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Oct 7, 2010

Requisite Halloween Post

I don't think it's too early, do you?

I recognize Halloween is a subject of relevance only to Americans (or so I believe); my apologies to all others and don't be too smug: you have your embarrassing holidays too!

Sewists of America, what's your take on Halloween?  As the owner of at least one sewing machine, does it have special relevance?

Does it mean extra sewing duties?  Expectations of brilliant bursts of creativity?

Contrary to what you may believe, this phlegm-hacking sewist (that would be me) is not a fan of Halloween and has never been an adult participant in any Halloween-related activities.  When I was growing up back in the day, Halloween was strictly a holiday for kids: basically an excuse to beg the neighbors for candy.  I lived in a twenty-story apartment building and we'd start at the top and work our way down -- a no-brainer.

I'm not sure when Halloween became an adult phenomenon, but relatively recently.  Here in NYC, it seems every other vacant store front is now a pop-up Ricky's Halloween costume shop, selling the cheapest versions imaginable of  the "naughty witch," "naughty nurse," "naughty French maid," right down to the "naughty Michelle Obama" ensemble.  It's all so tired and predictable, don't you think?

You probably remember that I do own one Halloween-type pattern.

I have no intention of making it.  Or should I?

There is a big Halloween parade here in New York every year.  I have never participated and only on occasion have watched from the sidelines (it finishes just blocks from my apartment).

Americans and all others who have an opinion, do you think, now that I sew, I almost have an obligation to whip myself up a cute little Halloween number?

Do you see Cathy in a glamour-witch ensemble, perhaps?

Will you be participating in Halloween this year, either as a indentured sweat-shop worker or party attendee?

Do you think Halloween should be left to the children and the "naughty secretary" outfits be relegated to the dumpster, where no doubt they'll end up anyway?  Are any of your kids pushing to go "naughty" this year?  Girls too or just the boys?

If you are participating: what are you going as -- and where?

Boo!  (Hoo)


  1. Last year, I dressed as a man just to counter all the slutty costumes around me. My good deed for the year.

    My favorite Halloween tradition is turning off all the lights and hiding in the back of the house, where children won't beg me for candy.

  2. no naughties here - those slutty overpriced costumes are ridiculous. my wedding anniversary is Halloween and this year we are going as norman rockwell's Rosie the Riveter and her sailor boy.

  3. I like Halloween because I get to sew ridiculous outfits that I wouldn't otherwise have any use for. But I never go as anything "Naughty ____," my costumes are always as accurate to the original as I can possibly make it. Last year I was Princess Leia, and this year I will be a member of the Dharma Initiative from Lost. When else do you get to make a tan coverall jumpsuit? Oh wait...

  4. I hate the naughty costumes. no imagination at all. i always made my kids costumes and my own from the time i was about 10. i love to dress up, so Halloween is just another reason to do so!

  5. I am not into Halloween at all. But, I do have fond memories of a few all-nighters sewing Halloween costumes for my son. DBF, being quite the child himself, adores Halloween and wants to decorate my house and dress up to hand out candy. I'm saving myself for my Christmas Extravaganza so he's on his own.

  6. I love halloween! I love any excuse to wear an abnormally short crinoline (although I did consider working my super short crinoline into my lucille ball apron i just made! more pouf!) I wish it was the style for women to wear peasant shirts and SUPER TIGHT vests over them! Black and white stripey thigh highs rule! fake eyelashes with glitter at the ends is FUN! There's no reason to think Mrs. Claus doesn't have a whorey version of her red velvet dress, and I'm wearing it!

    OK. That being said, we haven't gone to any parties in the last few years, and are more excited to pass out candy to the neighborhood kids and head down the block to the house where they set up a bonfire. And I'm not making a costume, even though now that I sew, I can make WHATEVER costume I want (the 'large size' selection at Party City stinks!) But that's just because I'm trying to stay focused on my sewing time!

    Next year, I'm thinking of making a slutty pilgrim-lady costume. Just think of the search for gothy, buckled shoes! Ooooo... the fun! And a hat!

  7. I grew up in the gothic subculture, so yeah, I dig Hallowe'en. Some of our friends are actually getting married this Hallowe'en and we won't be able to make it---I'm super bummed.

    As to sewing kids' hallowe'en costumes, however, I'm torn. On the one hand I hate the out-of-the-package Halowe'en costumes. Cheap and tacky. Though some of the props are cool (there's some awesome knives at Value Village right now that have "blood" inside the blades that runs around and disappears depending on how you hold them... kinda like those old toy baby bottles with the milk that "disappeared" and then reappeared...

    On the other hand, I spent the first twenty years of my sewing experience making costumes that got little wear---and while I've certainly enjoyed making my kids their dream costumes (and figuring out how to make a Ballerina Witch or Betty Boop both weather and 8-year-old appropriate was a task!)I really hate the day after when the costumes go into the closet and never get touched again.

    Patty, I love your idea of a slutty pilgrim costume. :)

  8. I adooore Halloween! I love the excuse to flex my creative muscles and sew something different than what I usually do. Last year I created a jack-o-lantern romper, which I wore with tights, boots and a leaf in my hair. (none of these super-slutty costumes for me--they're not as creative, plus it's cold where I live and I would probably die getting to and from my location in something so revealing!) That year, I made my hubby a pumpkin costume as well--only his was an angry face (mine as a happy face), and his was filled with two pillows and two bags of stuffing to make a super fatty pumpkin (it was pretty awesome getting him INTO the costume) while mine was a slim romper. The year before...I DIYed my husband a joker costume and I made myself a Harley Quinn one-piece, which was an awesomely fun challenge. I have no idea what I'll be doing this year, but I'm excited to figure something out!

  9. I made a Harley Quinn costume a few years ago too! It was the first actual pattern I finished on my own. I love Halloween, it's basically why I learned to sew. But I am also a super nerd who goes to 'conventions' and runs around dressed up with the other nerds... Yes I will be attending a party this year, I haven't really decided what I want to be yet... Time is running out.

  10. I loved Halloween when we lived in New England--the landscape really lent itself to the holiday. Here in NM Dia de los Muertos is a much bigger deal and to me, a lot more fun.

  11. I'm not dressing up myself; for trick-or-treating I usually just put on my blaze orange cotton chenille sweater over black tank top and jeans (Halloween comes at the end of deer hunting season here).

    What's killing me this year is that my five year old daughter wants to go as "an evil cute girl." She plans to have me paint hearts on her cheeks and will wear her regular clothes but will make this evil scowling face when people open the door. That's it. I have NO idea where this came from, but she is hell-bent on being Evil Cute Girl. No amount of suggesting other options will persuade her to change her mind.

    It's killing me because I LOVE making costumes. Three years ago, she and DH went as Curious George and The Man with the Yellow Hat. Last year she was a butterfly *and* Harry Potter (different costumes for preschool and Halloween night). When my son (now 26) was a kid, he was a lobster, dinosaur, various comic book characters and even a can of SPAM. And now she's depriving me of this joy...evil cute girl, indeed!

    Oh, well, there's always *next* year...

  12. This sounds like post-toddler rebellion -- but it's also hilarious!

  13. Whoops, posted an incomplete thought there...

    I meant to say she knows how to push my buttons. Can't wait for the teen years, should be fun...

  14. It's the only time of the year where I can justify overpriced novelty fabrics, elaborate costumes, and glitter. I have to do it. It's like some force pulls me each year towards the glittery faux-fur costume badlands.

  15. Ahhhh nancy... you just reminded me that it's been so HARD resisting the urge to make my Lady Grey out of the fake tiger fur in the costume section. I mean, C'MON!! How great would that look with my slutty pilgriim outfit?? And a fine every day look, as well.

  16. Last year, I made a Foofa costume for my niece. Now that was scary. I think the whole Gabba gang is a bit on the creepy side! I entered the costume in the annual Simplicity Halloween Costume contest and waled away with third place. Which turned out to be a book that told you how to thread your sewing machine.

    This year, we bought wings to go with a dress up dress my SIL's best friend gave Evie for her birthday because it was cheaper than making them. That's the extent of my Halloween participation.

  17. Not sure I've ever mentioned this, but my mom is a sewist from back in the day, and made me some of the most AMAZING Halloween costumes as a kid. Wonder Woman (several times), Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth, and even Black Beauty. She designed that last one totally from scratch, bless her!

  18. I love Halloween -- both the traditional spooky, ghoulish take and the more kitsch contemporary figure/hollywood notable approach. Although, I side with ghoulish with a healthy helping of Dia de los Muertos/All Souls Eve on the side. I'm already being importuned upon for a second costume (one witchy robe already sewn) by my youngest, but my other two (thankfully) are planning on deconstructing clothing for the zombie look this year. Me, I've got my buckle shoes, my hat, robe and broom . . . I'm ready for a night on the town. And there's nothing naughty or nice about this witch, she's all business. Toss some eye of newt and frog toes into the boiling cauldron for me. (CACKLE).

  19. I don't really like the Slutty Whatever costumes, but I do love dressing up and Halloween. This year me and all my friends are taking part in a Zombie Walk which doesn't really offer much of an opportunity for creative costuming, so I'm pleased to be working on leopard accessories (opera gloves, spats, ears and tail) for a client. I love making costumes, they're so much fun and nobody takes them *too* seriously.

  20. @ Patty the snug bug: You are a woman after my own heart. The woman I'd be if I had 2 X chromosomes. If you go as a naughty pilgrim, can I be a naughty Indian brave, a la the Village People? Maybe Peter will sew me a would also come in handy here in Chelsea for the occasional brunch out.

  21. I'm not a halloween fanatic, but if there's a party to go to, I'll make a modicum of effort - clip on ears, tie on tail - voila, I'm a cat.

    My favorite costume of all time though, was a few years back - I went to a party where I knew the majority of costumes would skew decidedly to the revealign/naughty side.

    I bought a horrible blond wig (billed as the Martha Stewart) a pink knit short sleeve sweater with a rose on it, elastic waist tapered leg pants and brown loafers.

    I was your mom.

    Close friends of mine had no idea it was me. It was awesome.

  22. I'm a rather practical (boring?) person, so I don't usually go all out for holidays, least of all Halloween. I haven't dressed up for Halloween for at least 14 years, but my kids do. In line with my practical/boring nature, and as long as I am to be involved in the confection of their costumes, I require that they be as easy and as little of a hassle as possible -- after all, they will only be wearing them for an hour or so for school festivities and another hour or so trick-or-treating (in near darkness, might I add). I can't stand to shell out for flimsy, overpriced, Made In China garbage costumes from the likes of Party City, so we usually opt to go DIY. Last year, my mother was kind enough to make jedi robes for my three boys (which they still like to wear to play in) and helped to put together a Padme Amidala costume for my daughter (the components of which she was able to wear again many times). This year, two of my boys want to be robo-ninjas. I don't really know what a robo-ninja is, so I think they will just be plain old ninjas and their costumes will most likely consist of black sweatpants and black long-sleeved t-shirts (yay! easy and reusable!). My daughter wants to be a minor character in a Scooby Doo episode, which will be a slightly bigger challenge, but which I'm sure no one will recognize. We'll see how we work that one. My youngest, at age 2.5, really doesn't care, but I know he will enjoy the candy (I have fond memories of him snatching candy and running while trick-or-treating with the older kids last year). If he wears anything, it will be last year's jedi robe and he will carry a toy light saber, which he likes to wave around and bop people on the head with.

  23. Peter, for all your devoted readers who suffer from coulrophobia, please give a *Clown Alert*

    I'm so glad to hear that you are not going to sew that pattern, but it keeps popping up in various posts for some reason. It sends a chill down my spine every time......

    Burn it please.

  24. I love Halloween! It was always last minute get-ups when I was younger, The Baldheaded Farmer, an Airport Runway -- complete with paper airplanes, The guy and girl from the American Gothic painting...

    And I do love trying to scare the kids when they come to the door...oooooh too much fun!

    But in the last decade I have loved making costumes for those costume parties. The slutty stuff just doesn't come in my size so I don't care but if I had the body maybe I'd participate in those, who knows.

    My all time favorite thing to do is go to Haunted Houses! Yes! Can you believe it? At 42 I love getting scared at those things...too much fun! I was always way too petrified to go into them and now if I see one I have to stop and go, it's hilarious. I'm right in there with the teens screaming my head off!

  25. I do love making Halloween costumes for kids and have made more than I can count. I have made costumes for my own kids when they
    were little ranging from Nuns, bums, Little House on the Prairie girls, princesses, Indian girls, witches, Darth Vader, Princess Leah, etc and now make them for my 9 grand-kids. So far for the grand-kids I've made a Charlie Brown, 3 witches, 2 princesses, a dinosaur, the Joker & Dracula.
    There will be no slutty costumes coming out of grandma's sewing loft. Ever.

  26. I enjoy Halloween but it does involve extra sewing duties for me. This year I am making a costume for a friends 2 yr old son who decided he wanted to be a cookie as well as ones for my boyfriend and myself. We were going to be two of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but may re-think that.

  27. I love Halloween - it's an opportunity to don a wig, try on an alternate persona and basically play at being someone else for a day. Not that you'd know anything about that...

  28. I still celebrate Halloween. I dress out at work and I dress to hand out candy. I went trick-or-treating until I was 22. I have made my own costumes sine I got my 1st machine (that I still use) in 1984. Sometimes it was the only time I used the machine all year. I dig this holiday.

  29. I don't do costumes for myself. I have back in the day, but not in many years. I do actually LOVE to make costumes for my kids. My DD wanted to be a prisoner this year so I just bought her costume at Target. It is often hard to find the right fabric around here for projects. Also, they had a prefect ball and chain to go with it. I may have to cut it down a bit since it is a little big. She actually told me "This is my first store bought costume. It makes me a little excited and a little sad." I felt so appreciated. I've always went over the top with their costumes. My son wants to be Godzilla. That I will have to make. I'm still trying to put my head around that one.

  30. I LOVE dressing up for Halloween (I get to dress up a lot as a teacher of 4 & 5 year olds!!) My DD (aged 5) got an outfit from TKMaxx this year as it was only £5!! (and she liked it) She now wants a party for her friends!!

  31. I absolutely ADORE halloween! It's my favorite holiday and I am usually thinking about costumes for months leading up to it. I have sewed costumes for myself almost every year for about 7 years.

    Last year I got a ton of compliments and won several costume contests with my homemade League of Their Own baseball uniform - that has set the bar pretty high :)

    This year I think I am going to do Jane Austen Fight Club. Check it out on YouTube if you haven't seen it! I doubt most people will know who I am, but for those in the know, it should be awesome. I have 2 Regency patterns on the way and just need to head to the fabric store to find something great.

  32. Love! For whatever reason dressing up runs in our family. Did any of you guys have "Spirit Week" for highschool, where you would dress up in costumes for a week? Yeah, my family excelled in that. My mom also made us several costumes when we were kids.

    Luckily I married a man who loves that sort of thing as much as I do. And now that we have kids it's even that much better. My son's first Halloween he was a cowboy and I was his horse, he rode on my back in a baby carrier. Last year he was the blue Totoro from "My Neighbor Totoro". This year, I'm not sure, we'll figure something out...

    And what to do with all that slut muck sold this time of year? Well, my little sister goes in after Halloween and picks up discounted costumes for "personal use"... TMI? You betcha.

  33. I met my husband at a Halloween party. The first time I laid eyes on him he was trying to spray whipped cream on my butt. I should say that this was right after Victoria's Secret first came out with their Angels campaign. I was wearing wings, a bra and panties with a mesh sarong tied around my waist. Obviously I don't mind the naughty as long as it's not in the form of a cheap store-bought costume. Anyway DH was dressed as a nun...and he got nun that night. But turns out he's a nice guys when sober.

    And speaking of clowns and coulrophobia, I knew the son of the property master from the Poltergeist movie. They had the evil clown doll from the movie in their living room. The one that came to life with the long arms and legs (*shudder*). First time I went to their house I almost had a heart attack. The year the movie came out, they had that doll on their porch on Halloween. Not one person was brave enough to walk past it to ring their bell. I blame that movie for the fact that most of my generation is afraid of clowns.

  34. I loved making Halloween costumes for my kids! And for the few times my DH and I have gone to Halloween parties, we first look at RTW, then I scoff, and then 2 days madly sew us something taking all kinds of sewing shortcuts.

    If there are no invitations to be had though, I'm totally a sit in the dark and be really quiet when the doorbell rings kind of girl. My husband is appalled, but doesn't go out and buy candy, so there you go.

  35. I've always, always loved Halloween. I learned to sew because of it! I'm with you on the "naughty" costumes though. I'm someone who's always used the holiday to showcase my historical costume sewing skills on a day where it's pretty acceptable to wear them in public ;) Now that I have kids, I sew for at least one of them, which is nice because they have a costume that actually lasts more than one night and they get to play with them over and over. I do worry about the future though. My daughter is now only seven but she comments on how "beautiful" girls look in the most trashy costumes that come to our door.

  36. I'm not a Halloween person, but I have fond memories of the holiday. My mom always sewed our costumes (well, except for one year, when I went as a dice: she covered a box in white paper with black paper dots. Awesome!).

    I recall my mom feeling genuinely, terribly sorry for the kids who had the store-bought, thin plastic jumpsuit/plastic facemask costumes. I think she believed it to be borderline abuse. If I have offspring, I'm sure I will always sew their costimes, whether I'm happy doing it or not.

    Great vintage Halloween images.

  37. I actually made that pattern in the '70s. I believe I was given the pattern, which was old then, and some oddball material which would be worth a fortune now, and I made my son a clown costume.

    Honestly, Halloween leaves me cold. I still view it as a kid's holiday. But you know if you WANT to make yourself a costume, go ahead and march.

    I think the question is, "How do you feel about doing it?"

  38. "I'm not sure when Halloween became an adult phenomenon, but relatively recently."

    Peter, my children were born during the 60's (not relatively recently) and of course we took them trick or treating and took plenty of pictures. I did NOT like sewing costumes of any sort, even then. But, after that, the biggest fun was the adult Holloween party, where everybody got a babysitter and came in costume and drank quite a bit, if I remember? ;-)

    I think there might be fewer adult parties (at least like that now days) as young parents seem more responsible (IMHO) and do not drink that much and especially do not drink and drive. Thank heavens!

  39. Alright, I guess I'm the only one 'repping the "naughty" side. But then again, if you can't be a naughty witch when you're 17, when can you?

    I have been looking for a wonder woman costume for the past 2 halloweens, and am seriously considering making my own this year because all of the premade ones STINK. They all either have skirts or lopsided ta-tas. The real wonder woman comics had her in a unitard, and thats the look I want. Is running around pantsless "naughty?" maybe. But wonder woman is way too awesome to let that stop me, especially if some fancy red boots are involved.

  40. Hi there.

    Being from northern europe, my main involvement in halloween consists of baking a banana cream pie and stuffing myself full of it watching NFL on TV.

    We do not go without costumes tho - in the beginning of February we have Fastelavn instead. We all dress up, eat sweet sticky Danish-style buns, smash up some barrels with black cat decorations stuck on, an generally behave like a bunch of 5-year olds.

    Last year I actually was the one to finally smash the women's barrel, so I got crowned Cat King - and was as proud as a rooster! For teh first time in 38 years, I got to wear the crown and eat candy till my eyes popped.

    My daughter got chosen as best costume - which also made my pride swell - she sas the cutest little giraffe with long neck and everything :-)

  41. No Halloween sewing for me -- fortunately my kids had a well-stocked "tickle trunk" (remember Mr. Dressup?)and they dressed for Halloween with whatever they could put together from the tickle trunk. I do enjoy the elaborate Halloween displays people set up to decorate their yards and homes, but I can't really be bothered to do it myself (lazy!).

  42. I love to make Halloween costumes for my kids. Last year my son was a wizard - but not just any wizard. He wanted to look exactly like his avatar on the computer game Wizard 101. I did a pretty nifty job, and he was happy, although no one else could really appreciate it. This year he wants to be a plant from the game Plants vs. Zombies. I think I'm going to forbid all computer games for a few months prior to Halloween!
    Two years ago my daughter was a pteradon (formerly known as pteradactyl - I may be spelling both of these incorrectly.) Making the headpiece was very tricky, because it has a long beak and a pointy head.
    I want to make myself a costume, something clever but not slutty so I can wear it to the school Halloween party and to go trick-or-treating with my kids. I usually just wear black clothes and a witch's hat, but that seems a little lame. I need inspiration!

  43. I was SO into making Halloween costumes when my daughters were young. I'll have to post a photo from the year one wore a Glinda costume that was literally just like Billy Burke's and the other one wore a Cinderella gown that was exactly what you'd see on a character in the Disney theme parks. Now that they're teens they like to cobble together their own costumes but I'm hoping that Halloween will spark their interest in sewing.

  44. I'm with Pixie! Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year, despite living in Mormon-ville, AZ. A Halloween parade?!?! Okay, can I just say this: JEALOUS! It seems that Americans only want to celebrate holidays that we get something material out of: Christmas - presents, Thanksgiving - indigestion, New Years - hangover, Valentine's - chocolate & a cheap card. I was raised making my own costumes from the time I was 12 years old. It was a creative process that taught me how to sew AND be creative. When people asked, "Where did you get that?!" I would reply with a huge grin, "I made it!" Now, Halloween costumes are made from the CHEAPEST fabric on the planet (I feel one step above tissue paper) and cost top dollar. $50 for a dress that was made out of 1 yard of tissue paper? REALLY? This year my husband and I are going as Bonnie and Clyde. I made my costume; since I don't do men's tailoring, he is wearing one of his suits and a fedora. Halloween used to be a time when families/neighborhoods would come together and socialize. We've gone away from that.

  45. I realize I'm way late here, but as I just found your blog...

    Halloween this year is what is getting me back into sewing. I decided I would actually a) use some of the skills my mom taught me and b) go full geek and go as Commander Riker.

    So now that I know that I remember enough about sewing to make a passable starfleet uniform, I'm interested in sewing more functional things. Obviously that's a good outcome from the tradition!

  46. Best Halloween story yet! Welcome, Shelby.


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