It’s Diva time: Bedlah Beauty, Power Brace, and Hornery


A hallmark of a good headpiece is the exclamation “is that really all it is?” quietly slipping from your lips when you finally get a good, close-up look at it. Headpieces are magic tricks! Hornery (M2101) might be one of these headpieces. Happily, it does not use the cosplay staple, Worbla. Thermoplastics are always thermoplastics—even after you finish your piece. Leave your work in the car on a warm day, and you will be very, very sad. Since it’s still Friendly Plastic, it also degrades pretty quickly. Not a plus in my book.

There are three (two, actually)  looks in the Hornery envelope, each defined by the horn shape. The third is simply the base skull cap sans horns. It’s a blank canvas for your own bad-ass ideas, and also serves as a removable snap-on support base for the less-stable view B headpiece with the filigree cap.

As this is built without a buckram base, I would suggest cutting the back of the skull cap a little longer so it could be fit to cup under the back curve of your head and so have a more secure fit. For view C with the filigree cap base you might add the front filigree portion of view A to the back to extend the length. Adding millinery wire to the edge will also make it far more secure. Be sure your fabric is firm enough to make a skull cap that can stand on its own. Stretch faux leather is not suitable, nor is the soft stuff backed with flannel.

McCalls gets deep into the costumer’s toolbox with this pattern, as they embrace the use of hangers. Wrapping of hanger wire in trim is a time-honored costuming trick, but I think this is a perfect time to use another cosplay favorite: mesh tube ribbon. You can get it plain or lighted. Lighted headpiece for the win! You can hide the battery pack in the horns. You will need to be sure both horns have the same weight in them in order to keep the headpiece from sliding off your head. The other option is to hide the battery pack at the center top of the skull cap, and camouflage it with more trim. Pro-tip: You can use heavy gauge copper ground wire in place of hangers. It is only a little thicker. This way you can get it in any length, and avoid the limit of the hanger wire length. Though copper is not easy to solder, it’s easier than hangers. Sometimes you need a really firm frame for a project, and in that case soldering is the ticket. Pro tip #2: Make your holes with a leather punch.

The cardinal rules of the Headpiece: It must be light, balanced, and light. Did I mention it should be light? Light stays on your head better and is less fatiguing to wear. The best way to ensure that it stays light is to select fabrics firm enough to not need additional support. The less batting, the better.

There is a lot of hand sewing on this piece. That, along with the indestructible nature of faux leather/vinyl, make this a great piece to work on at your local stitch-and-bitch gathering. You look like a bad ass costumer building horns with your bare hands, and every one will want to get a look at the amazing thing you are making. Always fun! That said, even though the instructions say to hand sew much of this by blanket stitch, you can sew most of the pieces by machine. Yes. Any decent machine will sew through a couple of layers of faux leather. Use a long stitch. You often do not need a leather needle but you will need a sharp, slightly larger needle than normal. Perhaps a size 90, or 100.

Use this pattern as a starting point, and go wild. You can swap out the flowers for almost anything light weight: ready-made silk flowers, large sequins/paillettes, feathers, small plastic toys, and marabou, are just a few options. Use an interfaced pretty silk dupioni for the horns, and sew them with seams in for a more refined, sweeter look. Press the seams as you assemble and finger press the parts you cannot reach on that last seam. Add a veil at the horn tips. The options are endless.


Power Brace (M2102) is from the vintage land of the Space Opera Princess. There are a ton of pieces included: A cross-strap bra halter top that laces up the back, a simple 6-piece under-bust corset, an open front skirt (or as I have come to call them: the “butt cape”), and 2-piece arm and leg “armor”.

Both the corset and the halter top are boned, and the edges bound, and will look beautifully professional as a result. The arm and leg armor asks for fusible interfacing. Please, never ever use fusible interfacing, even when the pattern asks you to. It will only make you cry if you ever intend to launder the things you have made with it. As my college couture sewing teacher use to say “I wouldn’t line a tent with fusible interfacing.” Use self fabric when you can. Use a non woven plain fabric when you can’t. Always launder first. Your work will look far better and will not be warped, buckled, or limp when it comes out of the wash.

I am also not sure how the upper leg and arm armor stays in place. All four armor pieces lace up, so they will fit snugly, but since upper arms and legs get narrower toward the bottom, I am not seeing how these pieces will not just slip down as you move. The lower arm/leg pieces are held in place by feet and hands, so they are good to go. Consider using the Dr Denton non-slip footie pajama fabric, or a similar fabric with a little tooth as the lining to help keep those top pieces in place. No satin!

Fair warning: There is no coverage on the bottom included in this pattern save for the butt cape. You’ll need dance trunks, or a bikini bottom, or maybe a simple flowing skirt in addition to the pieces in this pattern. I really want to make this into a grasshopper or beetle queen costume. The butt cape is whispering “beetle wings, beetle wings, beetle wings” to me. On the mundane front, the halter top should easily find its way into your summer wardrobe. Pair it with just about anything, in just about any fabric.

Bedlah Beauty (M2106) is a belly dancing ensemble with a really fabulous circle-shaped bolero-like top. Soft and flowy, it will look great on everyone. It’s a great place to use that expensive chiffon you have been eyeing. You only need a small amount of yardage for a really great impact, and you can wear it with everything.

I can see this pattern set made into a fantastic Princess Ardala/Carmen Miranda mash-up. Use the headpiece above for the Ardala horned headpiece starter and lob some plastic fruit on it for Carmen. Do the Bedlah Beauty in tropical fruit colors. Killer fun. Younger costumers, your homework is to look up both of these iconic women/characters. You will not be disappointed.


Me as Princess Ardala. That’s a buckram headpiece.


The truly amazing Carmen Miranda in Weekend in Havana. What an amazing icon. Look! The bra top has the same pompon-like trim as Bedlah Beauty.

As it is, this is one of the prettiest belly dancer patterns I have seen. The whole set is overflowing with embellishment opportunities. The belt is beautifully  curved, to rest nicely on the hips. Quilting, appliqués, beading, ready-made trims, chain, and the creative use of watch bands all figure prominently, while the design is also suggestive of many alternative uses for its pieces: Use the bra top, bolero, and the belt pieces to make your fairy costume that much richer, or make a top for your mermaid out of the bra top alone. Slip the bra top and bolero into your everyday wardrobe. These are beautifully designed, and as such easily finds a place as streetwear.

The most detailed patterns in the Cosplay by McCalls line are the ones that have been their best sellers. This release of patterns is filled with more of those opportunities to embellish and create something really spectacular. It’s clear that the renaissance in sewing is fueled by costumers and the cosplay boom. Own that and be bold in everything you wear. You rock.

Cosplay by McCalls continues to impress. The line is very adaptable, size-inclusive, and offers a broad selection of expressive clothing options you can use in cosplay or streetwear. Offered online only, it’s never out-of-stock, and you never have to brave the lines at JoAnn’s. They ship world-wide. Get them at

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