"Webmistress of the Dark"
In July 1999 I happened to have free $20 in fabric imminently expiring, so
I was looking for something useful to buy. The first Halloween stock had
appeared, and this sheer, flocked web fabric was brand-new at the time (it
has since appeared in lots of cheap off-the-rack Halloween costumes as
well as specific patterns to make), so I bought 5 yards knowing I'd
figure out a costume designed around the fabric.
After getting the fabric home, I started brainstorming and sketching.
Since the fabric was sheer, I wanted to be sure to accent that feature, so
I came up with not only a cape with sleeves worn over a
sleeveless dress to make the web show up over the bare arms as well as
billowing behind as capes do, but also with the coup de grace
- a see-through stand-up collar. As you can see from the original sketch,
this was originally envisioned as a witch complete with pointed hat, but
after more consideration and the decision on the title of "Webmistress of
the Dark" the concept drifted away from a standard witch towards a more
Yes, Webmistress of the Dark is a play on words. Elvira is Mistress of
the Dark, and since the spiderwebs were obvious in the costume,
Webmistress of the Dark worked well. Of course, all my friends
immediately got the extra joke that I am the webmistress of
www.britta.com! This is why "Britta, Webmistress of the Dark" now
introduces my Hallloween section. :-)
This is all my own hair. Leaving about two-thirds of my hair to stay
hanging straight down, I made a topknot ponytail, then turned it forward
to make a large loose bun-like tube, with bobby pins anchoring everything
in the center of the tube. Small curly tendrils were left to escape from
the sides of the tube. The spiderweb decoration in the center was an
earring attempt that was too large, so it remained as a hair decoration.
While designing the costume, I had imagined a spiderweb necklace that
sparkled like a real web covered in dew, but I hadn't quite settled on the
earring design. When I went bead shopping, I found perfect beads that
were blue with a copper-gold color under the blue, so it looked very
transparent and weblike yet sparkly and with gold rather than silver,
since gold looks better with my skin tone. At the same bead store, I also
found bronze-tone spider drop charms that were perfect for earrings, and
since they had plenty, I decided to use a third spider as the final drop
off the necklace.
The necklace is created from flat wire forms for the scoop patterns, with
beading string connecting th e loops together vertically, and the same
beading string for around the neck with a twist clasp in the back. I
already had thin floral wire that happened to be thin enough to string
these beads. Tying the vertical strings onto the next scoop after the
beads were strung was quite a challenge, though!
The earrings were originally intended to have more nesting scoop patterns,
but that design ended up being too large, so was used as the hair
decoration. The earring posts are just standard drop posts with more beads
glued into the bowl of the post, then the spider and web are both strung
through the post drop so that the spider hangs in the middle of the web.
Aside from the jewelry, the cape was the most work for this costume. I
made my own pattern by measuring my height in the heels to be sure the
cape was floor-length, then measuring for the sleeve length and around for
the armholes and sleeve width, as well as across the shoulders. All the
edges are scalloped with thin, black soutache braid to finish the edges
and to accentuate the spiderweb theme.
The collar was the most challenging. Stand-up collars can be done
several ways with thin foam, interfacing, wire, etc, but the majority of
the most successful methods would not work with my vision of the collar
remaining sheer. I tried wire at the sides and back seam only, but that
was not strong enough. I could not find any clear interfacing, and I did
not want clear acetate because it would be too exact and too shiny. I
ended up using a seemingly-endless amount of coats of spray fabric
stiffener with the collar shape arranged in a large bucket, with all
surfaces covered with cling film except for the collar itself. The fabric
stiffener technique works for the collar to retain its own shape,
including the fluted scalloped edge, but since it tends to sag backwards
off the shoulders, the front edges still need to be pinned to the dress in
the front for the collar to really stand up properly around the neck.
The dress was a purchased pattern for evening wear sewn out of black
evening wear satin, since I wanted the long skirt slit as well as the
sweetheart neckline, since this was intended to be a "sexy" Webmistress.
My original plan was just to wear fishnet stockings to approximate more
spiderwebs, but since this was a costume for Halloween, I lucked out
at one of those seasonal Halloween stores and found spiderweb "fishnet"
stockings! I have since seen these more widely available and therefore
cheaper, but in 1999, they were still fairly rare, so I was lucky to find
them just in the nick of time to wear with the costume.
Standard black pumps with a decently high heel is all I wear with this
costume. Perhaps I could add a spiderweb beading accent like a shoe clip
to them, but I think the costume works well as it is.
Since this is the most "Halloweeny" of my costumes in my closet, I keep
pulling it out to wear to work for Halloween, especially since my recent
Halloween costumes such as the Amazon Goddess or Seven of Nine have been
a bit too risque for the office!
For the 2001 version, I did my hair in a French twist with long tendrils
hanging by my ears, plus little spider hair clips I recently found. The
fake monster nails do not stay on worth anything, but they look quite
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