Monday, October 28, 2013

Lost Arts

There are a lot of, too many, a stupid number of things in this world that blow my mind.

Lately it’s that homemade Hallowe’en costumes appear to be a lost art.

And I’m not ragging on parents who work long hours and in the interests of allowing their child wear the costume of said child’s heart’s desire, run out and buy it...

No. I get that.

And I understand that (apparently) the ability to use a sewing machine is a skill dangling off the bottom of the home economics resume on both sides of the gender gap.

I also understand that for some people it’s worth their money and not their time when it comes to Hallowe’en—they’re pressed for time and would more willingly part with money than create a Hallowe’en costume from scratch, regardless of sewing ability involved.

To be absolutely clear: this is not a rant about people who buy their costumes.

This isn’t even a rant about how all holidays are becoming increasingly soaked in consumerism—every atypical square on the calendar seems to be another reason to buy things. Ugh.

This is, however, a post about the reaction we receive from our homemade costumes.

People are flabbergasted.

Like, completely floored.

Absolutely effing shocked that I made the costumes myself.



This year my oldest wanted to be a chicken, and my youngest a Jedi knight.

I thought about what we already had in the house and cross-referenced it with what is easily found at second hand stores. There was a storm all up in this brain like no brainstorm ever before.

Thus, this year the Hallowe’en costumes here at Chez Lannis have been brought to us by an $8 Value Village ladies’ white hoodie, a pair of red jogging pants and three stained white T-shirts from our household rag bag, a plastic chicken mask left over from Princess’ wedding (as incongruous as that sounds), a lightsaber received one Christmas past, an old canvas belt, and the living room curtains.

Yes, the living room curtains.

Since I’ve painted the room, I’ve decided we didn’t need to put them back up. Which means I had six chocolate brown sun-bleached panels with nowhere to go... until this ulterior purpose arose.

So I bleached a couple of panels off-white, cream, a weird peachy colour. Using Mr Lannis’ karate gi as a model, I created a simple pair of glorified drawstring pyjamas for my little Jedi knight. Then I chopped a brown curtain panel in half, zipped a line up the back (so it was a giant hood) then cut two armholes at roughly shoulder height.

Jedi DONE!

For the chicken? That white secondhand hoodie got flipped inside out, and the red jogging pants were hacked and sewn into the shape of a chicken’s crown, stuffed with—yes—more red jogging pant material before being sewn onto the hood. The stained T-shirts were cut into rough wing shapes and hand sewn onto the hoodie’s sleeves before I cut them into long 2” strips that look suspiciously like feathers.

The handy dandy thing about t-shirt material: it doesn’t fray.

Chicken DONE!

Admittedly what sells the chicken costume is the latex beak mask, but that’s okay. And with his glasses, my oldest resembles Disney's Chicken Little more than a bit, to his dismay (he’s been given permission to go trick or treating sans glasses on All Hallow’s Eve).

And since we live in Canada, I ensured both costumes would fit over the boys’ coats.

Hallowe’en gets, er, chilly in these here parts.

The Jedi costume though... at our town’s local Hallowe’en shindig I had a woman ask if I had purchased my youngest’s costume online, because it resemble the one she knew to be $75.


Now, I’m pretty frugal (that sounds better than cheap) but there’s no way I’d be spending $75 on my kid’s costume, even when I know since it’s a Jedi costume he’d want to wear it every chance he gets, all the time, day and night, let’s face it: whenever he’s breathing.

But just imagine the look on this lady’s face when I finally flagged down the six-year-old Jedi (who was busy flipping around on the grass, swinging that lightsaber for all he’s worth and making the appropriate vocal lightsaber sounds), to show her the curtain panel’s pockets, hidden on the inside hem of his dark robes.

Yes, lady. This costume cost me NIL.

And apparently it’s a lost art.


  1. I bought costumes for the first couple of years, but then I began to remember how we used to do it. The store-bought costumes are way too thin to be any use, they fall apart after one night, my kids freeze wearing them, and they don't look good. Last year my little girl was a witch (wearing her own clothes and a hat borrowed from a friend) and my son was a demon (wearing his own clothes and some store-bought face paint). This year they want to be the vampires from Adventure Time, which will again use their own clothing, a bit of Halloween makeup, and black wigs (I'd go with washable coloured hair spray, but you don't mess with red hair, stuff just doesn't wash out of that very well).

    Of course they want different costumes for school (which I fully support, because I'm sure a day at school would completely mess up those wigs), but those are easy too. We have an Adventure Time Finn hat, so that combined with his usual clothes will make my son an easy Finn costume. I suggested to my daughter that she could be a monster, since Monsters Inc. has shown us that monsters can look like anything really. So today I'll be hot gluing felt claws onto dollar store stretchy gloves. A leg of stuffed tights can pin to her pants for a tail, some more felt glued to a headband can make horns, and the rest is all her own clothes and face paint.

    That said, I envy your zero cost costume creation. Mine always seem to want the costumes that need makeup or accessories.


    For the record, when they both put in their bids for dream costumes, I was discouraged, then gave it a few day's thought. It fell together a lot better than I'd dreamed when I realized I didn't need those dang curtains, ha! :D

  3. Well you did a fantastic job! Curtains to costume is not a mental leap I would have made.

  4. Love this! I make my daughters' costumes, and it reminded me of my mom making me Princess Leia out of a white bedsheet (and about 100 bobby pins in my hair!) the next year it doubled for Casper! My brother was The Incredible Hulk and she made panty hose potatoes to stuff in a green turtle neck to give him "muscles"!! It is a lost art!

  5. Oh my, that Incredible Hulk sounds amazing... I might have to stow that idea away for next year! Thanks for stopping by, Spark*Amy! :)