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Our 18th Quarterly Shear Madness Costuming Challenge was “UNDER THE SEA” which was all about costumes inspired by the ocean!

Under the Sea Challenge Announcement


Shear Madness is a celebration of all costuming genres. We were so pleased and proud of the costumes submitted to this challenge.

Honorable Mention for Embellishment

Dark Mermaid” by Debbie and Megan

Debbie Entry 1

“Megan Morris and I made the costume below, Dark Mermaid, as a collaborative project. It was finished in September 2017 for a local Cosplay Prom event. It’s an original design not based off anything other than our combined imaginations.
I used a thrifted navy fishtail prom dress and added a ton of sequins, beading, and other elements to it. All of the elements were sewn onto the gown (no glue). I also made a fishnet apron that I added lots of embellishments to. Megan made the crown from shells, felt, nail polish, and beads, as well as the trident she carried using the same items glued over a plastic store-bought one.”

*Judges’ comments

I’ve made embellished outfits before, and the time and effort that goes into them cannot be overstated. Terrific amount of work here.”


“Human Ariel Exploring a San Diego Beach” by Raechyl Borman

Raechyl Entry 4

“This is a film-accurate interpretation of Disney’s Ariel from The Little Mermaid.  I really wanted to portray a blend of the cartoonish feel from the film and a more realistic interpretation.  I had the opportunity to wear this to the last San Diego Comic Con, and shortly after I really enjoyed this beach photoshoot.  It was important to me to see Ariel responding to her “home” even though she’s looking for a new life on land.  Most versions of this costume that I’ve seen put all the costume pieces into one with a zipper down the back.  I really wanted a separate corset with lacing, so I ended up with an underdress and the corset over the top.”

“Finding fabric was very challenging.  Ideally I’d have liked a navy velvet but I was on a time schedule and had to make do with black.    The blue skirt was the hardest to find – with Disney you want very specific colors and literally no one had that blue!  I finally found a fabric that wasn’t my favorite in texture, but I ended up using the back face and came out with the right look.  I also made sure to include some shell motif lace trim on the underskirt!”

Raechyl Entry 2

“Overall I feel like the design and construction was maybe a bit on the simple side, but the point for me was to accurately portray in real life and texture a character we’ve only seen in a flat world, and give her depth and additional character.  That’s what I love about cosplay – we get to fuse a character with ourselves and create something a little bit new (Ariel with tattoos??)”

*Judge’s comments:

As someone who has made this costume, I can attest to that blue being really hard to find! You would think such a simple blue would be easier. She did a good job getting just the right details in this seemingly simple costume. Most people don’t do cuffs on this costume and to me that addition helps bridge the gap from cartoon to costumer. It was well made and fitted.


Little Uma” by Raechel Fleming

Raechel Entry 6

“This costume was made as part of last year’s group Descendants Halloween costume with her brothers. Eva was very helpful in the construction process of this costume, as well as gathering resource and background material about the costume. We tried to stay as close as possible to the original design from the TV movie which was done by Costume Designer Kara Saun. First we started with the wig. Since it gets cold around Halloween, I thought using yarn to crochet the wig would keep Eva warm and allow me to get the awesome variation of color.
I crocheted the beanie, then cut three strand wefts of varying colors, tied them to the beanie and braided, Braided, BRAIDED! Great way to use up scrap yarn by the way. For the hat, I actually had an old thrift store find that I was able to manipulate the brim to turn it into a tricorner hat. I had a soy I er seashell necklace that I hand stitched to the brim and found a star fish embellishment so on it went.”

“Now the jacket was really fun. Thrift store find again, I believe it was a raincoat. First, I cut the sleeves off and stitched them to the back to make coat tails. I regret not having a good picture of that but it looked really cool. The next part Eva got to stretch her creative legs. I found Tulip brand fabric spray paint. The Descendants villains are known for being trouble makers (especially with spray paint) so this was a perfect way to distress the jacket and get the color just right. Below is the before and after paint treatment of the coat.
We also added epaulettes to the jacket. We spray painted seashells gold and hit glued them to some craft foam before adding them to the shoulders of the jacket, as well as a bunch of fringe. This can be seen in the final picture. Now, the last couple pieces were those purple sleeves, which were a pair of leggings with the crotch cut out. Nothing special there. But we also needed the fringe skirt. I used crochet thread which ended up being a huge pain. It clumped together and did not have a nice flow to it. I was not happy with it but could not find the proper colors in other materials under the time constraints. Eva was also very particular about Uma’s shell necklace. We managed to find a shell with a little hole in it so I could put a jump ring on it properly. We spray painted it gold and voila, necklace. For her boots, we found a couple cute belts at the thrift store, spray them gold, wrapped them around the boots and again hot glued some gold shells to the back of the heels.
Now the last big piece was her t-shirt that had Uma’s symbol or logo, the skull with octopus legs. We needed Daddy’s help with this one. He drew the actual stencil free hand and helped us transfer it into the t-shirt. Figured out which pieces of the stencil to keep in places to get the screen print effect (my fibro fog makes that brain power harder than it should be) I got excited with the spray paint when I figured out how to blend the colors and get the tips of the tentacles gold, initially we were just going to go with a solid blue color. This is the first time we ever attempted anything like this, so score 1 for family Fleming.”

“At the end of the day, the kids had a great Halloween and mommy takes great pride in another year of homemade costumes. This one does come with an extra special treat. Through a miracle of small world, my step sister is friends with the actress who plays Queen Belle on Descendants, and was able to show this picture to the actress China McClain who plays Uma. China McClain expressed how cute Eva looked and we got a screen shot of that text which for privacy reasons I can’t show but holy cow did Eva have a star struck over the moon day. It filled my heart with so much joy for her to have that moment. Those moments are why we do this I think. Why we burn ourselves with glue, stab ourselves with pins and needles, cover ourselves with paint, and think up the most outrageous and absurd in order to get it done. I love every part of it.”

*Judge’s comments:

“Wig built, thrifted hat manipulated and trimmed. Thrifted jacket disassembled and remade. Epaulets and sleeves built. Thrifted belts manipulated for the boots. Shirt stenciled and painted, and accessories built. It’s absolutely top to toe, repurposing everything with tremendous effort output and obvious success!”

I like all the different types of materials used and appreciate that the costume was made for the wearer, something that is very important when costuming kids. This is a great costume. I love the wig so much!”


Namora” by Nell Bekiares

Nell entry 3

“[This is a] recreation of a fictional character from Marvel Comics who lives in Atlantis. This was the first time I have used stretch fabric! I started with a pattern for a legged and sleeved body suit, and modified it to be as shown. I also modified the hip area extensively to sew in pieced red piping. ”


“This was also my first attempt at using Worbla. The gauntlets, ankle wings, and headband are all worbla pieces. I commissioned the red N patch. The photographs were taken at the Georgia Aquarium.”

*Judge’s comments:

For never having used stretch fabric previously, impeccable handling of the material, my hat is off to you! Excellent pattern draft and amazing fit, smooth piping, and scrupulous adherence to reference image.”

This is freaking amazing! That fabric was sewn perfectly – I see no weird pulling that is common with stretchy materials. She even found the perfect fabric for her legs. This was made perfectly – not only in construction, but also with the reference material. The worbla was done really well. This is a very well finished costume and nothing was left undone.

In addition to the regular awards, the judges also decided the following entry deserved special recognition for its unique character and level of craftsmanship.


Kraken” by Penny Richards

Penny Entry 4


“Crochet Kraken is a crocheted squid headpiece, with grommets for “suckers” and some beading too; a sparkly silver dress (thrifted, but I added a crocheted black neckline and hanging ‘scarf’ to represent squid ink); more crocheted grommets attached to some storebought leggings and shoes. ”

“I also made a smaller crocheted squid for a second hat, to wear while dancing at Halloween parties. No patterns, no particular image I was imitating (though China Miéville’s book ‘Kraken’ was one inspiration); I designed and made all of this myself in 2018. We took these photos at Redondo Beach Pier this evening before sunset. That was fun! Lots of tourists smiling and asking questions.”

*Judge’s comments:

“This thing is amazing and I can only imagine all the time this took! The matching socks are a very cute touch.”

This is not only the hat, but embellishment on the tights and shoes, as well as making a second hat, and adding a creative addition to the dress neckline. Epic and awesome hat of awesome with matching barnacle tights of epic awesomeness!

Thanks to all the wonderful entries we received for Challenge #18!

We are always excited to see the talented artists of Shear Madness share their creations with us. We want to see what you’ve made, too! Shear Madness Challenges are open to all costumers  of all skill levels and genres. Entering is always free and winners get nifty digital badges to display on their websites, blogs, Facebook Profiles, or anywhere else. They are called “Challenges” because the aim is to challenge yourself to et inspired, make your design dreams a reality, try a new technique,  and take pride in your artistic accomplishments. Check out past challenges and challenge winners by clicking the “Past Challenges” link at the top of the page to see all the other fabulous creations from the past 5+ years!

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

Looking for other like-minded, fabric-loving, costume-wearing folks like yourself? Request to join the SHEAR MADNESS FACEBOOK GROUP!


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