First a disclaimer – this is a work-in-progress post. We don’t have any fantastic costume photo shoots yet, as we’re still finishing up our costumes, but I wanted give you a little update.
I feel like it’s been so long since I really dressed up for Halloween. For the past few years we’ve sat around the house (waiting for those dozen or so trick-or-treaters to show) and would throw on something from my bag of old Halloween costume parts from years past. Witch’s hat, Eskimo, and giant pumpkin for the win! This year Calder said we had to get serious – “don’t get out your witch’s hat” may have been a direct order. Luckily, some serendipitous inspiration struck not once, but twice, last weekend.
Moment 1: It began with me ordering this baby jailbird costume out of desperation. Did you see those tattooed arms?! A few hours after placing the order, I remembered Oh Happy Day’s strongman costume from last year – so awesome, right? And perfect for Little A. If he’s a strongman, then I’m happy to partner up as the bearded lady. And now we have a pair of costumes for our town’s Halloween parade.
Moment 2: Calder was randomly telling me that he wanted to bring 70’s fashion back (no joke). Minutes later we wandered into vintage store and found the most amazing 70’s clothes! Calder walked out with a pair of plaid pants and three rayon shirts with extra large lapels. Me? I’m the proud new owner of a psychedelic jumpsuit. All we needed was a disco ball. Enter Alex. And now we have the family costume theme that we needed for a friend’s party next weekend!
Making the Disco Ball
Little A is a mover, and we have a strong feeling that he’s not going to put up with having a costume with a lot of frills, bulk, or even a hat. So we have to keep everything simple and make sure that it’s still easy for him to move. What we wanted to do here was to make him a sequined shirt that he could still easily move in. We thought about stuffing it to give him more of a ball shape, but his big belly is round enough.
I’ve been holding on to a sequined dress since high school (thank you Christmas band concert), knowing that it would come in handy eventually. Our plan was to make a simple sequined shirt/vest for Alex to wear over a black shirt and pants. Originally I thought I would use black felt to make the shoulder straps and snaps for closures (shown in the materials photo above), but as it turns out, I didn’t need either!
The straps on the top of the dress, are almost perfectly spaced for little A’s shoulders. So, all I had to do was take in the sides slightly, and shorten the dress to the length we wanted. The one challenge to shortening it was that the long zipper. In the photo above on the right I’m showing you where the zipper ends with my thumb and how short I want it with my finger.
The dress’ sides had been brought in once before (red thread above). I wanted to bring in the seams by another inch or so, and I was going to cut off the excess fabric so that it didn’t add bulk. The one challenge I faced was that the sequins seamed to eat up the thread, and I would end up with gaps without stitching. I was using a cotton thread, maybe there’s a better choice? I handled it by just sewing the same line a few times, and it worked well enough.
The next challenge was the zipper. I’m not a zipper expert, but I do know that these zippers with small-ish plastic teeth are easy to shorten. You begin by marking the point that you want to be the new bottom of the zipper. At that point you’ll sew a bar tack over the zipper’s teeth. To do this, set your machine on a zig-zag stitch that is just wider than the zipper’s teeth with the stitch length as short as it can go (so you’re sewing back and forth over the zipper at the same point). I began by testing the stitch without thread in the needle, manually moving the needle to test stitch widths and making sure that the zipper was perfectly centered so that I wouldn’t hit its teeth with the needle.
After the bar tack is sewn, I cut out the zipper’s extra teeth, keeping my scissors as close to the teeth as possible and leaving the zipper tape intact. To close the hole that was made by the missing zipper, I sewed the excess dress hem (that would have covered the zipper) to the zipper tape on the opposite side, closing that hole. You can see this line of stitching in the photo above on the right. At this point I had a segment of the dress that was the correct width and could be cut to the right length for the little guy. So, it was time to try it on and get that final length measurement!
He was a willing model first thing in the morning – as long as I didn’t mind him running around with his dog named Cat. He was super excited when he figured out that Cat could ride the bike by sitting in the water bottle holder. With the fitting done, I cut the dress to the length we wanted and our disco ball costume was complete!
Making the Strongman
If you do a search for strongman costumes, you’ll find that there are plenty of ideas out there, so we’re just re-inventing the wheel here. Right now my big decisions are which outfit he should wear. I bought the red and navy blue leggings from Old Navy. Note that you have to look in the girls’ section of their site and store for leggings. The tank top onesies are from American Apparel. I used the sharpies to draw tattoos on the women’s stockings. As yet to be completed – his barbell is going to be made from the two styrofoam balls and a shortened segment of the dowel.
I ended up with the two outfits, because I wasn’t sure what I would find at each store, so I thought it was better to have options and I’ll return whatever doesn’t make the cut. I think we’re leaning towards the black stripes and red pants, what do you think? The next choice is whether we cut the pants or not – I think it’ll look good either way. We’ve had some unseasonably warm 70+ degree days here, so I may wait and see what kind of weather we’re dealing with the day of the parade.
As you can see, Alex wasn’t really up for a fashion shoot when we had him try this on. But it was definitely helpful – the stockings are too wide for his arms. On the one hand, this makes it reasonable to have him wear a shirt under the stockings if it’s cold and/or I could stuff them to give him some muscles. Although, I’m also thinking that it could be worth it to buy a pair of small stockings sized for little girls or babies…
ETA : You can see the final strongman costume and learn how we modified the tattoo sleeves in this post!
We’ll be sure to share the final costumes at the end of the week!
Until then, how about a few more disco shots, crazy eyes and all!