Austin Carnaval costume: “mohawk”

finished mohawk

I made an all-white “road warrior” costume for the 2017 Austin Carnaval Brasileiro. I’ve been “incubating” the idea for several years, and this year I finally “pulled the trigger” on it.

Since the costume is for the Carnaval, it needed to be super sexy! That means short skirt, bared midriff, spike heels, etc. However, one element of the costume that I settled on early on was a “mohawk” headpiece: nothing says “road warrior” like a fierce mohawk! This is how I made mine. (I’ll write about my costume soon.)

I used buckram for the “base” of the mohawk. The base is basically a form that sits on my head and that everything is attached to. Since I wanted to sew everything to the base, I can’t use, say, plastic. I used brim wire (“millinery wire”) at the form’s perimeter to give it the necessary stiffness. I zig zagged the brim wire to the edge of the form:
zig zagging brim wire to base zig zagging brim wire to base: almost done zig zagging brim wire to base: wire clipped to length zig zagging brim wire to base: wire joiner added
I left adding the joiner for last, so I’d know exactly what length the wire needed to be.

Test wearing of the base:
test fit of base on my head

For the mohawk, I made a form/pattern to determine the size and shape of the mohawk, using card stock (boxes from frozen entrées 🙂 ) to make the pattern:
pattern to test fit mohawk pattern to test fit mohawk

Test fitting the pattern to ensure its fit and size:
test fit of mohawk

Test fitting of base to mohawk pattern:

I wanted the “body” of the mohawk to be of the same white sequined lace that I used for the rest of the costume. Obviously, the lace won’t stand up by itself. It will need to be backed with something stiff yet transparent to show off the see-through nature of the lace. I wanted something similar to the acetate from, for example, Whole Foods baby spinach boxes. The problem is the boxes are not large enough. I’d have to piece several pieces together, which is doable, but it would have meant having to eat a truck load of spinach. I like spinach but not that much!

I settled on acetate sheets from Jo-Ann. I found them in the paper crafting/scrapbooking/card making section:
acetate sheet

I did a test to make sure I can sew on the actetate, because I will need to sew lace, Velcro, etc. to it:
test of sewing velcro to acetate sheet
The acetate can be stitched easily, using normal sewing needle (80/12 Schmetz Universal) and thread (Gütermann), without it tearing or the stitches getting messed up.

The mohawk will obviously need to stand up by itself and not flop over. It also needed to be light enough to not present a problem staying on my head, or be a pain to wear a whole night. I decided to make two acetate+lace mohawk shapes and attach them so they’d have a wedge cross section: attached at the outside/top edge, and spread apart at the base and attached to the long edges of the base. The wedge cross section ensures that the mohawk will stand up by itself and not flop over.

I also wanted to make the mohawk so it can be disassembled, to simplify transport and storage. I used Velcro to attach the two mohawk halves together:
Velcro sewn to mohawk Velcro sewn to mohawk
and to attach the mohawk to the base:
Velcro tabs sewn to base

To secure the mohawk on my head, I zig-zagged elastic cord to the base, adding a cord keeper to ease adjustment:
elastic cords & cord keeper
This work well, but I think I will add a hair comb or two to the underside of the base to make it even more secure.

To hide the attachments at the base of the mohawk, I added a length of gathered tulle to the bottom edge:
tulle trim for mohawk's lower edge tulle trim at mohawk's lower edge tulle trim at mohawk's lower edge

The final touch, which really made the mohawk look like a mohawk, was a strip of feather trim tape along the edge:
finished mohawk

Now to make the rest of the costume! And make it in time for the Carnaval! 🙂