Monday, June 8, 2015

DIY General Cornwallis Costume

At my children's school, in the upper grade levels, the students participate in a program called "Walk Through Presentations."  Fourth graders "walk through" California, fifth graders "walk through" the American Revolution and sixth graders "walk through" Ancient Civilization.  

Each child memorizes facts and an important word or is assigned a role to play during the presentation.  The class is broken up into teams, with the objective to earn points through participation, knowing their part and positive behavior.

Fourth grade was a breeze for my son last year- a simple costume of a flannel shirt, jeans, a large-brimmed hat and a little black eyeliner smudged for the coal covered look of a miner.  I have been kind of dreading the fifth grade presentation because I always was intimidated by the the costumes that I saw on the other students and how much might have to go into them.

When my son came home, assigned to the role of General Cornwallis, I looked him up and saw this (and might have groaned a little to myself):

I honestly don't remember much about studying this period in history, so the following Saturday we hit up the library for some books about the General and then we were off to the Goodwill for costume pieces.

We were very lucky at the Goodwill that day!  My suggestion, if you are searching for pieces that are similar for this time period is to browse the women's department first.  There we found a frilly white top, that I'm pretty sure I wore in 9th grade.  I have to admit I had a laugh watching my 11- year old baseball playing, 100% boy trying this on in the store.  There may have been a look or two from other shoppers, as well.  We found a simple red jacket with shoulder pads that was just the perfect length on him.

On a different outing, I went to Hobby Lobby to find the buttons and other finishing touches.  Besides the buttons, I purchased a dark blue ribbon for the length of the opening of the jacket, fringe for the shoulders, gold ribbon for accents and a large jewelry pendant for his jacket pin.

This is the photo we used as inspiration and the finished jacket:

I machine stitched the blue ribbon on the length and shoulders of the jacket, as well as the fringe.  I sewed the jacket buttons, shirt buttons and pin by hand and used fabric glue to add the gold ribbon as the accent detail.

To make the wig, we followed the instructions listed here (There are other costume ideas listed here, as well.):

For the finishing touches, we borrowed a red scarf from a family member, Dad's white socks, attached cardboard (painted gold) buckles to his shoes and sewed a simple white flag for him to carry, along with a toy sword, as props.  Of course, he needed some pants and his white baseball pants were the perfect pair for this costume.

When the day arrived, J did a fantastic job!  He said his lines perfectly with a British accent and had fun playing the role of General Cornwallis.

"I surrender!"