Costumes Gone By

Halloween costumes, in my opinion, are just fun to make.  My earliest sewing projects often consisted of what I like to affectionately call hack-costumes. Definitely not perfect.  Nothing fancy, no pattern, no technical skills involved, but they fit the time and purpose.  We don't enter costume contests or compete in our neighborhood for best costume.  It's a no pressure, just-for-fun endeavor. Here are two of my favorites from years gone by.

Favorite.costumes.ever.  I made these cowboy costumes in 2008.  I remember I calculated my cost at just over $12 total, with enough leftover for a cowgirl costume one day!  They were even featured in a local newspaper article about frugal Halloween costumes.  They were worn 2-3 times by these boys, plus I have another son who has worn them once or twice - for Halloween.  That doesn't consider the countless hours of at-home play time.  

I made a rough pattern out of paper bag (grocery size) for each boy by tracing a shirt and pair of pants that fit each kid.  The vests are three pieces - one back piece cut on the fold, and two front pieces that are mirror images.  Then I just sewed a seam up the sides and at the shoulders.  No finished edges, for the sake of time and to keep with a rough-hewn cowboy look.  For the pockets, I sewed on the fringe, then (don't tell) I just used stitch witchery to attach the pockets with an iron.  I wouldn't hesitate to sew them on now, but I was using a troublesome machine back then, and even more limited on time.  For the chaps, each leg is one pice.  The fold is on the inner side of the leg, with the seam where the fringe is attached on the outer leg.  Again, no hem or finished edges.  The fabric doesn't fray, and I was going for a quick costume.  Quick.  Not perfect.  The chaps attach with loops made out of the vest fabric and a button.  If you look closely at my older son's left leg, near the vest, you can see the loop.  I just cut strips the length that I needed, hand-sewed a button on top of the strip end (with strip pointing up away from pant) on top of the chap.  Then I cut a button hole in the other end of each strip, so that the strip goes up from the chap, through a belt loop on the jeans, and back down to the chap, where the button would go through the hole and hold in place.  This was all long before tutorials were on my radar, so I don't have pictures of everything. If anyone reading this is ever interested in details and more pictures, just ask.

I actually made my own reversible bandannas also, but must not have had them finished when we went to our friend's barn to take these photos.  The boys have always gotten tons of compliments wearing these, and I have the BEST memories of their cowboy years.  My oldest son spent at least two years of his childhood as a cowboy-  everyday he was out riding the range, battling cattle rustlers, and working in the chuck wagon.  He would even introduce himself as Slim Cooley, his cowboy name borrowed from Magic Treehouse Ghost Town at Sundown.

Another nostalgic costume was a super-cheap, super-quick, definitely not perfect, yet incredibly well-suited-for-the-occasion Dalmatian costume.

My little Dalmatian was less than a month old at the time.  I had purchased a great Gap Firefighter Costume off eBay for my older son, and at the last minute decided to dress up the littler guy.  I grapped a one-piece outfit that fit and bought a bit of flannel Dalmatian spot fabric at JoAnns.  I cut two identical pieces using the outfit as a guide, then trimmed what looked good for a neckline and put in seams at the sides (wrist to ankle and wrist to shoulder). Then I cut a large slit about halfway down the back, to give room to get him in to it.  Seriously, I did this all in about 1/2 an hour.  I had thoughts of zippers or buttons.  I had thought I would at least hem the arm and leg holes.  With a three-week-old, the time for that never came, but the costume worked great and has been re-used by friends.  I made the hat by cutting two dog ear shapes from black felt and hand stitching them onto the cap we were given at the hospital when he was born.  I think this was a $2 project at most.

I enjoy costumes because they can take the pressure off having a perfect, well-finished garment.  Don't get me wrong.  At this stage in my sewing hobby, I have a lot of appreciation for and satisfaction from a well-made garment.  I don't know that I would make these costumes the same way if I were to do them now.  But there is something about the simplicity, the memory of making-it-work and just git-er-done that I am glad for.  Without projects like this that boosted my confidence in tackling a sewing project and having something fun to show for it, I don't know if I would enjoy sewing the way I do now. And I am so thankful for the sweet memories.

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