When runDisney opened registration for their new Avengers-themed races, my fingers were flying over the keyboard to get registered. Once I managed to snag spots for my husband and I, it was time to pick characters for our costumes. With the whole Marvel Universe to choose from, it wasn’t easy. I wanted something a little offbeat, easily recognizable, and of course, fun to make as a costume. I soon settled on two classic Marvel superheroes (my husband and I being somewhat “classically aged” as well), Reed Richards, known as Mr. Fantastic, and his wife Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman. I knew I could reuse parts of the rig from my Kevin costume to make Mr. Fantastic, now I was just left with the question of how to become invisible. And I was on a deadline, since I wanted to try out our costumes at a local race, the Portland Superhero Run.
I started by checking out the Sue Storm cosplays that have already been done. There have been some great ones, including this one by the amazing Yaya Han. But all the images I could find were clearly visible. Where was the invisible Invisible Woman? Next up was to figure out how to become invisible, or short of that, trying to discover a way to convey invisibility.
Sue Storm has been part of the Marvel Universe since 1961 and has had an assortment of costumes over the years. Not being one to go for the sexy costume, I chose to stick with the classic design.
I picked this drawing to use as a guide for my design as I liked how the artist used the fade out to white to convey invisibility:
There were two ways of achieving the look I was after; I could dip dye white fabric to fade out from aqua to white, or I could paint aqua fabric with a wash of white. I tried the dip dying first. I chose a fabric that I thought had a design that looked like it was becoming invisible. The dying went fine, I used Jacquard iDye Poly, which is one of the few dyes that work on performance knits. But when I tried on the costume, it looked like pajamas. Not super at all. And I was still left with having to dye Mr. Fantastic’s fabric to match. I knew it was time for Plan B.
A few days after my dyeing debacle, I stumbled on the exact aqua blue knit I needed during one of my rambles around local fabric stores (thank you Mill End Store!). I already had some Jacquard Lumiere Pearlescent White fabric paint on the shelf from a previous experiment for a Frozen costume. The Jacquard paints are colorfast on fabric and can be thinned with water to make the fade-out effect I was after. So I went ahead and sewed up the top and started to paint.
I had inserted the sleeves into old plastic drink glasses so I could make sure I didn’t get paint bleeding over into the layer below. I had covered the rest of the shirt with Press and Seal plastic wrap to protect it from paint. I got the sleeve fabric wet and then layered on the paint, thick at the edge and then fading out up the sleeve.
After doing the top this way, I got much smarter with the pants and painted them BEFORE I sewed them together. The paint has a tendency to stretch the fabric a bit so it also helps with fit to paint first and then sew. It is also easier to set the paint with an iron before sewing, since you have a flat surface to iron.
I printed out a Fantastic Four logo onto iron-on fabric, making it as large as possible so it would be noticeable. I don’t have an ink jet printer, so I used my laser printer. I don’t recommend this, but it did work OK.
Next up was to determine if I could use body paint while running without breaking out or dripping color. I chose TAG Pearl White because it was a close match to my fabric paint. My first trial was just to do a small patch of the paint on my arm while running. No problem. It didn’t run when I sweated and my skin was fine. But it did rub off easily. Then I did another trial with a patch of paint sprayed with Graftobian Setting Spray. Even better. No reaction and it didn’t rub off, but still came off easily with water. So now I knew I would be fine unless it was raining on race day.
I decided I needed to make Sue’s force field. Unfortunately, I got too excited with what I was doing to take pictures so I’ll describe the process as best I can. I had seen an idea for using hot glue to make snowflakes on Family Ever after: http://www.familyeverafterblog.com/2012/12/ugly-sweater-week-diy-hot-glue.html. So I adapted that technique for my force field.
To give the force field enough structure, I started with a plexiglass disk purchased from a local plastics store. I chose the size of the disk to match the bottom of my “mold,” a big Tupperware bowl. I got a cheap plastic cabinet pull from Home Depot to use as my handle. Before I started gluing, I drilled two holes in the disk so I could attach the handle later. I oiled the bowl with vegetable oil to prevent the glue from sticking, placed the disk on the bottom of the inverted bowl, and started gluing.
I had wanted to use pearlescent glitter glue, but couldn’t find it locally so I just used regular hot glue. (Of course I found the glitter glue online later, so I now have a good supply.) It took a LOT of glue and a fair amount of patience to cover the bowl. The gluing was nothing though compared to the time it took to trim off all the little glue threads. What a pain! Once I had the threads off, I painted the glue with pearlescent white paint and then accented it with pearlescent aqua. I put on the handle through the pre-drilled holes, adding large washers so the disk would not crack.
Now I had costume, makeup, and force field ready. It was time to see if it would all hold up to a hot weather run. I put some makeup on at home and then touched it up when we arrived. I lined the car seat with a towel because the color did come off a bit despite the sealer. It was a super-hot day, but despite the sweat it all held up well. Here I am post-race, still clearly visible but hopefully with a bit of the illusion intact.
We are looking forward to November and the runDisney Avengers races. If you see us there (unless I figure out a way to become completely invisible), be sure to say HI!