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Oct 16, 2012

The Awesome Creativity of MPB Halloween Sew-Alongers, Vol. 1


I have some incredibly creative readers, and a handful of them are sewing along with me this Halloween.  Today, I'm delighted to introduce Allison!

To say that Allison's costume is unusual would be an understatement.  When I found out what she was making, I asked her if she'd share some of her (ongoing) process with us. 

Q: Allison, how did you decide on your costume idea -- what inspired you?

A: I’m not exactly sure where the costume idea came from – as of November 1st, 2011 the plan was to be a Roy Lichtenstein character, but finding all the right sized polka-dots just wasn't happening.

A couple of months ago I was throwing ideas around with friends and somehow landed on topiary and went with it.  For anyone who is unfamiliar, topiary is trees and shrubs which have been clipped or trained into particular shapes (geometric, animals, people, whatever) --  I was particularly inspired by the picture of the topiary couple [see top pic], and wanted to make an outfit similar to what the lady was wearing.

Q: What challenges (if any) are you experiencing? 

A: Once I started actually making the leaves (I've done about a hundred so far, and it only covers the back of my jacket and one shoulder) I decided that a giant hoop skirt might be a bit much.  My current plan is a hooded jumpsuit – I’m hoping that the decreased surface area will mean about 500 leaves instead of a thousand.  The leaves themselves are very easy to make and only take a minute or two – but it’s the sheer scale of the project that is a challenge.  However, I’m enjoying myself immensely, so it’s not really a problem.  I'm also not so sure about the shiny leaves -- I pinned everything onto a jacket to get a sense of how many I'd need and I'm not sure I like how much they catch the light.   Opinions on the subject would be most welcome!

The other reason I decided to scale back the hoop skirt was general navigability – I’d like to be able to get into my desk at work.   

 Q: Allison, where are you going to go in your costume?

A: Last year I was the only person to show up in costume (a dinosaur) and I’m planning on bribing my coworkers with candy, so being able to bop about easily will be important.   I’m also going to a Monty Python and the Holy Grail themed party at which I will be the shrubbery.   (I may have suggested it just for that reason….. one never knows)


Reader's, it's all I can do to avoid making a very vulgar pun vis-a-vis this costume (hint GWB) but we're not in elementary school, are we? 

You can read more about Allison's sewing adventures on her blog, A Fabric Fixation.  I can't wait to see how her costume turns out!

If you're sewing a Halloween costume and would like to tell us about it (and share some photos) let me know!

And now for something completely different (the best part, imo, starts at 1:03).  Any Monty Python fans out there?


  1. I adore Monty Python! "flying Sheep," "confuse-a-cat" etc. it's wonderful.


  2. I LOVE Monty Python! Dead parrot sketch!

  3. She should have a friend go as Edward Scissor Hands!

    1. That would be amazing, but it would probably cost a small fortune in leather and buckles.

    2. Or a Knight who Says "Ni!"

  4. oh, it's a long time since I've seen that Monty Python- made my day! Must go and sew on more buttons now, 1st Halloween party is this afternoon.

  5. awesome! A suggestion---she could make 'em out of felt and make bigger leaves. It took 180 felt "feathers" to cover the wings and head of Imp's owlet costume.

    Wish me luck. The attempt at Rapunzel hair was a total fail, so I ordered the Disney version. I knew it would probably be too small, and I was right, so I've been working on correcting the problem. I know in about two hours if I succeeded!

  6. Oh yes! I am a huge Monty Python fan and a shrubbery costume is brilliant. Go Allison!

    I can't wait to see what other readers have done.

  7. I've never seen that clip before, amazed! Very funny. :) Love the topiary idea too!

  8. I wouldn't have minded seeing the smoke signal version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

  9. My husband and I were Roy Lichtenstein characters two years ago. I was "Crying Girl". People kept asking me if I was supposed to have the chicken pox? Oh well - I thought we looked awesome.

    1. Just stay away from the abstract expressionists!

  10. Love this costume design idea!

    I just have to take a moment to give credit to the magical park where I happened upon this very same topiary garden where your opening picture was taken last year. If you ever happen to be near Columbus, Ohio you REALLY should take the time to see this remarkable place where you can stroll alongside the people depicted in George Seurat's famous painting, 'A Sunday in the Park'. Check it out at:

    It was one of the most pleasant days of my life! Really! ...and for those of us on a budget, it was absolutely free!

    Here's another view I found of the park:

  11. Be a Jack-in-the-green! A traditional tree-based folk character in the UK:

    Extra points if you are accompanied by the creepy Hooden Horse. These used to scare the life out of me!

  12. Topiary - brilliant.
    Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. My 16 year old has for a while spoken only, where at all possible, in quotes from MP, predominantly life of Brian and The Holy Grail. Plus, of course, the infamous. "one more wafer". I think the key lies in the cheerful pride they take in their achievement of, 40 years and much social change after the material was written, still being offensive.
    In one of Michael Palin's journey programs (through the Himalayas, I imagine),, he was excited and somewhat awed to be meeting the Dalai Lama. Turned out the Dalai Lama felt the same about meeting Michael Palin. Excellent.
    Resisting the pun - I'm not sure you did resist, but marks for endeavour.

  13. We just rewatched the semaphore episode last Sunday. Those shows never get old. Thanks!


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