Introduction: Make a Twisty the Clown American Horror Story Costume
This costume is a bit easier to build than some of my former costumes. I didn't have to build a proton pack for a Ghostbuster, mold daggers and a mask for Morokei the Dragon Priest, or make chain mail for a Templar Knight. Since I got a later start, I also just didn't have time to build complex props.
I've wanted to create this costume since I first saw the killer clown on American Horror Story: Freak Show.
• Reference photos, lots of reference photos
• Latex Halloween mask - For the scalp. You need one with a full back and preferably bald. I found an Obama mask for cheap, flipped it inside out and used that.
• Craft Foam - For the insides edges of the scalp and as a base for the mouth
• Batting - For the scalp hair and furry pom-pom tear
• Twine- For the hair. This LINK is similar to what I used, though not exact
• Red, Yellow, Green hair spray or paint for the hair
• Non-sulfur Plasticine Clay - To model the mouth
• Acrylic Paint, Red, black, brown, white - To detail the mask and costume
• Water Color Paint - This is good for washes or add a slight amount of color. I used this on the mouth for shadows
• Large roll of 36" wide paper - This is for sewing templates and as a table cloth to protect working surfaces.
• Pajama Pants - Use as a template for the costume pants
• Fleece - Use as a template for the costume shirt
• Muslin Perm Press Material - I got approximately 7 yards of 108" wide material, though everything I made was double thickness. Material usually comes in 54" widths, which with a single thickness would still be 7 yards.
• Straight Pins - To pin the material together for sewing
• Painters tape
• Red thread - For Stitching the red ribbon. 1 spool should be enough
• White thread - For stitching the shirt, pants, and collar. I think I used 5 or 6 spools, but I lost count.
• 3/4" Elastic- For waist and neck
• 1/4" Elastic - For wrists and ankles
• Red ribbon 1" wide - At ruffled collar, sleeves, and pant legs
• Red Yarn - For pom-poms. This will be way more than you need
• Furry Yellow pom-pom - Yellow matches Twisty. I found a black one for cheap and painted it
• White Gloves
• Black, brown, gray, white spray paint - To detail costume
• Old pair of shoes for the base of clown shoes
• EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles - For the shoes
• Plasti-Dip Rubber Coating - For EVA foam
• Face paint
• Sewing Machine - I have a Brother machine, much like this one. It does what I need!
• Rotary Cutter - Pair this with a cutting mat. It's much better than scissors for cutting cloth. Your pattern can lay flat which makes cutting easier because the template isn't flopping around as the cloth folds up.
• Scissors - I did use them for smaller cuts. You can use pinking shears to prevent fraying. I should have done this!
• Seam Ripper - This is invaluable when mistakes occur
• Hot Glue gun
• Spray bottle - For spraying water/paint onto the costume
• Hole Punch - I used this for holes in the mask
• Mini-vacuum former - I vacuum formed plastic around the clay mouth sculpt
This is less involved than previous costumes, but it is sewing intensive. My sewing is brute force at best. I come to sewing by way of wood working, so I'm sure there are better ways to do this. I had to redo many seams.
Twisty's attire consists of a scalp, a mask, long pants, a long sleeved shirt, a ruffled collar, gloves, and clown shoes.
• Scissors, rotary cutters, and straight pins are sharp! Be careful and use a cutting mat.
• Spray paint must be used outdoors in a well ventilated area. A respirator or mask is recommended. Allow time to dry fully.
• Wear old clothes for painting. Chances are paint will find a way to get on your clothes.
• Put down a drop cloth when working with hot glue.
• Hot glue can easily burn you.
Step 1: The Scalp
Twisty's wears a scalp like a hat with three tufts of hair; red, yellow, green.
I found a latex Halloween mask. I wanted a bald one, but many masks don't cover the entire back of the head. I settled on an Obama mask. That was the closest look at the best price. I cut the face off, turned it inside out, and shaped it according to reference photos. I then slit the back up to the top of my head and overlapped the seam, hot gluing it for a tighter fit to my head. After you cut it, make the edges jagged. A clean edge just doesn't look right. This scalp was cut off of someone.
The tufts of hair were tricky. I was going to use thread first, but it would take way too much. Instead I shaped batting and hot glued it to the latex mask. I then took twine and cut strips, unbraided it and hot glued it to the mask around the batting and to the batting. I shaped it then sprayed it with colored hair spray. I used spray paint for the yellow as I didn't have yellow hair spray. I then sprayed the hair with an acrylic wash to darken it. I also sprayed it with with black hairspray to make it even darker as it was still too light.
Acrylic flesh tones were applied to the latex as well as browns to make it look real and dirty. I hot glued thin craft foam to the inside perimeter to provide thickness. I then mixed brown and red acrylic paint for a blood/meat tone. Light dabs of this color were applied to the edge of the foam and slight smears on the scalp as well as spraying red hair spray and dabbing the scalp for an even thinner coat.
It's the dirt and grime that makes any part of the costume look real.
Use various colors and layer it for the best effect. I used shades of brown and flesh tones.
Step 2: The Mouth
The creepy smile is a crucial part of the costume. The mouth runs ear to ear and from just below the cheekbone and nose down past the chin. There are ten teeth on the top and bottom row. I vacuum former this part of the mouth.
I started with a craft foam base, but cardboard or paper would have worked just as well. I sculpted the mouth out of clay. I sculpted it flat and heat formed the final plastic part. Curving it did lose some detail, so accentuate the details between the teeth.
Alternatively you could start with a dollar store plastic mask and clay over it or use craft foam for the mask. Or foam over the plastic mask.
Vacuuming forming clay provides one shot to get it right. You can't save the clay mold. I have a mini vacuum former I built. I accentuated the details as vacuum forming loses a lot of detail. This pull turned out well, though I did lose some detail as I heated and curved it to my face.
I started by painting the gums red and the lips black. I then added details, black between the teeth for shadows, and shadows on the gums. I added streaks of dirt on the perimeter then wash it with white.
This step was a lot of painting, wiping it off, and trying to get the right finish. This is a final picture after wearing it all day. You can see the black paint flaked off of the lips, but that's a problem with using old paint, not the mask or adhesion.
I punched a hole in each cheek corner and added a 1/4" black elastic band. I glued the ends back to itself. I then hot glued pieces of EVA foam for face padding.
Talking is not advised as it causes the mask to shift, meaning you have to adjust it. The effect is better when you remain silent anyway.
Step 3: Pants
The pants are a linen material with red ribbon at the bottom and elastic 6" from the bottom. I used 6 yards for the pants, though this is double thickness. Single thickness would be 3 yards. I don't know whether the actual costume has pockets, but I included pockets for convenience.
I used pajama pants to work backwards and engineer templates. In essence I traced the front and back on to the paper, making sure to stretch the material for an accurate template.
Stretch the elastic waist band out as far as possible to get an accurate measurement. Follow the line of the sewn section of the pajama pants as you trace. Add a 1/2" for all seams and 1.5" for the waist and leg hems. Then cut out your template.
I also created templates for pockets.
If you don't have a large roll of paper, tape smaller sheets together. The pants are comprised of four sections, two front and two rear. The fronts and rears are mirror images, so you just need two templates.
I used reference photos to adjust the fit to match the on screen costume, at least as well as I could.
I then taped the template to the material and used the rotary cutting tool and cutting mat to cut out the material. Since the material I'm using is kind of thin, I'm doing everything double thickness. While I should have gotten a thicker material, I got what was available. The rotary tool is better than scissors since the material can't shift. Also raising it up, can change the angle of cut so that the edges aren't perfectly aligned.
I started sewing the outside seam as it's the easiest. All sewing was done on a sewing machine. Mark where the pocket will go and don't sew that part, we'll come back to it. Sew inside out so that the stitching is hidden. Once I sew the seam, I like to sew the inside hem flat. Fold the inside seam and sew again. You should have two straight lines on the outside. It also creates a nice and strong seam, but it's not necessary on the outside seam.
Up next are the pockets. Sew them together, then sew them to the opening in the pants. Take some measurements and make sure your pocket opening is 6" and matches the pants opening. You can always cut a few stitches or add more. The top of the pocket will hang loose, until I sew the waist band. Sew horizontal stitching at the top and bottom of the pocket opening to prevent tearing.
The seam at the front and back isn't just a single seam on the pajamas, but a double stitch for strength. Sew the seam from behind like normal, then fold it and run another parallel stitch. You should have two parallel seams.
When sewing elastic, stretch the elastic to the max and sew it stretched. Fold the top edge of the pants over the elastic and sew a vertical stitch at the back to hold it in place. Before sewing I put in a draw string. Punch a hole in the front for each end of the draw string. As a general length, I would make the draw string twice the length of the unstretched elastic waistband. The draw string is just a piece of material folded over and sewn. Sew it at the back of the pants, just in that one spot and it won't pull out.
I sewed 1/4" elastic 6" above the bottom of the pant leg. Measure the max circumference of your elastic and start there. Then stretch it out to sew it to the pant leg. I made the unstreched elastic just a big bigger than my leg. I don't want a tight fit.
I sewed the red ribbon on last. Be sure to use red top stitching so it blends in.
Step 4: Shirt
The shirt is the same linen material as the pants. Material is typically 54" wide. I used 6 yards of the 54" wide material, making the pants double thickness. If it was single thickness it would be 3 yards.
I used a fleece jacket to work backwards and engineer templates.I used the same template for the front and back of the body, with the front one, I cut the neck slightly lower. One template was needed for the front and back of each sleeve.
The shirt is a little long, with red ribbon at the end of the sleeves. Elastic 4" from bottom of the sleeve. There are three pom-poms on the front. Two red yarn, and a furry yellow one in the middle. Glue a small tuft of batting to the yellow one to simulate the tear.
The shirt was done very similar to the pants. Attaching sleeves to the body was a bit of a mess as I had to cut a few stitches to make everything fit. this was a double seam, all other seams were a single. I used a separate strip of cloth for the collar. There is no way to fold a circular cut and sew it back on itself at the neck opening. I used a short collar, just a single strip of cloth folded over and then sewn to the shirt.
Red ribbon and elastic is at the end of each sleeve.
I made a pocket at the top front for my phone to play sound effects.
I created the pom-poms with red yarn. I wrapped it around a DVD case the full length twice over. I then tied a knot through the middle of the loop with the ends of yarn. Cut the loops at one end and you've got the pom pom.
I stitched it to the shirt by hand, needle through the middle and through the shirt many times over and pulled tight. Knot both ends.
Step 5: Ruffled Collar
This is comprised of two ruffled collars with red ribbon along the bottom edge. The bottom ruffled collar should extend past the top of the shoulder.
Material is typically 54" wide. I used 1 yard of the 108" wide material for both collars, making the collar double thickness.
I don't know the best way to make the collar. There has to be a better way than what I did. I would recommend making two halves. I created a single piece for the bottom and top collar, and realized I should have done it differently. The ribbon does not take to curves well. Sewing the inner portion first helps.
I sewed elastic to the round neck opening. Make sure you test fit it and make sure it will clear your head.
If I did this again, I would create the ruffled collar like a sleeve
instead of the round shape, and I think that's how the actual costume did it. Sewing it straight would also alleviate the bunching of the ribbon around the curve of the collar.
Step 6: Dirty It Up
One of the keys of this costume is the dingy look. Get a spray bottle and mix a little bit of water with acrylic paint and mix well. Use a scrap to make sure you've used enough paint.
More water will tint the material a different color, dark creates splatter, but if you saturate the material fully, you wont' get splatter, it will just tint it. Also, once it gets so wet, the color will run to the bottom and accumulate. It creates a great effect, but for splatter let the costume dry.
For the best splatter results, make sure the material is dry and just spray just a few places. Uneven dirt looks the best. Use browns, grays, and dark charcoals. The more layers, the more realistic. Repeat this process until you're happy with the look. I also used spray paint for more color, layers, and to create a few stiff areas of dirt.
I sprayed the shirt, pants, collar, and gloves. I sprayed them down heavy the first round, then let it dry and sprayed just a few spots.
Step 7: Shoes, Gloves, Sounds, Makeup
The shoes are 1/2" EVA foam interlocking tiles coated with Plasti-dip rubber coating and paint. I didn't have good reference photos, but knew that it would be an overlooked detail. I made them long enough to look like clown shoes, but short enough to not impede my walking. I hot glued the foam to itself and around an old pair of shoes.
I started with the sole and worked from there. I glued the shoe to the sole, then glued strips around the shoe. The heel is one piece, and the toe another.
I slit the front to create the curve and used lots of hot glue to hold it together.
I made the opening just big enough to slip on and off. While it restrict ankle movement, the slow gait it caused was perfect for the character.
I bought white gloves and cut the fingers off below the knuckle. I added stitching to the back side, 3 lines of stitching just to give it some definition.
I sewed a pocket high up on the shirt under the ruffle for my phone. I then created a sound loop of maniacal laughing and the American Horror Story: Freak Show theme song, through Audacity, a free audio editor. I transferred it to my phone, and every fifteen minutes one of the two plays to create the right mood. I looped it for 2 hours. I added a cricket chirp before the sound track and laugh, just so it wouldn't catch me off guard.
I started with the red vertical stripe over each eye. Then I applied white to my face. Twisty doesn't have much makeup on the ears, so I just put a light coat on the bottom of the ear lobe. The first layer was kind of thin which is good, Twisty's makeup isn't perfect. After a second layer it should still be uneven, but white. Add black around the eyes, trying to fade it out to the white. I reapplied the red stripe over each eye.
Twisty doesn't have any white make up on his hands or neck. You can add a few drips of red to mimic blood around the scalp.
Step 8: Conclusion
I'm very happy with the end result. No matter how large the crowd, a path for me every time. I had multiple people ask to take a picture with me. A few children may have cried and/or run away.
I thought about remaking the ruffled collar. It ended up a bit too small and I think it should be made like asleep, not round.