Welcome to another post in my costume design series! Today we’ll be looking at my Cogsworth costume, which ended up turning out rather different than my original sketch, but was still a success!
Inspiration, Concept, and Materials
When I first started working on costume ideas for the theater production of Beauty and the Beast, I was a little overwhelmed trying to figure out how to make actors look like household objects. But google is my friend! Before I made my initial Cogsworth sketch, a quick internet search showed me all sorts of costume ideas. From boxy, 3D designs to more subtle versions.
Since this was lighthearted kids production, I decided that going with big, boxy designs was the right choice. My early sketches imagined striped breeches, a clock-themed hat, and an overcoat, in addition to the 3D clock “body.”
However, as the show dates got closer, I ended up needing to simplify some costumes a lot in order to accomplish everything (there are a LOT of specialized costumes in Beauty and the Beast). I never found striped fabric for the breeches, but I did find some nice brown tapestry fabric for a vest ($5). I ended up skipping the overcoat, and left off the clock-hat (opting instead for a simple black tricorn hat he could wear with his “human form” too.
For the 3D clock, I knew I needed heavy-duty cardboard. A family member happened to find a refrigerator box for me, which was perfect (I was able to use that one box to do both Cogsworth and the Wardrobe lady, ‘Madame de le Grande Bouche’). I also found a gilded picture frame ($4) at the thrift store to dress up the clock opening on the front.
The final thing I needed was fabric for covering the box. (I considered paint, but decided fabric would give more texture and interest to the costume). I originally hoped to find a piece large enough to both cover the clock and make his human costume, so they would match. But I never found a large enough piece. Instead, I made use of this interesting curtain ($2.25) I found at a thrift store. The narrow, raised velvet stripes ended up creating a great wood-panel effect.
In addition, I used some black spray-paint I had on hand, some shiny gold fabric ($2) that I got at Habit for Humanity, and some heavy brown/gold fringe ($1) that I bought at the same place I found the fabric for the Bimbettes and Belle’s blue dress, the bolt of tulle I used Babette’s skirt, and even the gold chiffon for Belle’s ball gown! (I had a quite a haul from that thrift store!)
If you’ve been following this whole costume series, you’ve probably noticed I have a lot more (and better quality) “in-progress” photos for some costumes than others. That’s because the further into the project I got, the more of a time-crunch I had. By the time I was doing Cogsworth’s clock, the costumes were literally due the next day. I stayed up almost all night to finish them, and only went to bed for a couple of hours when my arm started to tingle and burn, and I concluded that if I didn’t sleep it was going to stop working all together. So I wasn’t taking many pictures by that point.
Anyway. The base layer of the costume was Cogsworth’s “human” form. As I mentioned above, I ended up simplifying my original design quite a bit. Since I never found striped fabric for the breeches, I went for a quick and easy replacement, simply altering a thrift-store pair of brown men’s pants. I cut them off below the knee, folded the cut-off edges over and sewed them into casing for elastic, then added elastic into the wait of the pants to make them wearable for a young teen.
I somehow did not get any good pictures of Cogsworth’s pants, but since I used this same method to make navy breeches for the beast/prince, I’ve included some photos of them below, showing how I added the elastic to the waistband. Cogsworth’s pants done the same way.
Then, just like with Lumiere, I used a thrifted white shirt and trimmed the collar down to look more historically accurate.
I skipped the overcoat and went with a long vest/waistcoat instead. I used the largest size in this historical pattern, and made it out of some brown tapestry fabric I purchased at a giant upholstery sale. I did not get many good photos of Cogsworth, unfortunately, but you can see the vest in this photo from dress rehearsal…
We used long white athletic socks to mimic 18th century hosiery, and some simple black loafers for shoes.
Building the actual “clock” was the fun part. Thought it would have been MORE fun if I had been slightly less sleep deprived at the time. Haha.
My Dad had nicely cut out and glued together the cardboard frame to my specifications. (After we figured out how to get the wardrobe and the clock out of that one refrigerator box). The basic form was two taller, tapered ends, joined by lower sides, and then an opening cut out in the front to accommodate the “pendulum box”.
The first step in turning the cardboard frame into a clock was to cover it with the brown striped fabric. I did very little cutting for this step. The curtain was already about the right height, and I simply wrapped it around and folded the edges out of sight, securing the fabric with both hot-glue and brass paper fasteners like these. (I probably could have done it all with hot-glue, but I didn’t think of that at the beginning. The fasteners did look kind of like old-fashioned brass furniture tacks though, which was cool.)
Next, I cut open the fabric that covered the square front opening, and tucked the edges inside, then glued on the picture-frame to make it look fancy. I also used some gorgeous fringe along the top edge of both back and front of the clock. I would have loved to use it in more places, but I ran out after I used it for this and the shoulder straps (getting to those in a bit.)
Once the basic frame was completed, I made the “pendulum box” for the front. It was basically a slanted shadow-box cut to fit inside that front hole, and painted black so that it would simply look like an opening. As you can see below, it wasn’t much to look like on it’s own.
But it was perfect for the gold pendulum! I had originally had some grand ideas of a fancy, intricate pendulum, but I ran out of time. So I simply cut out two pieces of cardboard, one in a long narrow rectangle for the pendulum neck, and one in a circle for the bottom part. I covered them in some shiny gold fabric and glued them together (I have no idea how much hot glue I used for this show, but it was a LOT). Then I attached the pendulum in the black box , using more of the paper fasteners to hang it from some excess fabric I left at the top of rectangle.
Finally I glued the entire shadow box inside the clock, and reinforced with lots of duck tape. The effect was perfect! Exactly what I was going for.
I didn’t get any in-progress photos of how I made the straps. (Though you can see the completed version below.) They were basically long strips of the same tapestry fabric I made Cogsworth’s vest out of, with their edges serged to avoid raveling. I wrapped and secured the ends around heavy-duty strips of cardboard which I then attached to the inside of the clock (lots of glue and more paper fasteners). I also added fringe on the outside edges to fancy them up.
As I mentioned earlier, I did not get as many pictures of Cogsworth’s costume as I should have, and I don’t have any good full-length ones of his “human” form. But I’ll share what I’ve got.
Although the costume didn’t really match my original plans/sketch, I was pleased with the way it turned out. Particularly the clock part. It was adorably boxy and fun, and blended perfectly with the suit underneath, particularly with the matching shoulder straps!
I LOVED the way the front turned out, with the pendulum that swung back and forth inside it’s frame as Cogsworth moved around the stage. You can see it in motion below, when poor Cogsworth was reacting to an outburst from the ill-tempered Beast.
I have to say the young man who played Cogworth in our production did a PERFECT job of capturing the stiff, slightly awkward personality of the uptight “steward of the castle.” And he stayed in character backstage too. It was hilarious to see him perched on a chair in full costume, ignoring the rest of the rambunctious cast around him as he calmly read a book.
I loved the details on the costume. From the thick, textured tapestry and velvet-striped fabric, to the intricate swirls in the gilded picture frame and the luxurious fringe in the perfect brown and gold color-scheme. It’s amazing what you can find at a thrift store!
So there you have it. A DIY Cogsworth costume that cost less than $20!
What Beauty and the Beast character should I cover in my next costume post? Mrs. Potts? Chip? Madame de le Grande Bouche? Let me know in the comments!