Pasties are like unicorns. Everyone knows what they are, but few have actually seen them in real life, and even fewer have actually experienced them.
I’m a life long DIY enthusiast and an amateur burlesque entertainer. One of my favorite things about the burlesque community is the warm and fuzzy body positivity and an intense love of Doing It Yourself. Lots of burlesque performers have learned to shake what their mommas gave them while wearing pasties that they made.
Every burlesque star has her (or his!) own method of pastie making. Every performer has figured out what works for them, so consider this a starting point. Trial and error is one of the most exciting parts of DIY. I know that my method is different, but it works for me.
A pastie is a decorative covering for the nipple and areola. They can be any shape, color, and texture. "Tassels" or "tasseled pasties" are pasties with a weighted tassel attached to them in order to enhance the shimmy of the wearer. But we'll start with basic pastie making because you’ve got to learn to walk before you can run (or in this case, you have to learn how to bump and grind before you can learn how to shimmy and twirl).
Pasties can be fun both on and off stage. I’m hoping all of you will whip up a fierce pair and let me know how much fun you (and your personal audience) had with them. I think pasties are pretty damn magical and I know you will too!
- A compass or something round for your pastie pattern (bottles of various sizes)
- bobby pins or paper clips
- craft glue (such as E-6000, Magna-Tac, hot glue)
- buckram or craft foam
- embellishments (feathers, rhinestones, googley eyes, studs, pom-poms, confetti, etc. -- go crazy here, if you can imagine it and glue it, go for it!)
1. Figure out how big you want your pasties to be. Keep breast size and nipple+areola circumference in mind here. The size of the pastie should work with the kind of heat you are packing and the impact you want to make!
That being said, if you are unsure of the size you want to be working with, start with a few options. I used a water bottle and a beer bottle of two different sizes to figure out my size. If you are one of those perfectionist types, go for a compass and draw out a few circles with diameters ranging from 2-4”. Draw these options on paper before you transfer your final size to the actual materials. After all, in good DIY, we measure twice and cut once.
2. Once you have decided on a size that works with your anatomy and vision, we can get to the actual pastie construction! Take your pattern that you just cut out of paper and transfer it to the craft foam or buckram, as well as the felt. Try to be as precise as possible here to avoid headaches later. I can’t tell you how many DIY projects I have had to chuck in the garbage because I rushed.
I used Sharpie to trace, once my washable fabric marker decided to die on me.
3. Cut out the four circles (two on the foam or buckram and two on the felt). Remember to take it slow!
4. Glue the foam or buckram to the felt by spreading a thin and even layer of glue on the BOTTOM of what will be your TOP layer. Think of what you want to show and put the glue on the opposite of that! If you are using E-6000, remember to ventilate the area since that stuff is mad toxic.
If you are using buckram, which is a highly starched, but porous material that is used in hat-making, you are going to have to layer the circles in between wax paper like a pastie sandwich (yumm!). Place a book or something else that is heavy and flat to really smoosh the layers together. Smoosh is a technical DIY term, right?
Leave your two pasties overnight to make sure that they really dry.
5. Mark your center point on each of the pasties. Draw a line out from that point. Take your scissors and carefully cut from the outside of the pastie to the center point you just marked. Don’t cut too deep into the pastie!
6. Make a thin line of glue on top of the pastie, right next to the cut. You will be folding the top over the bottom. Remember that pasties, just like boobs and nipples, come in pairs so try to think of this step as if you are wearing the pasties. One will fold right over left and the other will fold left over right.
Have I lost you yet? You're almost done.
7. Criss-cross two bobby pins over the overlapped portion. Use a paperclip if you can’t get your hands on some bobby pins. If any glue oozes out, wipe it away with a Q-tip.
Let these dry over night. If you have access to a sewing machine, you can zigzag stich over the overlapped portions to finish the pasties. If you don’t have access to a machine, don’t’ fret, because we are now ready to decorate!!!
8. If you can imagine it, make it happen. I made a few pairs with foam shapes I found in the scrapbooking aisle at Michael’s. I grabbed some mini pom-poms and made some totally twee pasties. Confetti! Googley eyes! Rhinestones! Whatever! This is the fun part. Go for it!
Remember to be patient with glue and know what you are working with before you crank out a huge batch of these puppies! E-6000 will destroy the fine foil backing on acrylic rhinestones and Magna-Tac bubbles up in summer heat. I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but take it slow, y’all.
9. Show off your new pasties! I’m not going to showcase the final product here on the internet (hi, Mom and Dad!), but I think you get the idea. To attach these lil’ suckers to your bosom, you have some options. The easiest choice is that double-sided tape designed to prevent wardrobe malfunctions. This can be found at Ricky’s and Target.
If you are blessed with some really bodacious tatas or if you made a heavy pair of pasties, you can upgrade to double sided carpet tape or eyelash glue. Experiment with what works for you and what can stand up to your new fabulous shimmy!