Monday, November 3, 2014

DIY: Our Homemade Halloween Costumes

Most of our home life is homemade. We skip boxed, canned or frozen foods of any kind for the most part, I bake mostly everything from scratch and I usually rehab old furniture around the house.

I have fond memories of sitting in my grandmothers home and watching her sew and mend everything on her old fashioned black antique Singer sewing machine. That room always seemed magical to me as a kid, the possibilities were endless. It didn't matter what was torn, worn or just beat up she could fix it. I always dreamed of having a craft room of my own to store all of my fabric swatches, hot glue sticks, card stock, yarn and thread. For now, my husband puts up with the constant clutter on our computer desk and storage boxes filled with scrapbooks chronicling our lives. I've been on the hunt for one of these Singer sewing machines on my many thrift store hauls for quite some time now, maybe "Santa" will bring me one this year (hint, hint).

I've wanted to make the boys Halloween costumes for a while now, but always assumed I would need a sewing machine to create them. Until this year.. Until Pinterest! I'd had it with the over priced cheesy commercialized polyester get-ups offered in costume stores and was desperate for a new creative outlet in this area. Sadly, it seems even the children's female costumes have been effected and followed in the footsteps of the cliche` sexy women's costumes (Sexy Sesame Street, Really?!?!?). We'll save that for another post.

I always ask and somehow let the boys decide what they want to wear each year, obviously this year was the easiest as they are now able to communicate their wants much more effectively. It was a hard yes on the train costume, but they had already worn a store-bought conductor costume in the past. So we scoured the internet for some inspiration. As soon as I clicked on the DIY Thomas the Train costume, their faces lit up with joy and excitement. Now THAT is the reaction I was looking for. Not only could we create memories making it together, but they would enjoy it and love the costumes all the more. SOLD! To the lady with the hot glue gun!

Off to the craft store we went! It was like a neat scavenger hunt for the few key materials we would need. Not that it was all roses and rainbows. Have you ever tried navigating the narrow aisles of Michael's with two boys under the age of five, sans naps? I do not recommend. But we made it, multiple trips until we had the proper adhesives and box scraps needed. 
Another element of "Project Railway" (this is where my construction background comes in, doesn't every former Project Manager need a title for their craft projects?) is the amount of imagination it required. Pondering over which everyday items we could use to shape different aspects of the train makeup, e.g. toilet paper rolls became smoke stacks, painted yo-yo's became buffers, oatmeal canisters were sprayed to look like barrels, etc... It was great to watch the light go off in their head when we would find a material that fit the description. This was quickly becoming more of an experience than just pointing at an item in the crowded store among screaming kids, frustrated parents and paying for it at the register.

Not to mention a great way of keeping costs down seeing as how all we needed was a few Office Depot boxes (free), old shoe boxes from my "shoe farm", some paint, tape and glue! The priciest part was probably the Velcro needed to secure the straps. All in all the project was still under the $20 mark, #ThriftyMom score!

I wouldn't recommend waiting until the day before or day of to attempt this costume, but it's good to know it was possible (I've been insanely busy these days, don't judge me)! It's probably for the best, who knows how many add-ons would have occurred if I had more time to stew on it. I can just see it now, a homemade track built around the neighborhood so the kids can puff along the tracks merrily!
Any opportunity where they could help and assist in building the costumes was a plus, of course once all the adhesives dried and it was safe for them to touch the materials. But I will never forget the anticipation in their eyes while we were painting alongside each other, the pride that came when we were finally finished or the excitement when they first were able to wear them. Those memories created will stay with me forever, and I'm hoping the same for them.

Needless to say, this will be our family tradition for as long as the boys will participate. Hopefully one day I will be able to continue this tradition with our grandchildren. Perhaps they too will have fond memories of their grandmother sitting at a sewing machine in her craft room filled with magic and wonder where anything was possible.

Off they go!

Essentially yours,


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