Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween - A Maker's Delight

I went to a costume and party store today, to buy a balloon reward for a job well done. That's all I wanted, a balloon. Being that it is Halloween week, however, we couldn't resist a look around at all the costumes and junk on offer for this years' festivities. There was an amazing selection of costumes, masks and wigs. Everything for kids, adults, I think I even saw some dog costumes in there. All great fun, of course, but really, isn't buying a ready made costume missing the whole point?

When we were kids more than half the fun was tearing the house apart looking for old clothes, tea towels, cardboard, tin foil, Styrofoam and poster paint to put together some monstrous outfit, some hilarious get up or some perplexing accouterments to wear on Halloween. Also part of the fun where we grew up was figuring out how to winterize the costume, since we regularly treat or treated in the snow. Just how many pairs of tights can one wear under a gypsy skirt anyway?

One year my mum helped me make a lion costume; my friends were Tin Man, Scarecrow and Dorothy. Then the next year, I found a yellow unitard, sewed fabric swatches to a belt and a hat and was a jester. Another year I wore all my red clothes, made a tail out of old red tights and horns out of paper mache. With a made up face I was a totally convincing devil, a look I still resurrect from time to time. One year I altered a pair of palazzo pants of my mother’s, added a velvet vest, cobbled together a fez type arrangement out of a yogurt tub and put bells on my ballet slippers. The resulting genie was so good that I won a bookstore gift voucher from a radio station that broadcast from my school. My mum liked it so much, she wore it to a fancy dress party later that year!

As I got older, treat or treating gave way to going to parties, then bars. Over the years I perfected the “vampire slut” look so much that it became quite legendary among my friends. Occasionally I paired up with my sister or my roommate and did a “twin vampire slut” act. I often dyed my hair black just to perfect the effect. But always the costumes were homemade. I even made vampire teeth out of a piece of white plastic.

Last year, I confess, I bought Lucy a costume. It was on sale and she loved it so much that we created a superhero theme for her birthday party in April so she could wear it again. This year, since I’m on a making kick, I could hardly buy an off the rack costume again, could I? Even though the costumes, inspired by the movie Hairspray, are readily available, I was determined to make them.

By now I shouldn’t be surprised at how rewarding this whole experience was. I took both my daughter and my niece to the fabric store to choose fabrics, finding some perfect and well priced options. I altered patterns I already had to put the dresses together, and even styled the girl’s hair myself (Although I wore a wig)! As you can see from the pictures we all looked adorable, and the girls loved them.

I was on a roll. Next my husband decided he wanted to be Captain Jack Sparrow, from Pirates of the Caribbean. “No problem!” said I and set about fashioning him not only a costume, but a wig made from an old fleece scarf! I found everything I needed either in my house, or at thrift stores. We were sensational at our pre-Halloween party.

It’s still five days until Halloween; Lucy has four more costume wearing opportunities, in addition to Treat or Treating. Lucy will wear a semi handmade Wordgirl costume for Trick or Treating, and miscellaneous princess/fairy dresses for all the other events. Enough time has elapsed since I made the costumes that I’ve cleaned up the sewing room. It looks orderly and nice for a change.

But I’ve got an itch, an itch to stitch…Christmas here we come.

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