Make an Easy Shonen Knife Costume!

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Shonen Knife is still rockin’ the stage. Let your little one rock their retro look. Image: Lisa Kay Tate

It’s a cool feeling when your own children embrace some of your memories, and make them their own. My six-year-old has discovered the pop-punk trio Shonen Knife.

Whether it’s their catchy beats, colorful homemade-looking videos, or their Ramones-meets-Hello Kitty look, they are her band, and she wants to dress like them. Specifically, she wants the two-tone heart dresses they wore in their sugar high of a video, Riding on the Rocket.

Per her request, I created a way turn two cheap t-shirts into one retro and colorful Shonen Knife-inspired costume that can be worn year round.

What you need:

  • Two inexpensive t-shirts (one white, one another bright color)
  • Fabric adhesive tape
  • Black cloth paint
  • One or two sheets of bright colored craft foam
    skdresmaterials
    Basic materials for the Shonen Knife dress. Two tees will soon become one. Image: Lisa Kay Tate.

First, cut both t-shirts in half, directly down the center. Take one half of each, and sew them together, either by hand or machine, for a two-tone dress. If you use a machine, this goes pretty fast. I would suggest going one size larger than you need, so it fits a little big, like a dress.

With the leftover half of the white t-shirt, cut out a heart large enough for the front. You can use a template or draw your own, as it’s really very basic. Using a fabric adhesive sheet, iron the heart to the chest area of the dress.

Using cloth paint, make a thick outline around the heart and on the collar area of the shirt. Veteran costume-makers could also sew or adhere black material to this part, but for quick costuming, painting is the easiest method.

Once the dress is done, cut a strip from the leftover colored t-shirt to create a matching headband. This entails folding the strip lengthwise in half, and sewing it to give it some thickness. Measure the length around the head before sewing the two ends together.

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Use the discarded t-shirt half to create the heart design (top center), and coordinating headband (bottom center), to help complete that Shonen Knife look. Images: Lisa Kay Tate

Finally, you need some big, bright earrings. Cut either heart or simple blossom shapes in the craft foam, and attach them to plain French hook earring backs.

One tip for unpierced ears: Instead of using clip-on earring backs, attach the French hooks to the headband after the headband in place. The earrings are big enough to show, and they won’t get lost or irritate the ears.

This can be worn with black or dark tights or leggings, and simple flats. Crocs are great, as they come in bright colors and are comfortable for walking.

That’s all there is to this simple ’90s pop-punk look.

Let’s Knife!

shonen knife dress 2
Photo collages by Lisa Kay Tate

Lisa Kay Tate is a veteran feature writer with 20 years experience in newspaper, magazine and freelance writing. In addition to serving as Associate Editor for her local arts and entertainment guide, El Paso Scene, she has been a regular contributor to the site ihogeek.com and maintains her own blogsite at lisathegeekmom.wordpress.com. She and her husband, writer/photographer Rick, live on the edge of "New Texico" where they keep busy raising their two geeklings and sharing space with their dog, Sirius Black, and cat, Loki.