Wednesday, October 30, 2013

DIY Costumes

Oh, how I love this time of year. Not Halloween itself. I couldn't care less about bats or spiders or even pumpkins.

What I love is making costumes.

My father always made our costumes and it was usually something grand. I remember paper mache being involved more than once. My hometown had a Halloween parade (still does) and costume contest and it was awesome. My sisters and I were known to take home a blue ribbon or two.

So it's in my blood to make costumes.

Last year, I was consumed with cardboard boxes and spray paint and ended up with this Thomas train that the poor kid absolutely loved but could barely walk in...

This year there was a cardboard box involved, but that was for Essie (which I'll get to in a minute). The two big kids, meanwhile, insisted on being Jake and Izzy from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Well, for weeks they waffled every ten minutes between Jake and Batman, and Izzy and Cinderella. But they landed on the good pirates on my cut-off date so that's what stuck.

(In case you don't know who they are, they're the two in the middle, front.)

I spent about $20 at JoAnn Fabrics on lots of felt, bandanas (yay for not having to sew hems on every single piece of fabric!), and fake black hair. I came home and, in about five minutes, had put together most of both costumes.

Clara's was really simple, just a pink shirt and purple pants she already had. And since the only shoes she owned were sandals and it's almost November, I bought her some boots that she could use long after Halloween. I then made some felt boot-tops (or whatever you may call them?) to make them look more pirate-y. My favorite part, which took a whole three minutes, are her hoop earrings. I just hot-glued the felt hoops with yarn to her bandana.

For Luke, I made him some "boots" to go over his sneakers and turned one of his white t-shirts into a pirate shirt (he's got a long-sleeve shirt under it here) by cutting slits in the arms and at the middle of the neck. I sewed a vest out of blue felt and yellow trim. And, thankfully, he's too young to care that he's sporting some of Clara's jeggings. But pirates (the fictional ones, at least) do have some feminine qualities to their appearances, when you think about it.

They are in love with their costumes. Luke, especially, is giddy with excitement. We took them to trick-or-treat at a local college on Sunday and Luke told people in all seriousness that his name was Jake. He overheard some little kids talking about his costume and he grabbed his sword out of the stroller and started waving to them, all in character. And when he saw another toddler in a Jake costume he literally accosted him. The poor kid was darting back and forth to avoid Luke. 

They were drunk on missed naps and sugar, and so I did what any good mother would do. Encouraged them to try to eat donuts hanging from strings.

The star of the afternoon though, at least in our family, was little Miss Essie. Everyone stopped us to see our sweet Cabbage Patch doll.

We really, really didn't have a choice. She just had to be a doll.

A few months back, friends started sharing with me a link to an Etsy shop that made hats that look like Cabbage Patch dolls' hair. I knew we had to get her one for Halloween.

Her costume seems simple as I think about it, but it was slightly time-consuming and was finished over some late-night TV watching (I'll forever think of the last season of Breaking Bad when I see this box in our attic).

Ryan thought I was going a little overboard hand-painting the logo on, but I know no other way. No, seriously. I don't even know what people mean when they say they modge podge printed things on. And our printer's broken. Painting it is just sooooo much easier for me.

She's wearing one of my dresses from, oh, 35-and-a-half years ago. And I draped green fabric over her stroller seat and then velcroed it onto the top of the box.

That photo above may make it appear that she was more than happy to oblige her mother by acting very doll-like (which wouldn't be shocking, since she really is the most amazingly good-natured baby in the world). But truth be told, she wasn't having it.

Oddly, I don't have any shots from the majority of the time in which she wasn't thrilled (funny how that happens), but I did find this one which may or may not depict a little bribing going on.

Don't worry, Es. I'd do just about anything for a McD's fry too.

Okay, so those are for Halloween. But we can't forget about All Saints Day!

Due to my love of costume-making, I have long dreamed about making saints costumes, but there's never been an All Saints Day party to attend. Until this year. Our moms' group announced one a couple weeks ago and I knew I'd be doubling-up on costumes this year (there was no going back on Jake and Izzy, believe me).

So once I was done with their Halloween costumes, I set to work on making them into their patron saints. And by "set to work" I mean pulled down my bin of fabric I've collected throughout the last six or seven years and was shocked to learn I had exactly what I needed to make two little nuns and one priest.

Clara is St. Clare of Assisi, Essie (aka Esther Grace Therese) is St. Therese and Luke Kolbe is St. Maximilian Kolbe.

It's almost as if their saints had been encouraging me to save odd things over the years. Old tank-tops of mine, Ikea chair covers I bought on eBay and never used, black jersey left over from a dress I made my sister ages ago. The only things I had to buy were a black turtleneck and blue dress shirt for Luke, which came to a grand total of $4.00 at Goodwill.

There is just something about seeing your baby dressed as a nun. Oh my.

No sewing. Lots of hot glue. And felt. It was almost too easy, so last night I made a crucifix with roses and a monstrance with Blessed Sacrament (is it capitalized if it's not real?) out of paper plates and felt, just so I could keep the creative juices flowing.

Luke really nailing that Maximilian Kolbe serious look.
All this costume-making doesn't come without its sacrifices. I have two ginormous piles of clean and dirty laundry, both waiting to be dealt with. My kitchen floor needs a really good cleaning (to put it politely). And my kids' rooms need to be gone over with a bulldozer. I have a certain tolerance for a mess when I'm consumed with special projects and the pendulum is definitely starting to swing too close to the disaster side for my liking.

So back to normal it is. Except that we might have a couple pirates running around here once in a while.


  1. Wowza! You have some serious talent there! My kids' costumes are store bought and don't look half as cute as yours! I'm upping the ante for next year. Do you do private consults??? ;-) ADORABLE!

  2. Wow! You are so talented! Those costumes are so creative. I love the Cabbage Patch idea. And your kids are so cute!

  3. Oh my word. The cabbage patch kid.......the BEST!!

  4. this is just too fun and cute! you are so creative. i was blown away before I got to the saints and then i just stared in awe and disbelief. so. awesome.!

  5. Love all the costumes. My kids asked for Jake and Izzy this year too but we have zero $$ in our budget so they are using outfits from our dress up bin.
    We are also hosting an All Saints Day Party but no budget means no costumes for us.
    Maybe next year.

  6. It posted before I could type that the cabbage patch idea was the best one ever! Essie is a doll and fits that costume perfect!!!!

  7. Oh, WOW, the Cabbage Patch Doll is the coolest costume EVER. You totally made my day.

  8. E loved looking at these with me! You have talent, girl! I feel like the Today show always has some sort of need to enter one year! :) Happy Halloween!!!

  9. I love your creativity, your kids, and the costumes. Joseph is begging now for his turn to ride Thomas ;))) Happy Halloween to your beautiful crew!

  10. Soooooooooo fun, the kids look adorable!

  11. I love i! My baby was a Cabbage Patch Kid too. I seriously love the box too. :)

  12. Its look like you are doing so much of R&D for these blog, I really appreciate you very much.