On Pins and Broken Needles


Character Name:
Original Design - Fire Elemental-ish
Debuted At
Costume Con 32
Retired At:
Costume Con 32
Awards Won:
Costume Con 32 - Single Pattern Contest: Best Literal Interpretation

Reference / Design Sketches

Costumes Notes

Costume Con's Single Pattern Contest specified two patterns that "are to be used as a starting point for creating an outfit. [Contestants] may stay close to the original pattern, or alter it dramatically, but the final product must be recognizable as being made from one (or more) of the patterns." For Costume Con 32, the two patterns given were that of a Mermaid and a Werewolf.

I decided to take the literal approach to this idea and make a costume out of the pattern paper of the Mermaid. The design went through various iterations, before landing on a simple skirt and top made of the pattern pieces and tissue paper to mimic flames.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of pattern and tissue paper, I only had once chance at this. So three hours before I was due backstage for the contests, a friend and myself started cutting up the pattern and tissue paper (traced in the shape of the pattern pieces) and taping them to me. (I was wearing black bikini bottoms and a nude strapless bra as a base.)

The three sizes of tails were knife-pleated to form a skirt. The fins (and fin-shaped tissue paper) became the spikey flames on the skirt and top. The seashell purse pattern became a bustle. And then we ran out of time so we considered it complete and I tossed on a wig (which was the inspiration for the fire theme), a pair of patent-red pumps, some make-up, and ran for the green room.

One of my favourite things about this costume was how well received it was and how much it made people laugh. As this was my first Costume Con, I wasn't sure how serious the long-time attendees took the contest. Thankfully, the costume was a hit with everyone; people laughed with me and got the joke. I was also apparently the first person in the 30 years of this contest's history to try this.

Another thing that was fabulous about this costume was the ruffling noise I made when I moved. This caused a friend to break out into laughter every time I moved, so I often shimmied in her direction just to watch her reaction.

Sadly, due to the nature of the construction of this costume (being double-sided-taped to me and itself), the costume was destroyed (and then recycled) when I took it off.


  • © 2014 Christine Mak (Costume Con 32)
  • © 2014 Christine Mak (Costume Con 32)
  • © 2014 Christine Mak (Costume Con 32)
  • © 2014 Sarcasm Hime (Costume Con 32)
  • © 2014 Jose R Munoz T (Costume Con 32)