Soot up! DIY chimney sweep costumes
‘Chim chim cher-ee!
‘When you're with a sweep
‘You're in glad company. . . .’
So you want to be an old-timey chimney sweep, a-la Bert the sweep, off Mary Poppins? A chimney sweep costume is surprisingly easy to fashion, and it’s likely that you’ll find you have most of the bits and bobs needed to hand already! If you follow these simple instructions, you’ll be done and (coal) dusted in no time! Hammed-up cockney accents and terrible puns at the ready? Yep? Well, then let’s ‘ave it!
To be a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious sweep, the items you’ll need are: -
- Black trousers and black shoes (scuffed)
- Top hat/black flat cap
- Plain black jacket
- A shirt that you don’t mind getting dirty
- Neckerchief (ask a costume or menswear shop if needed)
Once you’ve got this ensemble on, half the job is done! If you’re looking too smart, crease the clothes to show you’re a hard working sweep! No chimney sweep wears clothes fresh off the ironing board. Roll on the floor, sleep in the clothes, or even let the dog play with your costume to scruff it up properly – to get that proper worked-in look.
Now that you are wonderfully creased and dishevelled (waiting for the dog’s slobber to dry); have a look in the mirror and see what’s missing.
The answer is simple: soot! You can mock-up soot in all sorts of ways. If you wear a light-coloured shirt, black shoe polish is perfect. Dab it all over the clothing (whilst not wearing it). Keep scrunching and rubbing the material into itself until the polish blends into a nice, sooty-looking mess. WARNING: Avoid putting the shoe polish on too thickly. If you’re a touchy-feel person, your friends might not appreciate hugs from you if they get covered in polish!
Another idea is charcoal paint or pastels. Ask any artsy chums if they have some spare – if not your local craft shop can help. For your face, you’ll want to decorate your skin with shoe polish or contents of the art cupboard; so a good skin-friendly substitute would be eye shadow. You can find it pretty cheaply at any regular supermarket’s cosmetic aisle. If you want to really look as though you’ve been trawling through soot, smudging eyeliner around your eyes is another idea.
. . . And that’s pretty much it! Don’t forget to practice your chimney sweep songs though and your dance routine. A chimney sweep outfit is the simplest costume you can put together. Dark clothing and enthusiastic application of sooty substances is all you need (unless you are prepared to go all the way and roll in proper soot – for which I applaud you. Please send me a photo!).
You can be sooted and booted in no time!
‘Though I spends me time
‘In the ashes and soot
‘In this ol' wide world
‘There's no happier bloke.’
‘Up where the smoke is
‘All billered and curled
'Tween pavement and stars
‘Is the chimney sweep world.’