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Monday, October 22, 2012

Halloween Costume Extravaganza

By Kari Baker-Lott, Kandis Hamrick, and Victoria Kulig

Dalmatian Costume (by Kari)

As a preschool teacher, Halloween is a big deal around my classroom.  This year I decided to make a costume I could wear for our Halloween Parade, which meant that it needed to be cool and comfortable since I have to walk around in the middle of the day in HOT HOT HOT Florida with 40 three and four year-olds.

I found some dalmatian print fabric and I already had a dalmatian hat, so I decided to make a simple dress out of the fabric.  I started by cutting the fabric.  I have a very simple dress pattern that is comfy and quick.  You can find lots of easy patterns at fabric stores.  I used a McCall's pattern (M6465) that has no zipper, which meant less sewing time.

I sewed the sides and shoulders using a french seam.  This is a simple way to finish off a seam and limit the amount of fraying.  I then added the sleeves and the facing (facing finishes the neckline without having a visible stitch).  I hemmed the dress with my machine, but for clothes I know I want to wear more than once, I would do I hidden hand stitch such as a catch stitch or a slip stitch.  I finished off this costume by painting black dots on a pair of white tights and adding the adorable dalmatian hat!

Wonder Woman (by Victoria)

In my attempts at being healthy and figuring out how to be the best possible person I can - I came across the realization one day that I am pretty much Wonder Woman. Ever since realizing this, and figuring out there’s nothing I can’t do - I started referring to myself as it a lot.

So it’s no surprise that for the upcoming Savage Race I decided I wanted to wear a Wonder Woman costume. I realize that there are a plethora of costumes available for purchase, but they all seem to run along the theme that Wonder Woman doesn’t like to wear clothes. And okay, admittedly, her original outfit is kind of skimpy.

However, I’m not that body shape or type, nor am I comfortable wearing such a revealing outfit, so I decided to create my own version.

I started with the top. I’m running a race, so I want to wear a comfortable top and t-shirts generally make good workout clothes. They also hold paint pretty well - so I picked up a plain red t-shirt at Hancock Fabric’s for $3 on clearance, then used my Cricut to create a stencil and paint it onto the shirt.

For the bottom I wanted full coverage. Although I try my best, I’m still a pretty big girl and I like to keep parts of me hidden from prying eyes. So I decided to wear running shorts underneath a skirt.

I found at Hancock’s a beautiful blue fabric with white stars - and it was shiny. It was also a costume fabric, meaning it’s fragile and not likely to hold up well to a lot of abuse. In that case, I wanted to avoid cutting into and creating a lot of seams.

Kari however, owns a serger. A quick drive over to her house and a description of what I was trying to do later, she helped me figure out how to create a circle skirt.

To make the circle skirt, we measured my waist and added an inch and a half to the diameter to allow the fabric to stretch with the elastic.  Then we divided by 6.28 in order to get the radius we needed to cut the fabric.  We marked the fabric where we needed to cut for the waist and then measured the length of the skirt.  Because it was a short skirt, I was able to cut the entire thing in one piece.  We folded the fabric in quarters and cut the center circle of the skirt.  We used as a reference for the measurements.  This is a great, easy to follow pattern and explains things simply.

Once it had been properly measured and cut, she kindly threaded her serger for me and explained how to use it. I serged the inside circle, and the outside circle - ensuring that the fabric wouldn’t fray and giving it a finished edge.

Next, I took a wide band of elastic (3 inch wide) and cut it to my waist. I sewed the band closed, then, stretching it out as I went, attached it to the circle skirt. This gave the band some elasticity, helping to keep it in place.

After I tried it on the first time however, it became clear that I didn’t measure it just right and it was a tad big - so I pinched the whole skirt in an inch, and gave it a seam, to tighten it up.

Then I went down to Spirit, and I found an accessory kit, saving me the extra effort of making armbands and a headband. All together, I feel it’s a pretty modest, comfortable outfit to run a race in! Hopefully it doesn’t get completely destroyed after...

Mulan Costume (by Kari)


A friend of mine from work was talking to me about Halloween costumes for her daughter.  She was looking for a Mulan costume but was only finding very poor quality costumes for 50 or more dollars.  She told me that she needed a little "divine intervention" for this costume.  We went shopping at Goodwill because that has the largest selection where we live.  I was able to find 3 skirts and a blazer for around $20.  Then we went to the fabric store and got the sheer blue for the wrap, and the purple ribbon trim for the top of the "robe."  We got the fabric on sale and spent $5 there.  I had some blue fabric left over from another project, which I used to make the blue waist wrap.

This is what you give me to work with... well, honey, I've seen worse.

The next step is to cut the old pieces apart and make new ones.

I cut the bottom tier off of the orange-coral skirt and used that to make the wrap belt.  I folded it in half and finished the edges with a machine stitch.  I left it intentionally long so it could wrap multiple times around her.
Next, I pinned the purple trim to the blazer.  I quickly sewed it on and cut about 6 inches of fabric off of the blazer so it wouldn't show past the belt.  I also took the shoulder pads out to prevent it from looking so 80's!

Then I made the middle piece of the costume. If your fabric is wide enough, you can simply fold it in half; I was using fabric I already had and it wasn't wide enough so I had to cut two large strips of blue fabric and sew them together. I sewed down the long sides of the two strips to form a tube of fabric. Then used iron-on interfacing that I secured on one side. Then I flipped the tube of fabric so the right sides were out and ironed the whole piece flat.  I then folded the ends in and finished them with a straight stitch.

I made the shawl with a single yard of fabric.  I cut it in half lengthwise and used a serger to finish the edges.  I then sewed the two pieces together at one end to create one large strip of fabric.

I then layered the two skirts, the blazer/robe, the blue waistband, and the wrap belt.  I finished her costume off with a flower for her hair and a pair of black flats.

“Big Tony” (by Kandis)

I'm going to take a moment (as my dear friend Lynz would say) wear my geek on my sleeve. This Halloween, my friends and are having a themed party where we will be doing some Live Action Role-Playing (aka LARPing). My amazing friend and roommate has created his own Tabletop RPG and we each have our own character. It would be far too difficult to explain the whole RPG universe and characters, so I'll just briefly summarize "Big Tony".

He’s big and rough around the edges and isn't afraid to use brute force to get things done. He's an NYPD Detective, but he's also...connected. As in mafia. Oh, and he's a werewolf.

Step one in this transformation was to add a little muscle, so I bought a padded muscle shirt from a costume store in town. I had to add snaps to the back closure because the velcro it came with pulled apart too easily.

Next, Tony needed a holster for his gun. I had some black vinyl remnants on hand so I decided to use this; the back of this material was white felt material (I think the fabric was originally meant for tablecloths). I was able to lay my gun on the white side of the vinyl and trace its outline. I added about ½” seam allowance all the way around and cut the pieces out. There was a little trial and error involved here. I’ve made a PDF pattern (based on this gun which I found at my local Spirit Halloween store) that you can download here.

Since I used vinyl, I didn’t finish my edges. If you’re using a thinner material you can easily sew the pieces with right sides together and then turn it right-side out but you’ll also want to add interfacing to give it more stability.

I put the gun holster on a belt I already had and put it all together. Then I added some gold jewelry, including a sweet pinky ring to finish off the mafia look. “Big Chris” from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was definitely an inspiration.

Olivia (by Kari)

This costume is for the party that Kandis mentioned above; my character is a very New York woman who happens to be Tony's partner.  I wanted to go a little over the top with this costume so I went to thrift stores and fabric stores looking for things I could use.  I found some fantastic animal print fabric that I used to make a shirt.  I also found some awful pleather pants at a thrift store.

The thing that made this costume was the accessories.  I found a huge gold cross and big hoop earrings at Goodwill.  I had a few big rings and bracelets that I used as well.

I needed a belt where I could keep the gun and knife I got from the party store.  I followed Kandis's pattern for the gun holster and I made a knife holster by tracing the blade and adding a 5/8 inch seam allowance on either side.  I attached it to the belt with a loop on the back of the holster.  Once I had the belt completed, my costume was ready.  I added a big wig, lots of make-up and, of course, some tall heels.

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