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DIY Chimney Sweep Costume

‘Chim chiminey
‘Chim chiminey
‘Chim chim cher-ee!
‘When you’re with a sweep
‘You’re in glad company. . .’

Does the idea of being a chimney sweep appeal to you? What a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious idea! Perhaps for a party, if nothing else. It’s surprisingly easy to dress up as Ol’ Bert from Mary Poppins (you’ll have to practise the quasi-cockney accent in your own time!). The good news is that you’ll likely to have the bits n’ bobs of the costume lying about your house. If not, pop into a local charity shop to get what’s needed. You’ll be done and (soot) dusted in no time!

You’ll need: –
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)

If the look is too smart – crease the clothes to show you’ve been a hard working sweep. Let the dog or cat play with the clothes. Forget your PJs and sleep in the costume. Don’t hoover for a day or two and then roll across the lounge floor. Get that old style worked-in look for your costume.
Look in the mirror and see what’s missing. That’s right, soot! It’s easy to mock-up soot. Black shoe polish is perfect, especially on lighter clothes. Dab the polish over the clothes before you put them on. Scrunch and rub the material so that the polish blends into a mess. Don’t do it too thickly though. Friends won’t give you welcome hugs at the party!

An alternative to use is pastels or charcoal paint. You can find them in any craft shop in Tunbridge Wells or other towns in Kent. Or perhaps you have an artist friend with some to spare? Use eye shadow on the face and smudging it will help to create that authentic look you are looking for. Have a browse online at photos of chimney sweeps throughout the ages and it will give a good idea as to how smudged a sweep could look! You may want to copy exactly a photo of a sweep from the Victorian or other era.

Don’t forget to practise your chimney sweeping songs and dance routine! Find a brush from somewhere too. If it’s not a real sweeper’s brush, a broom will do. The combo of dark clothes and plenty of sooty substances on your skin is all that’s needed. Make sure you’ll be able to wash it off afterwards though!

‘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.’