Tag Archives: Hallowe’en

Hallowe’en wrap-up

(and other odds and ends.)

The costumes, as worn.

It’s been a long and hectic week, finishing Hallowe’en costumes and trying to get the house into something resembling order*. I did, however, spend a remarkable amount of time in the sewing room, partly in the desperate Hallowe’en Final Push and partly because it’s a handy place from which to supervise the children’s attempts to reclaim the basement, aka playroom, aka guest room, into something an adult might be able to tolerate sleeping in.

Anyway, in a vain attempt to impose order on chaos (as with the rest of my life), let’s have Fun With Headings:

Hallowe’en costumes

I'm a Vampire Slayer, yo!

They were worn! (There were no last minute back-outs. This is worth commenting on, as Tyo nearly refused to wear hers to the school Hallowe’en Dance on Friday.)

There were the inevitable snit-fits over wearing tights under leggings. Seriously, kids, why did you think I bought both?

I’m pretty sure Syo forgot to take her yellow and blue pompoms out with her, despite the fact that I thoughtfully attached them to hair-elastics so she could put them around her wrists and have her hands free for holding the treat-bag. And they even survived being worn in her hair all weekend. /sigh.

Tyo never did come up with weapons that were suitable to her costume. Babydoll wields two katanas and a gun with charms hanging from it. We have any number of toy katanas and at least one toy gun in the basement mess, but none were deemed worthy. Or she forgot.

We had the first snow of the season yesterday morning (this is actually remarkably late), and the daytime high was only 6C. It can’t have been more than a couple of degrees above freezing when the kids went out. Nonetheless, Syo survived in just her cheerleader outfit and velvet leotard and leggings (over tights). I really like how the velvet leggings turned out—I’ll have to get better photos later. I’m sure she’ll be wearing them lots, anyway.

Tyo, as you can see in the top photo, is not quite as much of a trooper and added a white bunnyhug. I can’t blame her, anyway.

In fact, I can’t complain about anything, as my mother-in-law and her husband took the girls out for their first go-round and then my husband took them out for the second, so I sat on my butt and handed out candy all night. We had about 30 kids come by, just enough to completely clean out all the candy we had. D’oh.

Also, the kids have no school the day after Hallowe’en! Even though it’s the middle of the week! Man, we would’ve killed to have the day after Hallowe’en off school… (mutter… kids these days… mutter)

Stuffed Chairs:


Tyo has been harping on the chair project, lately. I am approaching this with the same enthusiasm I have for all home-dec projects, but she is remarkably persistent (although remarkably unhelpful with things like pinning pattern pieces and stuff.) Anyway, we got the first pieces cut and stuffed over the weekend: two bolster-type pillows that will be the arms of the chair. I’m noticing that they’re not very big—the chair seems more toddler-sized than my-kids-sized. Ah, well. The kids stuffed them with scraps. They didn’t use up nearly enough. I wanted to start with the arms, since I figure if I stall on the rest of the chair, bolster-cushions are still frequently useful, even when they’re scrap-stuffed and not particularly soft/squooshy.

Upholstery fabric

Incidentally, scrap-stuffed pillows are heavy.

Another hold-up on the chair has been that I didn’t have enough of any home-dec weight fabric I was willing to part with (at least that would be good for sitting on—I have some scratchy curtain-type material pegged for coats). Fortunately, one of the things my MIL wanted to do yesterday was trawl thrift stores, and I nabbed this velveteen-esque fabric. I think there’ll be enough. It’s a little hard to tell as the pattern assumes you’re going to use three different fabrics so it doesn’t give you a total on the metrage. Meterage? Yardage. Y’know.

Since I was going through scraps, I decided on a whim to tackle another uncharacteristically-crafty project that’s been lurking in the back of my head:

Coffee Coats

Coffee Coats

I may have mentioned at some point my extended family’s obsession with Tim Horton’s coffee. This might, alternatively, be termed Canadian Crack. Not being a coffee drinker myself, I can’t tell you if it’s actually good coffee or not, but whatever they put in it (the rumour is MSG, which is probably completely unfounded), people are willing to line up ’round the block for the stuff. Despite the cups having crappy lids and, more to the point, none of those nice heat-shield paper sleeves.

Anyway, back in the summer, whilst creek-adventuring, we found a reusable coffee-cup sleeve, made of quilting-cotton and a thin layer of batting. It was quite cute and I imagine someone eco-conscious was very sad they’d lost it. And of course, it looked stupidly easy to make.

So when I stumbled upon the scraps of my (very, very expensive) interlining from my winter coat, I couldn’t help but scurry upstairs, liberate a Timmy’s cup from the garbage, create a curved pattern by marking off parallel lines on the side of the cup and then cutting it up and spreading it flat. Some bits and bobs of coating and a few interesting construction issues later, I have (almost) coffee coats. All they need is a big button for the elastic loop to fit around. I am holding off until I have another cup to judge the size of so I get the button in (at least roughly) the right place.

Sewing up Scraps:

A cute little tee

Still in a scrap-busting mood, I decided I must do what I could with the scraps from Syo’s costume, and determined to whip her up a little, fitted tee if I could. I pulled out a knit sloper I had made her last summer, traced it off, added cap-sleeves,  forgot seam allowances, and stitched it up (with added band-sleeves.)

Naturally, it doesn’t quite fit. She can wriggle into it, but it’s very snug (the sloper was more for a leotard/swimsuit lycra type fabric). I guess we’ll be passing it on to one of my nieces. Anyway, none of the remaining scraps are more than two inches wide, so I think I’ve done well. I even had to piece the band for the neckline.

Next up? I don’t know! I’ve been ogling my blazer and coat patterns, but I don’t have much time right now so I’m hesitant to commit to a serious project. I’m already pretty sure I’m wimping out on NaNoWriMo despite the best idea ever (next year!). If Tyo’s lucky I’ll finish up the stuffed chair while I’m waffling.


More thrift store finds

Oh, yeah. I bought fabric. And patterns. The patterns are odd—they were part of some kind of set (it looks brutally 80s to me, although the dates are mid-90s), but these were the only patterns that were sufficiently classic to catch my attention. They refer to cards for the instructions (no instructions in the envelopes as far as I can tell), which I assume were part of the larger set, but didn’t seem to be there at the thrift store. I can’t even determine the company with certainty, but the sizing is standard Big 4.

The fabric is a sturdy, non-stretch denim with a bit of a stripe. I’m such a sucker for denim.

And I found Syo winter boots (which she’s wearing in the Hallowe’en photos) for five bucks. So, win.

*as my inlaws arrived Sunday night—incidentally a day before I was expecting them. It has become traditional since we moved away from the rest of the family to try surprise everyone else with your visit—our crowning glory was arriving at 10 pm last New Years’ Eve without telling a soul we were coming—so I can’t complain, as we started it.



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How they keep me hooked


Tyo wriggles into the shirt. “Aww, yeah. I love the long sleeves! Ooh, can we put a thumbhole in? I love how long it is—it covers my butt! I love how tight the sleeves are, you never get sleeves this tight. I love how you flare them out at the end, too! I’ll totally wear this! I love the neckline!” (I heave a small sigh of relief. I was worried it would be too low-cut for her taste.)

“Ok, now give it back to me so I can hem it.”

“No, don’t hem it, I like it just how it is!”

“I want one, too, mom!” (that’s Syo)

I made this shirt for Tyo to wear under her Babydoll costume. She’s going to be freakin’ freezing. Monday’s forecast includes snow.

The fabric is from a cotton jersey sheet I picked up at Value Village for $4; not great recovery—more T-shirt than leotard—but no way I was going to score plain white (or plain flesh-tone) jersey from Fabricland for that little, and there’s plenty left over. Like, I used less than two feet off the whole double-sized sheet length. (And it would’ve been less except the sheet seems to be cut prodigiously off-grain to the rib of the knit. Weird.)

The pattern… erm. Technically, it’s a hybrid of Kwik Sew 2448 (sleeve and armscye, size 7) and 1670 (body and shoulder, size 12, lengthened into a shirt), although really once I was done I think either pattern would’ve been embarrassed to acknowledge its bastard offspring. But, I’m pretty happy with the result—a close-fitting, shaped, but not skin-tight tee. I lengthened the sleeve, made it curve in a bit just below the top of the arm for a closer fit, and added my usual flare-out at the wrist. Something about this shape that I just really like. I had graded out the bottom of the shirt to allow for pear-shaped-ness, but next time I’ll tweak the side-seam curves a bit. They are inning and outing a bit too sharply. Tyo’s curves at the moment are all front to back, not side to side.

V-Neck Closeup

I wanted a V-neck to go underneath the costume. It’s my first attempt at finishing a V-neck; I didn’t try to miter the ends of the band, just overlapped them at a right angle. And by some miracle I got the length right, too. So although it’s a little wonky in places, overall it’s pretty decent. I used this technique from Jorth (I’ve seen it other places, too, but this description is nice and recent and sticks out in my memory) although I only did a 5mm seam allowance instead of a 10mm, and my topstitching is consequently closer to the seam.

One Happy Tyo

Of course, for the costume purposes, skin-tight would’ve been better.  But y’know what? She loves it. So I’m going to shut up and enjoy. 🙂

(Also, Tyo wants you to know that she wanted to wear the knee-high boots but we could only find the one, so after an hour or so of hunting around she settled for mis-matched boots. I told her she should keep that to herself, this way it’s a “fashion statement”.)


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Buffy the Vampire-Slayer Costume (in progress)

As I mentioned before, it took quite a bit of convincing to get Syo to agree to “Movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as opposed to “TV-show Buffy” for her Hallowe’en costume. Not that I have anything against Sarah Michelle Gellar’s take on the character—I haven’t watched enough to judge one way or another, but plenty of my friends and family, kids included, are firm fans—but in my mind the movie version is more iconic. That’s where Buffy started, y’know, the wonderful juxtaposition of teen-cheerleader-ditz with stark, undead horror. Or something. (OK, it’s been a while since I saw the movie, either, and unforgivably it’s not on Netflix. Dude.)

So, now the costume is progressing, and she’s still not overly thrilled. /sigh. I’m torn. On the one hand I have an intense recollection of that sinking dread/obligation feeling that goes with a costume being made for you that you don’t like. (Hmm, I think I was less tactful and thoughtful of my mother’s feelings than Syo, actually.) On the other hand, as an adult, I am serenely confident that my idea is better, and she should just suck it up. Gotta love how parenthood can bring out one’s inner dictator. Sigh.

In any case, the essential, iconic bits are done—crop-top and twirly skirt. Hopefully Syo will like the skirt better than the top (as I write this I just finished the skirt and she’s already in bed, so she will have to check it out tomorrow). Although technically she already had a skirt picked out (the black one in the photo. It’s not one I made). I’m hoping she’ll be amenable to layering them, with the yellow one on top. This may go over like a lead balloon—we’ll see.

T-Shirt pattern

Anyway, the top is drawn straight from the T-shirt portion of this Kwik Sew pattern, but cropped off at the handy “lengthen or shorten here” line. It’s snug in the sleeves and loose in the body, which works in my opinion but is less than thrilling to Syo who’d prefer it to be skin-tight. She likes everything skin-tight these days. >_<

Hem and navy strip closeup (I used Steam-a-Seam inside the hems, too, which makes them pretty much effortless)

The photo I’m going from has navy trim on the yellow costume, so I pulled out some navy stretch-velvet I bought on a whim last winter and have been too terrified to actually do anything with. It wasn’t actually cheap, and I have some very traumatic history involving sewing polyester velvet, although that horrible stuff wasn’t stretch. I cut some rectangles and topstitched the strips down the sleeves using a a handy-dandy stretch stitch on my machine that looks vaguely like the athletic-style coverstitching you get on some RTW. Most importantly, it makes a nice, stretchy topstitch—I actually used it on the hems in the shirt, too. It’s stretchier and less fiddly (and less tunnelly!) than twin-needling.  Anyway, I’m quite happy with how it worked for appliqueing the strips on the sleeves. I actually (first time ever!) used the pattern-piece for the neckband strip, and I have to admit I was a little disappointed. All my reading plus previous experience suggests to me that a neckband strip needs to be a wee bit shorter than the neckband when working in a knit. This one was dead on, if not in fact a teensy bit longer. Boo. It was easy enough to shorten, but if I’d been trying to put it on in the round and hadn’t checked, it would’ve been a bad situation. Perhaps the instructions have some clever notes about this—if I ever make an outfit from this pattern that isn’t a complete throwaway I may actually read them.

Skirt pattern (View D)

The skirt comes from this McCall’s pattern. View D is the handkerchief skirt in the middle. Now, remember my whining about excessively dumbed-down patterns? Well, my next-biggest pet-peeve is pattern-pieces that are shaped like squares and rectangles.

Square and rectangular pattern pieces

Now, just for the record, I understand why people selling patterns include pattern pieces like these. And I would actually be a bit dissatisfied if I opened a pattern and got a bunch of directions for cutting squares of a particular size. But square pattern pieces are still silly. The handkerchief-skirt piece almost has a right to exist because of that circle in the middle… almost.

Although I did a pretty decent job on the shirt, construction-wise (if I do say so myself), everything went to hell a bit on the skirt. First, I was comparing the yoke-size to the RTW skirt, which is also a pull-on elastic skirt that I knew fit Syo (perils of sewing for a child when the child is in bed—no fitting opportunities), and it was way too long (the smallest size in my envelope is 7, which is a bit big). So I shortened it. Of course, I did this from one edge, which threw all my notches off. Oops. Next, the skirt appears to be cut to a somewhat larger size than the yoke. WTF?

My basic approach at this point became: It’s a knit. It’ll stretch.

I’m not sure the original skirt calls for an elastic at the waist (again, I could have read the instructions), but I figured one was in order. And then it just seemed easier to keep it place by turning the yoke into just a regular elastic-casing waistband. And then when I started to sew the skirt pieces to the yoke, I tried to match my notches, forgetting that that would throw off one side of the skirt. Also there are a lot of gathers, staring from the skirt’s centre hole being cut to a larger size, and ending with me taking a wider hem to narrow the yoke.  And because of the notches being off, the gathers are not particularly even.

It’s not quite the sleek, cute thing on the envelope cover. Oh, well—hopefully it’ll work anyway. I mean, what little girl can resist a handkerchief skirt?

Don’t ask that.

Kwik Sew 1670

So that’s the major bits. If I get time/energy, I may turn the rest of the velvet into a leotard and/or leggings from this pattern. I do in fact have a leggings pattern I drafted for Syo back this summer, but it has a fair bit of negative ease—which was perfect for the fabric I was using at that point—and this stretch velvet doesn’t stretch that much. On the other hand the smallest size of the Kwik Sew pattern is a bit big for Syo… but she’s growing. And I’m pretty sure she’d live in stretch velvet leggings.

We’ll see.

Probably I should figure out some pom-poms, too.

Oh, and it turns out we are actually going to the Hallowe’en dance on Friday, so everything needs to be done by tomorrow, not for Monday. Oopsie.


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Halowe’en Costumes

Oh, dear.

Yes, folks, that time of year is upon us. If my kids weren’t vibrating at supersonic levels with anticipation, Joy’s efficiency in this area would have gotten me thinking about it. (Ok to my relief part of her “efficiency” is Ren Faire coming up…)

The thing is, I HATE sewing Hallowe’en costumes.

Frankly, my motivation to sew anything that’s going to be used just once is pretty much nil. Costumes, which generally need to fabulous in their details to be impressive, are among the worst of these (dance costumes, which are usable over and over again, are a whole nother story). Wedding gowns, similarly uninspiring. Although I might consider making my own wedding gown, if I ever decide to have a wedding.

And yet…

The idea of paying thirty or forty or fifty bucks for an off-the-rack costume that looks like crap, is constructed like crap, out of crap materials, KILLS MY SOUL.

So, although we bought various costume props the other day, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy any actual costumes. It looks like I’m going to be sewing them, again.


It probably won’t save me any money, but at least I won’t feel quite so awful about flushing money down the drain.

In any case, the kids have made their choices. And they’d better stick with it, darnit.

Buffy (from the movie)

Syo wants to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is great, except that her image of Buffy comes primarily from the TV show, which means aside from a blonde wig and a stake she could wear nearly anything. Which on the one hand is great—street clothes, weather appropriate!—but on the other hand hardly counts as costume. So I think I convinced her (a la original Buffy movie) that a cheerleader costume is necessary to go with the stake. Now I need to make a cheerleader costume. Except she’s already picked out a cute (but not very cheerleader-esque) skirt. So I may be stymied. Grum. Anyway, it appears that some yellow, and possibly blue, spandex is in order. >_<


Tyo, on the other hand, kept morphing. We started with Ninja (great except for the whole black part). I was lobbying for “White Ninja”, and thought I had her convinced, but then she started talking about a schoolgirl/ninja look that seemed to be lifted directly from Sucker Punch’s Babydoll (have I mentioned how many times this film has been watched at our house?). Sure enough, when asked directly, she guiltily confessed, and now I’m wondering why she felt the need to dance around it. Adolescents are weird.

Hmm, kinda notice that aside from the colour-scheme and weapons, these are basically the same costume? And they’re both going to be really fun to make weather-appropriate (I’m not even going to go into age-appropriate. While I sort-of-generally agree that our preteens should not be going around looking like utter tramps, the whole “modesty” subject makes me twitchy and want to throw things.) On the other hand, they won’t be any worse than the Betty-Boop and Ballerina Witch of a few years back, and the Hallowe’ens here have not usually been that bad. (Cue curmudgeonly rant: Kids these days! No idea of what Hallowe’en USED to be like! When I was a kid it was ALWAYS snowy on Hallowe’en! I remember trick-or-treating in a blizzard, darnit! And we carried our own bags of candy, too, block after block! Daddy didn’t bring a wagon for us to empty our bags into when they got heavy! And…)

Grr. Anyway, I need to go buy fabric. I’ve been trying so hard to be good, too. But something white (I’m thinking twill) and some yellow spandex appear to be in order. And maybe a mile or two of glittery trim. /sigh.

Oh, and Tyo informs me Babydoll’s gun has charms hanging from it.


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Hallowe’en, Lassitude, and poverty

Punk accessories

Not necessarily in that order.


So this is what it feels like when your sewing mojo takes a break, eh? I have, honestly, been waiting for this (so has my husband… he’d been feeling rather neglected). I’m not gone, but I’m definitely not feeling the itch every spare moment. I tend to cycle in my hobbies… drawing, writing, sewing, dancing… so it was probably inevitable that the sewing would ebb at some point. I’ve been writing, a bit more, though I kinda feel like I should save that for NaNoWriMo coming up. At which point the sewing may really fall off ;). Mostly I feel bad for abandoning the Lady Grey sew-along, but at the same time I haven’t had the money for ANYTHING, never mind the kind of expensive quality materials I want for my Lady. At the same time, though, I won’t really need the coat until spring… so maybe I’ll get on it after Christmas. Broke-assedness really is our basic state of being, but it’s been even tighter than usual the last few months (going to Pittsburgh didn’t help, either… hopefully I can get reimbursed for the flight at least). So not only have I NOT spent my 50% off coupon for Fabricland (expires at the end of Oct.) on 5m of red wool melton (and believe me it’s been in my fantasies), I haven’t even been able to justify spending it on five metres of some comparatively cheap-ass fabric. /sigh. Maybe when my next paycheque comes in… (I’ve been saying that for almost two months now). Add to that, our printer has run out of black ink, so I can’t even print off free patterns at the moment lol!

Although it’s not precisely sewing (it could’ve been, but I resisted), we are in the throes of

Fire Fairy Accessories

assembling Hallowe’en costumes, natch. Tyo is being a zombie punk, while Syo wants to be a Fire Fairy. Today we went and blew the (small) Hallowe’en budget at Value Village: red fairy wings, a couple of wigs, assorted oddments, and skinny jeans for Tyo.

Tyo, bless her individualist little heart, is the only girl in her class (possibly in her school) who has not fallen for the lure of skinny jeans. I quote the following conversation from sometime last winter:

Syo (aged six at this point): I love skinny jeans!

Tyo: skinny jeans are ugly.

Syo: Mommy looks good in skinny jeans!

Tyo: yeah, but on everyone else they’re ugly!

However, Tyo wanted to be a punk last year, wimped out and did a pirate, so this year she was really set on the zombie punk. And while there MAY be punk fashion that doesn’t require skinny pants, that’s definitely the stereotype.

I’m not sure if watching a kid who hates skinny pants try on fifteen different pairs in the search for a set she can stand was hair-pulling annoying, or just amusing, but anyway, she finally found a black pair. They’re capri length but as she’ll be wearing her extra-tall high-top runners with them (see above), it’ll work. They weren’t plaid, but, well, you can only expect so much from Value Village. Especially the week before Hallowe’en. (Most stores do all their business at Christmas. I suspect Hallowe’en is Value Village’s equivalent).

Fun fabrics

Oddly, the fabric selection was better than I’ve seen in some time. I walked away with a mass of black sweatshirt material (something I’ve been looking for for a LONG time but was reluctant to pay $20/m for at Fabricland), and this peculiar tube almost-sweater-knit. It doesn’t feel super nice, but I’m thinking it could make a nice wrap/cozy—another Simplicity 2603 or similar.  There was also a mass of nice sturdy heavy denim (non-stretch) that I’ll get if it’s still there come payday. I hate being broke. There was a bunch of other stuff there today that I need/would like to get (kids’ baseball bat, kids’ winter jacket, scarves and toques, skates for the winter…) but the budget just isn’t there. I hate not being able to afford the five bucks it would take, especially at the thrift store where you really can’t count on something equivalent being there in two weeks when I DO have money. Anyway, enough whining about cash. The end is in sight (or so I tell myself) and it’s not as if we’re going to starve to death or lose the house.

The patterned fabric on the left is actually one of Syo’s picks, bought to play with to replace the yellow border print I made into her sundress. It’s an awful poly-lycra knit, thin and slippery, with a crazy print (I’m not a print person, if you haven’t noticed)… and yet… and yet… I keep picturing it as a shirt. Something with a cowl neck or some fun draping… maybe ruching…

Maybe it’s just the lure of the forbidden. The one piece of fabric I’m not really allowed to use up for myself…

Anyway, I think I will sew something tomorrow. Not sure what. Maybe play with my new fabrics. I’m tempted to turn the sweatshirt material into a “kimono bunnyhug,” not least because those of us who actually know what a bunnyhug is need to stick together ;). Or I could try and make my wool pair of pants. That’s pretty tempting, actually. I haven’t done anything else (like put pockets on) with the ones I made last week, not least because Tyo’s preparations for her costume have involved a LOT of red paint which she managed to get EVERYWHERE… including on my new pants and and my hubby’s white shirt. Grr. So some quality time with the oxy-clean is in order :P.

We’ll see. Am I mentally ready for welt pockets? hmmm….


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