Friday, October 29, 2010

Costumes and other Halloween stuff

Ah, Halloween. The costumes, the candy, the scary movies, the haunted houses, the jack o'lanterns...I love it all. This year I have a homemade costume. I'm going as a vampire, complete with a cape that I made myself. Actually, it's not that much of a costume. Black pants, orange shirt, the cape, and a pair of fangs. I've learned from trial and error that not all fake fangs are created equal. Obviously, the cheap plastic ones are out. They also have ones that look like dentures, but with fangs. You stick them over your regular teeth with this putty stuff. I tried those a couple years ago. The putty works well, but because the appliance itself goes over your regular teeth, it comes out looking like you've got teeth that are twice as long. I came out looking like a vampire dweeb, which was definitely not the look I was going for. The best ones I've found are these:

They also attach with the putty, but they're much smaller and you only cover the canine teeth (which are the ones that are supposed to appear longer and pointy). And they come in a little coffin box, too, which is a nice touch. They're kind of hard to find, so I actually picked up a pair last year shortly after Halloween and, by some minor miracle, actually remembered where I put them. Four bucks at Wallgreens, which isn't too bad.

I'll have to post some pictures of the cape. Actually, I'll have to take some first. Look for them after Halloween. I found some great fabric: black with a silvery spiderweb pattern. The cape ended up being simpler than I'd originally thought; I found a pattern for a vampire cape and decided that my rudimentary sewing machine skills weren't quite up to doing something with a lining and a stand-up collar. I opted for a witch cape instead, which looks really cool with the spiderweb fabric. I probably should have tested the pattern before I cut the fabric. I'm not sure if I switched to the wrong size in the middle of cutting out the pattern piece, or if it was just designed for someone really tall, but I had to shorten it by ten inches.

I love homemade Halloween costumes. They just have so much more personality and imagination than the packaged ones. I've seen some great ones over the years. Back when Tomagotchis were all the rage (remember them?) I saw a Tomagotchi costume that was just great. And one year a music-loving friend of mine went as a piano in a costume made from a cardboard box. My brother's friend went as Larryboy one year when they were little (ten geek points if you know who that is!). Some family friends are bringing their kids around on Halloween so I can see their costumes, sewn by their mom. They've got a five-year-old going as a shark and a seven-year-old going as the mascot for LSU (which, I'm told, is a tiger. In a football jersey). I've seen some of the progress, and I think the mom may have had to design the shark outfit herself.

Oh, and here is a random bit of advice if you want to save money. Never buy sewing patterns unless they are on sale. I'm not sure exactly why this happens, or how widespread it is, but patterns at Hancock Fabrics (my normal haunting grounds) usually run $10-$15. Then they go on sale for $1.99 or sometimes even $0.99. So if you live near a Hancock Fabrics (or other store that operates this way), watch the sale papers for when they're putting patterns on sale.

Before I forget: Neil Gaiman has a great idea for a new Halloween tradition. He suggests giving someone a scary book as a Halloween gift. He's calling it the "All Hallow's Read." I don't know too many people who enjoy scary books, but I do have someone in mind and I even know what book I'm going to pass along.

If you need an idea for a book recommendation, allow me to suggest The Graveyard Book (written by, yes, Neil Gaiman. I decided to read it for Halloween as my own "All Hallow's Read" gift). One of the first books I've read in a long time that I felt the need to finish in one sitting. The characters, the pacing, everything was fantastic. I found it at the library in the children's section, but if Harry Potter has taught us anything, it's that children's books aren't only for children. Please don't let that stop you from reading it. The Graveyard Book is about a boy whose family is murdered when he is a baby, and he is adopted by the ghosts in the nearby graveyard. The ghosts are quite nice, really. Nicer than most of the humans he meets, in fact. I can't really say much more without spoiling anything, but apparently it is heavily based on The Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling's original, not the Disney version). I shall have to add that to my list of books to read.

Going back to costumes: I love having any excuse to dress up. I went to my first sci-fi convention this summer (and my second), although I didn't dress up beyond wearing appropriately geeky T-shirts. I'm planning to go to C2E2 next year (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo) and I had this crazy idea for a costume: Princess Peach...with a badass weapon. Sort of inspired by the "Self-Rescuing Princess" t-shirt from Thinkgeek. My boyfriend and I are still debating about what her weapon should be. Possible ideas include a sword (classic), a giant Nerf gun (over-the-top), a flamethrower (a la Ripley from Alien), or a lightsaber (because...why not?). I've got time to figure that out. The more important thing, to me, is the dress. This is the look I'm going for:

I did a basic search for Princess Peach costumes. The little girl costumes are, oddly, much closer to what I want than the adult costumes. Or maybe it's not so odd, because costume companies have decided that any female over the age of sixteen (or twelve?) who bothers to dress up in a costume must want a skirt that comes halfway down her thigh. I want a big, poofy skirt, dammit! I did find some adult costumes that look pretty good, but still not exactly what I'm looking for. I'll probably keep searching. I don't want to spend a ton, either. It would almost be worth attempting to make it myself, but again, I doubt if my sewing skills are up to the task. It's much easier for me to revise a knitting pattern, just because I've got more experience with it.

Question for the comments: What is the best homemade costume you've either made yourself or seen on someone else?

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