With Halloween a mere 2 weeks away, folks intending to make homemade costumes for the bambinos should get started if they haven’t already. This week’s flashback comes from the pages of Make: Halloween Special Edition, a collaboration between the editors of CRAFT and MAKE, our sister publication. This volume features all things Halloween, from costumes to makeup to party foods and haunted house projects. Though it was originally released in August of 2007, you can still pick up a copy at the Maker Shed. In this excerpt, Doree Tschudy walks you through the basics of creating character costumes for your little one.
Quick, cool character costumes for kids.
By Doree Tschudy
I want to be [insert name of character here] for Halloween!” This simple demand will send you either into a creative frenzy or into hiding until November 1st. Don’t panic, it’s easier than it seems.
We’re talking quick and dirty here, costumes to last a day or two. (Making an elaborate character for FanimeCon? Sorry, it won’t be covered here.) Remember your audience: kids love a homemade costume, and if they have a hand in making it, mistakes magically disappear.
Let’s say your son wants to be Boba Fett this year. Sure, you could spend $40 on a licensed costume, but where’s the fun in that? You might find a sewing pattern, but what if you can’t sew? I’m here to help. Fire up the hot glue gun, put on a pot of coffee, and let’s go!
Step 1: Brainstorm with the kids. Gather images, books, or toys that relate to your chosen character, and sit down with your kids to talk about what they envision. Write everything down. My guys usually have great ideas I never would have thought of!
Step 2: Simplify. Pick an image of who or what your costume will be, the more graphic or cartoony, the better. Since I don’t sketch very well, I use a copy machine to do the work. Copy your image, and trace over the main lines and shapes of it. This process takes away some of the details that can be distracting. Keep pictures of the character on hand while you work. Both black-and-white and color are helpful.
Step 3: Find your foundation. This can be sweats, T-shirts, tights, a bodysuit, or secondhand clothes. For Boba Fett, grey cargo pants and a long-sleeve turtleneck shirt are a great foundation. Usually a megastore or Goodwill run takes care of this part. Chances are you won’t be able to reuse the clothes, so keep it on the cheap.
Step 4: Decide on accessories. Pick a few major pieces that really define the character. For Boba Fett, I singled out his helmet, backpack, guns, belt, and cape. Once again, simplify. Break each element down to simple forms. Some items might be worth buying — toys are available for many popular characters — but I only buy an accessory if I can’t easily make it and it has some play value post-Halloween. For Mr. Fett, I used Nerf dart guns we had on hand; a tan backpack was a jet pack stand-in. Craft foam could be an easy solution to the helmet dilemma: to buy or not to buy? The one I made cost less than $2.
Step 5: Add costume details. This is the fun part — ask your kids for input. Materials that work well here are felt, craft foam, cardboard, fabric scraps, fabric paints and markers, hot glue, spray adhesive (Super 77 by 3M is my fave), and tape. Tape is a great detailer; most kinds can be colored with Sharpie markers and are easy to apply and reposition. For Boba Fett, I’d use craft foam or felt and tape for his kneepads, maybe a pair of olive men’s underwear for the codpiece, and craft foam again for his arm cuffs and chest armor. His cape could be felt, a fabric remnant, or a large garbage bag.
So there you go! Have fun, relax, and remember, if you involve the kids in the process, you can blame them if no one knows what they are supposed to be.
About the Author:
Doree Tschudy is a polka-dot-loving, tasty-cake-baking, handicraft-making girl living in the S.F. Bay Area with her husband, identical twin boys, and bull terrier.