Posted in sewing

Memories of sewing Hallowe’en costumes

For years when I was a young working mother I put away my sewing passion to focus on other things – husband, baby, household, work I loved. But once a year I’d dust off the old sewing machine and start a project. It began in August and often ended on the afternoon of October 31. It was, of course, the inevitable Hallowe’en costume sewing.

It always began on a hot day in August when I’d take my little guy’s hand and head to a local fabric store. Our search started with those massive pattern books– those long ago days when you couldn’t wait for an online sale and order a bunch at seriously reduced prices. Sometimes Ian, my little guy, would have an idea of what he wanted to be; other times, he was open to finding a surprise idea in the pages of those books. Either way, I sat him on the chair as we poured over the patterns. That was also long before I took a notion that I might like to design my own patterns. Now that would have been fun!

Anyway, we would always find something that he’d get excited about. The first year he was a little tiger, then he progressed to clowns and of course eventually a little red devil. It was Hallowe’en after all.

One year he had been mesmerized by Disney’s Fantasia so was anxious to be a wizard for his annual trick-or-treat. (I think this may have been the most prescient costume: classical music has been a large part of his adolescent and adult life – he’s eventually graduated from Canada’s National Ballet School and has danced with the National Ballet of Canada & Les Ballets de Monte Carlo in Monaco for some years!).

Anyway, he also sported a scarecrow costume the year he saw The Wizard of Oz, and of course, being a Trekkie, the last year he actually went trick-or-treating he had to have a Star Trek uniform of course.

All through the years we were able to find patterns that suited us both – he the wearer and me the maker.

The fabric selections were guided by a couple of what I consider to be basic Hallowe’en-costume-sewing-and-wearing rules.

  • The fabric has to be easy to sew.
  • The fabric has to withstand a bit of rain (I remember one year as a child myself we wore paper costumes – big mistake.)
  • The fabric has to look good when layered over the inevitable warm jacket and even sometimes winter pants. (We do live in Canada.)
  • The fabric has to be cheap. Oops, not cheap. Well-priced!

These days there is an incredible selection of costume patterns, and it seems to me more and more moms (and even some dads) are choosing to make their own costumes. There is little doubt in my mind that sewing these costumes is a lot more memorable than throwing on an inner tube and calling your child a do-nut!

For me, this process was actually a project that Ian and I could do together. Of course, I was the one cutting out the pattern and sitting at the sewing machine, but he was there all along the way, giving advice, keeping me company and showing his delight at the finished product. It was a fall ritual. I kind of miss it now. I wonder if 27 is too old to want Mom to make you a costume. I guess so! Back to couture sewing for me.

Next up: learning to manipulate darts as design features, then time to cut out my next Little French Jacket.

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