headless marie costume DIY.


since today is halloween, I’m skipping wes wednesday (but get your fix here) to bring you an epic costume DIY. you’ve all already seen my big costume reveal– but as promised, here is the complete DIY instructions of how to make a headless marie antoinette costume (or any headless character for that matter). sit back, play some halloween tunage and prepare yourselves for a huge ass post.  full instructions after the jump!!


*what you’ll need: an old tshirt you’re okay parting ways with, full roll of duct tape, scissors, a couple of paper towels for your neck, and an assistant.

*how to do it: now, I’ve seen some different ways of creating your ‘torso’, but I felt that making a mold of your own body shape would be slightly easier (rather than using a mannequin), and more realistic. it also gives you a great foundation for paper mache and plaster. I followed this tutorial on youtube. pretty simple for the most part- have your assistant wrap you up in duct tape, making sure you’ve got enough covering your arms, and using paper towels around my neck for even further coverage past my tshirt. you’re going to want to make sure you really get the shape of your boobs and neck- as you will need these forms to fit your dress and create a severed ‘neck’. once you’re all taped up, have your assistant make one clean cut on the back, so you can pull the form off you from the front. it should look like a shell…


*what you’ll need: more duct tape, newspaper, and the clothing your torso will be ‘wearing’

*how to do it: this step is simple- cut off any remnants of your tshirt and duct tape the edges of your arms, neck and bottom of the torso. this just makes it a bit easier to handle and gives you a ‘clean slate’ for the next few stages. in this step you’re also going to want to stuff your torso with newspaper- turning it from a shell of yourself, into a three dimensional shape. once stuffed, I threw the dress I was going to be using on for size. look at the dress on your torso, and adjust stuffing as need be. *note- the dress was something I had in my costume box from a few years back. I also added all of the extra trim, lace, gold rope etc…for a more ‘royal look’


*what you’ll need: newspaper cut into strips, modge podge, water, and a paintbrush.

*how to do it: remember the good ol’ days of paper mache on ballons in school? yah, this costume took me back. if you don’t know how to paper mache check this out. but using a water and modge podge (any sort of glue will work though) mixture, dip your strips and apply em to your torso. make sure to remove the majority of your mixture from your strips before applying (so it should feel wet, not drenched and dripping). cover your torso completely- using different sized strips for different areas. make sure you cover the back, front, arms, and entire neck area. apply two complete layers of paper mache before moving on to the next step (allowing time to dry between each layer). *note- I added a bit more duct tape at the top of my severed neck so I was applying paper mache to tape, not to newspaper stuffing.


*what you’ll need: water, plaster gauze strips, and a box of celluclay

*how to do it: so this was totally one of my favorite steps. made me feel like I was working on some horror film set or something (just let me nerd out okay?). now the great part about the materials I used for this step- is that anyone can do it. these materials are easy to use (ie- you don’t need to be in art school to do this, I promise). cutting the plaster gauze into strips (this gets messy folks, cover your work area and be prepared to vacuum up plaster bits and shits for days after), dip them into a bowl of water just like paper mache (again, not dripping wet, but thoroughly dipped). you’ll notice when you apply the plaster strips, you’ll see air bubbles or the holes from the gauze peek through. this is where you just need to sort of massage the plaster around to get full coverage. let your plaster layer completely dry (I suggest overnight) prior to the celluclay phase…

now celluclay (also very messy) is like a pre-made paper mache mixture. it doesnt take much to activate, and I suggest you just throw some of the mixture into a bowl and add water to it as need be (let this be a bowl you dispose of after). you’re going to want this to feel like a very thick paste consistency- as this is what you’ll want to use to build up a collar bone, spinal bones on the back, overall dead skin texture, and the gory texture inside of your severed neck. be patient with this material, and know it will take a lot of time to dry (my neck gore took about two days to total dry).


*what you’ll need: paint brushes, water, and acrylic paint

*how to do it: before doing anything- make sure your plaster and celluclay layer is completely dry folks. you’re going to have a real shit storm on your hands if you rush through the drying process. but if you’re dry- start painting. I did a preliminary layer of just white paint to kick things off. from there, I just started to play around with things- mixing in blues and purples to create vein look on the neck, gray shading above and below the neck bones, red around the edges of the neck, and a darker red for the inside of the severed neck. naturally- I’m very comfortable painting and was able to really shade and blend a lot of areas for a zombie look- but don’t get defeated…have fun with it.


*what you’ll need: a ziplock bag, scissors, water, a spray bottle and acrylic paint

*how to do it: so I really just wanted an excuse to title this step ‘bloody hell’. this step is all about your gore and blood spilling out of your severed head. make sure your torso is dressed for this stage (as you’ll see above…dang that spine looks good eh?). now, at first I tried to just paint drips with a brush- but it just didn’t look real enough for me. my second attempt was much better when I decided to mix paint right into a ziplock bag (basically creating like an icing bag by cutting a little hole in the bottom corner and ‘piping’ it out). if you want it to look real- make sure your blood drips onto your torso’s outfit (I actually added a bit of water to my paint mixture to assist gravity a bit and let it drip faster). I did the same drips on the dress…but followed it up with a spray bottle to give it a very ‘stained’ look. not going to lie- it was tough not going overboard…


*what you’ll need: a handyman or dad (unless you’re handy and think you can build this shit), PVC pipes, PVC adhesive, a hacksaw, a backpack you’re okay parting ways with, and of course- more duct tape.

*how to do it: unfortunately, I’m only going to be able to talk about the construction of this phase so much- because I recruited the help of my dad to rig the torso to the backpack. essentially, it takes a bit of measuring and eyeballing how high up you want the torso to sit behind you. my dad then created an h-shape out of PVC pipe that goes into the shoulders of your torso (which I padded the edges a bit as not to tear through plaster or stuffing…see photo below), and is then weaved into a backpack, and secured at the bottom using a pocket (out of the backpack itself) and a shitload of duct tape. complicated I know…but once you start messing with it, it will make sense.


*what you’ll need: long costume gloves, batting, fabric (length varies, should be based on what will cover your entire shoulders and go to the floor), whatever you’re using to sew your fabric, and more duct tape.

*how to do it: that’s right. I said more duct tape. this part was pretty annoying I will have to admit. let’s start with the arms: using long costume gloves, I stuffed them with batting (don’t forget to stuff the fingers too!), and then secured the gloves to the arms using the glove itself and duct tape. feel free to play around with the length a bit on this- it needs to be a combination of it looking natural, but still long enough to cradle your actual head while wearing the backpack.

there was a lot of putting the backpack on and off during the phase (insert what I call ‘the costume sweats’ here). but- this is crucial to get the arm length and dress length accurate. I sewed additional fabric to the bottom of the torso dress that covered my entire body and went to the floor (note- the blood for this fabric was added after the fact…I didn’t want to be covered in red paint while still sewing all that crap).

when your fabric length is on, you’ll probably need an assistant to help you cut out a hole for your head. have them make a mark where your head is under the fabric, remove the backpack, and then cut a hole. I made my hole a bit larger- since I knew I was going to have full face makeup on with mega big marie antoinette hair (I just used a pin to conceal the rest of the hole once I had the rig back on). now that your arms are attached, and head hole has been made, you need to get your torso’s arms in the right spot as though they’re holding your head. you’ll have to physically sew them to your dress to get them into their ‘cradling’ shape. this is a bitch- but just keep sewing till the damn things stay put (eventually they do).

make adjustments as you need to in order to get the illusion right. I ended up having to add more height and stuffing to my torso to get it situated a bit higher for me. I’ll admit- I got a bit frustrated here and there cause the damn thing looked so jimmy rigged…I was concerned how it was going to turn out. but have no fear- it still looks rad okay…you’ve just been staring at it for two weeks by this point.


*what you’ll need: depends on what headless character you are…but I needed: face makeup, faux diamond earrings & rings, a prosthetic neck cut & adhesive, fake blood, and gray hair spray.

*how to do it: (aw- look how cute puff is as riker!) anyways- this is all totally going to vary on what kind of headless character you’re playing. I did a variation of this hair tutorial and temporary gray hair color. don’t forget your bling- giant fake diamond earrings and throw a few rings onto your torso’s hands (it’s all in the details man). I stuck with a pretty basic zombie makeup look, and tried to match the color of the torso using mostly white grease makeup, and black for shading. for extra gore, I adhered a faux neck slice to my actual neck (make sure you pick the side you’re going to lean, so people can see it). once that was on, I dumped on the fake blood…do this step as your very last thing with your dress completely on before strutting your headless stuff. it makes a mess, but more importantly- if it looks fresh…it’s extra scary…

well. there you have it. naturally, this isn’t something you can whip up last minute the day of halloween- but hey. plan ahead. and you too can pull this headless costume off. this award winning costume (that’s right- I won two contests this year) was certainly one of my best to date. going to be tough to beat next year…but regardless- it was a damn fun costume.

happiest of halloween loves.

*questions? comment below or shoot me an email: madebybun@gmail.com
if you use my photos please give credit and link back to bybun.com (thx!)

19 Responses to headless marie costume DIY.

  1. Love this post bun. Happy you can spread the headless love to the world…one step at a time!

    And hell yeah– you definitely deserve that 1st place costume contest win. But I have to say, I was robbed…Commander Riker is Number One. That’s his job. #NerdLife

    • ha! thanks…I figured a decent tutorial needed to be put out there (esp after having to scrounge up all of the steps myself)

    • haha…I don’t know- with the right instructions I feel like anyone could do it!! the only part I admit as being ‘advanced’ is the painting portion…just because I’ve got a lil’ training…

  2. Hi Bun, Just wanted to let you know, I followed your tutorial and made the costume……it came out excellent. I won best costume:-) I wish I could post a picture but this doesn’t allow me to.

    Thank you, Thank you,

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