Last Updated: 07-24-2007
I decided to cosplay Chad on the day he first got the Right Arm of the Giant. To create the costume I needed the following:
A pair of black tights
A pair of black pants
A pair of black shoes
A pair of black socks (for each day at the con)
A pink shirt with a particular print
A 70's shag wig ($15)
A replica of Chad's necklace ($6)
1 square yard of semi-stretchy black cloth
1 4 oz bottle of Tulip Dark Red slick cloth paint
1 4 oz bottle of Tulip White slick cloth paint
1 small jar of magenta paint (can't recall brand)
Foam sheets for stencils and structure support
Foam backed poster board
Fairly thick florist wire (coat hanger might do, but would be a little more difficult to manipulate)
Paintbrush for cloth paint
I will start with the least work intensive in this description, but in truth I started with the arm (which is probably the most work intensive).
I owned the shoes, socks and black pants, so that was easy enough. I purchased the wig at a local costume shop and the necklace on eBay. I purchased a long-sleeve collared pink/salmon shirt ($8 for me, I don't know what deals you can find) and had a friend hem it for me so it became short sleeved.
I used my exacto knife to cut out a single large petal stencil and then another stencil of the entire smaller bloom. You can probably get away with scissors or any razorblade. I placed newspaper inside the shirt and used the magenta paint and stencils to create the blooms on the back and sides, creating the larger blooms one petal at a time. This let me decide what angle for each petal would be best in each situation (like going over the shoulder or into the collar). Once the back dried (I waited a day) I did the front, buttoning up the shirt beforehand.
For the arm, I put my hand in the tights, fingertips touching the toe seam. I then splayed my fingers and starting at the tip of the index finger, hand-stitched a running stitch down the side of the finger to the webbing and back up the next finger, to the tip of the pinky. I then cut between each splayed pair of fingers with a pair of scissors and then re-stitched with what I ignorantly call the spiral stitch - stick it through the top, pull out the bottom and bring it back to the top without going through fabric - repeat.
At this point you could probably paint, but if you are unsure about getting the wrist fins and the thumb onto your arm correctly, then now is the time to cut and stitch (before you waste many, many hours painting and drying only to accidentally destroy it at the end).
Estimate where your thumb will be and mark the necessary gap with pins or tape or something (the slit will probably be between 1 and 2 inches long, depending on the size of your thumb's second knuckle and webbing). I used the waist of the tights, wrapping sufficient length around my thumb, sewing and then cutting it out of the tights once I had sewn it. I then attached the thumb covering to the arm.
I had attempted to stitch the thumb directly into the tights in the same manner as the other fingers, but while I was painting and trying the arm on, I realized that was a mistake. It made my paint job look worse and didn't actually do the job it was meant to - if I had made the thumb piece and attached it first, then the paint job would have looked better.
The arm fins were almost an after-thought with my costume (basically I got so caught up in the painting and planning for Otakon that I forgot about them until the last minute). So, to add them, I had to essentially render the arm a one-weekend use only kind of thing. I VERY strongly recommend you make the fins the same way you make the thumb - measure, slice, sew and fill later. Make sure you place the fins away from where you will be painting (and you might actually do the fins AFTER you finish painting if you are comfortable with that). I ended up creating what should have just been the insert for the fins, cutting the tights and not creating a actual cover for the insert. It still looked acceptable, but it DID basically kill the tights and will require that if I do Chad again, I have to redo the arm.
To create the fin insert, I determined how much wire I needed for the perimeter, cut and bent the wire, then used black foam to cover the wire frame. Using two sheets, I simply cut the shape I wanted (1/3 of a cm larger than the frame) and sewed the foam on to the wire frame. If I had been more forward thinking, I then have taken the foam covered frame, measured out how much of the tights I needed to create the cover it, then fashioned the cover like I did my thumb, attaching it and then removing the foam frame (to reduce the stretching/wear and tear and let the painting be even).
Painting the arm was the most time consuming part of this job, and truth be told, I suspect sewing on cloth or ribbon would work just as well (it did for other people, on this site and at the convention). I started by inserting a long piece of cardboard covered in packing tape (placed length-wise) so as to prevent the paint from "gluing" the tights shut when it dried or gluing it to the insert itself (the tape was much less receptive of the paint than the cardboard was). I used general purpose office tape (the thin clear stuff) to set the boundaries of my paint, but I suspect masking tape would work as well if not better. I painted a single coat of white paint over the entire area that was to be painted, from my shoulder to my knuckles. I started off using a hard flat object with a dull edge to push my paint around, but later realized that fingers work as good if not better.
The white paint acts as a good support for the red paint, which didn't show up as well on its own against the black tights. Each layer of paint takes at LEAST 6-7 hours to dry on its own. Once the first white coat is dry, lay down more tape, shifted slightly over the first white coat on both sides. This shift will determine how wide the white stripes on either side of the central red stripe will be. Paint AT LEAST 2 coats of red over that, as well as an additional "touch-up" coat. Once the final red coat has dried for 12 hours or more, remove the second layer of tape you put down. Your original layer of tape should remain. Your red coat should now have a very well defined straight edge - some paint may have seeped under the tape, but very little at all.
Place strips of tape at the very edge of the red paint and then paint in your white stripes (again, AT LEAST 2 coats and a touch-up coat). To repeat, each coat needs to dry at least 6 hours. This means that to do both sides of the arm will take (6+6+6+12(touch up on red)+6+6+6 ) x 2! Most of those hours can be spent doing other things, since the arm just need to dry, but if you are going the paint route, you need to figure in the time required. I would often paint a layer before leaving for work, paint a layer as soon as I got home, and then paint another layer just before bed, but I did two layers of red before I realized that red on black just wasn't working and had to start over with the top layer of white, so it took me even more time. Learn from the errors of others!
The paint job for the arm is nearly complete - now only the ring and middle finger remain. I probably should have just painted those while painting the arm, but I hadn't quite figured out how. My experience with the cardboard and "gluing" led me to realize that I couldn't just paint the fingers - I needed something between the layers of cloth. I used sharpies as my surrogate fingers and just splayed them so the paint wouldn't stick together and didn't really bother with tape (it was 2 days before I had many guests arriving). I think you could get away with that on the fingers, since its much less area to spread. Just know that you need the red AND the white stripes to make it around both fingers. I used two heavy objects to prop the fingers/pens up and just painted both sides at the same time.
Once you are satisfied with the painting (and its all dry), cut the arm off of the tights at a point slightly above your shoulder. Why? Because you can ALWAYS take more off, but you can't really put more back on.
The only remaining component is the shoulder and there are two ways I figured to do this. First, the method I used: I measured out 30 inches by 26 inches and folded the 30 in half. I sewed up the open 26 inch side and then sewed the two tines. I cut out the excess cloth between the tines and was presented with the three part difficulty of attaching the shoulder to the arm and to me and of getting the shoulder tines to remain erect and not floppy. To stop the flopping, I used foam-backed poster board. This left the shoulder light but sturdy. I recommend two layers of posterboard for the appropriate thickness. It's important to remember that the bottom of the shoulder tapers in the same way the top does, so be sure you cut the poster board correctly. Also, leave the bottom of the cloth part of the shoulder open until you have inserted the posterboard.
The second method is in regards of when to paint - I inserted the posterboard and then painted - this was probably not optimal. I should have just used newspaper inside the shoulder, painted and then put in the posterboard.
I applied tape for the red layer (due to the thicker nature of this cloth, the red showed out better than it did on the tights, so I didn't need a first layer of white), did two coats and a touchup of red and then applied the tape for the white stripe and did 2 layers and touch up for that. Remember, the stripes narrow towards the bottom, and you want to be sure that width of the stripes on the tights matches the width of the stripes on the base of the shoulder. On the back side, it isn't as important. I cut part of the back side of the shoulder out so that the front pressed closer to my actual arm.
To fasten the shoulder to my arm, I used some extra black cloth and eye-hooks sewn onto the back of the shoulder piece. These fastened under my arm. I then used two safety pins to attach the shoulder to the top of my pink shirt. I do not believe this was optimal but I don't have a good idea of what WOULD have been optimal.
Put on the pants, socks and shoes. Fasten the necklace, adjust the wig (you might need a wig cap - my hair was pretty short and about the same color, so I wasn't too bad off.) Put on the shirt, insert the wrist fins and pull up the arm so the top of it covers the shirt sleeve. Fasten on the shoulder and make sure the stripes match up to the arm when you hold your arm at your side.
I found that my necklace chain was too long and the wig was too long as well. I replaced the chain with a shorter one laying around the house and just took about a minute to trim the wig. Take off less than you imagine at first, again because you can always take more off, but you can't put it back on.
Once everything is in place and you like the position of the shoulder stripes relative to the arm stripes, pin the shoulder to the shirt. I am sorry I don't have a better way of doing that yet - if you come up with one, let me know!
If you have been constructing the costume, you should now look like Chad. Congratulations!
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