Donkey Kong Dress Mod Version 1 & 2




Introduction: Donkey Kong Dress Mod Version 1 & 2

About: Ars longa, vita brevis, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile. -Hippocrates

I modified an old Donkey Kong tshirt into something that I preferred to wear.
Modifying a regular ol' Donkey Kong tshirt into a more interesting outfit consisting of a more effeminate top and matching skirt.
Went to a few events wearing it, the Ohm video game music and visual event at Chicago Cultural Center, a Mindless Self Indulgence concert, and clubbing at Neo in September of 2007.

There are 2 versions.
Version 1 is the tshirt with mesh net raglan sleeves and mesh net windows.
Version 2 is the tshirt with satin bias tape boat neckline with ladder straps.
And the skirt has a see-through red level and ladder.

Eventually would like to rework on it in the future with better seaming and more decorations.
Due to this perfectionism, I was reluctant to put this on Instructables.
Wasn't sure whether to make it a slideshow or step-by-step guide. Since I already have most of the notes and pics and this was on my old Picasa account months ago, might as well transfer it here.

This Instructable is the barebones version with detailed comments.
The extended photo heavy version is in my Flickr set.

I hope you will enjoy this Instructable, it may have a goofy tone because it took a while to put it together and it took more time than I expected, just like many projects do.

Step 1: The Original Tshirt and Skirt.

The original tshirt bought from Target a while back. I always felt uncomfortable about wearing it because it's such a boring top, with exception to it being a Donkey Kong tshirt of course. It's not available anymore sadly, cannot find it online.

Found a $3 skirt from Ragstock, no way I'm gonna buy it from American Apparel.
Need the funds for sewing notions and trims.

Step 2: Planning and Supplies

Finally sketched out the idea on July, 2007 despite thinking about it for a long time. Also took a long time going store to store trying to find the right supplies. It was very frustrating. Sometimes ended up buying fabric pieces that I didn't end up using after all. But it was such small amounts it wasn't worth the time and energy returning it. Also asked for samples or bought 1/8 yard pieces for matching.

Donkey Kong tshirt

Hard to get fabrics and notions, in a retail store
Mesh net fabric
1/2" Baby blue foldover elastic
5/8" Black foldover elastic
1/2" Red Satin double fold bias tape
(according to the woman who orders notions at Vogue Fabrics,
the company that made this went out of business, virtually impossible to find this bias tape)

Coats & Clark thread
#36A Scarlet red
#551 Baby blue
Black thread
3/8"Double faced Red satin ribbon
7/8" Single faced Red satin ribbon

Crappy tshirt for testing and experimentation.
Kraft paper or mail wrapping paper for patternmaking
Fabric glue stick
Dritz® Stitch Witchery Fusible Adhesive or similar product
Tear Away stabilizer
Ball point pins for knits
Rotary cutter
Painter's tape (for bright marking)
Raglan sleeve tshirt as a guide
Boat necked knit top as a guide
Sewing machine (of course)

Step 3: Sewing the Mesh Net Fabric On

Tested and practiced on a crappy tshirt before moving on to the Donkey Kong tshirt because it's irreplaceable. So important to do this!

The dancewear mesh fabric for the window actually came from a trim because the fabric by the yard couldn't be found in retail fabric stores at the time. I traveled to 4 stores: 2 JoAnns, Vogue in Evanston, and a closed Hancock which gave me a heart attack. I remembered Hancock Fabrics would have it because I used to buy from there (and used to work there a long time ago.)
The fabric was wide enough for me to use on the window and I dismantled it form the trim. Eventually I found the mesh net fabric by the yard but it didn't seem as dark as the one I found on the trim.

Made a sandwich of mesh net fabric, tshirt, and tear away stabilizer.
The stabilizer will help feed the knit fabric through the sewing machine while providing support for the satin stitches. It will also probably strengthen the window too.

Made heavy marks on shirt and mesh with white tailors chalk.
Used a zig zag stitch with small compact width and length to produce a neat compact (but not bulky) satin stitch.
Sewed the rectangle shape that will become the window.

Step 4: Cutting the Window Out.

Next I trimmed off the excess mesh net outside of the window and satin stitches. Normally applique scissors are used for close trimming but holding the scissors at an angle will suffice.

Tore off the tear away stabilizer. Not worried about it being white against black fabric because it is in the inside of the shirt anyway.

To make sure I do not accidentally cut the mesh net I used a pin to lift up the tshirt fabric off and away from the mesh and snipped it a little.

With this little hole, I cut a X towards to corners of the rectangle. Trimmed off the excess the tshirt fabric close to the stitches but being careful not to cut the satin stitches.

At first I wanted to create 3 windows and using only the straight lines of the graphic to produce them.
It was suggested that I only make 1 window. Later changed my mind and made 2 windows instead. I regretted doing this and should have left it at one. But that's okay, it's barely noticeable anyway.

Step 5: Cutting the Sleeves With Unforseen Consequences

Cutting off the sleeves starting at the neckline down to the armpit seam where the original sleeve and the body of the tshirt meet.

This resulted in not only looking like a wife beater tshirt (which is funny) but had the unfortunate result of having the the sleeve seam being very deep past the armpit.
I couldn't make a traditional raglan sleeve because it will look strange and baggy so I had to figure out a workaround.

I could have cut higher, close to the armpit but I thought that it might look funny having this extra armpit seam lower than the new sleeve.

Step 6: Mesh Net Sleeve Construction.

Placed the old tshirt sleeve on top of a tshirt (that fits me) that has raglan sleeves.
Put kraft paper at the bottom and started tracing and blending both shapes.
Made it longer to extend past my wrist as well.

Kept checking to make sure everything fits, at first it didn't but I fixed it and finally had a paper pattern to cut the hard-to-get mesh net fabric from. Placed the paper pattern on the fold of the fabric, crosswise grain so that the selvage can act as a finished edging on the wrist.

Could have made a slimmer sleeve to begin with but my concern was the new raglan sleeve fitting in the original tshirt which still has its curved ribbed neckline.
It's also possible to apply the raglan sleeve then put ribbed knit neckline, like in other tshirts, but I didn't want to spend the extra time to do so.

I also bought red mesh fabric that was shiny, sparkly on one side and thought of using it as sleeves.
There was another idea of having a ladder down the shoulders. I would like to use these variants but I cannot find the tshirt anymore despite much Internet or Ebay searching.

Step 7: Fixing the Large, Baggy Sleeve

To fix the baggy sleeve I used painter's tape to mark off new seam line, sewed it, tried it on,
and discarded the excess.

I like using painter's tape or any cheap, bright tape to hold stuff down temporarily or mark items down, it's also reusable. Since I don't have a tailor or seamstress to help me pin and make chalk marks, the tape makes it easier.

Used the discarded excess raglan sleeve as a pattern to cut off and sew the other sleeve.

I dislike raw edges so I used black foldover elastic to make a nice seam in the mesh knit fabric.
My serger is out of commission so I started using this notion and it's wonderful because all you do is encase the raw edges with it, fold it, and sew. Like bias tape, but stretchy. This elastic has a center that makes it easy to fold so it's not like regular elastic. It's also very hard to find in retail stores. Some clothes use this notion, like tank tops and underwear.

Hence it was frustrating when I was short by 2 inches to finishing the 2nd sleeve raw edge.
Found another substitute that's softer and bulkier but not the same exact thing but it will have to do for now.

Step 8: Donkey Kong Dress Mod Version 1

Proceeded to Ohm event at Chicago Cultural Center.
It was their Game Over last event. Ohm was a free summer monthly event in Chicago's Cultural Center that celebrated video games with music and visuals. Hence my ambitious project.

But I didn't finish the neckline or even started the skirt yet.

After the watching Brobot at the Ohm event, endured an aggravating shuttle bus ride because the Blue Line train was shut down for construction. I jotted more planning notes on a napkin from a Russian dinner of leftovers so I can picture what else needs to get done.

Going to wear this outfit again in a different form at the Mindless Self Indulgence show the next night and I have a long drive ahead of me. A picture on one of their albums depicted them playing video games, it just seemed appropriate to wear this.

Step 9: Ladder Construction for the Skirt

I folded the 1/2" Baby blue foldover elastic and sewed it together.
This will create the rungs of the blue ladder. They were cut in 3cm pieces and placed 2 cm apart.

I pinned down the rungs on the ironing board then attached the rails on the sides.
Sandwiched the rungs inside the fold of a long piece of the baby blue foldover elastic.
Used fusible webbing with dots of fabric glue to hold it down in place.
I can use fabric glue throughout the ladder but not too sure of its holding power so I'd rather stick to using the fusible webbing.

After the gluing, I sewed close to the inside edge of the ladder rails.

Step 10: Level Construction for the Skirt

For the red level I took the 3/8" double faced satin ribbon and folded it at specific intervals and pinned it down. Took an iron and pressed on the folds to retain it's shape.

Cut out a strip of mesh tape to the desired width.

Took the 7/8" single face satin ribbon and folded it in half and pressed it to retain shape.

Assembled the 3/8" ribbon and mesh net sandwiched in the fold on the 7/8'" ribbon
with fusible webbing. Pin in place and then pressed down with iron around the pins.
Remove pins and press again both sides.

Attach to skirt and cutout the skirt fabric where it covers the mesh net to create window.

The satin stitch isn't working on the sides of the skirt. The machine needle would stay in place and not move. Resulted in bulky, bloated seam. I removed the crappy stitches and just sewed past the skirt's normal seam allowance into the skirt itself to cover the ribbons raw edges on the other side.

Step 11: Creating the New Neckline

I base new alterations on clothes using clothing that I already wear and that fit. (Well, in theory.)

I have a grey knit top with a boat neckline that is one of my favorite tops (until it shrank later).
Been told a few times that the neckline was flattering to my body type so I used it.
Placed this on top the Donkey Kong top and marked the seam line where the ribbed knit meets the knit top as well as where the ribbing ended.

Measured twice, cut once the old tshirt neckline.
Proceeded to sew the red satin double faced bias tape.
It was more difficult than I thought, though it was my first time using it so I shouldn't fret.
It kept puckering a bit and so the neckline wasn't as smooth and neat as I'd like it to be.

I was trying to imitate the boat neckline just like the grey shirt by recreating the overlapping ribbing.
Realized it wasn't possible due to the way the sleeve is constructed.
It is a set in sleeve and not a raglan sleeve. I was trying to make one style fit into another.
Which is not possible.

Also realized that the purpose of bias tape is to go around curves nicely so I might as well just sew it curving around the whole neckline.
There's only catch, I already cut the bias tape at the shoulder. DOH!

With only one to two hours to spare before a road trip to the show, had to make do and attach the rest of the bias tape, attach the ladder rungs near the neck, and the put the remainder ladder on the skirt. It's a messy sewing job for my taste but I had to wear something.

Step 12: Donkey Kong Dress Mod Version 2

In retrospective, I could have constructed the red levels differently. I wasn't too happy about how stiff they are due to the fusible webbing and glue.

The blue ladders of the neck stick out a bit, need to figure out how they will rest on my neck and shoulder better.
Was thinking of switching to 1/4 baby blue satin ribbon and removing the baby blue elastic.
The elastic was not as stretchy as I thought on my neck, maybe place it lower.

The red satin neckline will need to be reconstructed because I goofed up while sewing it.
The bias tape is waiting for me to use it.

The right sleeve is a bit off by 3 mm on the wrist while the left wrist is perfect.
Planned on adding trim to create clean edges. Maybe I can find red foldover elastic.

Hopefully will proceed to Version 3, it's just a matter of when.

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    14 years ago on Introduction

    GREAT INSTRUCTABLE!!!! My GF would love this!!! You're cool, I'm not !!!


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    Already ahead of ya ;-) Made sketches a while back probably even earlier than this outfit. The problem is time and materials.


    14 years ago on Introduction

    neat idea very 8-bit retro. I like it


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    if only i can find a life (Conway's) t-shirt, with animating beehives(they're my favorite machines)


    14 years ago on Introduction

    That's awesome!
    I love all the ladder & window details. Too bad the shirt isn't available... I'll have to find something equally cool to try this with.

    Thanks for including the "oops, this didn't work so I did this instead" info. Very useful for the rest of us.


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    My mistakes, your gains. Someone's gotta be first on the dancefloor to make a fool of themselves. I hope that the methods for creating the mesh window in the tshirt will inspire others to make pretty neat holes in their tshirts too. It seemed to be the most enjoyable part of the project because the results were great. Thank you for your comments.


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    Someone's gotta be first on the dancefloor to make a fool of themselves.
    I'm a likely candidate. ;) Might as well look awesome when you do.

    Did you find the mesh windows helped with ventilation at all? Were they scratchy when you get all sweaty dancing? (Form + function, you know.)


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't notice because I didn't really dance, if anything there was a mosh pit that didn't really form due to insurance restrictions.

    Mesh fabric is used a lot in dancewear. There regular mesh and power mesh which is stronger (and more expensive)
    This link has a large variety of mesh fabric.
    spandex world mesh link

    It's a fun fabric, would like to work with it again, especially with a serger.


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    Wow - that's a lot of spandex!
    I'll be saving that link for later, thanks. I've been saving up for a serger too. ;)

    Insurance restrictions? Bah.


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    Give me the shirt and I shall alter/mutilate/hack/mod it. There's so many homages to Super Mario, having one less wouldn't hurt. Did someone create a time machine Instructable yet? Would like to freeze and rewind time so I can finish this project and others. Thanks again for commenting on my Instructables.


    14 years ago on Introduction

    That's not Baby Blue, it's Orphan Blue, the saddest of all blues... :P Very nice idea, great execution, really like the result. :D +1 rating.


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    Would you like me to mail a sample of the elastic for verification with a spectrometer as to what kind of blue? J/K ;-) I'm still torn whether to keep the bright elastic for its prominence or switch to a satin ribbon for the ladder to match the neckline. Thank you for your rating :)


    14 years ago on Step 12

    Wow this looks great. Great instructions as well!


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, it's my first complicated Instructable from project to documentation. Was going a little nuts and I wanted to work on other projects but wanted to show this baby too.