Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Dalek Dress: Exterminatingly Awesome Race Attire

What do you do when you've just run your fourth half marathon, you're registered for your fifth half marathon, and shin problems and record-breaking bad allergies soundly KO your PR plans?

You remember that the ODDyssey Half Marathon in Philadelphia, PA, strongly encourages costumes, and you snap out of your funk!

About two weeks before the race (May 22, 2011), while chatting with Erica online, this thought hit me. We were discussing our love of Doctor Who (remember my sister's and my Gingerbread TARDIS?) and instantly decided that I simply MUST become a Dalek.

The Daleks are the Doctor's archenemies. They are an alien race of mutants who are permanently housed in large robotic structures, which closely resemble salt and pepper shakers with lights, a plunger, and a whisk attached. In other words, they look like this:

Gold Daleks

Black dalek

I knew how I would do it, too. I'd find inspiration from some incredible girly Dalek costumes I'd seen all over the (geeky part of) the internet. Specifically, I consulted both these ladies and this video.

First, as I have no sewing machine, I wasn't going to actually make my own dress. Target has plenty of cheap swimsuit coverups and sundresses right now, though. And, as I'd wear it on top of running shorts and a sports bra, it didn't have to fit perfectly/cover everything. Piece of cake to find this (but in black):
Dalek dress base

While the look of hot-glued hemispheres for sensor globes is definitely truer to the Dalek, I doubted they'd last after 13.1 miles of abuse. Instead, I chose to stitch on felt circles:
Felt circles

Turns out, it takes me an awfully long time to baste 32 circles to a skirt.

Faraday was my charming craft partner, and my awesome TARDIS cookie jar was a terrific tool box!
Bigger on the inside tool box!

Not trusting a strapless dress to stay put while I ran for over two hours, I stitched the front of the dress to an old sports bra:
Sewed strapless dress to old sports bra

Finally, I pinned on my race bib and I had a Dalek dress!
My dress is done!

Now, naturally, a Dalek costume requires accessories.

First: the headgear. My inspiration pieces used headbands. My head is large. Elastic headbands don't stay, and hard headbands give me a headache. I used something that was comfortable and also quite practical: a running visor. I cut an elastic headband in half and sewed it to the visor just over my ears, so it lay across my head:
Cut a headband in half and sewed it to the visor

This was so I could take my light bulb "ears"...
Hmmm I can use these...

...and attach them in the correct place. It's really haphazard (I left this bit til the day before the race. I kid not.), but I stuck Scotch tape inside and outside so I had a non-sticky flap of tape and sewed that to the headband. Yep. I'd try to do it differently if I had time. ;)
Haphazard: plastic cup, Scotch tape, and thread. ;)

IT HELD THOUGH. I lost no piece of my costume over 13.1 miles!

I wasn't going to have an eye-stalk, but while perusing Target (this is like a Target ad, except that I don't get paid for promoting them...) for a plunger (for the costume), I found THE most amazing sponge. This one.

Does it or does it not look like a Dalek eye?!

I ripped (gingerly) the sponge off of the plastic tube to which it is glued and painted the yellow part black. Newsflash: it takes a painted sponge a very long time to dry in NJ humidity.

Finally, I stitched it to my visor:
I painted a sponge and sewed it to the front for the eye-stalk.
Not baaad!
Dalek headgear

Silly, cheap, just-sturdy-enough-to-last.

Lastly, what would a Dalek be without its appendages? Easy-peasy: the whisk. $1. Fab. Harder: most costumes go with an actual plunger, but all of the ones at *ka-ching!* Target were industrial size and there's no way I'd carry one on a 5k, let alone a half marathon. What to do, what to do.

Dalek accessory material


I stuck a plastic rod from a broken kitty toy through the funnel and borrowed electrical tape from lab to encase both. Using black felt with a sticky back, I covered the inside of the funnel.
My Dalek appendages!

(I also decided to wear those black wrist sweatbands, from a costume in college.)

I thought the funnel needed a bit more punch, and wanted to tie it together with the pink sports bra I'd wear for reals under the cheapo one sewn to the dress, so I added pink duct tape (I may never buy regular again). My plan was to carry the appendages for at least a few miles at the start and again at the finish, when the cameras are usually out in full force, but figured I'd get tired of them at some point. Happily, my fuel belt has perfect little elastic loops on each side:
Fuel belt=perfect place to stash appendages.

Here's the best shot of my dress; you can actually see the contrast between it and the felt circles:
Weird face, but best shot of my dress

I'm all ready at the start of the race!

Faraday is not afraid of the Daleks:
Faraday is not afraid of the Dalek

This was a super fun, easy project! I'm pumped to already have a new costume this year, for whatever parties come up, and it was a BLAST to wear while running! I'll do a proper race recap once the official pictures are available, so stay-tuned for the tale of my slowest ever, but one of my favorite ever, half marathon. :)

Adjusted ;)


Steffi said...

LOVE the costume!! Such an awesome idea and sounds like a fun race :) And way to run 13.1 miles with shin problems and bad allergies - you're unstoppable, Jess!!

physikerin said...

Thanks, Steffi! :D Thankfully, the shins and allergies weren't a problem on race-day itself. :)

Skavookie said...

Haha! You're one of my favorite geeks!

Francie said...

Looking for ideas to help preteen daughter make her own dalek costume. Thanks for sharing your process, and KUDOS for running & for finding a way to push on with extra energy from costume. My sis wore a clown costume when she ran a race the wknd she turned 40. It definitely added to the joy for her!