I'm Just a Bill Costume




Introduction: I'm Just a Bill Costume

Here's the thing about this costume. I came up with it and started ordering the parts back in September. The plan was (is) to wear it to the National Zoo's Night of the Living Zoo event. However, it's a very real possibility that I won't be able to wear my "I'm Just a Bill" costume because of the GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN. Sigh. How I hope and pray that I will.

Materials used:
  • Large sheet of semi-rigid but flexible white or off-white foam - I bought mine at thefoamfactory.com for abut $40. Lots of options available depending on your needs.
  • Scrap knit fabric in red, white and blue
  • a block of velcro
Tools used:
  • Utility scissors
  • Fabric scissors
  • fabric paint/paintbrush
  • sewing machine/serger
  • Needle/thread

Step 1: Parchment Roll

The foam arrives in a large lightweight roll. Uncurl it a bit and hold it up to a position right around the knees, and use a pen to make puncture marks where the shoulder and the nose hit.

After cutting out the head and arm holes with utility scissors, cut through the armhole and roll self up in the rest of the the foam roll. Have an accomplice mark where the other shoulder hits. Then, fold over the foam to line up the existing arm hole with the mark. Trace though the arm and face holes, and along the original edge. Cut out the holes and the extraneous foam from the side.

Step 2: Ribbon & Seal


Try on your foam parchment piece and line up your face holes... have someone measure around under the armpits and then you know how long to make your ribbon/belt.

I used red scrap fabric I had on hand. Cut two pieces about 6 inches wide, sew them together on three sides, right side together, and turn them inside out. Turn the hem under a half inch, and then sew on a block of "female" velcro. Sew the "male" velcro on the other end on opposite side.


Cut a large circle of foam out of your leftovers. Using that as a guide, cut three pieces of red white and blue fabric to cover one side in equal thirds. Sew those three together with the white in the middle, and trace around the foam piece to cut out a circle (as seen in photo). Use the foam to trace another solid piece of scrap fabric. Sew this to the tri-color piece (right sides together) about 90% around the circumference to create a slipcover. Turn right side out, and stuff the foam piece in. Sew remainder closed with a needle and thread, and then sew the belt to the center back of the seal on the "male" velcro end.

Using black fabric paint, write "BILL" across the white section. To stay true to the source cartoon, the red should be on top and the blue on bottom.

Step 3: Extras


The government lockout ended, so the show could go on. Here are a few photos of the costume in action! The pix are kind of crap, but you can see me standing in front of the extinct species graveyard (sad). The one that's in focus I borrowed from the DC 101 event photo album - it includes my husband dressed at National Zoo Panda-Daddy Tian Tian.

Costume-wise...I added an inexpensive set of long underwear for outdoor use, with a t-shirt and shorts over it. It was a very warm night, but even if it had been cooler I would have been plenty warm with this. The foam keeps the wind off and is, unsurprisingly, a great insulator.



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    27 Discussions

    I love that costume and schoolhouse rock

    Maybe a bit obvious...However you could easily make this a cigarette or "herbal" Cigarette. Not that I support such shenanigans.

    I clicked on this costume first in the newsletter because I just showed my Aussie husband a dozen Schoolhouse Rock videos 2 days ago! And the first one was I'm Just a Bill. Bravo! If there's a prize, I hope you win the Nostalgia vote!

    1 reply

    Thanks! I'm wondering how Schoolhouse Rock resonates with an Australian audience. I'm guessing "I'm Just a Bill" is slightly more interesting than the one that made us all memorize the preamble to the Constitution, and much less morally ambiguous than the one about the "Manifest Destiny." Of course, "Conjunction Junction" is one all English speakers can enjoy.

    This brings back memories of Saturday mornings as a kid. Good job! Also love the step-stool. You make that too?

    2 replies

    That step stool is one of the fine products available at Ikea. However, my grandfather made the loveseat/bench and the whale wall hanging.

    Thanks for the info. This Ikea place seems to have lots of cool stuff. I just need to find one near me.

    You have to embed the video for all the youngsters under 35:


    And my favorites:

    I must admit that I only clicked on this to get a closer look at your pineapple Flea ukulele in the background. Very nice.

    Your costume is great , by the way. I think it looks best without any clothes showing. Barefeet and bare arms all the way.

    1 reply

    I should have taken pictures in the other room, where we have a Fluke, custom painted by the Tiki King!

    I agree that shorts and a tank would be the way to go with this, were the event we're going to not taking place outdoors at night in October. Thus we continue to seek some less than perfect options...

    Voted for you strictly on the basis that Schoolhouse Rock made my childhood...awesome costume

    Could you get the corner to curl by inserting some thin wire into the foam? Then you could shape it however you'd like.

    3 replies

    Not everyone has one, but a heat gun will let you sculpt it and hardens the area you heat to hold the shape. If you use wire, it has to be pretty strong since the foam is so thick.

    Blow dryer super close might work too. Heat from the back to avoid any marks on the front side.

    Great idea! Right now I have the corner rolled up (being held in a roll by wrapping the velcro belt around and through the face hole) and I'll check on it in a couple days to see how that's working. Wire will be my next experiment.

    Great idea! Very nice final result. If people are searching, the foam is called Cross-linked polyethylene foam (aka EVA foam). I think you used the full sheet of 1/2" thickness.

    1 reply

    Thanks! Yes, I'm pretty sure that was the foam I ordered. Unfortunately my e-mail receipt had no product detail and I accidentally threw out the packing slip, and I don't remember for certain. It IS 1/2 inch thick though. I'm thinking that one of the other more flexible types they offer would work just as well, especially if things like sitting down in the costume are important to you...