I hope you all had a lovely, festive Halloween. Halloween has long been a favorite of mine ... autumn being my favorite season, and all the merriment and make-believe. I'm usually able to look past the scary/gory part, although a bit of an innocent scare is also always fun.
Anyway, I meant to be here all week, but of course, I procrastinated with the costume making, so I was too busy. Also my husband was out of town for several days and that added to some additional schedule juggling. Today was a day for decompressing, hence the very late post!
I'm planning to post every day in November again, as has been my habit the last few years. It's a fun challenge. I will probably be posting at different times of the day due to our schedule. I'm not a great blogger at writing a post the night before and publishing it the next day. I usually just sit down, write, and publish a post. So just keep an eye out, I don't know when they'll be going up, but I promise there will be one each day this month! I've never failed yet!
Anyway, on to the Halloween costumes, since I know that's the subject of curiosity for some of my readers!
This was the first year since we became a multiple child family that we didn't have themed costumes. I have to admit that it made me sad; I was hoping they'd do it a few years longer. But alas, they all had very distinct ideas this time.
Having read The Lord of the Rings this year, and now being totally obsessed with it, Elisabeth chose to be Arwen. James is in a huge cowboy phase right now, so he chose to be a cowboy, although there was a moment there where he wavered and almost agreed to be Gandalf. At which point, we could've gone with a Lord of the Rings theme. But, in the end, cowboy won out. And Fiona chose to be an elephant.
More about the costumes:
For the Arwen costume, we decided to go with the "Blood Red" gown because it seemed to be the most memorable of the Arwen costumes from the movies. Back when the movies were released, there were commercial patterns to make copycat dresses, but they only came in adult sizes, and though there were plenty of them out there on Etsy and eBay, there's no way that the shape of a dress meant for an adult's curves would have fit my 65-lb, 5' tall 10-year-old. I decided rather than trying to make another princess dress and just making it the colors of the Arwen dress, that I'd do some research and try to come up with my own design. I discovered that there are tons of people out there who make costume replicas and I was able to get a lot of information about how to construct the dress. This site in particular was extremely helpful. I ended up making a basic raglan sleeve dress using satin and cotton paisley (with velvet sleeves, which I made smaller due to cost and practicality), and then cut away the top and designed a separate yoke piece. Then I made an overdress (like a jumper) out of blue velvet. Once I actually figured out what I was going to do, I just dove in and did it and in the end, the costume only took two relatively short sessions. I'd say I spent about 5 hours total on it, once the conceptualization was over. I am extremely excited about this costume, as was my little Tolkien fan! She is already breathlessly telling everyone we know that she is going to see The Hobbit in the theater when it comes out. :)
After the slight drama of designing the Arwen costume, James's costume seemed easy in comparison. I found a vintage cowboy pattern on Etsy (Simplicity 5332), and went from there. He liked the picture on the front of the envelope with the more "sheriff"-looking cowboy, so we used the same basic colors and look. When it came to finding a cowboy hat and holster that had the right look, we really encountered a lot of trouble. We went to store after store last weekend and came up completely empty handed. In the end, my husband found the hat and holster at an antique shop! They were a little bit pricy, but not crazy expensive, and in the end they were perfect for the costume. Since his costume was extremely affordable to sew (only three pieces of plain cotton fabric, plus the iron-on stars -- I had everything else on hand), I felt OK spending a little bit extra on his hat and holster. I think it's funny that he used the holster as pockets since he didn't have any guns!
Fiona was all set to wear the ladybug costume that I made for Elisabeth when she was 3 1/2. That was fine with me. But occasionally, she'd bring up the idea of being an elephant (her favorite animal), and at the end of last week, I looked at her and just realized that this was her year to be an elephant. I knew she wouldn't want to be one next year at 4 1/2, and anyway, most of the good elephant patterns only come in toddler sizes. So on Saturday, I went and bought some 50%-off gray fleece and a zipper, and decided to make the elephant. Mondays are my teaching day and generally busy for us, so I had to wait until Tuesday to start. Since we were also having our friends over for our annual pumpkin carving party that night, I had to cook and get the house ready, too, so I was only able to work on the costume for a couple of hours on Tuesday. On Wednesday, after running some errands, I spent about 3 1/2 to 4 hours working on it, and I finished it in plenty of time to take pictures. Although I didn't want to be so last-minute on the costumes this year, I am so glad I made this costume. She was my cutest and most enthusiastic trick-or-treater this year and it was so worth it to see her skipping along down the sidewalk, proudly showing off her costume, lifting the trunk and trumpeting. I wish I had more pictures of her wearing it but she was much too excited to stand still for photos! (The pattern I used for this costume was also found on Etsy, and it was McCall's 8938, a 1990's Tom Arma deal. It looks impressive, and while it did have more hand-sewing than I would've liked, it was actually quite straightforward to put together, especially if you're experienced with sewing from commercial patterns, as I am. It was also nice that the only pieces that had been cut in the pattern were the elephant pieces! It saved me a lot of time!)
I highly recommend buying vintage and used sewing patterns from Etsy (or eBay). Even by the time you pay for shipping, it's usually a savings over buying a new pattern at a craft store, and it's my opinion that the older patterns (especially pre-1980) are really a lot better in almost every way. They don't cut corners the way many contemporary patterns do. I think sewing from a commercial pattern is really the best way to learn to sew well, to learn techniques that you otherwise wouldn't, and to learn the hows and whys of garment construction.
We had a completely fun and delightful Halloween in every way this year. Although I haven't talked about it very much here, I still don't feel completely settled or "home" in our new house. I think it's just because of the sheer amount of work we've had to put in and the amount that still remains to be done. But spending our first holiday here felt like a chisel knocking away some of my reluctance to feel settled. Home. This is home. I'm amazed and glad in my soul.