Halloween has always been a big event in the Sullivan household, as anyone who knew my sisters and I in grade school could tell you. Every year, we each decided what we wanted to be, and my Mom and Dad worked together on the costumes–Mom found patterns and fabric and did the sewing, and Dad constructed the 3D parts of the costume, like all the masks, the nose and hat on the tin man, the muscles on the dinosaur. Here is a picture of our 1987 costumes; Dad made my toucan mask and Mom sewed Mollie’s poodle skirt and Maggie’s princess costume.
So of course I’ve been really excited about Logan’s first Halloween. He was due on October 27th last year, and I went back and forth on making him a costume all the way up until it was clear he’d be born in November. This year, since he’s too little to come up with an idea for a costume himself, I spent a lot of time thinking about what a good costume be. Then I saw a photo of a little boy dressed up as Max from Where the Wild Things Are (my favorite book as a kid), and fell in love. I searched Google for ideas, and eventually found this pattern by Jessica from Running With Scissors. Now that I had an idea and a pattern, I set out to make the costume.
The Sewing Machine
My first problem was that I hadn’t sewn since high school and I didn’t have a sewing machine. I started out by looking at reviews online, and then went into Ann Arbor Sewing Center to shop for a machine. After an hour of trying out different machines and asking tons of questions, I settled on the Bernina 330. After a few weeks of using it, I absolutely love it. Every part of set up (threading the needle, putting the bobbin in, threading a bobbin, changing the stitch length, resetting to defaults) is super simple, and they have a YouTube video to walk you through it. There are thread cutters everywhere you could possibly want one, so I never have to stop what I’m doing and pick up the scissors. There is a little button you can press to switch whether the needle stays up or down when you’re done sewing, which makes it really easy to turn corners.
Ann Arbor Sewing Center has awesome fabrics, so I picked up two different white minky fabrics for the main costume while I was there. I got a zipper, too. They don’t have many accessory type things, though, so I ended up going to JoAnn fabrics for the extra stuff–buttons, furry black fabric for the tail, pipe cleaners for the whiskers, light brown minky fabric for the crown. I got two styles of fabric on purpose, so that I could make two versions of the costume in case I got the first one wrong. This ended up being a good idea, because one fabric was much lighter than the other and we ended up going to both indoor and outdoor Halloween events.
Making the Costume
The Running with Scissors pattern was amazing! I hadn’t sewn in 15 years, and it gave enough instructions and explanations for me to sew the entire costume including a gusset and a zipper on the first try (with some help from my Mom and my sister Maggie). I won’t go into details about that part of the costume, because the pattern says it all a million times better than I could and it was only $6. Here are some pics of the sewn pattern in the lighter fabric I bought:
I did add a few extra details to the costume that weren’t in the pattern, though. The biggest thing I wanted was claws on the hands and feet. I tried a bunch of different things before I could get a really nice claw-like feel like the pictures in the book. Most of my ideas were a variation of cutting out zig-zag claws and sewing them right sides together and then turning them inside out, but that didn’t work at all because they got puffy at the corners. I ended up just cutting 1″ vertical lines every 1″ and then sewing the right sides of each square together at a diagonal angle, with room at the tip to turn the entire claw right side out again. Pictures so you can see what I mean:
The claw as it was sewn, inside out:
And right side out:
I made two sets of claws, square ones that I sewed onto the sleeves to go over the back of his hands:
And spats I cut to go over his shoes:
Crown and Scepter
Doug made the crown and scepter. For the crown, we still had some matting left over from the nursery photos we hung. Doug cut it into a crown shape and notched it like a burger king crown. He had some ideas on how to color it, but I insisted on spray paint, since as far as I remember that’s how my Dad colored all of our Halloween costumes. For the base of the crown, he just used some minky fabric I found at JoAnn’s (walking up and down the aisle with a picture from the book comparing colors). Here is how it turned out:
The scepter was a bit harder. One of Logan’s favorite things to do is wave sticks around and bang them into everything, so the scepter needed to be able to withstand the banging and not break anything it was smashed into. To accomplish that, Doug made the outer part out of four strips of foam covered in silver duct tape. He attached them to a wooden dowel and decorative wooden tip spray painted silver, and used a gold-painted tennis ball for the glowing middle part.
Here’s some pictures of the finished costume our photographer got: