Circus Family Costume

Circus Family Costume

Posted by Marlena ThomasPosted ago

Our six year old has been begging for a dog for a few years so we welcomed a new puppy into our family in September. While learning more about the history of the dog breed, we discovered that they used to perform tricks to the roars of circus crowds. What would be more fitting than a circus themed costume this year? We decided it would be a lot of fun for our entire family to join in and dress up together, something we haven’t ever done before. We even asked my daughter-in-law and her family to join in on the fun which resulted in a group of six people and one dog.

For the ringmaster costume, I used a thrift store tuxedo for my son as the base. I added striped fabric cuffs, sewn in gold and red trim, created epaulettes out of fabric and fringe, sewed on gold metallic buttons, added wide and narrow ribbons to stripe the side seams of the pants and sewed up a gold vest to match. Then we crowned off the costume with a top hat that I decorated with fabric, gold buttons, and trim to coordinate with the outfit. Next, I created a faux whip prop from a wooden dowel rod, a wooden peg doll, painted it black and glued a piece of black felt to the tip. A piece of gold cording was then wrapped around the base of the felt to finish it off.

The Lion Costume consists of the lion mane made from fur fabric and Velcro the Lion Cage, and the lion podium. It was my first time to craft with EPS foam and it was a lot of fun to make. I drew a pattern to scale onto a pull wagon using Illustrator then I managed to hand cut the pieces out with my scroll saw. The decorative scroll work was then carved with a Dremel tool. The foam was very soft so I decided to hard coat it with a Polymer which enabled me to spray paint the pieces. The “bars” were created with slats of wood drilled to hold PVC pipe at the top and the bottom and inserted into the window opening. Next, everything was assembled with foam adhesive and placed on top of the wagon. The Lion Podium was made from a thrifted trash can, spray paint, and vinyl.

The Human Cannonball Costume is a red jumpsuit with gold metallic fabric strips sewn into the sides and sleeves, and then I added lined cuffs at the base of sleeves. The stars on the gold strips are black glitter heat transfer material that I cut with my plotter and ironed onto the fabric. The cape is red fabric lined in gold metallic spandex with a lined collar, and attached to the cape is a front “V” that attaches into the front of the jumpsuit with Velcro. I used the heat transfer stars on the “V” piece of the cape as well. The faux whip is made from a wooden dowel and a peg doll, painted black and a piece of black felt is hot glued to the tip. Gold cording was then wrapped around the base of the felt to finish it off.

The Carousel costume is made from a metal core with metal washers welded around the bottom to act as a keeper for the lower outer ring then wrapped in fabric covered poster board. The top and lower outer rings are made from EPS foam. The bottom EPS foam ring was wrapped in gold metallic fabric. I created a high waist circle skirt to form the top “canopy” added a zipper in the back of the skirt, and attached it to the top edge of the top ring using fold over elastic and hot glue. The mirrors around the center core are crafted from laser cut wooden picture frames. We used a steam pot to steam the frames and then slowly bent and formed them onto a metal cylinder using hose clamps until the wood cooled. This enabled me to get the curved fames. I then painted the frames gold and inserted mirrors made from foil paper and card stock. The mirrors were then attached to the fabric covered core with E6000 adhesive. Battery powered, flashing fairy lights were then installed into the underside of the top ring using Command Clips. I placed the power button on the outer edge area so I could have easy access to the light switch when I am wearing the costume. The animals are toy animals drilled through the center and placed onto gold painted dowel rods. The rods with attached animals were then installed into to upper and lower foam rings. The animals weighed four pounds and pulled the circle skirt down to create the tent canopy effect at the top but after a few wearing tests, I discovered that a suspender system would be a good idea to help support the weight of the skirt. I used satin ribbon attached to the inside of the center core frame and pulled it up and over my shoulders (crossing the ribbon at the back) and attached the other ends to the other side of the inner core frame. This solution worked wonderfully because it provided another anchor point.

The Knife Thrower’s Assistant costume is a basic black skater dress, a petti skirt for an underskirt, and a handmade gold skirt over the top. The target is EPS foam that was painted with craft paint. Plastic knives were pushed through the foam so they are sticking into the target. I cut slits into the foam target where the arm pits fall when she extended her arm and I braced it up to accommodate arm straps by gluing a ¼” slat of wood to the backside. Webbing and adjustable quick connects were attached to the slats on both sides so she can wear the target around her armpits. For her hat, I glued an embellished mini top hat to a headband and added a faux apple with hollowed out center to keep it light weight then plastic knife inserted into the apple to the top of the hat. Gold gloves and fancy shoes completed her look.

The sword thrower costume is dress attire with two red table runners I had on hand serving as a sash to hold the plastic knives.

The Sophisticated Clown costume is color coordinated with our Circus theme. We chose to do him upscale in a vest , tie, and dress pants and crowned his head with a very tall top hat and face paint make up.

I have practically every weekend in October planned out with festivities for us to do together. The making and wearing of these costumes allowed us to share an awesome family experience.


Submitted by: Marlena Thomas

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