Costume armor on the cheap!
When I saw that a stiffened torso could be manufactured for le cheap, I instantly knew that's how I'd make my "armored" breastplate for Halloween this year!
More to come as I finish up the breastplate and skirt.
First, you and a friend wrap your torso in plastic wrap (not shown). Extend the plastic down well past your hips. You can be wearing a shirt as in the inspiration tutorial, or a tank top under the plastic like I did. I recommend wearing at least the tank top, since when you wear your armor you won't want sticky, hot plastic wrap on your skin.
Note: if you don't mind having a shirt stuck to your armor, omit the plastic wrap and just tape right onto the shirt, as in the linked tutorial. You'll be stuck wearing that shirt with the armor forever. I chose to wrap the plastic over a tank top so I could have discrete pieces of armor and clothing. The plastic wrap keeps the tape from sticking to your shirt during the process.
Have your friend start wrapping you up in brown Kraft tape (gum tape). I found this tape at an office supply store, but had to hunt for it there. It's slick on one side, which you make sticky by wetting, much like wallpaper.
The first layer will be bumpy, but try to smooth where you can. Shorter pieces of tape are better for smoother layers. Start under your bust and circle yourself, then stick a vertical piece from under your bust straight down your tummy. Stick more vertical pieces down your torso this way and work that way all the way around your body, overlapping the tape enough to keep things smooth. After that, make an X from between your breasts over one shoulder, then the other. (See why I don't have pics here?)
Continue shaping the bust and shoulders in this way. (I plan to wear my tank under my armor so I used the shoulders of the tank as a guide.)
Once you're all taped up, stand around and let it dry a few minutes. Then have your friend carefully cut up one side from the bottom to under your armpit, all the way through the plastic wrap and tape. If you are fusing your shirt to the tape, cut through the shirt. If you have a shirt-plastic-tape sandwich like I did, don't cut through the shirt! Have your friend put her hand between your shirt and the scissors to prevent miscuts. Try to keep the cut straight; cut up both sides. You won't need to cut through the straps, since you can lift the armor off over your head.
Trim the plastic wrap and cut away any stray tape, making your bottom "hem" even and your straps or neckline consistent. I rounded some corners of the armor during this step. If you've fused your shirt to the armor, trim the shirt away where you don't want it to show.
If anything is too ragged or bumpy, use small pieces of tape to smooth things out.
I also made sure to "wrap" tape around the arm and neck areas so the sharp, raw tape wouldn't cut me as I wore the armor. Folding a piece of tape around the edges makes sure the softer folded side will be against my skin.
Let the tape dry overnight, just in case. Then set it out on a surface you don't mind painting (I used grocery bags, since I'd used all the newspaper for another project) and paint! I wanted a very glossy and shiny gold paint and that's just what I got.
More to come as I work on the skirt and add closures to the breastplate. This should get you started in time to finish for Halloween!