As an unemployed engineer, I had some free time to spend working on making a great Halloween costume. My wife came up with the idea shortly after Halloween 2010, when we dressed as Pacman and Ms. PacMan. We tried to come up with another character that is hardly ever seen as a costume, and is as well loved by kids of the 80’s. The hardest part of the costume was coming up with a design plan. We talked through several ideas before we settled on a plan that could work. The inspiration finally came from a beach ball and a camping tent.
I used AutoCAD to get a 1:1 pattern for the dimensions and arc lengths I would need to achieve the 40 inch diameter costume I wanted. I cut 8 panels using red felt, shaped similar to that of the sections of a beach ball. Then, I used 12 inch flex PVC to make the frame of the costume. There are 2 circles that hold the shape, one at the top (24 inch diameter) where the red body ends and the white brim begins, and another at the widest part (40” diameter) of the costume. There are 8 arcs of PVC holding the costume into a spherical shape at each of the vertical seams. They are held in place with pockets sewn into the top and bottom of the felt, similar to the fly of a tent. I free hand drew the design for the face out of black felt and glued it to the body using fabric glue.
For the brim of the pitcher I used the same 12 inch flex PVC. I had to cut an arched pattern from a piece of scrap 34 inch plywood I had laying in the basement, and then heat the PVC with a blow torch to get it to mold around the pattern. I then used AutoCAD again to get a 1:1 pattern for the white fabric around the brim. I sewed 6 panels of white fabric together with a with a 1 inch sleeve to slip over each piece of PVC. The two white mesh front panels are hand sewn to the white fabric so I can see.
The handle is constructed with a 1/8th inch aluminum rod inside a 12 inch x 38 inch long piece of foam pipe insulation. I was able to bend the aluminum rod into the handle shape I desired. I then used some of the same white fabric around the brim to sew a sleeve to fit over the pipe insulation. The handle is connected to one of the vertical lengths of PVC in the body using hose clamps.
I used the leftover pipe insulation for the padding on the shoulder harness. I used nylon twine tied to 3 of the vertical sections of PVC to work as a make-shift harness. And no costume would be complete without cup holders! For the cup holders I used the leftover cardboard tube from a 36 inch roll of paper. I then duck taped the tube to one of the vertical sections of PVC.
Since the diameter of the costume is 40 inches, I also had to have a way to fit through doors. To fix this I did not permanently close the center circle of PVC. I am able to unhook the PVC coupling of the center circle to shrink the diameter of the costume. Then, I can “re-inflate” the costume once I am through the door.
Despite all of the planning involved, when we tried to enter a local bar for a costume contest I was not allowed in. They said I would be a fire hazard because I was unable to shrink the costume fast enough to fit through a door in case of a fire. However, it was all worthwhile because of all the comments and attention I received walking down the street. OH YEAH!!