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How to Make a "Mary Mary Quite Contrary" Costume

Updated April 17, 2017

The origins of nursery rhymes like "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary" go back in history to other times and countries. Mary I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots are two queens that this rhyme is said to have possibly been originated for. Both women were known for their control over their people and their torturous tactics. However, the rhymes have evolved throughout the centuries to be acceptable for children. Mary's costume is not difficult to put together and can reflect objects and symbols the wearer wishes to display.

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  1. Obtain a dress from a thrift store. Choose an old prom-type gown, if possible. Clean the dress before wearing it. Put the dress on.

  2. Pull on a curly-haired wig, or curl your own hair. Make the ringlet-type curls that were popular in past centuries, if desired. Pin some ribbons in your hair, if you wish.

  3. Tie a sunbonnet on the wig or hair. Make a bow with the bonnet strings so they will stick out under the chin.

  4. Put on leggings and dressy shoes. Consider the Mary Jane-type shoes that are shiny and dressy-looking.

  5. Wear an apron over the dress. Find an apron that covers the bodice and the front of the dress, and also has pockets in the front.

  6. Tie several ribbons around the handle of a medium-to-large wicker basket. Arrange the ribbons in several places along the handle. Let the ribbons cascade down over the basket.

  7. Fill the basket with artificial flowers. Use a variety of colours and sizes for the flowers. Have some flowers hanging down from the sides of the basket.

  8. Place some seashells among the flowers. Use shells that are large enough to show in the full basket of flowers.

  9. Place some small dolls among the flowers. Use the flowers in the basket to cover the dolls so it looks like they are dressed in the flowers. Tie some ribbons in the dolls' hair, if desired.

  10. Prepare a watering can to carry along with the basket of flowers. Use a new or clean used can. Tie some ribbons around the handle of the watering can.

  11. Tie a sprig of flowers onto the tool-end of two or more gardening tools. Place the tools inside the apron pocket, letting the flowers show.

  12. Tip

    Consider painting some seashells silver to further illustrate the words of the rhyme. Fill the watering can about half-full with artificial flower petals. Add an interesting dimension to the costume by pouring some flower petals out of the watering can now and then.

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Things You'll Need

  • Long, full dress
  • Bonnet
  • Wig, optional
  • Apron with pockets
  • Ribbons
  • Hair clips
  • Leggings, optional
  • Dressy flat shoes
  • Watering can
  • Garden tools
  • Basket
  • Artificial flowers
  • Seashells
  • Small dolls

About the Author

Larry Davis has worked in the safety and environmental field since 1975, writing for "Chevron Review" and other professional magazines. He wrote monthly columns for "Heavy Equipment News" and has written safety programs and training materials. He holds two bachelor's degrees, a master's degree in safety and earned his doctorate in safety engineering, studying under professors from the University of Iowa and Texas A&M University.

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