I am surprised by the quality and affordability of store-bought costumes. The costumes of today are more realistic than what used to be available. After Halloween, the leftovers at the 50% off (or better) sales make wonderful clothes for playing dress-up. Lilyjr and her friends always have fun pulling out the tote of costumes. It is a good idea to double up on the favorites so there can be more than one Tinkerbell flying around the house.
Pre-made costumes are great. But If you want something unique and are looking to have some family fun, it is a treat to make your costume at home. You don’t have to be an expert seamstress or a highly skilled crafter to come up with a fabulous costume for your little trick-or-treater. I can say that with conviction. I have made some costumes in my day and I am neither of those. What is required is patience for any design set-backs.
My number one rule of costume making is: It’s the effect that counts. Don’t get bogged down in all the little details. It’s fun to make your creation as authentic as possible. But first, you want a good functioning costume that is comfortable to wear and easily identified.
This year, we decided to go home-made. Lilyjr had started making a robot several months ago when a long flat box big enough to crawl into was delivered to our home. While she initially had her heart set on using that box, I explained to her she needed to have her head exposed to be able to see where she was going. She also needed to be able to walk faster than a little baby step in order to achieve getting any decent quantity of trick-or-treat candy. So, we started afresh with a smaller more narrow box and made a trip to the dollar store to see what we could find. Most of what we needed was there and the rest was from our a local WalMart. One of our fantastic finds at the dollar store were silver car visors! They were the perfect covering for our robot body.
I am a meanie mom who doesn’t allow glitter in the home. You might as well ask me to shovel self-multiplying sand through my front door. However, glitter-glue pens are a happy compromise and Lilyjr grabbed a pack. A funnel caught our eye and we knew it was a must-have. We added a light-up bracelet and a strobe light for jack-o-lanterns into the basket. I was sure the shiny metallic scrubbers would look robotish stuck on somewhere. We saw the glow-stick necklaces that would have made great reflectors but passed on them since we were planning on a lighted costume . Unlike many others, I was thrilled to see the Christmas decorations already out at Walmart. Where else would I easily find the battery-operated lights? At $4.00 ea, they were the most expensive purchase. I couldn’t have asked for better push-buttons when I saw the $1.00 pack of glow-in-the-dark of smiley faced stickers . Once home, I was rummaging through the junk drawer and was pleasantly surprised to find foam plug insulators.
My daughter has several events where there will be trick-or-treating. I try to design a costume that can be worn while running without the tripping and scraping. Because, well, there’s always running. Also, I didn’t want to be carrying the costume after only fifteen minutes….waiting on the sidewalk, as my child points to me and explains she’s a robot when people ask her what she is.
Vinyl table-cloths make great back-drops for your working area and that is why I always buy some in the after Christmas sales. They are durable and easy to clean whether your child is rolling play-dough or painting. I shake them out and wipe them down for many uses.
We began our robot by spray painting a base on our box. As I stood outside watching my daughter inhale the toxic fumes, I realized one can was not going to be enough. Using my rule that “it’s the effect that counts” I urged her to cover up the logos and the back as the sun visor material would cover the front.
After the box was dry, I used a paper plate as a template and a razor knife to cut the holes for head and arms. During the first fitting, the costume seemed to be pushing and cutting into the shoulder area. I taped in some shipping padding and that took care of that problem. A robot is a nice cheat and you can use as much duct tape as you want!! Lilyjr then began the task of designing the front of her robot. As you can see, she had a frustrating little helper who thought the decorations were there for her benefit.
For the lighted control box, I used part of one of the visors to cover the small box. For that extra robot flavor, I thought it would be nice to group some of the lights in the metallic scrubbers which I attached with pipe cleaners. I took scissors and punched holes big enough to push the lights through and secured them with… yes, duct tape. I attached the light switch/battery pack on top where it could be easily turned on and off.
We still had a second set of lights. I had planned on placing them all over the robot. However, it seemed easier to punch them through a separate piece of covered cardboard. I cut it round so I could circle the lights. The remainder of that strand was taped running up the side of the robot. Lilyjr decided a wind-up key was needed, so that was cut out of the scraps of cardboard and covered in more duct tape. An old keyboard that we had lying was also taped on.
Headpieces and hats are always a bother. They never seem to fit or stay on. I have found it is best to use a real hat and build from there. We pulled a blue toboggan out of the closet and I fixed a small round piece of foiled cardboard with pipe-cleaners. To complete the look of her cap, I added on the strobe light. It all seems to stay on perfectly and she hardly knows it is there.
After several dry runs attempting to walk in the costume, we determined the weight of the completed costume made it hard to lift her knees. Out came the razor knife and I removed about a foot of cardboard, including the laptop keyboard. My daughter has her heart set on using the keyboard and says she will find a place for it . Again, patience with those best-made plans.
Overall, we were pleased with the outcome. I won’t have any trouble spotting her in the dark.
Please share any costume ideas you’ve tried or seen and have a happy and safe Trick-Or-Treat!
Lily Doe has written for ImperfectWomen.com since 2009. She has never been shy about sharing her opinion and enjoys writing on a variety of topics. Her life’s focus is sharing good times with family and friends.