Monday, September 13, 2010

Dalek Costume Tutorial (and regrets)

This entry is going to be a tutorial on my Dalek costume I wore to DragonCon. After the tutorial I will go over some things I want to change for next year - things I learned worked and didn't work - and things that could just be easier.

Materials needed:
  • a pattern - something like below, for a skirt or dress
  • any material that looks like rubber - if you can afford it vinyl will do - I ended up getting a cheap "chalkboard" type material (apparently it's supposed to be drawn on with chalk) that saved me a lot of money over vinyl.
  • Dalek colored material.  I probably spent more time in the fabric store choosing the perfect blue match to the new Dalek I was impersonating.  Make sure to go with a material that can be sewn.  Anything thin or stretchy will probably feather and fall apart.
  • A small plunger.  Due to time restraints I could not obtain a black small plunger.  The only one I could find was gigantic.
  • Shiny silver paint
  • A threaded metal dowel 
  • Some metal and rubber pieces
  • A paint roller

Materials not pictured above:
  • black satin or flat made for plastics spray paint
  • plastic craft Christmas Ornaments
  • a hula hoop
  • black poster board

The Dalek Costume Creation in the Forrester household:
  • Follow the pattern according to your size - the length down to a few inches below the knee. Make the top with the black "rubber" material.  
  • I'm not entirely sure how she did it, but my aunt sewed a gap for the hoola hoop into the bottom of the skirt.  Directly under that, she added the black material to floor length
  • Create six panels to go around the waist, but do not attach them yet.

  • For the bumpers, go to Hobby Lobby and buy (most likely their entire supply) plastic christmas craft ornaments.  They're usually bought at Christmas to make ornaments with scenery inside. (They come in halves, one half has as plastic hoop bit on top.  VERY CAREFULLY cut this piece off) 

  • You will need 24 halves total.  I suggest getting a lot of newspaper, and laying them out on on it on your porch or driveway or whatever you've got.  They will need several coats.  Use quick strokes, and be sure not to layer wet paint too much.  

  • Once they're all dry, use one (or all) to trace circles around the black poster board.  One regular sized poster board should be enough.  Then cut out each circle.  These circles will be glued to the back of the halves with E6000 - use the same glue to glue the circles to the panels (4 on each panel)

    • Note: Hot Glue will NOT hold.  E6000 or a super glue like it is the only thing that will work, unless you want to sew the poster board to the panels
  • Once complete, sew the panels to a "belt" of the color material, which will be sewn on to the skirt part of the dress.
  • We used buttons to close the back of the dress - but I have several thoughts on better plans for this portion I will talk about later

The Plunger & The Whisk
  • The "whisk" is made with a paint roller.  The roller and handle are all you'll need.  The bendy metal part holding them together is not needed and can be discarded.  You will probably need a clamp, a hammer, and a strong person (like my Dad, for example) to help take it apart.  Some of the metal on the roller may pop out, but this can easily be fixed with some E6000.
  • Spray paint the handle with the remaining black paint.
  • Spray the roller with silver paint, this too will require a few coats
  • Using a bit the same width as the metal threaded dowel, thread the end of the roller and handle
  • Screw the dowel into the roller, and add some glue to the top to keep it sturdy.
  • Screw the handle on as far as you feel is a comfortable length. Add some glue here as well to keep it sturdy.
  • Use the round rubber/foam pieces to create the circles in the center of the whisk

  • For the plunger it's very simple.  If the plunger part is black, great! If not, spray paint it.  Use the silver spray paint to paint the handle.  Assemble.

    • Note: Do NOT plunge the plunger once it's painted.  This will chip all the paint off and it will look really awkward when painted again.

The Results

Things I will change for next year:
  • The top will be either a corset or waist cincher.  Either way - it needs to be lace up, because if you lose even a little bit of weight after creating this costume, it will be a little too big (I had boob escapage paranoia the whole weekend)
  • I would like to find a much smaller plunger, and remake the whisk part.  They will both be attached to some sort of wrist apparatus, holding them to the tops of my forearms.  It will take some time, but it's worth it to have hands free.
  • A pocket needs to be sewn into the skirt - somewhere under one of the front flaps.  The lack of ability to carry anything became annoying
  • The skirt either needs to be a straight hoop skirt OR have a petticoat underneath (but this may be a bit warm for Dragon*Con)
  • Get some of those shoes the kids have with a little roller skate at the bottom, to give more of a "floating" affect.

Edit: Someone in the comments asked about the headband.

It's very easy to do.  You will need a strip of the blue material (preferably sewn in a way that it won't fray), and plastic shot glasses from Party City or your local grocery store.

Use E6000 to glue the shot glasses to the head band, let it sit for a while, and you're done.

If you're really energetic and have the time, get a LED kit from Radio Shack to put small lights inside. :-)


  1. I think your dress turned out awesome! And I'm sure with your planned changes, it'll look even more amazing next year. (And hopefully I'll get to see it in person, too)

  2. Anonymous25/9/10 23:23

    I love this dalek costume! This is the dalek I'm trying to do for Halloween this year! Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. How did you make the headband?

  4. Oh! Used the same material as the skirt. Sewed a long enough band to wrap all the way around (obviously). At party city and I think most grocery stores now, they sell plastic shot glasses - these are the perfect size.

    Had I had more time I would have put lights inside them with a kit from Radio Shack.

  5. This is amazing! I want to do my own Dalek dress, but I'm stumped on some of the smaller parts (the two things on top you used shot glasses for, which was brilliant, the bump thingies). This really helped me figure those things out, and now I'm uber excited to get to work on my own version! Gotta finish up one more costume before I start on it, though. Thanks so much for posting this!