COSTUME: "The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls"

This costume is inspired by the older stage costumes of Emilie Autumn, and the book she wrote "The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls", which is based off her experience as an inmate of a modern mental institution. This costume is what I think one of her girls would look like. It's a combination of the gowns from old horror stories about abandoned asylums, and Emilie's striped and glittery stage costumes. I'm going to show you how to create this type of altered gown. The thumbnail images below the costume collage will show you where to get the other elements like the striped thigh highs, striped hot pants, glittery boots, and jewelry. If you can't find the stockings, hot pants, or glittery boots, I'll also show you some tutorials for making those. The jewelry is up to you. The necklace is a raven skull, which can be purchased on Etsy. The ring is a poison ring, but for this costume, I mean for it to hold sugar for your tea. The tea cup and saucer can be a cheap set from a dollar store. By the end of the night, it might be broken or missing anyway. You can paint your own design on it with paint pens, or use a decorative decal. Other than the costume, I'm also going to show you a few tutorials for some crazed hair, creepy makeup, and bloody nails.

The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls


The nightgown is an essential piece. It is blood and dirt stained. To start with, I would dye the whole gown in tea, since Emilie Autumn and the Bloody Crumpets drink a lot of tea (on stage at least). You can do this exact same tutorial with coffee grounds, if you want a darker color. I prefer the smell of tea stained clothing over coffee stained...also, for this costume, tea is more authentic. To tea stain the gown, you would created a strong brew of black tea (the most common type of tea here, and what will give the best result) by using boiled water and many tea bags in a large bucket. I like to open the tea bags, so the loose leaves add spots of strong discoloration on the fabric. You want to ball up the gown, and submerge it in the bucket of strong tea. Use a serving spoon to stir the gown in the bucket until all the air pockets are deflated and the gown is fully submerged. Leave the gown in there for at least 12 hours or more. The longer, the stronger the color. After the gown has had an extended soak, you can rinse it off in the bath tub or shower if the color is too strong for you. If the color is fine, or after you rinse it, ring the dress out by twisting it. Then, hang it up in your shower on a clothing hanger. leave it to dry. You can also let it dry flat on a trash bag, and sprinkle some of the loose wet tea leaves on it, to give it stronger discolored spots. Since you can only do one side at a time like this, when you flip it over, use a spray water bottle to mist the gown before adding the loose tea leaves. This will help the tea leaves bleed onto the fabric better. After it's fully dry, you can rub the loose tea leaves off of the fabric. This is a costume piece, where if you wash it, the color will fade, though the fabric will never become fully white again without bleach...but that would ruin the next step...

After the tea dyeing, the gown can be transformed into a very dirty and bloody looking gown. How far you take that is up to you. Here are a couple great tutorials to show you how to transform your nightgown into one fit for a creepy tale from an asylum.

Grav3yardgirl shows us how to take a cotton nightgown and transform it into a main piece of her Insane Asylum Costume.

Halloween Hot Sauce shared on a Halloween Forum, How to Create Zombie Shrouds. The great thing about transforming the cotton fabric into something bloody and dirty is that you can add as much paint, tea, and coffee as you want. They soften and blend the paint by using a spray water bottle to wet the paint. This is something you can buy at a dollar store. You can use acrylic paints if you doing have the latex paints they used. You can tatter your gown as they explained, but I would prefer mine not tattered around the edges. Maybe a few distressing areas in the body of the fabric, as shown here with jeans. If you are using a distressing that requires the garment to be washed and dried to achieve the look, you need to do this before altering the garment with tea dying and paint. Yes, that requires you to plan ahead before you get to the color altering.


Hot pants are not a common item sold around here. They can be purchase online on Etsy or Ebay, but those can be expensive, or not fit nicely. If want to make sure they fit you perfect, you should make your own. Mightymannie shared a fantastic tutorial for making your own hot pants. This is mind blowing easy!!! I think even a beginner sewer could make these! 

If you can't find any striped stretch fabric, I suggest painting on your own stripes. You can either do this before you cut out your pieces from the fabric, or after, to make sure the stripes line up. Definitely do this before you construct any part of your hot pants. You can do this with painters tape and acrylic paint. This will allow you to also control the width, direction, and amount of stripes, for a even more custom look. I suggest finding a black stretchy fabric and painting on white stripes. This will take a few coats. Why not white fabric and black stripes? Most white stretch fabrics are very sheer, and that would defeat the purpose of having shorts that cover your butt and bits. Black fabrics tend to opaque in density. Black fabric a much better choice. Also, on the topic of painting your own fabric for your hot paints, you could use a pearl paint (shimmery) or add a glitter top coat. Who doesn't love a glittery pelvis? Really, it just helps tie the glittery boots to the rest of the costume.


Mid-September Halloween shops pop up here. They are great for costume accessories and stockings. Especially the day after Halloween, when many shops unload stock for 50% off the retail price. However, the prices of stockings are the same as if they were in a lingerie shop, or Hot Topic (which is a great place to get these year round). Ebay also has a great selection of stockings, for normally discounted prices (most of my collection is from Ebay). For this costume, I chose black and white striped stockings. You can use finished thigh highs that are made to thigh high length. These can be great, or they can be too tight on the thighs and not long enough or too long on the leg. A great alternative is to buy striped tights in your size, and alter them by cutting the legs off. You can add blood and dirt stains to these if you want to. That's up to you.

Simple Up shared a fantastic tutorial for Turning Tights into Thigh High Stockings. The tops of these stockings are hand sewn, which is fantastic for people who don't have a sewing machine. You can wear a garter belt or sock garters with these if you want. If you don't know what sock garters are, you can purchases some from Sock Dreams or make your own to fit your thighs.

NikkiShell was inspired by Simple Up's tutorial, but altered it to make her own version. She Salvaged Tights into Stockings using elastic and a zig zag stitch on a sewing machine to finish the top of her stockings. This is a great idea if you don't want to wear any type of garter.


I LOVE GLITTER. Glitter is fabulous, and I'm immediately draw to it. I've wanted a pair of silver boots for a long time, but have yet to find a pair I like. That was until I found the Jeffrey Campbell "Lita" silver glitter boots that I shared in the costume collage. I've been in love with the Jeffrey Campbell "Lita" style of boot for a while, and have bought several non-designer boots inspired by them. I recently ordered a non-designer pair of "Damsels" to transform into glittery boots. I promise, I'll write my own tutorial for those. They have spikes on the back, so I'm sure there will be some special steps for getting around those with the glitter. Until then, A Beautiful Mess created this Glitter Shoes for a friend.



The wilder the hair the better. Think big, teased, and textured. I have long hair, so I'm immediate drawn to tutorials for that length. If you have medium to short hair, check out YouTube for related tutorials.

I love this Wild Edgy Hair Tutorial by JaaackJack. If you don't have a flat iron, you can used a curling iron or crimper. Texturing, teasing, and hair spray are the keys to making this look work.

Grav3yardgirl's Faux-Hawk Hair Tutorial has a lot of volume and crimping. Crimping is a time consuming step, as Bunny points out. It is a great way to get instant tight texture in your hair. If you want more volume, Bunny shared that she redid this look using multiple extensions. This look makes it easy to hide the wefts of the extensions in the mass of hair. They also blend in nicely when they have the same crimping.


For the eyes, I was thinking a dark overly smokey eye like this one from BeautyARTStudio. If you wanted the eyes to be glittery, I suggest using Too Faced Shadow Insurance Glitter Glue. After you have done your eyeshadow, you can gently pat a small amount of the Glitter Glue onto your eyelid with a small flat brush, or a finger. I prefer a brush, so my fingers don't become sticky from the glue. Any cosmetic grade fine black glitter will compliment this dark black smokey eye.

For the lips, I was thinking nude lips would work. Nude lips make your eye makeup stand out. In this costume, the wild eyes are what I want draw a lot of attention to. Also, a nude lip can make you look sickly, which is perfect for a crazed Victorian girl costume. Petrilude shows us how to do Nude Lips for you skin tone. BTW, I love silver lips, but I have a pale complexion, which is probably why I don't think it looks bad on me.


For the nails, I thought something bloody would be a good choice. I saw this tutorial last year, when DandyNails created it. I have yet to try it, but for this costume, it seems fitting. I love the ease of creating the Blood Splatter Nails.


  1. Bunny! Such a fantastic young lady.

    1. Yep. She's definitely multi-talented. I subscribed to her on YouTube, so I get her quirky entertainment every week.


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