Sometime around the end of September, a costumer on Instagram I happen to follow, Ariel, posted pics of a red with white spots mushroom capelet she had made. Now, hers contains LEDs making the spots light up and various other fanciness, but I was struck by the sheer adorableness of it. The various algorithms which govern our lives may have thrown a few other mushroom hats into my feeds as well, but I really loved the capelet idea.
Anyway, this was right around the time where the twins started talking non-stop about Hallowe’en (that would be courtesy of the YouTube algorithm), and Tris declared vehemently that she wanted to be a princess. I carefully suggested the wonderful idea of… a mushroom princess!
And, as a great miracle, they both went with it.
Beyond the initial inspiration, this was a fairly basic costume. We picked up some discounted red softshell (fleece on one side, windproof on the other), and I used old bedsheet for the pleated white lining. I drafted up the capelets as a near-circle, and the hoods as excessively gigantic. I did end up cutting my first hood down a bit, if you can believe it. They’re still a little excessive.
The construction is nothing to write home about—lots of raw edges, even (especially) on the edges of the bedsheet. I could’ve planned it better if I’d been a bit more intentional, but a) it’s a Hallowe’en costume for three year olds, and b) I’ve been sick for the entire month, so I really didn’t have a lot of brain-cells to apply. I used the ruffler foot for my Featherweight to pleat up the lining to resemble mushroom gills. No way would I have been able to make this work with my available time and energy without that. Though I still did have to do some hand-pleating and hand-sewing to get the lining to fit the neckline.
All the lining portions were just rectangles, pleated at both edges. So the back of the hoods is bare, while the inner edge of the capelet lining required extra pleating to fit the neckline. I had some vague preliminary thoughts of adding tea stripes to the lining gills but didn’t follow up (see above about limited time and mental energy.)
I bound the edges of the capelets with straight strips. This didn’t work super well as the fabric had very little stretch and I really didn’t want tension on the edges anyway, so there’s a fair bit of puckering. A walking foot would have been a smart idea. I did use the binding to enclose a lightweight wire for more support for the capelet edge, but I’m not sure it really improved the look. Plastic boning of some kind might have worked better. In any case, I can remove it if I want.
The final stage (which wound up taking almost as much time as all the rest of the construction) was painting the spots on. This was a lot more labour-intensive than I expected, which I guess says something about how little I paint fabric, especially off-white on a red background which took three coats or so to get opaque.
I love the painterly look of Ariel’s capelet, but with my plasticky material (that didn’t really like the fabric paint, either) and making for preschoolers and lack of energy I found myself leaning towards a more cartoony treatment, so I didn’t try to do any shading or fancy edging of the mushrooms. I think they’re still pretty adorable.
I originally planned to have them wear the capelets over white or off-white clothes as the mushroom stem (even fantasized about mushroom-coloured princess dresses for underneath, which obviously did not happen), but the fact is we live in Canada, and not in one of the parts known for its nice weather. The weather on Hallowe’en was about as nice as it could ever be here, by which I mean about 8C when we started trick-or-treating and getting colder as the night went on, but jackets were still going to be a requirement. The twins already have these red jackets, which worked well enough underneath the capes and hopefully didn’t detract too much from the mushroom vibe.
I was, however, a little worried the twins would call me out on a lack of “princess” elements to the mushroom costume. A mushroom crown would’ve been the logical thing, but I wasn’t sure how that would work with the hoods. On the other hand, the boundary between princess and fairy is a little vague at the twins’ age, and I was pretty sure mushroom WANDS might seal the deal. So I recruited Tyo, who has dabbled in wand-making before, to spend a good chunk of her Hallowe’en weekend creating some papier-mâché wands.
I sculpted the mushrooms, using tinfoil for a base and then toilet-paper papier-mâché, while Tyo worked on the wand portions. I think she was a little dismayed at how big I wanted the mushrooms, but she was a good sport. I must admit there were points in the process where I thought I was in way over my head, having done most of my papier-mâché work back in elementary school, but it was fun once I got a feel for what I was doing.
Tyo did the lion’s share of the painting and other finishing details, though, and I really think she knocked them out of the park.
Honestly, they deserve their own photo-shoot.
And the twins were actually really good about carrying them while trick-or-treating, which takes some skill navigating steps with a treat bag in one hand and a wand in the other. Though they did take enough tumbles that both wands will need some touching up, alas.
Anyway, that was our Hallowe’en. I’m just glad the twins got to go out and try their hands at trick-or-treating.
And the wands were so stinking cute.