By The Collectress
Every once in a while, I know within seconds of watching something new that I have to cosplay it. The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu was one of those things, not only because the outfits are visually striking, but because of the strong feminist stance and political subtext of the show. The Handmaid was going to be a statement, I decided, a way to merge cosplay with my desire to oppose the divisive sexism that is pervasive in our culture. If you too would like to become one of the Resistance, here’s a few tips on how to create your uniform.
Bonnet & Wings
For the bonnet, we purchased this white bonnet from Amazon and modified. We folded the bill of the bonnet under to look more like the Handmaid’s indoor look and hot-glued in place. For the wings, we took a piece of white craft foam, cut in the approximate shape, and heat molded it into a curve. When heating craft foam, a heat gun works best, but if you don’t have one, a blowdryer works just as well. A large plastic glass also helps to get the foam into a round shape.
Here’s the part where you may need a friend: securing the wings to the bonnet. We used white velcro (easily found at any craft store) to secure the wings. We had three small bits of velcro: one on either side and one in the middle. You may find you need more, or less, depending on the size and shape of your head. Place the rough side of velcro on the bonnet where you’d want them, and then have your friend line up the craft foam to the bonnet while it’s on your head (this is very important) and mark on the foam where the velcro should be placed. Don’t worry about pen marks on the foam–the velcro will cover it.
Voila! You have wings!
For the dress, since we were in crunch time for SDCC, we looked into dresses to purchase instead of sew. We found this dress on Amazon, and it turned out to be the perfect color and matched the robes perfect (more on the robes in a bit). The dresses were extremely long, however, and we had to cut off 6-7 inches from the bottom. If you’re taller you may not have this problem. You’ll also want to think on the kind of shoes you’ll wear. We settled for comfortable and functional black ankle boots, since the Handmaids seem to not have any fancy footwear in the show, wearing short boots even in the snow.
You may be able to find a dress in the right color at a thrift shop, if purchasing new isn’t an option. As long as it’s a deep, dark, red and long-sleeved, you’ll like you walked out of Gilead.
This is where you’ll be spending the most time, since the robes are most effective when sewed from scratch. We used McCalls pattern 4139, option B, since it’s very close if not the same pattern as the robes used on the show. For fabric, we used a solid red performance fabric that is 82% nylon and 18% spandex. I looked for the exact fabric we used, but I could not find it on Joann’s website. As long as you find a red in the right color, and something that will drape well (satin and cotton…probably not the best ideas), you will be on the right path. I do recommend that you find a very wide bolt of fabric (the one we used was 60 inches).
Follow the instruction on the pattern, attach a clasp near the collar and, here’s the tricky bit, cut arm holes. If you look at reference photos of Elizabeth Moss or Alexis Bledel, there are holes cut into the front of the robes that allow them to extend their forearms out and maneuver while they do the shopping. It’s probably easiest if you have someone mark with a pen where the arm holes should be while you are wearing it. Once the holes are cut, cut little slits in the corners so you can fold back the fabric and do simple stitch to keep it from fraying.
And now that you’ve got all the pieces…
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
The Handmaid cosplay is most effective if you can travel in multiples of two (remember: a Handmaid must always have a companion). The less you talk, the more effective the cosplay is, especially when you look down most of the time. But, when you make eye contact, burn their hearts out with the fury that fuels you.
Praise be, and go dismantle the patriarchy.