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Clothes That Aren't Clothes- ABC Party Costumes

Updated on October 4, 2011

Anything But Clothes Party Costumes

One of the most popular college party themes, the "ABC" party, asks that attendants wear an outfit made out of non-fabric materials. A garbage bag with some holes in it might seem easy and cheap, but 1) you'll be sweating in 30 me. And 2) a knockout outfit requires only a few cheap supplies and a bit of creativity.

Costume Idea #1: (left) Comic Book Dress and #2: (right) Taking a Gamble

In preparing for an ABC party, my friend and I decided our outfits needed to have a bit more pizazz than the average trash-bag-with-a-duct-tape-belt deal most lazy kids show up in. (To their credit, they're probably a whole lot easier to maneuver when the wearer has to pee than the outfits we sported.)

So, my friend, seen in dimpled splendor on the left in the photo of the two of us, decided she'd make an outfit out of comic books. (Turned out pretty epic, right?) To re-create her look, you'd need:

-Plenty of comic books you don't mind cutting up

-A dress pattern (or a pattern for another type of garment)

-Rolls of contact paper

-Decoupage supplies (glue and brushes)

-Shellac (optional)

-Any accessories you'd like to decoupage to match the dress

For starters, she cut out the portions of her dress pattern on contact paper, rather than fabric. Cutting out portions of comic book images, she decoupaged the pictures onto the sections of contact paper so that, when worn, the smooth, non-sticky plastic side of the contact paper would be against her skin, and the decoupaged comics would be seen on the outside.

She left extra room on the edges of each piece so that, rather than sew pieces together as you would if they were fabric, she could use the stickiness of the contact paper to attach one piece to another to compose the dress. She did use actual stitching for some parts of the dress (such as a zipper up the back), although for those sewing machine phobes, duct tape on the interior will do the job decently well, also.

When the dress was completed, she covered it all in shellac to preserve it. For those willing to enjoy the crafted garment just for the night of the party, I'd say you can skip the shellac.

Finally, decoupaged shoes, headband, and wristbands completed the look.

Expand on this idea:

If you like the idea of the contact paper creating a dress form, but aren't a comic book fiend, think about using movie posters, magazine ads, decorative napkins, and plenty of other paper-based materials to get the look, also! Get creative in personalizing your look.

Now, as for the dress seen on yours truly:

My dress idea is going to work better for those of you who may be more inclined to freehand work than the precision of following a dress pattern. To imitate my look, you'll need:

-Playing cards

-Lots of duct tape in a color you like

-Plenty of paint samples (free at places with home improvement products, such as Walmart, Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.)

-A plastic tablecloth

-A shoelace

-Poker chips for the jewelry (and if you're making the jewelry, you'll need a pair of dangling earrings and a length of string)

For the top of the outfit, I made a freehand duct tape bodice. Now keep in mind, when using duct tape, ALWAYS CHECK that the side of the garment that will be against your skin has no sticky areas. Using duct tape, you must either fold the tape to create strips to manipulate, or cover the interior side of the piece with tape also. You will not be a happy camper if part of your outfit is stuck to you. Less so if it starts ripping at body hair and such.

Now, my bodice was created as a long, wide band of duct tape "fabric", which met in the back. Using an X-acto knife, I created holes down the edges of the bodice, where it would meet in the back. I used a shoelace threaded through the holes to make the garment stay tight and securely on me. (Kind of a corset type deal). For decoration, I stapled bits of playing cards I'd cut up across the top of the front of the bodice. If you can figure out a better way for attaching cards to duct tape, have at it! Staples worked best for me, and weren't too noticeable.

The skirt was created as a separate piece and fitted to secure right under the bodice to give the illusion of a dress. First, I cut a piece of plastic tablecloth to serve as a base for the skirt. I gave it a band of duct tape across the top to help it blend with the bodice, and to make it a bit more manageable.

To create the fringe, I stapled the paint chips side-by-side and cut the rows of chips to have fringes all the way across. For my size, it required roughly 14 paint chips to make a row. (These chips were about 4"x6"). When a row was complete, I attached it to the tablecloth by a strip of duct tape across the top of the cards. Starting from the top, I made sure to hide each subsequent row's tape under the previous row's chips, kind of like making ruffles or tiers.

I attached the skirt using a bit of velcro stapled to the duct tape at the top of the skirt, fitting each side of the velcro to the right place on the skirt band so that when attached, it'd sit securely on my waist.

To finish the look, I taped some poker chips to the flat beads of some dangly earrings I had, and taped chips in a row on a length of string to make the choker.

As I said before, experiment with different materials to personalize your look and make sure it fits comfortably. Our outfits were a big hit at the party. I hope yours are, too!

Other Ideas: Cardboard Armor!

My boyfriend's outfit was pretty creative, I do have to say.

There are lots of ideas out there!

Other Ideas - As you can see, people get plenty creative....

Check it out! One guy even used real leaves!


What's the best ABC material for making a kick-ass outfit?

See results

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      7 years ago

      Fantastic pictures. If you are looking for more ideas for outfits to wear to an ABC party take a look here . Also, here is an article on how to throw one!

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      7 years ago

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