I’ve been wanting to do a blog (or something) about the Halloween costumes that I have made for my son over the years. I have often told people that it is a good thing that I ended up only having one kid, because the kind of thought, effort and time that I put into most of his costumes would just not have been possible for more than one.
Photos of the costumes pretty much speak for themselves. His first Halloween was just a few months after his birth and he loved dressing for Halloween and continued until peer pressure caught up with him and he decided to stop at 13. I had planned for the last one, even bought most of the materials, who knows, maybe as a young adult he will want the costume for a party. I miss the planning and creative process.
1995 – Baby Lion: This series of baby animal costumes was very popular around this time. They are so adorable. I had to go one better though and added many more multiple layers of ribbons in varying colors and widths. I included some down the chest and on the tail.
I dressed in a blue one-piece jumpsuit with the words “Zoo Keeper” on the back. I picked him up from his nanny and brought him to work for a Halloween party. We entered the costume contest and won first place for team costume. Everybody loved him and he loved the attention!
1996 – Dinosaur: This one was fun. His second Halloween, so still wasn’t sure about what was going on. I know he didn’t like the headpiece and was almost impossible to get the photo without him fidgeting with it. I used a ‘pleather’ material for the spikes and used a fabric pen for the spots. On the first go around, the legs were much too long and I had to shorten them and ended up making them almost too short. I used an elastic straps to keep the pantlegs in place. The tail is actually a separate piece attached with velcro.
1997 – Robin Hood: This costume was a last minute decision. I had been working some incredible hours at work and we were commuting more than an hour each way every day. The cape and tunic nearly required almost no sewing, using a soft fleece, I was able to cut the edges so that they didn’t require hemming. Thankfully he was still young enough to not know that he was wearing girl’s dark brown tights. We already had the boots and I just found an old belt in the closet that I was able to shorten. He should have had a bow and arrow (and maybe a quiver or a knife on his belt) but like I said, this was so last minute. I was lucky that the outfit wasn”t ruined during trick or treating so that we were able to go on the weekend and get photos. He was still pretty young, so I recall that we only went to a few close houses.
1998 – The TinMan: I started planning this costume much earlier this year. This was a joy. He had seen the movie for the first time that year and although I wanted him to be the Scarecrow (he had already been a lion, so the Cowardly Lion was out), he had a strong desire to be the TinMan. I think he wanted the ax. The body of the outfit is made with a soft metallic looking fabric and made it a little large so that he could wear sweats underneath it in case it was cold. The large ‘heart’ and the ax was found at a costume store. The funnel was found at Home Depot – attached to the head piece with velcro – and it and his boots (which he already had) were spray painted silver. I wanted to put silver makeup on his face, but when we tried it on a few nights before, he didn’t like the way it felt, so I went with just the rouge on his cheeks. In hindsight, I am glad I didn’t use the makeup, because he is so adorable without it!
Because we had planned this one with time to spare, I actually even made an outfit for me – I was Dorothy, down to the ruby sparkly shoes and french braid pig tails. We were a funny site, with Dorothy carrying both Toto in his basket and the TinMan around at the same time (once he’d grown tired). This was one of my favorite costumes and it had turned out well.
1999 – A Hobbit: A few years before the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Kid had been given an animated version of “The Hobbit” by a family friend. He nearly worn this VHS tape out watching it. I had made him a cape to wear for play, which had a hidden pocket on the inside for his ‘vial, which contained the light of eärendil’. He could practically recite the words of the story word for word. You can imagine his delight with the release of the movie trilogy.
This was another costume that wasn’t overly complicated. It started with a heavy fleece that looked like it could be a rough tweed for the tunic. Same for the pants. Simple construction with a elastic waist. Again, the whole thing was made just slightly larger than needed to accommodate something warmer underneath for the actual trick or treating event. I found some fun trims and a simple cording for the belt. Of course he had to have ‘sting’, a dagger large enough to be a sword for a hobbit. The funnest part of the costume was the large, hairy feet that every hobbit has. At a local costume shop, we found fake bloody feet… pretty much weren’t either left or right feet, so we were able to buy two. I cut the top of the ‘foot off’ large enough to slide a slipper into it, painted them “flesh colored’ and darkened them like they were dirty. Then using faux fur that I was able to clip and glue to the tops to make them ‘hairy’. Then when Halloween came, he simply stepped into the slippers and he was able to walk easily. This was the first costume that he wore to school – kindergarten – and sadly, most of the children (and even the parents) had no idea what he was supposed to be. He was simply about four years ahead of his time and the first Lord of the Rings movie.
2000 – Buzz Lightyear: This was another costume that required a lot of planning. And actually was pretty expensive and in the end I failed to make it come out like I wanted. You see, I really wanted to have his helmet actually swoosh back and open, like the character in the Toy Story movie. So I started with the body piece and helmet. I got a large piece of foam and warped it around him and secured it in the back. I covered it was a shiny nylon fabric that happened to come in all the right Buzz Lightyear colors. The buttons were actually the tops of deodorant sticks and a jar lid. I recreated all the patches and sewed them on.
I did a lot of searching and finally found at an industrial lighting place a large plastic globe that had the right demensions to fit over his head and around his neck. Using a very fine saw blade, I carefully cut the globe in not-quite-half, which would allow the front half to pivot into the back section. I was able to put two pivots at the sides and then was able to attached the back portion to the body piece. It was perfect!
For some reason I had the whole thing in my car when I went to work, I don’t recall exactly why. Perhaps I had wanted to show someone that I had shared my plan with, but there it was and there it sat all day in the California warm autumn. It was just warm enough in the car that it caused the plastic globe to warp and flatten the top pretty significantly and it would no longer pivot open. I used a hair dryer and spent many hours trying to get it reshaped, but it was no use. It had been ruined. I ordered another from the same lighting store but it had to be backordered and by the time it arrived, I was in a hurry and when I cut it in half, I apparently was a hurry and it caused the cut to be jagged and when I went past the halfway mark, it caused a large crack, and it couldn’t be salvaged. each globe was around $80 and just didn’t want to spend the money on a third attempt.
The remainder of the outfit was pretty easy. His wings were put together from foam board and were pretty light. They attached to the chest piece using velcro. Boots were spray painted white and then the green and purple details were added by hand. It really turned out good and if the helmet had worked out, it would have darn near perfect. The chest piece was slipped on over his head and was pretty form fitting, it wouldn’t have fit if he had grown at all!
2001 – Prince Charming: This is my all time favorite costume. And we had a fantastic photographer who took a large amount of poses and used a bunch of different lighting. They came out excellent. This one with the soft focus filter is my favorite of all of them.
My father and his family are Swedish and this country still has a King as it’s head of state. The crown’s colors are blue however, not the standard deep red. So when I set out to make to create Prince Charming, it had to be a Swedish prince.
This was made from a pattern, but done with special touches all around. The trims were carefully selected. Again, because the autumns are beautiful in Northern California but can still be chilly, I had him in black leggings and boots. The crown is actually two tiaras glued back to back and I added rhinestones and dusted it with a glitter lacquer. The scepter is actually just a rod painted gold with a glass door knob attached to the top.
2002 – Pirate: This was another fun one, and one that the Kid chose – I think - because it allowed him to have a sword. Until his 13th birthday, he wasn’t allowed to play with violent toys, such as guns and knives, but was allowed to have them if they were part of his costume.
This was all pretty straight forward stuff, created from patterns. It allowed me to work with some really fun and bright fabrics. We even fashioned him an earring (though you can’t see it in this photo) or a large ‘gold’ ring that was pulled apart enough to slip over his earlobe. I created ‘boots’ by making covers out of pleather and are simply slipped on over his shoes and pants. We thought of some additional details too late, but it would have been fun for him to have had an eye patch, a bird on his shoulder and maybe a hook or wooden leg. He did ‘argh’ his way all over the neighborhood and make a couple of kids walk the plank. All in good Halloween fun.
2003 – Soldier: His Mom was a solider, his Dad was an Airman and many more family members with military backgrounds, it only seemed right that he had a desire to dress in a uniform. I think there has been some sort of military action/war etc., going on during his entire lifetime, so when he chose to dress in a military uniform, I wanted to do it correctly. I made most of the uniform and the remainder and many of the details came from an Army Surplus store. He even is sporting actual official dog tags. I created his name and the Army insignia as close to official as possible. His boots are recreations of actual combat boots. Here is standing as parade rest. He took this very seriously. (Here he is getting ready for bed, insisted on wearing his dog tags for weeks following.)
2004 – Hans Solo: This was another costume that wasn’t decided on until very close to the holiday. Another easy one and I think brought about by the purchase of a light saber. Again, another pretty easy costume. I can’t seem to put my fingers on a photo right now, I have so many photos of that Kid strung across five or six computers and various hard drives and DVDs. I will upload one at a later date if I find it.
2005 – Link: This is probably my second favorite costume. And one that I am pretty proud of how it turned out. And again, we had a photographer who took his time and took a lot of photos and poses, so I was able to get some really good shots.
This is Link, the primary character in the Legend of Zelda game. The Kid has this on Wii, Nintendo and I am sure on his computer. Seemed like a doable character.
So, most of the costume, again, was pretty straightforward. Tunic over a light green t-shirt and tan sweat pants (no more fooling him into wearing girl’s leggings) and boots. These were a pair of my old heel-less slip on flats. Then a belt with a scabbard. Then I worked on the hat and the shield. This was a flat out fun project! And I was so happy with how it turned out, especially the hat. And I think he enjoyed wearing it trick or treating as well.
2006 – Bender (Futurama): This is another costume that I cannot seem to locate a photo. Usually I am so good about taking photos and framing and hanging at least one, but again, I am at a loss at putting my hands on one at this time.
Bender is a lovable ‘bad boy’ robot from the animated series Futurama. I was able to create the costume by beginning with a large cardboard barrel spray painted silver and the details carefully drawn on. I attached the arms by using dryer tubing – the soft, ribbed, bright silver tubing to either side. This would slip over the Kid’s head and rest on his shoulders. He wore grey/silver sweats and boots and grey gloves.
I created the ‘helmet’ out of padded silver material – the kind generally used for making potholders – and crafted the eyes out of glass Christmas ornaments. The head was large enough that the Kid’s eyes were positioned at the mouth, so I made it out of a mesh material that he could see through. This didn’t turn out quite as well as I had hoped, and was a little flimsy, so I stuff the top and added cardboard ‘frame’ to make it stiffer and stand up.The finishing touches included a felt cigar.
This was difficult for him to walk around in and consequently he didn’t trick or treat in the costume. This had the makings of a great costume, unfortunately, it didn’t live up to expectations.
2007 – Neo (The Matrix): This was a very simple and easy costume but effective. I believe that he had chosen the costume after seeing the movie for the first time. He had recently buzzed his hair and seemed to work. He wore black jeans and shirt. New black boots. I created the criss-crossed holsters that held his faux handguns. I sewed a long black trench coat over a beautiful suede material and we searched the town for the perfect pair of wrap-around sunglasses.
We headed to a fairly new and empty parking lot to take photos and then I played with them in photoshop. I even recreated the famous ‘dodge the bullet’ scene from the movie, down to the bullet trail I love the way his photos turned out, and in the end, that is what counts, that the Kid and I are happy with the results.
2008 – Knight in Shining Armor: This ranks pretty high on my favorite list as well, it’s amazing what you can create from fabric. This costume was inspired by the discovery of the two handed sword. Don’t let it’s looks deceive you, it is made completely of wood.
This was made from a pattern. All of silver parts are material and I stumbled onto the material that appears to be chainmaille and really lends an air of authenticity to the costume. We found a simple pair of knee high leather boots that just seemed to bring it together (those are just black sweats under it all).
I did a google search on knight crests and found this one. I simply transferred the pattern to the front and using some padding, I sewed on the lines. It resulted in an embossed design that works perfectly.
We headed over to a beautiful wooded area not far from us and took photos. I have always maintained that he should be an actor or model, he loves the pose and the camera loves him as well.
Like I said, this was the last costume that he wore. And asked for. I think he decided that he was just too old to trick or treat any more and he wasn’t being asked to attend any Halloween parties… yet.
Future – HeadCrab Zombie: Like I said, this costume was never made but planning was started and most of the material was purchased. If he decides in the future to need or want a costume for a party, this will be the one. I figure I will start with a baseball cap which will form the basis for the headcrab. I bought a light suede material that has a nice quality for manipulation.I also bought a variety of spray dyes for creating the subtle coloring. Just create the crab form with tendrils int he front (to be able to see between them) and fill it with stuffing.
From that point, it is a simple task to have blue jeans, a white button down shirt and a t-shirt that is “blood stained”. Then it is just a matter of hunching over a bit, dragging your feet and grunting or mumbling. Viola!
Over the years, I have also made my own costumes. As I mentioned earlier in the post, I had made my own costume to accompany the Kid in his TinMan costume as Dorothy. I will have to take the time to write about those costumes as well. For now, I have written over 3,000 words and I don’t think anyone wants to read more at this point.
Tomorrow’s post is going to be about the seven projects that I have managed to complete from my “To Get Done” list. For now, I am going to head to bed and wish y’all happy crafting!