Leatherface Costume Part 3: The Soft Goods

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To finish out my original Texas Chainsaw Massacre Leatherface costume tutorial series, I’m going to go through all the soft goods I used.  Leatherface isn’t exactly a fashionista, so most of these pieces are relatively easy to find and quite comfortable to wear.

Let’s start with the most difficult part of the entire costume–the necktie.  I’ve never read or heard anything about where the original tie came from, but it certainly is unique.  The guy who runs Magnoli Clothiers has offered a very nice replica in the past but it’s no longer on his site.  It sold for $39.99 with free shipping, so it wasn’t exactly cheap, but my understanding is that it was well made and worth the asking price.  FWIW, he does have the TCM2 version in stock at the time of this posting.

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Since Magnoli didn’t have the tie in stock when I was looking, I decided to go a different route and design my own.  I used a web site called ArtsCow.com to put my own graphics on a tie and it turned out very nicely for half of what Magnoli was charging.  Granted, it’s not as nice as Magnoli’s but it’s a great costume piece.  My order took about two weeks to arrive but YMMV since ArtsCow is based in Hong Kong.  At the ArtsCow site, you simply choose the two-sided tie and upload the graphics using their layout tool.  And where will you go to get those graphics, you ask?  Why, right here.  Just right click the links below and “save image as…”.  They’re clearly named as front and back.  Don’t mix them  up or your leatherface will only look good in a mirror.  These were created by me and you’re free to share them wherever you’d like as long as you mention where you got them or provide a link back here.  You’re on the honor system.

Download:  LEATHERFACE TIE GRAPHIC – FRONT

Download:  LEATHERFACE TIE GRAPHIC – BACK

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The shirt’s a little easier.  I shopped around on Ebay until I found a white, long-sleeve shirt with vertical, navy blue stripes that were spaced about 1/4″ apart.  The one I got was from Old Navy originally but isn’t currently offered in their stores.  There must have been thousands of shirts like this made over the years, so your local Goodwill could be an excellent source.  Just make sure the shirt you get is 100% cotton.

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The original Leatherface shirt was a long sleeve shirt with the sleeves hacked off, so I cut the sleeves off of mine, just above the elbow.  The sleeve remnants could be useful in testing various weathering techniques.

I aged my shirt using tea.  Back when I worked in live theatre, we would tea-dye white costume pieces to keep them from popping too much under the bright stage lights.  In those cases, we’d just lightly tint the fabric.  For this project, I took it to another level in order to make my Leatherface shirt look like it had been worn and sweated in for many years.

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To tea-dye the shirt, I took a large bowl and filled it about halfway full with warm water.  I then boiled some water and steeped six Lipton tea bags in a 2-cup, Pyrex measuring cup.  It’s important not to use anything plastic with the boiling water.  Once the tea concentrate had cooled, I added it to the water in the bowl but I didn’t stir it up.  I wanted the dyeing to be uneven so I submerged the shirt without blending the tea thoroughly.

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I waited an hour and then hung the shirt by its collar to drip dry.  You’ll see tea-dying tutorials that tell you to rinse the shirt at this stage, but I wanted more of the tea stains to show so I let it dry without rinsing the tea out.

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Once dry, I ironed the shirt to heat-set the tea stains, then I lightly hand-washed the shirt and hung it up for a final dry.  You can also heat set a shirt like this in the dryer but you risk getting tea stains in there.

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Leatherface’s pants are basic, navy blue, work pants.  Dickies or Carharrt pants would work.  I just already have a pair of blue Dockers, so that’s what I chose to use.

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The screen-worn shoes are black cowboy boots, if you can believe that.  They were reportedly made by Acme.  I have a pair of dark brown boots that will suffice.  Here’s a pic of the original boots signed by Gunnar Hansen.

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Next up is the butcher’s apron.  I bought my 35″ x 47″ DuraWear apron from this store on Ebay for a reasonable price.  It’s very close to being the correct size but a couple of the details are off.  I’m going to use it as-is for now but will eventually remove the front “button” and replace the neck strap with a white fabric one like in the film.

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Weathering the apron is a bit of a problem because the yellow facing is made of a PVC material that’s designed to reject liquids (like blood).  The original apron still exists and it looks more tan than yellow, but that could be due to its age.  Leaving the apron out in the sun could fade it, but that could take a very long time.  In addition to the fading, the original looks like it was given a light wash of thinned black paint.

I’m not a fan of using spray paint for weathering because it ends up looking like spray paint, but in this case Rustoleum “Paint for Plastic” may be a good bet.  The problem with any paint used on the apron isn’t so much getting through one night with it, but storing it long term.  It’s likely that just about any paint will cause problems later if the apron is folded and stored.  I tested a few different paints and wasn’t entirely pleased with any of them so I ultimately decided to forgo the blood for now.  If I find something that works well later, I’ll update this post.

To weather the apron, I decided to go with my trusty sanding pad.  I went over the whole surface a couple of times and took off a good bit of the yellow coating.  The scuffing took the color down a notch and helped to take the “new” off.  The roughed up surface could also help any later paint apps adhere to the surface.

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The last, and most often overlooked, detail is Leatherface’s bracelet.  He wears a silver charm bracelet on his left wrist.  There are a bunch of tiny, silver bells on it but the other charms aren’t clearly visible in any of the pictures I’ve seen.  He doesn’t wear it in every shot so I’m going to skip it until I find a reasonable facsimile.  It’s mostly seen when he’s in the pretty woman mask but it also shows up in some of the publicity shots when he’s wearing the killing mask and apron.  So far, the closest item I’ve found is an old Avon bracelet that shows up on Ebay fairly frequently, but its chain is too small and it would need some additional charms.

That’s pretty much it.  Here’s a pic of my Leatherface hard at work in the kitchen.  The flash washed out a lot of the weathering in the picture, but it looks awesome in person if I do say so myself.  This is also one of the most comfortable costumes I’ve ever worn.

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I hope this helps you with your own costume.  If you have any questions or comments, please add them below.

Have a happy Hallowe’en!

 

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