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2018 marks the 5th anniversary of Shear Madness! To prepare for our 5th year of Impractical Costuming, the 16th quarterly challenge was “ANYTHING GOES!”

ANYTHING GOES Challenge 16

Shear Madness is a celebration of all costuming genres. We were so pleased and proud of the wide variety of fabulous costumes our members submitted for this challenge! We had historical pieces, fantasy pieces, artistic re-imaginings, and mash-ups galore. In fact, we had so many fabulous entries that the judges decided to award prizes in 3 separate categories: Anything Goes, Historical, and Character!


The costumes in this category hit the challenge theme right on the nose! They display unique, personal character designs in a variety of genres. These folks let their creativity run wild and we love it!

Anything Goes Category: Honorable Mention for Embellishment

Count and Countess Tatooin” by Edie Smith

“May I present the Count and Countess Tatooin. They come from a place where rulers are always surrounded by myth and magic. The ruling class has been in hiding for many eons, ever trying to better their place in the galaxy using their magic to gain knowledge of other worlds…The complete outfits for both Count and Countess were connived and designed by me.  I worked to include multiple layers and details to blend into a foreign world…There is also hand bead work on the doublet. Pearl buttons on the jerkin.  The closure buttons on the doublet and breeches are wooden with a scroll pattern…The Countess hat includes pheasant, peacock, ostrich plumes and organza rosettes. Countess also has extra details and items that include a snood, a pouch, chalet holder, parasol holder, and the parasol that were created to complement the overall look.”

Anything Goes Category: Third Place Winner

Steampunk with Greenery” by Sara Örn Tengstrand

Sara Tengstrand 2

“Normally, I want a story or character behind the dress, when doing steampunk, but this time I just went for the visual elements I felt like having. Also, I wanted a more romantic style than I usually do, and I aimed for the look of lots of details everywhere that I often admire in other people’s steampunk work. Actually, I first wanted a green fairy gown, but I decided it would be  much more useful to me if it was steampunk, and I then I liked the idea to “steampunk it” by combining soft greenery with hard steel. The brown velvet was a later addition.”

“The costume consists of crinoline, dress, shrug/bolero, hat, belt and two bags. Everything is made by me, except for the leather bag which I bought plain and decorated for a previous project, and the belt and shoes. I tried to get a lot of plant like details in the dress – for example, the waist darts are replaced with small irregular tucks which I wanted to make look like grass. The accessories are more classical steampunk. ”

*Judge’s comments:

I want there to be more with this – she has layers and appliques, and I want more…well done with the construction.

Excellent Intermediate level costume. I can follow the train of thought in the design.

Anything Goes Category: Second Place Winner

Belle’anna Torrez” by Maggie Schultz

Maggie Schultz 1

“Submitted for your approval is my crazy Star Trek/Disney Princess mashup of B’Elanna Torres from Star Trek Voyager and Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  I had this idea in the spring and absolutely needed to make it happen.  I thought, you know?  Similar names, brunette, don’t suffer fools, mechanical, both wear gold… there’s something there!  And so, Belle’ana Torres was born in July of 2017.”

“I used the Simplicity French gown pattern with the following alterations:

– flat, tight back to fit with the “uniform” feel for B’Elanna, with the panel of Engineering Gold at the top and close-fitting black sleeves
– a “corset cover” to represent B’Elanna’s turtleneck
– lapels in Engineering Gold for B’Elanna
– a large, full gold underskirt skirt for Belle
– a two-tier gold overskirt for Belle

In addition to the dress, I:
– found a Star Fleet com badge at the convention I wore the costume to
– wore my hair half-up (like Belle) and kept my shoulder-length (like B’Elanna)

– created Klingon forehead ridges from scar wax, liquid latex, and foundation
– carried a book (Belle) about the history of architecture (B’Elanna)
Disney isn’t exactly known for its historical accuracy, so I aimed for the silhouette of mid-late 18th century France for Belle.  I knew I’d need her to be my silhouette and the base of the dress.  Then I took that silhouette and puzzled out what colors to use where to properly allow both characters to shine through.”

*Judge’s comments:

Love the concept, mashup, and Star Trek. Great color choices when considering both characters… I see more Italian Renaissance than 18thc. France.

“A clever mashup”


Anything Goes Category: First Place Winner

Medea” by Bethany Padron

“I designed this version of Medea from Jason and the Argonauts back in college and got around to making it happen this year.”

“The biggest challenge was the wig, which I added three braids to and arranged with various necklaces and fabric trims. The bodice and cape are constructed together with bones running through the gold trim to support the whole rig. I decorated then decorated it with more chain and two cast replica lion medallions. The skirt was made from three pleated chiffon skirts reconstructed to one and re-hemmed.”

*Judge’s comments:

This is pretty, and well madeClever decision to bone the cape under the trim.”

It’s lovely, but fairly simple.

Great use of gold throughout the costume and wig. Love the light cape – the jewel of this costume


The costumers in this category took us on a whirlwind adventure in a time machine! By working with the trending styles of their chosen eras, they were able to pull off some fabulous displays of fine tailoring, color choice, and design execution.

Historical Category: Runners-up

Late 1890s Ballgown” by Deb Suppes

Deb Suppes 4

Polonaise of a Thousand Ruffles” by Elsha McCombe

Elsha McCombe 1

Historical Category: Third Place Winner

Elizabethan English Jacket and Petticoat” by Lauren Terzenbach

Lauren Terzenbach 2

“I decided to make an English Jacket and Petticoat ensemble for Halloween this year. I was initially inspired by some pictures on google image. I tried to be as historically accurate as possible in my fabric choices and shapes.”

“The jacket is actually entirely hand sewn, which is the first time I’ve ever sewn anything by hand! The jacket went through many iterations, with different fabric. I’d originally purchased some crewel embroidered fabric to make the jacket, but the pattern ended up being too large to be HA, so I eventually settled on the red silk/wool you see in the pictures. It was a blast to sew, and I learned so much researching and asking questions in the Elizabethan FB page. Overall, a great project for me.”

*Judge’s comments:

Excellent first time handsewn bodice. Great job with research. Good cut. I want that skirt.

The fitting of the jacket is enviableGreat job with handsewing and perseverance.

Historical Category: Second Place Winner

1740-50 Women’s Wool Riding Ensemble” by Deb Suppes

Deb Suppes a1

“I made this riding ensemble to wear to Big Island Rendezvous in October, 2017.  I used some clearance wool fabric that I had in my “waiting for the right project” stash, and used some scrap velvet for the trim and lined the coat and skirt with muslin.  I had fun machine-embroidering the trim on the velvet for the collar, cuffs, and pocket flaps!  I used the RH829 1730s-1750s Lady’s Riding or Traveling Outfit pattern, which gave me a little trouble as the directions were a bit vague regarding the pleating at the bottom sides of the coat.  I wore the ensemble over a period chemise, corset, bloomers, petticoat, and bum pad, all previously made by me.”

“The weather was rainy and the event muddy.  Made a HUGE mistake and threw it in the wash……not thinking about the wool…..which shrunk horribly……the picture of me in the garb is from History Fest the next weekend, after I tried to salvage the skirt by sewing a length of velvet onto the bottom of the skirt to lengthen it, and steam ironing the coat to stretch it some, though it didn’t lay quite right anymore!”

*Judge’s comments:

Lovely. Really well tailored. Excellent fix to a tragic sewing event.

Solid Master level techniques on embroidery execution. Clean seams and hems. So sad this beauty was damaged in the wash.

Good job persevering over roadblocks in base pattern choice, and I always appreciate stashbusting. Machine embroidery at cuffs and collar a nice touch.

Historical Category: First Place Winner

Duckwing: a Seaside Walking Dress” by Jennifer Old-d’Entremont

Jennifer Old-dEntremont 5

“Duckwing is a waterfront themed walking dress based upon style popular in the mid to late 1890s.  The visible outer layer consists of an Eton jacket and matching skirt of teal wool crepe, trimmed with cotton twill tape and gold anchor buttons.  The outfit is completed with a hat of shaped straw, accented with vintage ribbons and a pair of mallard duck wings.”

“Commercial patterns were used for skirt and jacket, with the jacket pattern modified to make it into a waist length, front closing jacket instead of the more bolero style it was intended.  The jacket is fully lined, and even includes pockets!  Twill tape trim was applied by machine to the outer layer only.  After assembly with the lining, all edges were pressed and top stitched through the trim by hand. The skirt is flat-lined with cotton and the lower 10 inches of the hem supported with narrow rows of trapunto quilting.  In order to avoid breaks in trim along seamlines, the twill tape embellishment was applied once the skirt was fully assembled and had the opportunity to hang to avoid odd stretching of the skirt panels causing distortions to the trim. “
“The hat is a thrift find which was stripped, steamed and reshaped to give it a shorter crown with a domed inside.  Trims are kept simple and of a low profile to avoid catching in the breeze coming off the water. I’ve had one opportunity to wear the outfit out and about, to go on a Plaza holiday lights walking tour with my local costumers’ guild.  I greatly underestimated the likelyhood of strangers assuming people out in public over the holidays dressed in Victorian garb being carolers. I did not sing for them.”

*Judge’s comments:

Fantastic ensemble. Trim is wonderful, fit is good, tailoring is quality, and a fine execution. I can’t say enough about this.

That simple twill trim was placed to perfection. The hat has just the right amount of ornament. Simply elegant…Master Level all the way.”

The entire idea is well executed.


The costumes in this category perfectly portray colorful characters both from pop culture and from the artist’s own imagination.

Character Category: Third Place Winner

Mary Poppins Vampire Slayer” by Logan Steever

“I have been working on Mary Poppins for a couple of years building and adapting things to really bring out both Mary Poppins and Buffy Summers. The total weight of the outfit is over 45lbs!”

“The outfit includes a silver bullet werewolf gun, a vampire stake gun, one side arm, four daggers and a two handed sword as well as two vampire stakes mirror, Vampir book, tea cup holster holy water, silver spoon and Mary Poppins parasol and numerous vials of tonics and vampire hunting supplies. Along the bottom of the skirt are embroidered literary monsters ranging from Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster to the headless horseman and the Raven..”

*Judge’s comments:

This is the way to dress up an all-white steampunk gown.

It’s really fun and a clever mashup.

Accessories and embroidered embellishments really make the outfit. Clever idea, well-designed, and everything works well together.

Character Category: Second Place Winner

Molly Grue: The Last Unicorn” by Bethany Padron

Bethany Padron a3

“I always loved The Last Unicorn as a child and last Christmas I decided there was enough random wool remnants and in my stash to make a costume happen. I wanted this costume to be as close in physical fit to what the cartoon showed, so I drafted all the pattern pieces by hand before cutting. The skirt is 7 panels with a petticoat liner. The vest is boned to maintain shape and lined. I didn’t want the tabs to be tension bearing and gap open, so they are stitched on and snap over a hook and eye front closure. The shirt is a 17th-ish century style drawstring neck with tucked sleeves. The fichu is stitched into tucks and swing tacked to the shoulders. The jacket and scarf are finish the ensemble. Except for the bodice; the garments were French seamed and stitched to prevent fraying, but I left the hems un-turned for the distressed, but clean look”

“I found an appropriately curly wig and wore nude shoes, since Molly is generally barefoot. After people kept asking me if I was a Hobbit; I added an ‘I heart unicorns’ button to my fichu. And I finally found a unicorn!”

*Judge’s comments:

“This is clearly based on the reference work. It’s fantastic to see less mainstream characters. Clean lines. Great job with stashbusting!

Design true to character. Master level sewing skills evident at first glance.

Character Category: First Place Winner

You Need a Pilot” by Amanda Fineran

Amanda Fineran 3

“It took about 1 minute after walking out of my first viewing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to realize I needed to be a Resistance Pilot! This costume would turn out to be more difficult and intricate than I could have imagined. It is full of little details that will only be noticed by someone who has built the costume before. Much of this costume is based on articles worn by the British military in WWII – with a galactic twist of course. My build of this costume is intended to be a screen-accurate replica of the movie-worn uniform.”

“I made the jumpsuit using orange ballistics nylon which is very similar to what was used in the movie. Fun fact, this fabric was actually developed during WWII and protected people from shrapnel and ballistics. I dyed the orange fabric to get the appropriate reddish orange. This fabric is very difficult to manage as it is very stiff – no seriously, I could stand this costume up and it would stand there on its own without help. Scared the crap out of my husband 😉 I used Kwik-Sew pattern 3389 for the base but without the waistband, collar and chest pockets. For the chaps and leg pockets used a pattern created by a friend. Many of the pockets have fine details such as sewn lines and all but the knee pockets are useable. I HAVE A COSTUME WITH USABLE POCKETS!!!!!!!!! The collar and arm details are made from an orange elastic that needed to be dyed a darker color than the rest of the jumpsuit.”

“The padding on the vest was made by a friend and I made the base of the vest and attached the padding. The vest also includes overlapping elastic with Velcro in the front the keep the vest closed and have a place to attach the chest box. The fabric is white SUPPLEX water-resistant Nylon and padded with quilt batting to give it a puffy appearance. The writing on the vest actually says “pull to inflate” in Aurebesh – upside down so the wearer can read it. The chest box was 3D printed and painted by a friend. I attached the Velcro to the back of the chestbox and installed the hose. The hose rests in the chaps. The hose is actually an Unreinforced Radiator Hose that seems to only be used in the UK – it was a pain to convince the UK based “Hoseworld” that they should send us nerds in the USA a bunch of hoses for our costume.”

“The belt is a British military PLCE belt with 2 similar British military pin belts attached. The two sides are attached in the back and hang in place with strap made of seatbelt webbing. This costume required more varieties of webbing than I even knew existed! There are also paddles, which we 3D printed, where the drop belts attach to the main belt. The leg flares were 3D printed and rest in a belt made of seatbelt webbing and attach with Velcro in the back. I put the flares over the knee pocket, but they can sit anywhere on the leg. The mucker-style boots were bought from amazon and are so comfortable. The gloves are part of the riot gear used by UK police. The ever-so-important aviators were bought from Amazon and are the only non-accurate part of my costume, but as you can see they are completely necessary 😉 I love this costume so much. It challenged my sewing and research abilities, it is very comfortable, fun to wear in a group, and makes me feel like a badass fly-girl (in a super nerdy sort of way.)”

*Judge’s comments:

She really did an extremely well executed version of this outfit. The seaming is impressive.

The judges decided the following entries deserved special recognition for their total embodiment not only of the challenge theme– ANYTHING GOES– but also for their overall craftsmanship, design, character, and vision.


Victorian My Little Pony” by Nile Wilson

“Princess Twilight Sparkle’s Grand Galloping Gala Gown”
“Pinkie Pie’s Grand Galloping Gala Gown” and
“Rarity’s Grand Galloping Gala Gown”

Nile Wilson 1

“These costumes were worn at Bronycon 2017 in Baltimore, MD where they won the Grand Prize in the Cosplay Craftsmanship Contest. The ensembles were made with Truly Victorian patterns.”

Processed with MOLDIV

“Though modern sewing techniques were used, all of the finishing (such as lining attachment) and embellishment were done by hand. All underpinnings such as petticoats, corset, and lobster tail bustle were made by me. Unicorn horns were hand made with Worbla and wire wrapped jewelry techniques.”

Processed with MOLDIV

“The most difficult part of this project was sizing down adult patterns to fit children. This project stretched my creativity; I had to reimagine fantasy gowns into historical costumes while keeping the integrity of the character and original design. I also made sure that materials used in this project were fabrics that were already in my stash. This was also my first attempt at wig styling (a lot of Got 2 B Glued spray was used).”

*Judge’s comments:

Stashbusting success and the headpieces came out well.”

Master use of color, especially when combined with an excellent use of fabric stash. Color choices seem true to character. Master skill in resizing commercial pattern….wish there were better photos to fully appreciate sewing skills!

Excellent work on resizing those patterns.


Sewing Machine” by Maral Agnerian

Maral Agnerian 2

From Maral:

“My costume is based on the “Sewing Machine” artwork by the Japanese artist Sakizo. She draws anthropomorphic interpretations of various foods and objects, and I couldn’t resist this one.”

Maral Agnerian 5

“The construction of the skirt was complicated, as I had to figure out a way to a) make the front cage in 2 parts for transport and b) detachable from the rest of the skirt.”

“I made the cage by wrapping Worbla over round foam backer rods from the hardware store, and then carefully assembling the filigree shapes. It was tricky, as too much heat would cause the foam rods inside to collapse. The partial hoopskirt in back fits between the outer and inner skirt layers, and attaches to the front cage using large snaps.”

“I also sewed the stripes on the the big ribbon in back, because for some reason I thought it would be easier/better than just painting the stripes. So many tiny seam allowances on fray-prone dupioni!”

Maral Agnerian 4

“The gold details on the sleeves and overskirt are all hand-embroidered and beaded as I couldn’t find lace of the right pattern. The gold lace is also all hand-sewn, and I made the roses from organza. Wig styling, shoes and gloves also all made by me.”

*Judges’ comments:

It’s perfect! It’s stunning! It’s first place!

Thanks to all the wonderful entries we received for Challenge #16!

A big thanks to our panel of Challenge #16 Judges as well! The judges for this round are all founding members of the original “Shear Madness: The Joy of Impractical Costuming” Facebook group back in 2013.

Leah Lloyd

leah lloyd judge

Leah Lloyd of Lamia Creations has been making costumes since the ripe young age of 4, when she wrapped a bunch of scarves around herself and shuffled out to the living room where her mother was watching the classic Mummy. It’s been downhill since then, including receiving a degree in Costume Design, a Clothing/Headwear Laurel in the SCA, and winning “The Way You Wear Your Hat” Shear Madness Challenge. And someday she will cull the fabric hoard in the attic. Really.
Artemisia Moltabocca

arte judge

Artemisia Moltabocca is a 50+ year old costumer with no plans of slowing down. The last competition she entered was at the Steampunk Worlds Fair where her Dalek Queen won Best Maker / Individual, and 2nd place Best Costume. Right now she’s working on restoring a 1911 Singer sewing machine, and recreating vintage clothing from the 40s and 50s. Find her on!

Laura Ulak


Laura Ulak is the founder of Shear Madness and co-founder of the MN Society of Costumers. She has been costuming for over 20 years, and has costumed everyone from bearded Santas to Drag Queens to Ren Fest Queens. She is a Master’s level award winning masquerade costumer. She currently spends her spare time outfitting high school students for fall plays and spring musicals. She learns something new everyday at Shear Madness, and loves the supportive environment of people who remember the fun in costuming.

*The order of judges’ comments has been randomized for each entry.


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