Those of you who know or follow me on Instagram have seen my random spurts of creativity. Sometimes I am inspired by something I see in a store, or I feel like replicating characters from my favorite shows. The challenge of overcoming obstacles is something I value, and I find that with each artistic challenge I venture into. There is one holiday every year I tend to do just this and of course that holiday is Halloween. I love the sense of freedom that comes from re-creating a character, and becoming that person for one night. My passion is something that I like to share with my boys, so each year I do my best to create costumes that allow them to be what they want to be. I like to hand craft costumes, because I know I only have so much time before my boys lose interest in wearing costumes. Ido this by adding my special stamp of motherly awesomeness to each costume I make for them.
Unlike previous years, my sons knew exactly what they wanted to be for Halloween this year. There was no set theme, we all became what we wanted to be. One costume in particular was quite challenging, and it took me really diving deep and expanding my skill set to create it. By the end, the challenge was worth it and my boys were overjoyed to wear their costumes.
I know I could have just posted photos on Instagram, but I wanted to use this post as an opportunity to share what I did for my costumes. There are amazing craftsmen/women who have spectacular talent with making cosplay. However, there is a strong likelihood that having the time or the skills to do what those amazing people do is not necessarily in the cards for most parents. My costume skills usually begin with a firm base where I can work, and then design the elements I want to in a costume. I think it makes a costume unique and fun, while still be realistic to my life and circumstance. So without further ado, here are the costumes I created this year.
Kiki and Gigi from Kiki’s Delivery Service
Kiki is a character very close to my heart. When I was a child, the film Kiki’s Delivery Service was my first introduction into the wonderful and creative world of Hayao Miyazaki. I remember being so enchanted by his characters, and the inspiring stories he created. Watching Kiki flying around on a broomstick made me immediately want to live her life. It was my dream to be a little witch that left home to train and become a fully-fledged witch. Unfortunately, when the reality of broomsticks not being able to fly kicked in, I instead had to live vicariously through her. The opportunity finally came this year for me to try my hand at her cosplay, and since every cool character needs a side kick, I included my youngest in the cosplay as Kiki’s black cat, Gigi.
Kiki herself is a very simple character who wears only a dark plum colored dress and a red bow in her hair. To put together Kiki’s look, I went on Zulily and purchased an open purple dress and found a cute headband with a bow on Amazon. I dressed fairly simply this year, because I wanted to exert as much energy and time into my eldest son’s costume (you will understand why later in this post).
For Gigi, I used my favorite baby suit pattern from Simplicity 1767. This pattern is perfect for mothers or fathers who want to make a costume, but are just learning how to use their sewing machine. The pattern has five different animal patterns that follow the same body template, and the instructions are easy to follow. The best part is that the animal suit is loose, which gives a little more leeway with hiding mistakes while sewing. The first time I used this pattern, it took me about two days to create my child’s costume. Now it takes me closer to 7-8 hours to create one! If you don’t know where to start in terms of baby patterns, start with this pattern and then customize to make it your own.
I like to make my costumes reflect the characters as much as possible. I used this pattern as a base, then added little character traits to make Gigi come to life. Instead of using the ears provided in the cat costume, I drew out ears free hand and used those as my pattern. Gigi’s ears in the film are more pointed than normal cat’s ears, so I wanted to be true to that detail. However, the challenge that came with this was that the ears looked more like bunny ears. To remedy this, I drew out eyes and a nose, then added them to the hood along with the ears. I tried to sew the ears as close to the middle of the hood as possible to make sure the ears stood straight up instead of sideways. This gave the appearance I wanted, and my son just looked so adorable crawling around as a black cat!
Creative Tip: If you want to go a step further than me, tie a red bow around the neck of Gigi. It’s a little touch that fans of the movie will definitely appreciate.
Tip #1: If you don’t want to create the ears like I did, the pattern has some cat ears already designed, so go with that if it’s your first time!
My second son wanted to be Batman this year, which always makes me a proud mama bear. Since I made a Batman costume a previous year for my eldest son, I didn’t have to construct a new one this year. However, for the sake of all the mothers and fathers out there who want to venture into the creative realm like me, I will share what I did for this Batman costume.
When I first put together my Batman costume, there wasn’t a straight up pattern for Batman. Shocking right?! With the patterns available to me at the time, I put together a suit unique to my son. I used McCall’s costume pattern M5952 and pieces from McCall’s pattern M6626. With 5952, I used the suit pattern and cape as my base for Batman.
This was the first suit I made that was more tailored, and I knew if I made mistakes in the sewing process they would be completely visible. With that in mind, I paid close attention to the fabrics the pattern recommended, and made sure to take my time through the sewing process. In the pattern, the materials it recommends using are satin, sateen, twill, or poplin. If you are a first time seamstress, I recommend skipping the satin and sateen fabrics, and either use cotton or poplin. These fabrics are easier to work with, and don’t snag as easily when using the sewing machine. Also, I am a fan of the matte look in fabrics for characters like Batman, and poplin or cotton provide that instead of the shiny look of satin. To me, this looks less store-bought and more handmade which is something I value.
For the costume, I ended up using a black poplin and a dark grey poplin. The reason I added the grey and didn’t only use black was for two reasons: To make the costume connect more closely to Batman from the Animated Series and to best utilize the center-front panel of fabric in the suit. I wanted to add a bat symbol to the chest, and to make it pop out clearly I used the dark grey poplin in the center panels. This added some dimension to the costume, and offset the all black appearance that Batman costumes today typically have. For the bat on the chest, I used the bat pattern from pattern 6626.
The cape I constructed from 5952 was absolutely fantastic. It was a nice flowing cape that circled the shoulders and didn’t stay at the back like the costumes you see in stores. It gave my son a dark, mysterious look which is what you want from Batman’s character. For the mask, I bought a child’s batman mask depicted in the Dark Knight movies. When it was all put together, I was pretty dang proud of how it looked. The best part was the smile on my son’s face!
Tip #1: When deciding fabrics, I used poplin for the sturdy factor. It is more expensive than normal cotton, but it is sturdier if you plan to use the costume repeatedly with other kids.
Bumblebee from Transformers
When my eldest said he wanted to be Bumblebee for Halloween, I really had to think it through. In terms of a hand sewn costume, there wasn’t a lot I could do to make it real looking. That is when I remembered seeing a cool video a couple years back about a father who made Transformer costumes for his kids. That video once again was circulating this season, so I made the decision right then to make a costume that transforms for my son. To my great surprise, the father that designed this amazing concept had posted tutorials on YouTube of how he put together his costume! Hallelujah! Credit for this design hands down goes to the parents, Mark Petryczka and Cheryl Beltran. You really helped this mom out!
I like their design for two reasons: the frame and the hinges. The frame was a fantastic idea, because it helps the costume transform with the movement of the child. The hinges then work with the frame to create a seamless transformation from robot to car. With the mechanism for transformation already done, all that was left was to form the body of the car around it.
The only criticism I have that the tutorial itself was hard to follow during transitions. I had to guess at lengths and measurements that weren’t mentioned during certain parts of the video. It took a lot of observation on my part to guess some of the details that weren’t mentioned. Nonetheless, the tutorials were an excellent base for creating a costume with this kind of concept. The costume itself took me about a month to build, only because I would work on the costume during bedtime or during naps. If you are wanting to make this costume for your own child, I recommend you give yourself 1-2 months to comfortably create it.
Since this concept was something I borrowed, I made it my own through other means. One of those changes was redesigning some of the structure on the sides for the transformation. Due to the costume’s creator working through ratios instead of measurements, I learned that my child’s length worked against him with the costume transitioning. The bumper of the car would hit the body of the car, and it wouldn’t allow the body to completely rise to the vertical position needed for my child to stand up straight. To remedy this, I had to change the design for the transition in order to get that perfect transformation.
On the side of the costume, I cut into the door area to make the bottom half move without bumping into the body portion of the car. This created a brand new dilemma with there now being a huge gap to fill in the side of the car so my child would not be seen. To remedy this, I made a deep diagonal cut into the door, and then cut out triangle pieces the size of the gap to fill the open space. I attached the triangle pieces to the bumper so that I could still maintain that perfect transformation. My thought process in cutting the diagonal into the door, was to flip an unfortunate situation into an opportunity to give the car more detail and dimension. I really like how it turned out, because it made the car look more like a sports car.
The last little bits of flare I added were the stripes along the upper rim of the body and the silver Autobot symbol on the hood. My creative juices were pretty much dried out by the end of this process, so I simply went online and found a bunch of autobot car decals on Amazon. I managed to find metal looking decals, and picked one with a nice silver sheen to it. I like how the silver symbol adds a little extra touch to an iconic character like Bumblebee.
This Halloween was pretty fantastic! I pushed myself to make something I hadn’t before, and I got to recreate old characters I know and love from my childhood. The best part was my kids massive smiles dressing up as their characters.