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Cosplay Stories : Winchester Mystery House by sayyadina42

Winchester Mystery House
Cosplayer sayyadina42
Photographer: wireheadarts kylie.clark_makes.things
Con: Silicon 2022 (San Jose, CA)

Sarah Winchester was heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune. Her husband died of tuberculosis and afterwards she moved to San Jose, California. She bought a small farmhouse in 1886, and began adding onto it. She was basically a hobbyist architect, and in a time before building codes she could do anything she wanted!

Each room was a new creative project, and she added onto the house with no overall plan. She had the budget to pay for amazing woodwork, beautiful stained glass, and many innovative and modern features for the time such as a shower and an in-house “telecom” system. The house reached seven stories before the 1906 earthquake destroyed a large portion of it.

I was inspired to make the costume when I visited the house in 2021. There were so many details that I felt I could incorporate into a really interesting garment. I also realized that the 100th anniversary of Sarah’s death with nearly coincide with SiliCon in 2022, so it seemed like the perfect time and place to present the costume!

The bottom half of the costume breaks down into four flat panels. The bodice is based on a standard Victorian style pattern. The difficulty came in connecting with the top and bottom smoothly, and in supporting what became a very heavy “skirt.” Originally I was going to have it hang from a frame that just attached to my waist, like a bustle. 

Ultimately though I had to build a wheel base to get the weight onto the ground. The structure is made of PVC pipe. To get the costume on and off I have to hammer it together or apart with a mallet which is a pretty funny looking process!

Figuring out how to do the lights was difficult as well. I had hoped to use a ready-made product of some kind so I wouldn’t have to deal with wiring, but I couldn’t find anything that would work. So I learned to solder for this costume, in order to use lights that would work for the effect I wanted!


Wearing the costume at the Winchester house was really neat, because of course the people on staff there know the house so well. They were able to appreciate better than anyone the details that I incorporated. And I incorporated a lot of details as accurately as I could! It was also really interesting seeing the house in person again after having studied the pictures so closely while working on the costume. The house felt smaller than before, in a friendly and familiar way, because I had put so many parts of it into my head in the process of putting it onto my costume.

I would like to recognize Janan Boehme of the winchestermysteryhouse for providing pictures of the tower windows, and Estella Inda of the San Jose Library California Room for providing the picture of Sarah Winchester. Thank you so much!!!

Disclaimer: All images and videos used, do not belong to FnC and belong to their respective owners.

This story first appeared Cosplay In America and if you want to share a “Cosplay Stories” to be shared here on this website, full details can be found here.

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