By Jennifer Tardiff, a freelance costume designer and teacher who has designed for Imagination Stage, Phoenix Theatre DC and Adventure Theatre. She created costumes for Adventure's "The Little Witch of Wichita" and worked in the costume shop for the Washington National Opera's "Porgy and Bess" and "Trilogy."
White king flat sheet
2 yards fusible fabric interfacing, available at fabric stores
Hot glue or fabric glue
Needle and thread
Five rubber bands or pieces of heavy white string
3 old striped men's neckties
Spool of gold metallic wired ribbon
Men's leather belt
Gold glitter paint (optional)
Tassel cord, available from craft or home decor stores
T-shirt for modest men (optional)
Skirt: Spread sheet out flat. The wide-hem edge of the sheet will be the skirt's hem. Calculate 11/2 times your waist measurement. This will be the skirt width. Mark it on the sheet with a vertical line. Calculate desired length of skirt plus 12 inches for waist overlap. Mark it on the sheet with a horizontal line. Tear out this large rectangle. Fold over the 12-inch overlap at the waist and press. Tear two strips 2 inches by 24 inches for ties and hand-sew or safety-pin to corners of skirt at fold.
Pleated belt: Tear or cut a 36-inch-deep piece across the width of the material. This piece can be pleated in one of two ways: To hand-sew pleats, mark material every 2 inches at ends, in the middle and halfway from middle and ends. With a needle double-threaded and knotted, run a stitch in and out of marks. Pull threads to pleat. Stitch a stitch through all layers to hold and knot. Arrange pleats with fingers and press. Or, to make the pleats without sewing, put the material on an ironing board. Starting with one end, make 2-inch-wide pleats by folding the material, ironing the pleat, and folding it again. Continue until the material resembles a folded fan. Complete folding the rest of the belt, and press entire length. Use rubber bands or string to gather the pleats in five places: ends, middle and quarter-points. Fold two neckties in half and cut in half at the fold. Open up wide portions of ties and remove inside material. Trim the ties to desired length and iron interfacing on backs of ties. Hand-sew or safety-pin ties to pleated belt (see diagram). Accent ties with gold paint, if desired.
Headdress: Cut an 18-by-36-inch rectangle from the sheet and a rectangle of the same size from the interfacing. Iron on the interfacing. Round off corners at upper edges. At lower edges, cut away two rectangles 12 inches by 2 inches (see diagram). Cut curves about 1 inch deep into lower sides. Fold 2-inch front flap in half and press. Sew remaining tie onto flap, centering the tie. The two ends of this tie will be knotted at back of head when you put on headdress. Sew or safety-pin half-tie on top of full-length tie and let dangle from headdress.
Collar: Measure the width of your shoulders. Cut a circle from the sheet to match that width. Cut a hole in center and a slit up back to make neck opening. Cut two 6-inch-by-11/2-inch strips of sheet and sew or safety-pin them to top of back neckline to make ties. Glue strips of gold ribbon to the collar, as shown in photograph.
To wear: Wrap skirt around waist and tie in front. Wrap pleated belt around waist and open pleats at sides of body. Secure pleated belt with leather belt so that the ties hang in front. Slip tassel under chin, tying cord at crown of head. Put on headdress and drape sides over shoulders; secure by knotting long tie behind head at neckline. Let half-tie hang along side of face. Put on collar and tie in back. Line eyes.
Mary K. Feeney is a freelance writer based in Columbia who once dressed up as a Martian Boy Scout.