October 16, 2009

The World of Make Believe

Each Halloween I get to channel my inner Martha and create wonderfully spooky (or fun) costumes for my girls. I don’t know how many years I have left, so I make the most of the holiday.

Back in my fashion days, I use to sew and design clothes (my wedding gown the week of finals!) but I never really enjoyed the “making” part, only the “creating” part. Now each year, I become a kid again just thinking about all of the possibilities. When my son was a young boy, I sewed elaborate costumes (a certain tyrannosaurus rex costume comes to mind) because he was my only child at the time. I now try to create things that won’t take me weeks and weeks of slaving over the sewing machine. I reuse, repurpose, and wield a mean glue gun. Here are a few of the highlights…

(Photo above) This is one of my favorites... My oldest daughter is wearing a jeweled vintage blouse that I no longer wear. The holes in the sleeves gave it that perfect tattered look I was going for. I draped her in costume jewelry (some of it plastic), had her don a wig and attached spider webs and plastic spiders all over her. My mummy is wrapped in surgical gauze and cheesecloth from head to toe. I made body sections (2 arms, 2 legs etc.) and fastened them with safety pins so it was easy to get in and out of. A little face paint and voila - creepy costumes in a snap.
Confession: The Dorothy costume was sewn (but not by me - we borrowed it). The scarecrow costume is simply a large sweatsuit stuffed with newspaper and embellished with inexpensive finds. I purchased 2 small hula skirts from the party store and cut one down for the collar. I cut the second skirt in quarters (careful to tape the edges so they wouldn't fray) and attached them to the arms and feet. I used the "straw" cut from the first skirt to stuff in daughter #2's hat. I cinched her waist with a rope, painted her face and added a felt cap.
This was another fun one to create. My youngest is wearing an old shirt of mine that I cut jagged edges into so the fabric looked like it was torn. I rubbed white face paint all over my hands and then rubbed them all over the fabric to make it look as though it was old and dirty. She has very long hair so I pinned it up and piled it on her head and sprayed it with hairspray and dusted it with powder. Goulish make-up completes the look. My oldest daughter is wearing a lot of my wardrobe--a gold thread top (underneath), a silver threaded scarf on her head, one of my stoles and oodles of jewelry. The pouch hanging on her side is one I made for my son's Robin Hood costume years ago and finished off her gypsy costume nicely. (As for the dramatic faces - what can I say? They have ME for a mother.)
I stole this look from the year my son went as a mad scientist. I couldn't find the lab coat we once had, so I had to scramble and find a substitute quick. Luckily this white "jacket" was found at a dollar store--a little on the large side--but it worked. I found a long witches wig (same store) and cut it short and spiked it with hairspray. The stethoscope was courtesy of a nurse friend. I purchased plastic tubing from the hardware store and filled it with fake blood. (This was also a leftover from my son's costume.) A few spiders and lab rat, plus a scary hand decoration, make for a mad costume indeed.

Daughter #1's costume was inspired by the Keira Knightley character in Pirates of the Caribbean. Everything is mine again except for the vest and pants. She wore pajama bottoms and a vest found at a discount store. The ruffled top is actually lingerie but I didn't tell her that! (See the pouch again on her side?) We finished it off with a black scarf, a leather belt, a set of iron keys (ironically bought at Disney World from the Pirates of the Caribbean set) and a plastic sword.

These images from Country Living Magazine are a perfect example of creative costuming without spending a lot of money. I have used yards of cheescloth for a variety of costumes including ghosts. Feathers and masks (or feathers on masks) make great accessories. If you're worried about vision, make a hat instead. Cover a stocking cap with a variety of feathers and you'll get the same effect.

This year's costumes? I'll let you know how it goes!