HOW TO MAKE A JELLICLE COSTUME. PART 1, THE WIG.
Notes: (1) Always buy large skeins on wig construction, especially 1-or-2 toned wigs
(2) 2 Medium skeins will cover leg and arm warmer needs (color variations vary the amount used)
(3) Tail belts should never be more than 3 shades, and always wide enough to fit over your hips (its easier just to slip them n using a double knot than tying them every time and worrying that they'll slip off)
(4) Yarn left over from wig and warmer construction can be used to make the tail belt and shoulder fluff
(5) If 'Prom' gloves aren't handy, 'princess' dress up gloves from children's play sets can be used, or (if you have the skill), one can be made from an old knee sock or a stretchy shirt.
(6) $ 50 = unitard
$ 16-30 = 6-12 Skeins of yarn (dependent on color and character)
$ 6-10 = wig base
$ 17-30 = shoes (Jazz or Gymnastic,)
$ 20-40 = makeup
$ 10-30 = costume paints
$ 20-60 = various tools
Helpful hint----(www.discountdance.com is a good place for shoes and Unis)
(7) $ 130-220 average beginners price for creating a costume.
(8) After the initial supplies are bought and paid for (knitter, paints, makeup, and art supplies), the costumer's job is really just maintenance. Some yarn here, a unitard there, a tube or canister of paint on occasion. (Although, if you are going to make more than one costume, it may be thriftier to find a good pattern or surf the local resale shops and fabric district) the process gets cheaper as you move along, though, prices may vary if you go into hardcore CATS costuming and use things like yak hair for the wigs, or specialty yarns.
(9) Start out with an easy costume for practice, like Victoria or Misto. If you are in a time crunch, certain cats can be cheated by buying costume wigs and adapting them. (aka, butchering them for the greater good)
(10) The most important tools you have are patience and time.
So, you're a CATS fan and want to make your own costume? Congratulations! Welcome to the rewarding fandom that is CATS, and congratulations again for taking the next step and transforming into a Jellicle. Well, being a CATS fan, you've obviously seen the musical, whether live or on film. For the purposes of this tutorial, let's assume that you have seen the movie, and wish to make a movie style costume.
First of all, cats don't wear clothes, so that's one less thing to worry about. However, CATS actors can't run around stage nude, (unfortunately,) so they have to have something that fits them like a second skin. This would be PART 2 of the Costume. Running around in a tabby striped unitard does not automatically transform someone into a Jellicle, which is why it is part 2 of the transformation.
Part 1 is The Wig. This is the hardest and most time consuming part of your costume, as well as the keystone of the Jellicle look, giving you the distinctive ears and head shape of a cat. For part one, let's assume that you are going for a traditional jellicle look (ex. Munkustrap) and not a sleek Jellicle look (ex. Cassandra). Lets begin
1 pair nude color control top panty hose
Yarn in the color of your chosen Jellicle's fur
Large metal needle
Small metal needle
Sturdy thread (any color)
A wire dog brush
A box, hardback book, or board 4"x7"x1" (a bit bigger than an Uno deck) or 4 Cd cases put together
A stuffed animal (preferably a dark one) with a head about the same size as yours
A black marker
How to make a Jellicle wig
Wig Base: Take your panty hose and cut off the legs and crotch in a half circle cut.
The half circle should be about 5½" at its middle and 3½-4" at the end.
After you've cut this, either hand stitch or use a sewing machine to close the circle, forming a cap. Use a tight, secure stitch.
Depending on how fast your hand stitching is or whether you used a machine, this could take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour.
Turn the cap so the stitches are facing inward, and put it on the stuffed animal prop.
You can also sew a cap from a sturdy but breathable material, such as Tulle, spandex or jersey. It's more time consuming, but it will allow for gluing instead of stitching.
STEP 1 ½.
If you really want to challenge yourself, take a half oval of strong Tulle material and cut it in two. These two curved triangles can be sewn on the sides of the wig to be used as ear flaps. They aren't necessary, but they can make certain wigs look more movie-authentic. This should take an additional 5-10 minutes
Planning Color: Now that you have your wig base, it's time to plot out the wig color patches. Skip the majority of this section if you're making a solid colored wig.
[[If you have a multi patched character, be sure to have good color pictures of the front and back of their wigs ready for reference.]]
You may want to start out with an easy, one color wig, like Mistoffelees, or Victoria. If so, ignore the words in the brackets.
[[ If you do want to do a multi color or two-tone wig, then take your black marker (not permanent is fine) and outline your color patches. ]]
For the ears, draw circles a little bigger than the diameter of a normal soda can on the front of the wig, about ½ in. to 1 in. away from the waistband. Be sure to mark these 'Ears.'
[[ Label all your patches with the color of yarn you're going to use. Trust me, it keeps you from getting confused later on.]]
Now that you've got Ears and Patches plotted out, set the wig base aside. This step should take about 10 minutes.
Making the Fur: Get your box, book, or board, you yarn, and your scissors. Take the yarn and start wrapping it around the width of the box/book/board.
Keep wrapping until you have a large bundle.
Cut strands in half and lay them aside. Repeat process for all colors.
Note: do this until it looks like you have enough. You can always make more, and leftovers come in handy later on down the road.
Take 4-6 strands of yarn and make a double not in the middle, so all the strand ends are facing one direction. This is a fur bud. Repeat this step until your yarn is used up, remembering to rest your hands when they get tired, which they will.
Sew on the Fur: Take a fur bud, and about halfway up the waistband sew it on. Use a large metal needle (plastic ones snag and bend) and thread it with yarn (it can be the same color as the bud, but it doesn't have to be.) Thread the yarn through the back of your wig base and into the bud, then back through the wig base. Repeat for a more secure hold. For less hassle, thread a long piece of yarn (half your arm length should do it) and knot the end a few times, using this strand ties on at least six to eight buds. Tie the end off close under the wig, and cut off the extra. Repeat this step as much as you need, going from the rim of the wig to the center. Sew on the ears the same way, using a bit of thread or an elastic to hold their shape. If your longer buds have stragglers at the short end, trim these off before you sew them onto the wig.
2. Hot Glue. If you used a different sort of wig base, liked a sewn hood, swim cap or a tight knitted or crocheted hat, you can hot glue the fur buds to the base. Hot glue doesn't bond well with Nylons.
Hide the Buds: Your wig is just about complete, but for a really authentic look, you need to hide the buds. Get out your yarn, and make some more bud lines, only a little shorter. DO NOT FLOOF! These you thread with your big needle or yarn darner, and sew into the wig individually, knotting the underside twice and again on the top of the wig, on the band of elastic still visible. This is a bit tedious, but it really helps if you have a wig where the Cat has no bangs (like Cassandra or Skimbleshanks). Repeat until you are satisfied the buds can't be seen. Now you can floof.
Depending on the type of yarn you used, the methods are quite different. For traditional twisted yarn ala Red Heart Super Saver (Cheapest and my brand of choice) Hold a handful of buds from the underside of the wig and brush them vigorously with the dog brush. Don't let them go, or you may rip the nylon base. If your brush gets clogged, siply empty it out and keep brushing. Your arm will get tired at some point, so be sure to take breaks when you need them. Bunch the ears in an elastic beforehand, and brush them out last, and re-binding the ends.
If you decided to use the HOMESPUN style yarn, first of, congrats on your foresight. This yarn does not require a dog brush. What you do need is a bit of patience and a set of manicure scissors. There is a thread tined on the outside of your homespun. All you need to do to provide the floof is to take all the treads (after you have sewn your buds onto the wig,) cut them off, and then shake the wig. If you used a base other than a nylon, you can skip the bud method altogether, cut small strips of yarn, and remove the string beforehand, gluing the strands on in bunches.
Details: Get a small pair of scissors and trim up the wig. Shorten the front, trim the sides, whatever. Next, get a good brand of hair spray, not gel, SPRAY!, and freeze your style. You can add a bit of form as the spray dries (Like if you're doing Munkustrap's round curved ruffs or something) Let the wig set for a while on your fake head, and viola! You've got yourself a Jellicle Wig!
A Side Note: Just another warning. These take a while. Depending on your skill, the amount of time you spend on the wig daily, The combination of methods you chose to use, and the difficulty of the wig you are making, it could take you anywhere from a week to a month to complete your wig. It will also take a lot of yarn. If you were making a two tone wig, Alonzo's let's say, you will most likely use a whole large skein of yarn of each color.