Hey Tracy, hey baby, look at me! | DIY Hairspray Costume

 Welcome to the sixties!

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I was recently invited to a fancy dress party and all hell broke loose in my house. I LOVE fancy dress and hey, go hard or go home, ok? Don’t half arse it, NEVER half arse it.

My friend and I had been invited and decided to go as a pair, a very musical pair. We chose the sixties, Baltimore besties, Tracy Turnblad and Penny Pingleton, from the musical ‘Hairspray’.

As a plus size, musical theatre kinda gal, Tracy is my spirit animal.

I ooze box steps and sparkly hair bows (and on a show week it is very possible that I sweat hairspray and cry bobby pins).

However tartan isn’t exactly in and neither is Hairspray, with the film coming out almost 10 years ago… I know! So I had to improvise and make it work in 2 weeks no less!

It’s all about making something from what you have.

The basics:

A white shirt (if you can get one with a peter pan collar, bow or pussy bow ties, this is even better)

A tartan skirt (any colour, any kind of checks)

White socks and white plimsoles (low cut coverse work too! I feel here is appropriate for a ‘Damn Daniel’ reference but… nah.)

Big hair, a big smile and big attitude.

The rest is up to you!


The hair.

I have long, thick, hair that will not do as it’s told, so actually backcombing and curling my do was a no-go, it was going to have to be a wig. Do you think I could find an affordable ‘Tracy Turnblad’ wig anywhere in the UK? Nope. So I had to make one.

Now, I am no guru. I am accident prone and have absolutely no training in any of this. However, I am observant and a fast learner, so this was trial, error and limited common sense paired with a few things I remember seeing along the way.

I ordered a Smiffy’s black, 50’s style, beehive, bob wig from Amazon. When It arrived… let’s just say it needed a hair transplant some work. I improvised a wig stand from a full 2 litre drinks bottle and gently combed everything into place.

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This wig is cheap synthetic, which is entirely what I expected, however, you CAN NOT use direct, high, heat on a plastic wig. It WILL melt. I set the flicks at the sides and back with curlers and a generous coating of hairspray, leaving them to dry for 48 hours.

(NOTE: This makes your wig extra flammable… so when someone says they want to re-enact the jail breakout scene from the show and sets fire to a can of hairspray – run. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.)

I bought some, equally awful and synthetic, blonde clip in extensions. 3 for £1 – bargain! I removed the clips from the back of them and cut one into small strips. Then, using a hot glue gun, I spaced them out and glued them into the seam of the fringe.

I left the other two extensions whole and, using the bow that was already fixed onto the front of the wig, adhered them as closely as I could to the ‘hairline’ looking seam behind the fringe, bending the binding to follow the natural curve of the hair.

I then asked my Dad to model it whilst I trimmed it all into place.

I cut the blonde layer, covering the beehive, shorter at the sides and swept it back, so the edges tucked into bottom set of flicks. The fringe I trimmed so I would be able to see past it!

Now here’s where the accidents and risks come into it. The highlights in the fringe didn’t fall flat as planned. They stuck out at a 90 degree angle! So, I bent them into place with my fingers and, using a hairdryer on a cool/very low setting and a fair distance from the wig, I managed to bend/melt the synthetic fibres so they sat into the wig, rather than sticking out so much!

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I finished it off with an obnoxiously large, red, rhinestoned bow, clipped onto the pink one and some matching mini ones to hold the blonde layer in place at the sides.


I made a couple of small accessories to add to the costume including some badges and an ‘Ultra Clutch’ can.

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The badges I made by using some relevant pictures I found on Google & Pinterest. I drew circle shapes in Pages (Word for Mac) and set the pictures as their backgrounds, fiddling around until I was happy. I layered over some phrases, such as ‘Link Larkin’ and ‘Mr. Pinkie’s Hefty Hideaway’, finishing them off by adding a thin, solid black boarder around the shape.

I printed them on 240gsm, white card and taped a safety pin onto the back of each one.

The Ultra Clutch Can is made with an old can of dry shampoo. You can use any kind of spray can, full or empty, it’s up to you. I had a spare can that I bought not realising it had glitter in it. I mean, I’m all for glittery, unicorn hair, but it’s probably not as suitable for every day use as I wish it was.

I roughly measured the can against an A4 sheet of paper, noting how much of it was needed to wrap around the can. Then, using the ‘eyeballing’ method (just looking and thinking “eh, that’ll do”) I found an image on google and spread it across a blank word document, as if it were my A4 page. I printed it out, cut it down and, using double sided tape, stuck it around my can. (You can be more precise, my time management was just a little off kilter for this project).

To disguise the edge a little, I printed out a second image and cut out matching ‘snowflake’ shapes from it, sticking them over the join.


I hope this helps anyone looking to make this costume for themselves (as I trawled the internet and, in the end, gave up looking.)

Go Tracy, go go go!

P.S – My friend and I won prizes for our costumes that night. Get in!

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