We heart homemade Halloween!

You know the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention?” Well, the reason it gets used so often is that it is so, so, soooo very true.

Here’s the backstory: We’ve been talking about Halloween at our house for a while now. I like to get the kids thinking about their costumes early in case someone needs something sewed. Like, by me. I love to sew, and in fact made a Sleeping Beauty dress for Bronwyn to trick-or-treat in the Halloween she had just turned four. Initially, I acted a bit shocked that the paper pattern, fabric, interfacing (to keep that collar stiff) and other supplies cost north of $40, plus my time. But now I consider that she wore the finished dress to her daycare Halloween parade, at school, out to trick-or-treat (with a cozy turtleneck tucked underneath, she was dressed just right for the weather; see the photo below). She wore it countless times in dress-up play; her friends have worn it in dress-up play; Isobel has worn it in dress-up play. And it’s still going strong. Now, it seems like great value.

This year, however, the girls already had their costumes figured out. Bronwyn decided that she wants to be part witch (using the inexpensive witch’s hat that’s already served us for three Halloweens — see its turn in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” Halloween 2009, below; Matt and the girls made his costume from a cardboard furniture box, even attaching some extra drawer pulls we had lying around from a past Ikea purchase).

Bronwyn’s costume this year will be rounded out with a bit of vampire (courtesy of a cape and drawn-on fangs; she believes her fast responses must have some relation to Edward Cullen’s fast responses — don’t ask how she already knows about Twilight) and part cat (wearing a cute cat-ear hairband she bought at a street festival this summer). The rest will be achieved with face paint, which we already have. Isobel wants to be a cat (she bought the same cat-ear hairband as Bronwyn). Easy peasy. For school, she can wear Bronwyn’s hand-me-down cat costume, which still fits; for outdoors, I’ll make her a tail to wear with a black sweater and pants, and paint her face.

But what about Mom and Dad? Freed up from kid-sewing duty, I decided on the spot that I wanted to make myself a Princess Leia costume. No, not the bikini that Jabba the Hutt made her wear; I mean the white dress she has on at the beginning of Episode 4 (“Help me, Obi Wan, you’re my only hope!”). “You can be Han Solo,” I told Matt, already envisioning the easy combo of jeans, boots, a vest and a shirt. Boom, Han Solo costume, done. “But I’ll need a blaster!” Matt protested. OK, so a few minutes in the garage with some cardboard or scrap wood, glue and black paint, then Han Solo will be done.

My Princess Leia get-up proved trickier than I thought. Did you know there are no Princess Leia costume patterns? Not from the fabric store, and not online. Though a few people have managed to make a great-looking costume without a pattern, and have shared the results on the Internet. Check out this cutie.

“Why don’t you just buy a bunch of white fabric and make a muu-muu?” Matt suggested helpfully. Sure, I could. But that’s not how I roll. When I make a costume, I want it to look great! Princess Leia’s dress has a very distinctive high collar. The muu-muu would look…. Well, like a white muu-muu. Or, at best, a choir gown. Blech.

Suddenly, this week, I found myself just a couple of days away from taping a CityLine television segment about — guess what — homemade costume ideas. “It’d be great if you could come in a costume, too!” said Donna, one of the proudcers.

I wracked my brain: What could I come up with in two days, without stealing one of our great kids’ costume ideas, which I’d be showing on real kids?

I’m not sure from whence the inspiration sprang, but it sprang suddenly one day. What if I started with one of those long white bathrobes we never wear (because they’re so decadent, they trail in the kids’ scrambled eggs and into my coffee cup)? I could fancy up a belt so it looks like Leia’s, and do my hair in her “cinnamon-bun” style. Total cost of costume: $1.64 — including tax — for some craft felt, and some time spent cutting and sewing at the kitchen counter.

To see how my last-minute Leia costume turned out, tune into CityLine next Wednesday, October 20. Or log on to the CityLine website anytime after next Wednesday to watch the episode online.

Meanwhile… What are your thoughts about homemade Halloween costumes?

FILED UNDER: