but if you're impatient like me, it helps.
10. Big flat cookie sheet
11. Spray bottle of water
12. Corset in your size -- If you plan ahead you can order this online. I've found the best prices on Ebay, but be warned, if you order from China or anywhere else overseas, it does take a bit of time for them to come in. I usually schedule in about 3 weeks to a month just to give myself enough time to get them for when I need them.
13. Dress form -- You can purchase one online (Craigslist.org usually has some good cheap ones), at your local fabric shop, or follow this awesome Instructable from Mskabrina: https://www.instructables.com/id/Hanging-or-Tabletop-Duct-Tape-Dress-Form-with-Easy/
Step 2: Piece It Out and Pin It Down...
First thing you want to do is put your corset to your dress form. This helps to give it structure as you're cutting and pinning and in general just makes life a heck of a lot easier in the long run when it comes to fitting things together.
With the headliner foam, you want to remember that the foam (yellowish) side is the back and the fabric (tan) side is the front... The reason I use the headliner foam is twofold. First off, it's already a sort of fleshy color which is great and secondly, the foam adds a bit of "spring" to the material when you press it down which mimics the feel of real flesh in just the right way (read: creepy!) Now it's time to cut out your fleshy bits! (that just sounds wrong). Don't worry about making each piece match the pieces of your corset exactly, you want this to look rough and patchwork... As you cut your pieces, pin them to your dress form so you can see what you've got so far and where you're headed. Again, this is supposed to be rough and patchwork, so if you have gaps and spaces, don't worry...we will address that later...and trust me, gaps will make it look even more badass when we start working on detailing... Once you get the corset covered the way you want, carefully unpin each piece so you can start painting them. As this is sort of a "puzzle" outfit, I've found that to make it easier on myself later on when I'm reassembling, it helps to not only take pictures of what your covered corset looks like, but I also number each piece on the back so I know where they go when it's time to reassemble. You don't have to do this step...but it does make it easier later when you're stitching it all back together.
Step 3: Time to Get Artistic...
Guess what we do in this step?!? That's right...paint!
Take your acrylic paints and thin them down using water and just start dabbing away on each piece until you get a look you're happy with. I liked making my edges darker and letting it stay lighter towards the middle of each piece to help really sell the idea that these are bruised and abused pieces of flayed flesh.
I found that by spraying the foam pieces with water and really saturating the material, the paint would "crawl" along and help diffuse any brush marks, making it really look good and real. I did a lot of layering and subtle shading to try to get the depth I wanted to the look.
FOR FRESH MEAT: Lots of deep reds and white for that 'sirloin steak' look...
FOR DEAD/ROTTING MEAT: Darker reds with black mixed in for a more decayed look. You can also add in hints of green for rot.
FOR CORPSE MEAT: More blues and pale colors for bruising with a base of yellow like it's been skinned and drained, but very recently.
You can see in the photos where there are painted pieces next to unpainted pieces just how I worked from the edges in towards the center. Use your brushes to not only add in the bruising, but faint blood vessels as well. I did my vessels in a red/brown blend and then spritzed them with water to fade them a bit so they look more "sub-dermal." We'll get to exterior veins in a bit...just wait. :)
Once they're dry (here's where you can use your hair dryer if you're impatient!), brush a coat of liquid latex over the top of each piece. It'll be white at first, but as it dries, it'll turn to clear so don't worry.
**Note** Liquid latex contains AMMONIA which STINKS and is also really bad for your lungs. Once I started using the latex, I moved my project out into the garage for better air circulation.
Step 4: Crunchy
Once your first coat of latex is dry take each piece and crumple it up just like you'd ball up a piece of trash paper. Don't compress it too hard, you're not actually throwing it away...you just want to give the surface of the material some wrinkles and creases (I call it character...)
Step 5: Stitch It Down
Once you've painted your pieces with the acrylic paint, added on your first latex layer and lightly crumpled them all...it's time to really get to the "meat" of the project. Ha ha!
First thing I did was put all my pieces together in the order I wanted them on my dress form again.
Now that you've got it laid out, time to start stitching your pieces together using the thick wax thread... Use a rough and sloppy stitch. This ain't pretty and we ain't Martha Stewart so make this look as bad (or as good) as you want!
For those spots where there are gaps that make stitching hard, just leave those for now. I'll show you something cool to do with those in just a minute.
To give your meat corset strength, stitch both through your meat pieces and the actual corset itself.
Step 6: Sealing the Deal
Once you've got it all stitched down, you want to brush on the second coat of latex. Again, this ain't Martha so get sloppy with that latex. You want to make sure you cover every part of the surface of your material, but don't worry about some spots being thinner or thicker than others...this adds to the idea that you're using actual flesh for your project and helping disguise the fact that it's fabric.
You can see in the photos how the latex goes on white, but dries to a clear(ish) and fairly shiny finish.
Step 7: You're So Vein!
Now that we've stitched things together and put on another coat of latex, it's time to start adding in some gore!
First you want to pour out a tiny bit of latex into a shallow dish. Add in some of your acrylic paint and mix it up until you have a color you like.
Now you get to use the cookie sheet! Using a foam brush, lightly brush a thin layer of latex on the surface of the metal. Then...wait! The latex will dry quickly but if you're in a rush, you can always use your handy hair dryer.
Once the latex is dry, gently rub your fingers along the edge of the sheet to start creating a "roll." Roll the latex up into long worms. Don't worry, latex loves to stick to itself so this will be a simple task! Roll your veins as thick or as thin as you want and then peel them off the cookie sheet.
Figure out where you want them on your stitched flesh pieces and put down another thin layer of latex "glue." Gently press your veins into these spots and let the latex dry.
If you find your veins aren't sticking down exactly as you want, you can first dry your latex glue a bit with the hairdryer until it's good and tacky and then stick them down. Once you have them where you want them, go over them with another coat or two of latex to help seal them in. This keeps them from not only not peeling off, but makes it look like they're a part of the skin.
I like to use my veins and bits of gore to stretch between pieces that are too far apart to stitch together. It not only helps to join the pieces together, but also makes it look just that much more disgusting!
But why limit yourself to just veins? I've peeled dried latex out of the bottoms of my paint dishes before and just stuck that down and it looks equally disgusting! Play around with this stuff...make it nasty!
Step 8: Get Your Alibi Now...
We're so close to being finished, I can almost taste it! Now comes the final steps.
PROTECT: Yup. Spray that puppy with a good coat of your acrylic sealer. Now for this you have two choices...if you want a "gooey" look, go with crystal clear. If you want a slightly softer look, go for matte. For this one I did a combination of the two, first hitting the entire piece with matte and then focusing in on spots where I wanted high gloss (ie, wet blood spots)
Once that's good and dry...try your corset on and adjust it to fit you like a nasty disgusting human glove. You can add more blood for the drippy look, smear on some KY for a little more shine, or just leave it as it is for a little more dry aged look.
Either way, be prepared to have a good time trying to assure people it's not real...