Nasty King Henry VIII Costume with a Bloody Head in a Basket



Well it was around May that  I started to think  about what my Halloween costume was going to be this year I always make my own costumes and seem to have to start  earlier each year to  finish them in time. I like costumes that have an edge to them and are not going to be worn by every other person out and about on all Hallows Eve. For me there are just too many zombies, witches, ghost, monsters and zombies around that we did not need another one. I mean really how many walking  dead people do you need? VARIETY the spice of life right . .  so I searched out an historical costume that would be different and allow a Trick-or-Treat aspect to the final costume composition. After thinking about it I decided to be King Henry the VIII … that notorious horrific man who sat on the English throne in the late 1500’s.

(Just a note I hate it when costumes don’t look good, I specially dislike store purchased costumes…. half the fun in Halloween is making your costume. Kids really enjoy it too. I  remember as a small boy we always made our costumes no one went to the store to buy one.  A poor hand made costume is better than the best store purchased one in my opinion…

Research and Shopping

Well first I had to research the excising images of the infamous English King Henry VII to get a jest of what he would wear. In addition to the images I had to see what the fabrics were like and what would his jewelry and hat be.  After downloading the images and researching sites about  Tudor clothing I had to make a pattern for the costume, since none of the patterns around that I found was historically correct. So after making a number of patterns (which took about 2 months to do) for the costume: one for the surcoat one for the canons (pants) and one for the skirted doublet I spent another 3 weeks looking for fabric, fake fur, pears trim buttons etc I was finally ready to start cutting it all out. I really had no idea it was going to be this much work and the cost… wow…. good thing I am not married with kids or we would not be eating one day a week for 6 months to pay for this…

I was cleaver to purchase EXTRA fabric as my patterns had to be altered a few times and I had to cut some parts over a few times to get it right. My neighbors keep popping in and out to see the work which slowed down the process. Not to  be left out my cat had to keep jumping up on  my work table and sit down right in the middle ove what ever I was doing.

After I finally got the pattern parts pinned to the fabric and everything cut out I had to start sewing and cutting some 100 “cuts” or slits in the doublet to allow the fake little white shirt puffs to show thru the doublet Most of the fabric was from my local Joann’s store. They just loved me by the time I was done I knew where every bolt of fabric was in the store they were asking me questions to help other shoppers find things. The rest from the trims and fabric came from the garment district in Manhattan (NYC). The doublet was coming along nice and the surcoat was finished. The surcoat was the easiest to do compared to the doublet. (you can see it hanging in on the door in one of the pictures.

The thing that took the most time was sewing all the small pears beads on to the fabric of the surcoat sleeves there must be easy 300 of them, not to mention that every slit in the doublet also  had 2 pearls attached with a  studded ruby gem in-between every slit on the doublet (front back and sleeves)! … every night I added a few more while I was watching TV..

. . . .alas I had a good number of needle holes in my fingers by the time it was all completed and the bandaids were not helping, it was good teh surcoat was a deep wine color it hid some of the little blood stains.

I hope the little pearls show up on the sleeves in the final pictures.

The Hat and that… Cod Piece

The hat was fun to make and was again done while I watched TV.. I purchased a basic black felt barrette and added the extra brim it needed.. in my search for supplies I found a number of antique gold-toned decorations that seemed to match the real kings hat… added the feathers around the brim and by hand and added a short ostrich feather to complete the feathered parts then added the pearls and the red ruby gem .. and it  was done.

The canon (pants) was a unique item specially with the cod piece that was very odd to me. I used the left over trim from the doublet skirt to have it blend in nice… oh oh yeah the canons were a deep red/wine color which was made from this great pleated/gathered fabric that blended in with the surcoat color and melded sweetly with the over all design. It was a good thing that the canons material had some good stretch in it as my wast line expanded somewhat by the time I completed them. The cod piece in Henry’s time was a functional piece to hold the family jewels as they say…  while I need a place to put my ID and house keys since the costume did not have any pockets I made it into a kind of “purse”  as stuffed my stuff inside the strings attached allowed me access…

One Step, Two Steps, I Need Shoes Too

LOL a solution to a problem! Now shoes were a problem not being a cobbler and not having the required materials to work with leather I went on a search for a pair of  women’s “Mary-Janes” that would  fit by 9.5 feet…. that was hard and took me more than a couple of months to find a pair that would fit my feet and that worked while not looking too contemporary.

The fabric parts of the costume finished and the had looking smart I had to make the symbol of his title the gem filled “chain” that hangs around his neck. So of to the bead stores I trekked seeking findings and parts to make the elaborate “chain”. After finding the required items I once again sat down on my couch and assembled the chain while watching TV .. oh what was I watching during the work.. Henry the VII movies I rented and purchased every one that was about him such as The Private Live of Henry the VII with Charles Laughton, Prince and the Pauper, and Richard Burtons  film where he played Henry VIII . .. Ann of a Thousand Days etc.. you get the picture.. It gave me inspiration…

Men in Tights…

The last thing required .. well last two things I need to finish the costume was tights and a garter belt. The tights I had to buy so off to find a store that sold ballet supplies hoping to find a store that carried a size to fit my big butt . .  since I no idea how to make them. Now the garter belt was easy a nice piece of 3/4 inch off white pleated lace to which I attached  rubies to match the surcoat buttons and and red ruby gems that were attached to the doublet, and la-la it was finnaly finished …

When I Say Divorce, I Mean Divorce!

NOW that alone was not a typical scary Halloween costume…  what was my Trick or Treat going to be you may ask?

I had to find a fake beard to complete Henry’s over all look and a fake head to add that Halloween scary part to the over all look.. see I needed a beheaded head to be Henry’s second wife Anne Boleyn the one he chopped off…

So now a hot water pad filled with fake blood and a few well placed pin holes in the center so the fake blood would drip out real slowlly as it lay in the bottom of a basket covered with a piece of cloth and then the prepaired head on top. I covered the basket with another piece of cloth stained with some of the fake blood and carried the baske under one of my arms allowing peopel to see what I had in it…. to make it more fun I had placed allot of candy just under the head and challenged the  childeren to put their hands in the basket if they wanted a “treat” . . . everyone loved it! The kids all shook their heads no  not me…. but most in the end with a bit of coaxing retrieved their candy.







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