You know, I am Wonder Woman

Some of you may know that I started working at a new company last summer.  Among the many perks of working here is an annual theme party held each Halloween.  They encourage everyone to dress in costume for an afternoon parade, and there's a panel of judges, and prizes for the winners.

Essentially I've died and woken up with a job in heaven. 

After we got the memo with all the details about the parade, I spent about 30 seconds trying to figure out what I could be for Halloween.  It hit me like a bolt of lightning - I could finally dress up as the one character that I have wanted to be since I was 4 years old and severely addicted to Lynda Carter's lousy acting skills on what passed for action shows on television in the 1970's.  I could finally spin around in a circle 5 or 6 times, and I could BE Wonder Woman.

The thought was just too delicious.

There's a great costume shop in town that I stopped by to ask about a rental, but they said they don't have any for rent.  Something about licensing?  They did have one for sale by Marvel, and it was not the best thing I'd seen.  So I spent the next week searching the internet for a suitable costume to buy.  There are people on eBay who will make one for you for several hundred dollars.  Some of them are even pretty good.  There are a few knock-offs costumes that I immediately dismissed.  I also could have cobbled some things together with a few key props, and it might have passed for decent.

As I searched, I could feel myself settling for the easy way out, but the lure of the fame and the prize money was just too strong.   So I kept searching.  And that's when I found The Wonder Woman Museum.

There is a man somewhere who loves Wonder Woman too, possibly a bit more than me, and you can make whatever you want of that.  But this man spent a couple of years creating an exact replica of Lynda Carter's costume from Season 1, and meticulously pictured each step along the way.  All of his research, all of the fabric and stitching and stars and gold leather - it's all there in stunning detail.

As I scrolled down the page in awe of this man and what kind of life he must have to spend it on such a fun project, I saw a picture of a pattern he had made for the cape.  It was all sectioned out in red, white and blue, and taken from a few angles to show the pattern and the finished project.   And that's when it hit me.

I could totally make this costume myself.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I don't have any skills in the sewing arena.  I've never made anything more complicated than a hem in my whole life.  And when I have hemmed something, you can really tell I did it.  Know what I'm sayin'?

But with that pattern, and all those close-up pictures of the outfit - well, I knew exactly who could help me.  And within about 3 minutes, I was dialing her to spill out the whole crazy thing.

I was 35 years old.  And I was calling my mom to help me make my Halloween costume.  

To her credit, she didn't even hesitate to say yes.  I sent her the link to the website I was pouring over obsessively, and we exchanged a few suggestions about how to make this happen.  Then, the first sewing weekend trip was set.

Okay, so if you're thinking to yourself, "Self, there's no way that Jennie is going to show up at work in that Lynda Carter bathing suit," - well, you're right.  I found several pictures during my research of a few episodes with her in a skirt version of her outfit, and I also decided some kind of tank top would be an appropriate substitute for the bustier she normally wore.  

Brian had a client who did embroidery - bowling team shirts, monogrammed girls' dresses, you name it.  He & I talked about how to make that top, and he talked to his client about how to make that top, and to sum up, there was far too much discussion about how to make that top.  And one evening, I came home from work, and lo, my husband had been to the fabric store.  

He spent hours looking for pictures of the eagle (it changed over the course of the show, so he was looking for a good one to copy) and finally made an eagle pattern out of this gold lame' fabric, and laying it out across a red tank top, I could see it all coming together.  

He had also bought some fake white leather on sale, and figured out a way to wrap that gold fabric around it to make the bracelets and tiara and belt.

You can make of that whatever you want, but at that moment, I could not have possibly loved my husband any more.

He claimed it was not a particularly rough job, looking at hundreds of pictures of Lynda Carter on the internet.  I'll have to take him at his word.

I was over the moon with excitement as I headed home for a sewing weekend.  Mom & I dragged the sewing machine out from its hidey hole in the upstairs closet, and tallied up a short list of the things we'd need.  Mom, god love her, had already found the stars to put on the cape.  We went to Wal-Mart and spent about 45 minutes trying the patience of 2 toddlers while deciding on fabric and notions.   Red, white and blue costume satin, gold trim and rope, thread, and some other stuff.  I think I spent about $40.

In getting the sewing machine, I dug out an old pattern for a short wraparound skirt that Mom had made for us about 10 different times as kids.  It was billed as one of those "make it in a hour" patterns that convinced me to try it.  So as the kids went down for naps, Mom & I put together the first piece of the costume.

The skirt didn't take long, and soon I could see the whole thing coming together.

We found some paper and put together our pattern for the cape.  Essentially it was a half circle sectioned off into one large half of blue, and the other half alternating red and white.  We didn't have a protractor, so we spent a couple of minutes trying to figure out how to make even sections for the red & white.  Considering how proud we were of ourselves for getting it right, I'll tell you now:  neither of us majored in math.  But we did it.

We measured the long edge with a ruler, and it was 54 inches.  We divided by 6.  With a string tied to a pencil, and holding the pencil up near the neck, we drew a straight line down the string every 9 inches.  We wrote the color name on each section, and cut the pattern to begin laying it out on the fabric.  

Piecing it together later on, we realized we probably should have added a seam allowance.  After putting together a few more sections, we realized we also cut out the fabric on the pattern with the wrong side up.  Essentially, every section we added kept getting shorter and shorter.  What started out looking like the one in the WW Museum came out more like a short one to match the length of the skirt.  I didn't mind a bit, actually.  It was pretty impressive for the first try.  Mom added a red satin trim to tie the cape around my neck, and it matched perfectly.

Mom & my sister helped with sewing stars on the cape and skirt.  We tried ironing them on, but the sticky side wasn't working too well on costume satin.

We used some stitch witchery to adhere the gold lame' to the fake leather to make the bracelets and tiara and belt.  Mom stitched gold trim on the edges and after adding red stars, we were set.

At home, I added velcro for the leather pieces, and fitted them.  I had bought a black wig for a Snow White costume ($6) to serve as the gorgeous tresses of Lynda Carter.  I found some boots on a website called Trashy.com ($38, and no, I didn't buy anything else there), and with some nude pantyhose and bright red lipstick, the outfit was complete.

Parading around at work as Wonder Woman, I got plenty of smiles and laughs.  It was well worth it, especially when I got to tell people that I didn't buy that costume - we made just about every single bit of it.  People were stunned.  Mom & I were pretty proud of each other for how great it turned out, and Brian & I were wondering how to make some extra bucks at Halloween, possibly by selling the accessories kit.  

Over Mothers Day weekend, I got to show Mom the results of her hard work.  The company films the parade every year, and I borrowed the DVD to show her my short moment in the sun.  Letting her hear the laughter and applause of other folks as I hammed it up for the crowd - I can only hope that felt like some kind of payment for the project.

Mom, you went above and beyond for what has to be the umpteenth time in my life, and all for a little of your daughter's own personal glory.  You unselfishly spent two weekends on a sewing machine and working over a hot iron to make my little crazy fantasy come true.   I can't say thank you enough, and I just hope the great big grin on my face was worth it.  


ALI said...


Neena/Nana/Mom said...

You know, I think it did turn out really well if I do say so myself. It was fun and a real challenge--particularly the math involved in designing the cape. (So, Mandy, we really do use this stuff in real life.) It was great doing the project with you Jennie, and fun realizing that all the "practicing" you did playing Wonder Woman while you were a kid really paid off.

SpookyRach said...

THAT is freakin' impressive!

A friend published a link to your blog for me, because, well, *whispers* I'm Wonder Woman.

You did a great job on this. It is really one of the best WW costumes I've seen. Love the length of the skirt and cape as well as the red tank top idea.

catucker_2000 said...

9-18-08 I am so impressed by the costume. I am going to be wonder woman this halloween. I have searched and searched for one in my size and just haven't been able to find it. I would like to ask about you making one for me and what you might charge. Please let me know how to contact you via regular email. thanks christy tucker, Louisville, KY

Anonymous said...

Any chance you could send me the pattern for the eagle?