"Webmistress of the Dark"
(Halloween 1999)

In July 1999 I happened to have free $20 in fabric imminently expiring, so I was looking for something useful to buy. The first Halloween stock had appeared, and this sheer, flocked web fabric was brand-new at the time (it has since appeared in lots of cheap off-the-rack Halloween costumes as well as specific patterns to make), so I bought 5 yards knowing I'd figure out a costume designed around the fabric.

Original Sketch

After getting the fabric home, I started brainstorming and sketching. Since the fabric was sheer, I wanted to be sure to accent that feature, so I came up with not only a cape with sleeves worn over a sleeveless dress to make the web show up over the bare arms as well as billowing behind as capes do, but also with the coup de grace - a see-through stand-up collar. As you can see from the original sketch, this was originally envisioned as a witch complete with pointed hat, but after more consideration and the decision on the title of "Webmistress of the Dark" the concept drifted away from a standard witch towards a more Elvira/Morticia-Addams-style character.

Yes, Webmistress of the Dark is a play on words. Elvira is Mistress of the Dark, and since the spiderwebs were obvious in the costume, Webmistress of the Dark worked well. Of course, all my friends immediately got the extra joke that I am the webmistress of www.britta.com! This is why "Britta, Webmistress of the Dark" now introduces my Hallloween section. :-)

1999 Hand Pose

This is all my own hair. Leaving about two-thirds of my hair to stay hanging straight down, I made a topknot ponytail, then turned it forward to make a large loose bun-like tube, with bobby pins anchoring everything in the center of the tube. Small curly tendrils were left to escape from the sides of the tube. The spiderweb decoration in the center was an earring attempt that was too large, so it remained as a hair decoration.


While designing the costume, I had imagined a spiderweb necklace that sparkled like a real web covered in dew, but I hadn't quite settled on the earring design. When I went bead shopping, I found perfect beads that were blue with a copper-gold color under the blue, so it looked very transparent and weblike yet sparkly and with gold rather than silver, since gold looks better with my skin tone. At the same bead store, I also found bronze-tone spider drop charms that were perfect for earrings, and since they had plenty, I decided to use a third spider as the final drop off the necklace.

Web Jewelry

The necklace is created from flat wire forms for the scoop patterns, with beading string connecting the loops together vertically, and the same beading string for around the neck with a twist clasp in the back. I already had thin floral wire that happened to be thin enough to string these beads. Tying the vertical strings onto the next scoop after the beads were strung was quite a challenge, though!

The earrings were originally intended to have more nesting scoop patterns, but that design ended up being too large, so was used as the hair decoration. The earring posts are just standard drop posts with more beads glued into the bowl of the post, then the spider and web are both strung through the post drop so that the spider hangs in the middle of the web.


Aside from the jewelry, the cape was the most work for this costume. I made my own pattern by measuring my height in the heels to be sure the cape was floor-length, then measuring for the sleeve length and around for the armholes and sleeve width, as well as across the shoulders. All the edges are scalloped with thin, black soutache braid to finish the edges and to accentuate the spiderweb theme.

Webmistress of the Dark

The collar was the most challenging. Stand-up collars can be done several ways with thin foam, interfacing, wire, etc, but the majority of the most successful methods would not work with my vision of the collar remaining sheer. I tried wire at the sides and back seam only, but that was not strong enough. I could not find any clear interfacing, and I did not want clear acetate because it would be too exact and too shiny. I ended up using a seemingly-endless amount of coats of spray fabric stiffener with the collar shape arranged in a large bucket, with all surfaces covered with cling film except for the collar itself. The fabric stiffener technique works for the collar to retain its own shape, including the fluted scalloped edge, but since it tends to sag backwards off the shoulders, the front edges still need to be pinned to the dress in the front for the collar to really stand up properly around the neck.


The dress was a purchased pattern for evening wear sewn out of black evening wear satin, since I wanted the long skirt slit as well as the sweetheart neckline, since this was intended to be a "sexy" Webmistress. ;-)


My original plan was just to wear fishnet stockings to approximate more spiderwebs, but since this was a costume for Halloween, I lucked out at one of those seasonal Halloween stores and found spiderweb "fishnet" stockings! I have since seen these more widely available and therefore cheaper, but in 1999, they were still fairly rare, so I was lucky to find them just in the nick of time to wear with the costume.


Standard black pumps with a decently high heel is all I wear with this costume. Perhaps I could add a spiderweb beading accent like a shoe clip to them, but I think the costume works well as it is.

2001 Hand Pose

Since this is the most "Halloweeny" of my costumes in my closet, I keep pulling it out to wear to work for Halloween, especially since my recent Halloween costumes such as the Amazon Goddess or Seven of Nine have been a bit too risque for the office!

For the 2001 version, I did my hair in a French twist with long tendrils hanging by my ears, plus little spider hair clips I recently found. The fake monster nails do not stay on worth anything, but they look quite menacing!

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