Category Archives: Halloween

Horror Kitsch

And now for something completely different….

A friend just posted this article on facebook and I had to share it here. Artist Jessica Harrison takes grandma’s kitsch and turns it into fantastically gruesome horror scenes. So bloody awesome!

Where The Wild Things Are Costumes: Tutorial (sort of)

This post is a little off-season but better late than never, right? Also, I’ve discovered that my photo documenting skills definitely need improvement. I get way too into a project and forget to take pictures of the steps along the way! Whoops! Anyway, here goes.

For Halloween this year, Pete and I decided that we would do a couple’s costume. He’s not normally a big one for Halloween but he agreed that if I made us the costumes he would wear it. We tossed around a couple ideas but eventually decided that we would be characters from Where the Wild Things Are!

I dressed up as Max and Pete was one of the monsters. Here’s our inspiration:
Inspiration

And here’s how we turned out! (Sorry for the photo quality, I need to start taking pictures with my camera instead of my phone)
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Ok. Mine First. I didn’t actually take any pictures of the construction because I kinda just made it up as I went along.

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For the onesie I used a cream-colored soft fleece fabric with a wrong side that was indistinguishable from the right side, that way I could be as careless as I wanted cutting and sewing. If I recall correctly, I think I bought about 3 yards.

I accordian folded the fabric length-wise so that there were 4 layers of fabric. The patterning was VERY rough. I just laid out a hoodie and a pair of pj pants on top of the fabric and cut around the edges, leaving at least 1″ for seam allowance and a little extra room. I was left with four identical pieces, each making up an ankle-to-neck panel.

I first sewed together the inseam and the crotch on the legs. When sewing up the crotch I sewed all the way up the back of the onesie but left the front open. I then sewed up the sides of the onesie, extending all the way from leg cuff to sleeve cuff.

For the front of the onesie, I decided it would be easier to just sew in a zipper than to make functioning buttons so I cut a ~6″ strip of fabric to act as the button flap on the front. I folded the fabric in half length-wise so that I had a 3″ wide folded strip of fabric that extended the length of the onesie torso. I pinned the flap to the zipper edge and sewed the flap into the costume as I was sewing the zipper. This was probably a sloppy way to do this, but it was quick and easy and just a Halloween costume! I then sewed some nice big buttons to the front of the flap for decoration and held the flap closed over the zipper with a hook-and-eye closure at the top.

I added the tail next. I used a taupe-colored fleece and free-handed the outline of a tail swoop on a double thickness of fabric. I sewed up the tail, leaving a small opening where it would attach to the onesie so I could turn it right-side-out and stuff it with pillow poly-fill. I ended up stuffing the tail a little more than I had intended, so I made sure to sew it high enough up on the costume that I could flip it up if I wanted to sit down. It’s all about comfort for me on Halloween!

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I finished the onesie with some whiskers and claws. The claws were easy. I just cut out some mitten-shaped pieces and as I sewed them together, sewed in some triangle-shaped claws. The paw pieces were only connected to the costume at the back of the hand, just covering the fingers and leaving the palm exposed. This let me keep a better grip on my beer and let me slip them off easily when I needed to.

The whiskers didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. I meant to go to the Hardware store and pick up some black electrical wiring to use as the whiskers but ran out of time and had to make do with what I had at home. I ended up using some pink pipe cleaners that I tightly wrapped with black yarn. I bent them in half forming a V-shape, cut two small snips in the hood of my onesie and slipped the pipe cleaner through. I tried to hand stitch them into place but found that they were too floppy and didn’t stick out the way I would have liked. I think they needed a support sewn on but I had just flat out run out of time, so I left them as they were!

The crown was the easiest part. I just took gold-colored bristol board. It was white on one side, so I cute the sheet in half and glued the two wrong sides together so that both the inside and the outside of the crown were gold. The fur around the bottom is just a feather boa wrapped around a few times and stapled/glued in place! I didn’t bother with the scepter because I figured it was just one more thing to keep track of and would probably get lost at the bar anyway.

All-in-all, I think it turned out pretty well!!

But Pete was definitely the star of the evening! All night people were running up to him to compliment his costume or even pose for pictures with him! And he was such a good sport, obliging every time 🙂

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Clearly, the head was the major effort in the construction of this costume. I found a fantastic Instructables tutorial and used that as my jumping off point. They do a much better job of documenting the process and anyone interested in trying this out for themselves should definitely take a look.

As in the Instructables tutorial, I started with a cardboard ring that would serve as the top of the monster’s mouth.
2012-10-14 14.24.10I wanted the head to be huge and oversized, but didn’t really think about how heavy it would get once everything was attached. Poor Pete was walking around with about 5 lbs of extra weight on his head! As an after thought, I wondered if constructing the whole thing around a bicycle helmet for stability would have been a better idea.

I built up the spaces with more cardboard formed around my head, then lined the inside with a cheap skin-colored spandex fabric. To form the head I also built an outer shell out of cardboard that connected the base of the head to the bit sticking out at the top. I then spray glued poly-fill to the outside of it and covered the whole thing with more of the spandex fabric, attaching it with a combination of hot glue, spray glue and staples.

SAMSUNGAt this point I had what looked like a mushroom head that I could carefully balance on my head. As a side note, I think this would be the perfect base for a Super Mario Toad costume!!

The basic construction of the head was by far the most difficult part. After that it was just decorating which, while time consuming, wasn’t too technically difficult. I had sewed the facial features out of bits of felt, then used a combination of hot glue and hand sewing to attach them to the face. I managed to find the perfect fur to frame the face! It was so shaggy that I really didn’t need to be careful while cutting it and gluing it, the seams weren’t visible. I hot glued/spray glued the fur to the head and made sure to leave a flap at the back to cover Pete’s neck. The horns were just little felt tubes that I sewed and stuffed, then hand stitched to the fur.

SAMSUNGAt this point it occurred to me that I had in no way considered how I was going to attach the lower jaw. When I referred back to the Instructables tutorial I realized that I didn’t have any foam and wasn’t going to be able to construct the lower jaw the same way they did. What I did instead was to cut a jaw shape out of cardboard and covered that with fabric. I used an Exacto knife to cut to slits on either side of the face on the underside and just kinda shoved the jaw up in there. It came out a couple times during the night but I would just cram it back in and, remarkably, it held up pretty well!

SAMSUNGThe teeth were just doubled up pieces of felt. I lined the mouth with red felt and cut little slits in it that the teeth inserted into. With a little spray glue, they held up pretty well!

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Pete’s job was to find pants and a sweater that we could use for the costume. For the sweater, I just spray glued strips of the same fleece I used for Max’s tail onto a brown sweater Pete had. Infinitely easier than trying to sew him a brand new shirt, and with all the effort I’d put into the head, I was looking for infinitely easier options! The pants were equally easy. We just took a black Sharpie to some old slacks and drew on some scales.

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I made Pete’s paws the same way I made my own and hand stitched them to the cuffs of his sweater. The tail is just a tube of fur, I didn’t even bother hemming it. I was worried about directly attaching it to the pants because I thought it might get pulled off through the course of the night. Instead, I sewed a loop at the top of the tail and he just looped it into his belt!

And there you have it! A couple’s Where the Wild Things Are costume!

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Costumes of Halloween Past

In the countdown to this year’s Halloween I thought I’d post a Greatest Hits collection of my past homemade Halloween costumes.

2005: Little Dead Riding Hood

A couple of us had the idea to go as Twisted Fairy Tale characters so I made myself a Little Dead Riding Hood costume and sewed a Drugged Out Alice costume for my friend.

Little Dead Riding Hood and Alice

I had a friend make the scars for me out of latex and he did a fantastic job! In my “goodie basket” I had some eye balls and intestines that I made out of paper mache and painted up. The outfit was pretty basic and simple to put together. I used McCall’s Misses Costume pattern 2890 and if I recall correctly, the only difficult part was the corset.

2006: She-Ra!

She-Ra: Princess of Power!

I recycled the cape from the Little Dead Riding Hood costume but hid the hood and wrapped the ribbon closure under my arms (since She-Ra’s cape just kinda sticks out of her back magically). I just sorta made up the skirt pattern and used a dress with a sweetheart neckline to pattern the top. For the boots, I sewed the boot uppers and then just hot glued them to an old pair of high heels (they were not a good choice for freezing cold rain and did not hold up well). The head piece was just straight up papier mache but the breast plate was made using Plaster of Paris strips, something like this. I was pretty proud of that breast plate. I wrapped my body in Saran Wrap and layered on the Plaster of Paris strips, then realized I couldn’t sit down or I’d muck up the bottom of the breast plate. So I just stood there in my apartment waiting for it to dry, covered in Saran Wrap and plaster. Luckily it only took about 30 min. Once I had the base layer done I was able to work with it off my body and I used thick card stock to make the raised details.

2007: Bjork!

Bjork!!!

This was based off Bjork’s infamous swan dress that she wore to the Oscars in 2001. My Halloween costume this year was pretty fantastic, but I dunno. This Bjork costume will always hold a special place in my heart and might be my favorite. I bought a nude colored generic undershirt and used that as my base for the dress. I sewed a basic white circle skirt to the bottom of it. The swan head and neck was just a tube sewn out of felt that I hand glued feathers all over. I layered 8 meters (!) of tulle, gathering and pleating it as I went, for the skirt. As the tulle came up the bodice, I incorporated some feathers into it too. The skirt didn’t come out as full as I would have liked but I ran out of time and fabric. I can’t even imagine how many meters were used for Bjork’s dress! This costume has held up really well, I’ve worn it for costume parties since and it traveled with me across the continent from Halifax to SF!

2008: Mel from Flight of the Conchords

“Mel” from Flight of the Conchords

2008 wasn’t my best year as far as Halloween was concerned. I was trying to write up a paper and finish lab work so I could start writing my thesis and I just didn’t have the time to devote to a proper costume. I still think this one turned out pretty cute though. Mel is the creepy stalker fan on Flight of the Conchords played by Kristen Schaal and it’s hard to look like her! I made a t-shirt and some buttons, made creepy faces when I posed with the boys and put a little extra curl in my hair. Here’s a picture of Mel to show the look I was shooting for.

The most embarrassing part was that no one knew I was in costume when we got to the bar. LOL!

2009: Rock Lobster

Rock Lobster!

I’d been thinking about the Rock Lobster costume for a couple years but I always ended up picking another costume. But for Halloween 2009, I had just defended my PhD and suddenly felt like all the time in the world. Enough time, in fact, that I also made my friend an Astro Boy costume!

The Rock Lobster was surprisingly easy. I made the AC/DC t-shirt with one of those printable t-shirt transfers. The claws and legs were just made with cheap felt and stuffed with poly fill. I was happy I thought about the fact that I wouldn’t be able to hold a beer with those claws on so I sewed little mitten covers to the bottom so I could hold onto things. The antennae was just made out of red foam and styrofoam balls glued to a headband.

The Astro Boy costume was pretty easy too. The boots were borrowed from a friend and the shorts he already owned. I went out and bought a (women’s) nude colored undershirt and transferred an image from the movie poster onto it. I embellished it a bit with some wires, etc too. I put a piece of skin-colored felt over it and sewed it on like a door with a little piece of velcro to stick it down. Since this was in Halifax and Halloween can be damn cold there, I used that nude colored figure skating costume spandex to sew some leggings for him too.

2011: Bay Area Breakers Roller Derby Girls

Bay Area Breakers!

I don’t remember how or why we decided to be roller derby girls. I think we just wanted to have fun names like “Carnage San Diego” and “Clank the Tank”. Whatever the reason, the costume came together surprisingly well. We bought the hot pink spandex you can see on our shirt and made bootie shorts (I just traced a pair of underwear to make a pattern). To make the shirts we painstakingly cut out the words with an exacto knife and then fabric glued them to the t-shirts and outlined with silver fabric paint. The kilt was the world’s easiest pattern. I’m going to put up a post soon that describes how to make a couple easy skirt patterns. I was particularly proud of the “roller skates”. I sewed little wheels out of the same pink spandex then just stapled them to a pair of boots!

2012: Max and a Wild Thing!!

You’ll have to tune in on Halloween for the big reveal/tutorial on this costume!!