Wednesday, September 23, 2015

1960's Catwoman - Julie Newmar Tutorial (Vintage Halloween Costume & Cosplay)

This year I made my first trip up to Atlanta for Dragon Con! It's is everything I love in one place - and I'm hooked! The talent on display in the hallways, on the contest stage, and on the panels was fantastic. I was blown away by the number of other cosplayers who paid homage to period characters or were influenced by a vintage aesthetic. There was even a Vintage Vogue Fashion Show! I will share my favorites in another post soon, but today I want to share my costume, The classic Catwoman as portrayed by Julie Newmar in the Batman tv series that ran from 1966 - 1967. Her character is both sultry and whimsical which was very fun to cosplay. This was the first head to toe costume I completed myself, and the first bodysuit I've ever sewn. I hope my successes and lessons learned inspire you to get started on your next 1960s halloween costume or cosplay!

julie newmar catwoman costume


Trial runs to the finished cosplay at Dragon Con!)


If you're unfamiliar with Julie Newmar she was fantastic then and still fabulous now!



See how the costume, accessories, hair and makeup were put together after the jump!

Costume and Accessories

Julie Newmar Catwoman cosplay

yaya han mccalls bodysuit sewing pattern

Belt: I was surprised to learn that the belt was an off the rack piece and mass produced from the 1960s - - 1980s.  There are numerous listings on etsy and ebay, just remember that Julie wore the belt below her natural waist to emphasize her curves so you may need to find a larger size than usual.

Cat Statue: I wanted a prop for photographs and found a 1960s shampoo bottle on ebay. A quick coat of spray paint and it was purrrect! The gold spray used on all accessories was Rust-Oleum Metallic Gold.

Catsuit Fabric: The folks over at The 1966  Batman Message Board were a great source for reference photographs and inspiration. Most importantly, I learned that the actual fabric used for Julie Newmar's catsuit can still (and only) be purchased from Spandex House! You want the 2 way stretch black lame, style SLM-017. (I needed 4 yards) Don't be turned off by the price or their phone ordering processes; they responded promptly, shipped quickly and the fabric is even more stunning and sparkly in person. It  truly elevates the finished costume. 

Catsuit Pattern: I was not ready to draft my own pattern, so I modified the YaYa Han McCall's bodysuit, M7217. (I purchased mine for a much more reasonable price on etsy.)  I needed to add a seam at the waist, alter the neckline and change the collar. This pattern had very short legs so be sure to check those measurements. Overall, I found it easy for a beginner to work with and fairly true to size. I would suggest sewing a mock up from cheap material first because the body suit requires so many custom alterations. I skipped this step and wish I hadn't. Not only would I have saved some of the expensive material, I would of had a custom pattern to follow for future customs. I also found it difficult to sit in because of the orientation of the 2 way stretch material.

1960s catwoman cosplay costume

Gloves: Ebay sourced satin gloves with claw style nails, painted gold and adhered with E6000® Craft Adhesive

Necklace: The bedazzled lion medallion was removed from a bracelet and the medallions were created with 3 sizes of stamping blanks and Swarovski crystals. It would have been more screen accurate to have two holes on each end of the medallions but I was unable to source or hole punch myself.  I added the leftover crystals to the cat statue eyes.

Mask: I initially tried cardboard and then foam, but I couldn't get the mask to shape to my face. I eventually bought a basic craft store mask tapered the bottom, adjusted the eye holes, and cut away the forehead. Scrap pieces from the forehead formed the pointed ends. I wrapped the whole thing in catsuit fabric to match.

Cat Ears: The fabric ears were formed around cardboard and stuffed with a few layers of excess fabric. I gathered the fabric slightly and just glued them to a headband.

Catgun: I sculpted the catgun out of polymer clay and a smoothie straw. It was then painted and finished with Swarovski eyes. I used a shower curtain hook to attach it to my belt. This is one of the pieces I would like to improve.  I have recently found a better reference photo and want to improve the accuracy and quality of the sculpt as well as use a wooden handle.


julie newmar catwoman catgun

1960s catwoman reference photos

New shot of screen accurate Catgun and a reference for correct boots.

Hair and Makeup


Julie Newmar cat woman make up

Makeup: The defining feature would be the wild 'whisker' eyebrows, easily accomplished with eyebrow powder.  Otherwise, Julie's makeup is a simple smoky cat eye with lots of lashes and a nude lip. I wore Ardell Curvy Lash -415 Black- they really enhance a cat eye and I highly recommend them. =)


Julie Newmar Catwoman eyebrows

If you want to play up the 1960s vibe I enjoyed this tutorial. She breaks down the steps to create a dramatic and iconic look from the era: 


Hair: For screen accurate detail make sure to tease your hair over the headband. I added extra volume at the crown, and would have loved to add more, in addition to curling my ends but the Atlanta humidity was not cooperating. This is a simple teasing demonstration and I found it very helpful:


Purrfect  your poses!

Julie Newmar Catwoman cosplay photos


Dragoncon Georgia Aquarium Cosplay

(And don't miss Dragon Con's Night at the Georgia Aquarium! It takes place very year and is definitely worth extra the ticket price!)

8 comments:

  1. I know the post is a little old, but since latelly i watched a batman cartoon who were like un ''clin-d'oeil'' to the old 60ish batman show and I found it very funny, though was a was very young and it was sometime on tv in the 80ish, i found it kind of stupid. I learned that they old actor did the voice in the cartoon so by curiosity I checked a little bit about them and i was searching about julie newmar and in google there was a link of your post so I came by curisosity. I should say I find your costume to look like a lot like then one and the show and i find that you look like the actress in her 30oish, so i relly think you can cosplay her very well :). You eye are not alike but your eyes are cuter, in my point of view.
    I think it relly suit well, but unfortunatelly, i'm not here to buy vintage stuff, but I already bought stuff from etsy in the best so i know you can find interesting people there.
    If you still watching your blog onc ein a while, i wish you got luck and that you find people interested in your skill :).
    It was a though from Montreal :).

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know the post is a little old, but since latelly i watched a batman cartoon who were like un ''clin-d'oeil'' to the old 60ish batman show and I found it very funny, though was a was very young and it was sometime on tv in the 80ish, i found it kind of stupid. I learned that they old actor did the voice in the cartoon so by curiosity I checked a little bit about them and i was searching about julie newmar and in google there was a link of your post so I came by curisosity. I should say I find your costume to look like a lot like then one and the show and i find that you look like the actress in her 30oish, so i relly think you can cosplay her very well :). You eye are not alike but your eyes are cuter, in my point of view.
    I think it relly suit well, but unfortunatelly, i'm not here to buy vintage stuff, but I already bought stuff from etsy in the best so i know you can find interesting people there.
    If you still watching your blog onc ein a while, i wish you got luck and that you find people interested in your skill :).
    It was a though from Montreal :).

    ReplyDelete
  3. Holy crap. I stumbled upon this sort of by accident and am so happy I did! Thank you for sharing the fabric info!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. In the history of comics, the very first Catwoman did not wear anything to hide her identity from the public, as any superhero or villain would normally do, until her second appearance. http://thegothamarchives.com/batgirl-comic-review/batgirl-the-darkest-reflection-review/

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