The Gray Lady (Ghost) Costume

Thursday, September 18th, 2014
My Gray Lady Inspiration

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays so in 2010, when the Jackson Hole Community Band planned their 1st Annual Halloween Concert for the Kids, I started planning my costume right away.

I found this costume at my favorite Halloween shop, grandinroad.com, but did not want a purchased costume, I prefer to make my own.

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Back
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Front
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Cut off top

I found this dress at a second hand store for $15. The skirt fabric was perfect, and it had some weight so it would flow nicely. It was a little small around the waist, and the waist line was too high, but with some imagination it would work perfectly.

I cut the top off to drop the waist line and folded the extra fabric over to make the new waistband. I had to remove the zipper so i used some hook and eyes i had in my sewing stash. They looked a little funny but when the costume was dyed it gave it an out of the grave vintage look.

I used 2 packs of black Rit Dye powder ($4.78 + tax) to dye the dress, what a mess!! [note to self: never buy the powder again]. I dissolved the dye in hot water before I put it in the washer but I still got some dark splotches on the satin. They are near the bottom but it was OK (it’s just a costume) I’m not sure if I suck at dying fabric or if the satin had food stains that did not come out when I washed it. The color came out very close to the color I was looking for. I dyed the scraps in case i need them to build the new waistband.

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Full Lenth Skirt for Halloween Costumes

Transform a second hand store formal gown into a skirt for your Halloween costumes.
It takes a little imagination and vision to find the right dress to work with. When picking out your dress think about color and texture. Lighter fabric colors can be dyed, but synthetics don't take dyes well, so if you need vivid color it is best to find a dress that already is the color you want. You will want layers and some flair for drama.
If the dress has embellishments, inspect to see if they can be removed without damaging the fabric.
You will be cutting off the top so if the dress has a high waistline, it will drop. Getting something a bit larger works well, and if you are dropping the waistline the sizing will change. do't be too picky on exact size. When sizing hold what will be the waistline to you waist and make sure the length is to the floor (or appropriate for costume). If the dress is a larger size than you are it will be tailored down.
When shopping, don't pass up a good thing. When you see something that will work, don't leave it for later to find something better. Second hand stores have a high turnover and chances you will never see that dress again. My biggest miss was a perfect tattered wedding gown for a future Bride of Frankenstein costume. Several years ago I was shopping for pirate costume parts and passed on the dress. BIG MISTAKE! I have yet to see another as perfect.
Total Time3 d
Course: Costume, crafts
Cuisine: Halloween
Keyword: Instructions
Yield: 1 Skirt
Author: TetonTrekker
Cost: < $30

Equipment

  • Dress Form (if you have one)
  • Iron and Ironing Board
  • Rubber Gloves (If dress needs to be dyed)
  • Sewing Machine
  • Sewing Scissors
  • Straight Pins

Materials

  • 1 Full Length Formal Gown Color appropriate for costume.

Optional

  • 1/4 Yard Satin or equal fabric Color to match final color of Skirt

If your dress needs to be dyed:

  • 2 Bottles Rit Liquid Dye Appropriate color

Instructions

Clean Dress

  • Hand wash your dress with some gentle detergent. If you don't have a large basin, use your bathtub.
  • If your home machine has a gentle cycle and you trust it, use your washer. Do not use the laundromat, if the last person to use the machine overstuffed it or washed oily cloths you may get some transfer to the dress.
  • Rinse well and drip dry. DO NOT PUT IN DRYER.

Deconstruct Dress

  • Remove any zippers from the dress. Leave all hooks, snaps, etc.
  • Remove all decorations and embellishments from the dress and save for later.
  • Cut the top off dress above the waistline leaving as much fabric to work with as possible.

Dye Dress (if needed)

  • Follow the directions on the bottle to dye your dress, using rubber gloves to keep dye off your skin.
  • Dye all the pieces you cut off and the fabric embellishments you removed from the dress so it is a match if you need to use them later.
  • Hang until thoroughly dry.
  • Wash dress same as above.

Optional Tie Sash for Waistband

  • Use extra fabric to make 2 long ties to tie around the waist.
  • Cut to desired length and a little over than twice as wide as you need.
  • Fold in half with right side in, and iron flat. If your fabric is thin you can add some iron on backing during this step.
  • Sew edges together leaving one of the short ends open.
  • Turn right side out and press with iron.

Construct Skirt

  • Fold the excess fabric to create a waistband. If your fabric an be ironed, iron flat. Pin in place. You may need to trim some fabric at this time.
  • Pin the optional tie stash to the waistband.
  • If your dress did not have enough excess fabric to fold down either use the fabric you cut off or get some satin fabric of an appropriate color from the fabric store and fashion a waistband by cutting a long wide rectangle. If the fabric is thin you may want to add some backing.
  • Sew the waistband with a machine, making sure all the raw edges are turned under. This can be done by hand for a cleaner look.
  • Hand sew some hook and eyes to close the waistband and opening where the zipper was.
  • Trim any strings strings from the skirt.

Notes

These instructions assume you have some experience with a sewing machine. If you have any questions please ask in the comments.

This gown was used to make a Vimpiress costume.

Dress for Gray Lady & Valkrye Costume

This pink dress dyed nicely for my Gray Lady costume.

The Veil

For the veil I used a crocheted table top i got at a yard sale several years ago, for probably under a buck. It took 1/2 bottle of black liquid Rit dye. I used some hairpins and a pretty feather headband to hold it on my head.

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Black Veil

This vintage looking black veil is perfect for Halloween costumes. When picking out the table topper
Total Time1 d
Course: Costume, crafts
Cuisine: Halloween, Halloween Accessory
Keyword: gray lady, Halloween
Author: TetonTrekker
Cost: < $3.00

Equipment

  • Rubber Gloves

Materials

  • 1 Medium Round Cotton Crocheted Table Topper 22" diameter
  • 1/2 8 oz Bottle Black Rit Dye

Instructions

  • Follow the instructions on the bottle of dye.

What makes a costume stand out is the details:

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I dyed the flowers when I did the dress.
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I used the flowers and ribbon I cut off the dress for embellishments. I purchased the scarf new.
Accessories
Makeup
All my costumes get a cool, coordinating purse.
Fingerless Gloves, and Polish
These gloves were from my 80’s wardrobe. I wore them our dancing in the “Madona Days”. Funny how my 80’s accessories migrated to my Halloween supplies.

I spent about $25 on the dress and dye and $60 on a tank-shirt, scarf, and bracelet. I added a black lace turtleneck, vintage earnings, and fingerless lace gloves from things I already owned. It came out nicer than the store bought costume. (click pictures to enlarge)

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I wore this costume for the 2010 Halloween Concert and the 2012 concert at Walk Festival Hall, Teton Village.

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