My First Cosplay: Part 2 on the creation of a 1920’s Gangster Dalek

Welcome to part 2 of my series on the creation of a 1920’s Gangster Dalek! We left off with all the major sewing completed, at least there was a standing hoop skirt in the end covered in a lovely pin stripe fabric. Now, I know what some of you are thinking….okay you have a bell skirt, and that’s super cool and all…but how do you get Dalek out of that? It all comes down to details!

Spheres, Glorious Spheres!

Hoops skirts are nice and all, but what makes a Dalek costume really pop (and let’s be honest, to be recognized at all)? Dalek balls! Hemispheres really. This was the piece that put everything together and really made the skirt more than just an adventure in sewing, and actually it was pretty easy! Now just because it wasn’t difficult doesn’t mean it wasn’t labor intensive, this took some time to get through.

Blue and Purple Plastic Ball-Pit Balls

Post sanding plastic spheres. Count: ~30

Step 1. Head to your favorite mega toy store (or the glorious internet) and find some plastic ball-pit balls. There are different sizes so make sure you pay attention to the sizes and grab the ones you want, I had to hunt in a few places to find ones big enough for the dress. I’ll tell you that I first went looking in your mega toy stores and quickly learned that those places are designed to keep you in. Wandering left and right….past the legos in the middle, the isles of pure pink in one section, next to rows upon rows of bicycles. I was pretty sure I was going to need a rescue party, when I finally stumbled upon the right isle. Of course when I got there the only balls I could find felt like they would be much too small for the dress and end up looking disproportionate. So I went home and to the place I probably should have started from…..the Internet. I found several options and the ones I ended up using where 3 1/8th inches in diameter (or 8 cm). Don’t need to be concerned with color as they will all get painted in the end. I did however choose colors that I thought had a better chance of not being obvious if they bled through. Black and blue in my head went much better than black and yellow….for this costume at least 😉

Step 2. Even though it probably wouldn’t be noticed by anyone but me, I decided to take a power-sander to each ball and remove the “made in china” stamp printed on each one. It created a lot of dust (please oh please do this outside. Also be careful when using power tools of any kind), but I think in the end it made me happier, and that’s really all that matters. I left them as spheres at this point because it made them easier to sand. Afterward I sat down with my trusty exacto knife (again be careful when using sharp objects) and started to cut the spheres into many many many hemispheres. This is where I probably should have spent a little more time. I have to admit they weren’t the most perfect of cuts, but it’s a minor detail that I am pretty sure no one noticed. You have to decide for yourself the level of detail and perfection you require when going into a major cosplay. I was proud of myself for getting this far, so I gave myself quite a lot of slack.


Hemispheres painted with black primer paint

Step 3. So there are now a set of hemispheres, all smooth and ready for the next phase. Paint. Spray paint to be precise. Now normally I am too lazy to prime painting surfaces….and for the most part I have gotten away of it. But I was smart this time and tried out my spray paint skills on a single hemisphere, and discovered that yeah…I needed a primer. The underlying color came through a little much, so I went with a black primer. I am sure that a white or grey primer would have worked just as well, but with a black skirt I figured this would be the better choice. After that I grabbed various kinds of metallic spray paint, the kind that give that hammered steel look, and it seemed to work out. I always wanted to play with those types of metallic spray paints, but had no idea what I would want to use them on. Clearly I wasn’t thinking of cosplays at the time!

Metallic silver hemispheres

Metallic silver hemispheres

Step 4. Let things dry. No one wants to deal with paint on a skirt that was a challenge to make in the first place.

Step 5. This is the painful part. Take a needle, thread, and a thimble. Slowly sew the hemispheres onto the dress. I won’t sugar coat this….it’s annoying. But all I had to do was tack them down, a spot every inch or two around the perimeter. I also let me shape them into more of a circle since my cutting process did damage the perfect look they were when they were whole. The results however are pretty awesome. The last thing I did was line each of the spheres with some metallic cord. This was done with the beauty of hot glue (and yes I burned myself a few times). It actually went pretty quickly and I am pleased with the results. If I did this over again I would try and figure out a better way to get straight lines, but again, not bad for a first cosplay right?

Dalek dress on mannequin

Dalek dress on mannequin


Okay….so that was a long and arduous labor of love. Time for a break before going into the next phase of the cosplay….accessories! Until next week!

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