I’d like to make a Mrs. Lovett cosplay based on the outfit Helena Bonham Carter wore in the Sweeney Todd movie. The outfit has…a lot going on, to say the least. I’m used to making costumes for characters whose costumes aren’t as complex- how do you think I should go about this?
Thankfully, Sweeny Todd is a popular enough film that people have compiled large galleries of reference images and written up information about the costumes. This seems like a good resource.
What I would recommend is breaking down the costume into more manageable, individual parts. Don’t get lost in all the details, and instead look at what the basic garments are, and then figure out the detailing from there. The shapes themselves are relatively simple for this kind of costuming; it’s the patterns and trims that make it look complex. For this basic breakdown, I’m going to work off of the posted reference, but you may see more details come forth in the gallery I linked.
Start with what undergarments are needed, and work your way out from there. I’m seeing a skirt with a bustle and a self ruffle at the bottom, a bodice (can be constructed as a dress or as a separate shirt) with a square neckline that isn’t fully buttoned so it becomes a V shape and some kind of pleated or ruched sleeves, and an exterior corset. In terms of detailing, you will want to look at what trims and fabric patterns are used – I’m seeing an orange or red tulle underneath the bodice neckline, some kind of distressed and possibly foiled or sequined lace. The exterior corset has some sort of lace trimming as well. The ruffle on the skirt is trimmed in some type or orange or red trim at the bottom. Based on the way the skirt falls, it is likely a quarter circle skirt.
After you get all the trimmings and such figured out, I would recommend looking at the other detailing and accessories. Gloves, shoes, jewelry, etc. Also look at the fabrics used, now that you have all the parts figured out – the dress material is patterned, and clearly distressed and aged, so you will likely need to experiment a bit on your own with dye to get that effect.
The most important thing to do is to have detailed knowledge of what you are making, and breaking down all the parts will get you there. From there, I would recommend making a list of what is needed and/or labeling a photo so you can be sure you don’t miss or forget anything. A complex costume is much more manageable once you know what you need to do to get it all done!
I hope that helps! Good luck :]