Tag Archives: cheap costume
One of my friends got the fantastic idea to throw a birthday party themed around FOX’s show New Girl. My friends and I love that show, so we took the ball and ran with it.
We wanted to hang a giant gold frame like the one in the TV show’s intro, so that all the party-goers could take their photo inside it.
Well, turns out it’s VERY hard to find a frame like that, and even if we DID find one, it would have cost an arm and a leg. So I created a replica instead.
Here’s how I built it, using paper, printer ink, and foam board.
Materials I Used
- 8 sheets of 40″x60″ foam board – $1 each at the Dollar Store
- Elmer’s Extra-Strength Spray Adhesive (10 oz. can) – $15 at Office Depot
- 3 wooden rulers – $1 each at the Dollar Store
- Many sheets (30 or more) of Premium bright ink jet paper (I used 96 brightness, 24 weight)
- Plenty of printer ink (make sure you’re not running on empty)
- packing tape
- craft glue
- hot glue
- frame hanging eyelets – a few bucks at Walmart or Home Depot
- string – $1 at the Dollar Store
- 4 cup hooks – a few bucks at Walmart or Home Depot
- Color printer – I used my own Epson Workforce 435
- Paper cutter
- Box cutter
- X-Acto knife
- Hot glue gun
How to make the pieces
Step 1 – Download and print
Download these PDF files, which I created from scratch using the a still frame from the TV intro (above) as a guide. This involved lots of tracing, creating patterns, and tiling patterns. I won’t bore you by going into those details!
Credit for the image of the frame goes to Adorn Event Hire‘s website. I modified the image of the frame in Photoshop to look a bit more like the frame from the TV series.
Add your own name
Want to add your own name to the “JESS” sign? No problem! Here is my source file for the sign, so that you can replace the text with your own name if you like:
To change the text in the sign:
- Download the PSD file above and open it in Adobe Photoshop.
- Note: If you do not have Photoshop, you can print a blank sign and then draw whatever name you like inside of it after you construct the sign. Download the blank sign here: New Girl – Jess sign print-out (blank) (PDF)
- Use the text tool to change the text in the JESS layer.
- Go to “Save As,” and for the Format, select “Photoshop PDF.”
- Uncheck the box for “Layers.”
- Click “Save.”
- Note: You can apply compression if you need to make the file size smaller. If so, on the next screen, select Compression, then set “Image Quality” to “High.”
- Click “Save PDF.”
- Follow the rest of the instructions in Step 1 of this post: Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat and print using the poster option.
Open the PDFs in Adobe Acrobat and print them using Acrobat’s poster printing function. You may need to toggle the Portrait/Landscape mode in order to use the fewest sheets of paper.
Use small margins, 0.25″ at the most. You will need at least 12 sheets of paper to print the background, 12 for the frame, and about 4 for each sign (“NEW,” “GIRL,” and “Jess”).
Note: I recommend printing the background pattern at 130% its size, because the size of that oval appears much smaller than the frame when you place a person in between them to take their photo. The extra 30% will help out with the foreshortening effect.
Step 2 – Trim print-outs
Cut all the white margins off the printing paper. This step takes a LONG time, and you need a GOOD paper cutter, so try and find one at your local office supply store that has a sharp blade. Most office supply stores have a paper cutter available for you in their printing/shipping department.
Step 3 – Prep foam board
Lay out and line up the sheets you printed of the background pattern to get feel for how many foam boards you will need to mount the sheets. One way to do this is by placing the foam boards on top of the sheets until you have covered them with foam boards. Since I printed the background pattern at 100% its size, I needed only 2 foam boards on which to mount the sheets. If you print the background pattern at 130% its size as recommended above, you may need 4 foam boards to mount the sheets.
Once you lay out the sheets and determine how many foam boards they will require, tape the foam boards together on both sides using packing tape.
Step 4 – Prep layout of print-outs
Lay the printed pattern pieces onto the taped foam board to plan their position and make sure the foam board is big enough. Remove the pattern pieces from the foam board, keeping them in order, as you will need them again in just a moment.
Step 5 – Mount print-outs to foam board
Spray the entire foam board with spray adhesive. (Be sure to do this outside where you can breathe!) Then apply the sheets of background pattern to the foam board, piece by piece, matching up the seams carefully.
The finished pattern applied to the foam board (my cat is supervising):
Step 5 – Repeat for all pieces
Repeat steps 3 through 4 with each of the PDF files. Each of the “Jess,” “NEW” and “GIRL” signs should require 1 foam board. Lay the printed sheets out onto a foam board to plan their position and make sure the foam board is big enough. If you need more than 1 piece of foam board for a sign, tape together the foam board as needed. Use spray adhesive to apply the sheets of paper to to the foam board.
For the frame, arrange the printed sheets into 4 sections–top left, top right, bottom left, and bottom right. Each section should be 4 sheets of paper. Use spray adhesive to apply one section of 4 sheets to each foam board.
I recommend waiting until Step 7 to tape together the 4 frame sections, so that you can trim out the details more easily while the pieces are a manageable size.
Step 6 – Trim foam board
Trim off all the excess foam board from all pieces using an X-Acto knife or box cutter. Trim right up to the edges of the printed paper. If you accidentally make any tears or rips, use spray adhesive or craft glue to patch it back together.
Use a small blade to cut out the finer details in the frame. Do NOT use scissors to cut anything, since scissor blades will crush the foam board and weaken its structure.
Step 7 – Reinforce foam board
Now you can tape together the 4 frame foam boards at their seams. Reinforce the back of the frame by taping rulers across the seams. This will help keep the frame from bending or buckling under its own weight.
Step 8 – Glue hanging eyelets
Use a hot glue gun to glue two frame-hanging eyelets onto the back of the frame at the top-left and top-right positions. Hot glue two eyelets to the back of the background pattern oval as well, also in the top-left and top-right positions. Try to align the eyelets so that they are level on each side. This will help you keep the frame level when you hang it up.
All your pieces are now complete!
Step 9 – Hang frame and background pattern
Screw two cup hooks into the ceiling about 3 feet apart (or the width of your background pattern oval). Hang your background pattern oval onto these hooks with some string. You will need an assistant for this part, to help you get it level.
Screw 2 more cup hooks into the ceiling about 3 feet apart, and 2 feet in front of the other cup hooks. Hang your frame onto these hooks with some string. Adjust the string so that it is level.
You may need to unscrew and re-screw the cup hooks a few times to get the placement of both pieces just right.
This is how the frame and background pattern should look when you have hung them up. I printed my background at 100% its size, and it is easy to see here why I recommend printing the background pattern at 130% the original size. Foreshortening (when objects closer to your eye appear larger than those in the background) causes the pattern to look too small for the frame that’s in front of it once you have hung them from the ceiling. Printing the background larger will help you take foreshortening into account.
Step 10 – Party!
Now for the fun part! Get your friends together and start taking pictures!
Wear the Frame as a Costume
One of my readers Sarah suggested scaling the frame down to make it wearable for a costume–Great idea, Sarah! Here’s how you can make this frame into a Jessica Day costume.
- Download and print this PDF file–It is a smaller version of the frame (70% scale) with the pattern built into it.
- Follow steps 2 through 6 to mount the trimmed pieces onto foam board, and then cut out.
- Tie some strips of ribbon or cord across the shoulders and through the foam board. These will act as straps, so you can carry the frame like a backpack. Here is an example of where you could place the straps.
Thank you to my reader Taylor P. for sharing her Jessica Day costume that she made using my tutorial. Great job, Taylor… You look adorable! I think Zooey Deschanel would be impressed.