Shear Madness Challenge #5: “Popping Tags” – The Thrift Challenge Winners!

Shear-Madness logo

We had such different and challenging entries for Challenge #5!  Our judges were thrilled by the entries and the thought that went into taking a thrifted item and creating something new from it.  A big thank you to our wonderful judges:  Melissa Heischberg, Erin Schneider and Twila Taylor!

And here are the winners:

Honorable Mention for Best Kid Wrangling:  ”Steampunk Kids” by Laura Zenz Proctor!


Adorable Alert!

Laura says:  I thought I would go ahead and submit for the Thrifty Costume, simply because it was fun and my kids enjoyed them so much.  I needed some quick Steampunk inspired costumes for my children for an event this year and I had a short time to make them. Thank goodness for thrifting. I was able to pick up plenty of curtains, blouses, clothes and even shoes.  For my daughter’s costumes, I did the following:

1. The copper curtains were cut up and made into a skirt base. Strips
were cut and alternated with strips of lace to create a tiered, ruffled
2. An XS ladies blouse fit (loosely), but the sleeves were too long.
So I cut them short and used the extra length to create sleeve ruffles.
3. Finally, a dark brown, velvet flocked, men’s shirt was cut to create
a peplum/cummerbund. The best part? I didn’t have to do any hemming
since I used the bottom of the men’s shirt for the peplum and it was
already detailed out.
4. I made a hat from a Build-a-Bear top hat and a few lace and feather
scraps, but she hated wearing it so no pictures.
5. Shoes were thrifted.

I don’t think his fully qualifies for the 75% but since he’s in one of the pictures I thought I would explain.

1. Pants were thrifted, shortened and dyed a dark brown.
2. Men’s striped dress shirt was thrifted and perfect. I didn’t have to
change a thing.
3. Vest was made from purchased fabric, but the buttons had been cut
off a previous garment.
4. The shoes I thrifted fit, but he wouldn’t wear them.
5. Derby hat was purchased and then trimmed out with scrap feathers and
an octopus pendant I had found on super discount, cut apart and painted
a new color.”·

Judges’ comments:

” I love the fact that the skirt does not look like it used to be drapes, and that the blouse has been mostly used but still given a personal touch. The son’s outfit comes together well!”

I love this skirt and cumberbund. So much so that I totally plan on stealing this idea for my next Steampunk skirt. I HAVE NO SHAME.

“I love the use of multiple materials in the girls costume, as well as simply dyeing the boy’s thrifted pants.”

Congrats Laura!

Honorable Mention for Best Visual Pun:  “Camo Couture” by Amy Sue Rabe!

amy sue1

Amy Sue’s Camo Riding Habit.

Amy Sue says:  “I made this 1910 riding outfit completely from old sheets using Truly Victorian patterns and buttons that were given to me. The Jacket is reversible. The hat was purchased second hand.

Judges’ comments:

“I like that the entire costume is either thrift or gift. And that hat is a SCORE.”

“I love the inherent pun here… it’s period hunting wear, thus the camo.  Excellent! ”

“I’m always a sucker for a camouflage riding coat.”

Congrats Amy Sue!

Third Place:  ”French Rococo” by Nell Bekiares!

Off with their heads!

Off with their heads!

Nell says:  “Using a portrait as a guide, I decided to create a pseudo-18th century gown. I used a commercial pattern (Simplicity 4092) for the bodice. This was put together on a rather quick basis, and using recycled materials, for the overall effect. I wasn’t going for historical accuracy.

The center front bodice and center front skirt panel used to be a top and skirt in the “mother of the bride” fashion. It’s a pink and metallic brocade (rather scratchy and stiff fabric). The center front skirt is a triangle shape attached to a muslin skirt base (not recycled).  The bodice body came from another pink satin bridesmaid dress. The overskirt was a third bridesmaid item-a skirt. It is slightly less shiny than the bodice body, but overall, I felt the fabrics worked together.  I did purchase the trims retail, however, the gold fluttery layer poking out of the bodice is an unaltered thrift store shell. Who wouldn’t wear something like that  under a blazer for a power meeting?

Off with their heads!

Off with their heads!

Another fun aspect of this dress is the “panniers.” They are small pillows attached to a woven belt worn under the skirt.  This dress continues to evolve as I add bits and pieces picked up here and there. There is no such thing as too much trim!  Overall, a loud, historically-inspired thrift store piece, put together with about $15 worth of hideous wedding clothing!”

Judges’ comments:

“I’m a fan of this dress. The dress itself is spot on.”

“She just looks so happy! I love this more for how happy it makes her. She’s done a fine job of re-using the old dresses and making something new with them.

I’m a fan of the Big Pink Dress!”

Congrats Nell!

Second Place:  ”Thrifty Regency” by Liz Kearns!


A classic silhouette.

Liz says:  “I made this outfit back in November. It’s a Regency dress made from old sheets. However, I don’t know how much my sewing them into a dress affects the “pure thrift” spirit of the challenge. So, here’s the outfit breakdown and some pictures for you to judge by:

Oh Mr. Darcy!

Oh Mr. Darcy!

Worn out full/twin size striped poly/cotton sheet – $1.99, Thrift Town
White cotton sheet for lining – $1.99, Thrift Town
Linen tape for drawstring – $1.99, Hobby Lobby
1 yard polar fleece (for last-minute capelet) – $2.97, Walmart
2 scarves for shawl – $10, Walmart
Coral necklace – $6.50, eBay
Vintage velvet beret – $4.99, Thrift Town
Vintage embroidered gloves – $3, Veteran’s Thrift Store
Leather kitten heels – $7.99, Goodwill
Total: $39.43



You can read the long-winded blog post about it here:

Judges’ comments:

“I think this is the best sewing we’ve seen, and I love the mix of reuse for materials (points for the lining), with some pieces being re-imagined into a different era.”

“I also agree that this costume has great construction. I am most pleased with its fit. It’s very difficult to get the Regency silhouette with a large bust. Accomplishing it without stays? Unheard of. And yet here we have it using items that she already had.  This is the best type of upcycled costume, the kind that you can’t tell has been upcycled. Very well done.”

“I love the transformation, this is a real winner for me. I also like that she was overall thrifty. Even the non-thrifted new stuff was cheap. It appeals to my frugal little heart

Congrats Liz!

First Place:  ”Jackalope – Now that’s an eff’n Rabbit!” by Jilynn Hirsch!


Jilynn says: “This costume was a happy experiment for me.

Inspired by the blog “cardboard collective” I had been wanting to make a costume completely out of cardboard. I started by cutting rough shapes and taping them to my dummy head. I found the medium a bit more challenging than anticipated and the dragon I was planning on making looked like a bunny.  So I decided to ditch the all cardboard idea, accept the bunny look and to aim for a jackal-ope mask instead. It was around then that I also decided to try qualifying the project for this challenge as well.  Once I got the basic form about how I wanted it I then started using paper mâché to make it solid. The antlers are paper clay over a wire armature, once dry I used hot glue to add some texture and spray paint for the final color on those.  I stretched velour from a thrift store sweat shirt over the mask as fur, and used thin strips from a deer pelt (amazingly, also a thrift store find- though from years ago) to create eyelashes and whiskers. I used acrylic and spray paint for the inside of the ears and defining the nose.


While the bulk of my efforts went into the mask I started the hunt for items to finish the rest of the outfit. Sometime in the future I’d like to rework this costume idea with a 1930’s theme as a nod to the history of jackal-ope myths. However I decided that in order to fit my Halloween timeline I would aim for sort of a generic fantasy look for the rest of my clothing.

Complete with tail!

Complete with tail!

After a few false starts I eventually embraced a pair of rather horrifying purple polyester grandma pants. I altered them slightly to have more of a jodhpurs shape. For the top I had decided to use my one corset (Damsel in this dress) but needed something to wear beneath it. I found a thin ruffled shirt just a bit lighter than the mask color that I feel worked pretty well to mimic a bit of a fur ruff while providing a more modest neckline.
I used a feather boa combined with the cuffs and scraps from the velour sweatshirt to make the tail and wrist-lets.
Finally I pulled out my trusty clompy boots which have been spray painted gold for years and I have used many times for costume footwear.

The mask, in progress.

The mask, in progress.

The costume worked better than I hoped for the bar hopping Halloween adventure I wanted.
My vision was pretty limited but the mask was easy to remove and the crowds were accommodating and appreciative. I had also worried about the ears which stick out way above my head and caused me to duck through doorways but they also seemed more manageable in the public spaces.
My favorite moment of the night may be when a group passed an attractive young lady wearing a playboy bunny costume followed by ten paces with my plus sized self in my home crafted creation, and it was my costume that triggered the response “Now that’s an eff’n Rabbit”.”

Judges’ comments:

I am in love with this! Beyond the fact that ass-kicking bunnies are awesome, I like the the originality of the design. I also think this shows a good balance between re-using thrifted materials as base materials, and re-using items as they are or with slight alterations to achieve an effect that is different than the original manufacturer had in mind. The ability to see past ‘hideous’ is pretty key to thrift-shop costuming, imho.

I too, am in love with this. I can not BELIEVE that the main material covering the mask is velour. And anyone who thrifts a deer pelt? Is clearly winning at life..”

“This is extremely well accomplished.  The technical skill is very high.  I also loved that she used so many techniques as far as her thrifting goes. Not only did she build from recycled materials, she modded some items, altered some, she reused from her stash, she used thrifted items just as they were. It’s good to see a definite range of use.”

Congrats Jilynn!

And a round-up of the other wonderful entries!

“Steampunk Outfit with Octopus” by Audrey ‘Budsey’ Caseltine!

"I love the idea of the octopus trainer! What a great concept!"

“I love the idea of the octopus trainer! What a great concept!”

“Thrifted Edwardian” by Becky Bethel!

"This is a great example of "pulling" a costume from thrift, and it comes together very well."

“This is a great example of “pulling” a costume from thrift, and it comes together very well.”

Thank you to everyone for making Challenge #5 such a success!  We are looking forward to seeing what you can come up with for Challenge #6!


One thought on “Shear Madness Challenge #5: “Popping Tags” – The Thrift Challenge Winners!

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