Grit Blogs > Oregon Trails

Halloween Costumes

Sarah S HeadshotMy knight in shining armor has finally arrived. It took three days to make the costume but I’m done! (I haven’t told Little Man yet, but I think I’m going to cop out on the shield and sword and borrow them from my brother.) Overall it’s been the most difficult costume to date. I’m hoping the trend doesn’t continue. It’s not even the difficulty of the sewing that’s the problem it’s the hovering-over-my-shoulder-supervision.  

“Momma, what step are you on? Momma, how come you did that? Momma, what are you doing that for? Momma, can I try it on now?”  

“I just got a sleeve stitched together – a sleeve that’s it. No, you can’t try it on.” I was not the picture of grace that I had hoped to be. I remember this being easier when he couldn’t read or use scissors or talk. 

Now it’s “Can I cut this? Can I pull the pins out? Oops I ripped the pattern, sorry, Momma. Can I push the pedal to make it go?” 

“Absolutely not!” I have visions of driving to the emergency room with a sewing machine sitting on my lap and the staff snickering behind a curtain saying, “Why didn’t she just go to the dollar store?” 

It’s a good question. Why don’t I go to the dollar store? I could get on my soap box about mass marketing and lack of ingenuity, but I won’t. (Although those are part of the reason.) The main reason is because my mom made my costumes. My mom hates to sew. She might not use that exact term. (But then again she might.)  

As a child I had absolutely no idea how much she disliked sewing. All I knew was that she came up with the best costumes ever! The cutest was Raggedey Ann, complete with the red wig. The orange Crayon and penguin tied for most original.  

I don’t remember ever picking out my costumes. Maybe that was the only pleasure she got out of the whole ordeal, I don’t know. I just know that at some point she would tell me what she was going to make. Somewhere along the way there might be a fitting and then it would be done. And it would be the absolute best costume in the whole school.  

We used to do this thing where we had a parade through the school. They started in one of the first grade rooms, everybody lined up and paraded to the next room. When they were done in that room, that class would stand up and follow to the next room. Through all eighteen rooms we’d go. We got to see everybody’s costume and without a doubt mine was the best, except the year my brother was Robin Hood – that was a pretty cool outfit too. 

It wasn’t until recent years that I learned Mom doesn’t like to sew. The pale green Singer still sits in its case in the spare bedroom closet. But it never comes out. She tells me that it’s out of adjustment. But in fact I pulled it out a year or two ago to stitch something up for her. It worked fine. Usually she takes even the simplest items to a seamstress up the road a mile. I’m ashamed to admit that she took Little Man’s pants to her seamstress too, because I had been unsuccessful with an iron on patch and hadn’t gotten around to sewing it on properly. 

Knowing how much Mom dislikes sewing, it’s a bit of a wonder that I like it so much. How much you ask? I like it so much that I have three (yes, you read right) three sewing machines. I have the one Mom and Dad gave me for high school graduation. I have a treadle Singer circa 1920 I inherited from a distant cousin (in the living room) and I have my Grandma’s 1920’s “Monkey Wards” electric machine. I have used all of them just to say I did, but mostly I stick with the one Mom and Dad gave me. My husband teases me about my sewing machine collection and asks what I’m going to do when my other grandma dies. (I tell him there are two children in line first and three other grandchildren. He points out that they’re all boys. We’ll see what happens.) 

I’m not really good at sewing, I just like it. And when the rain and fog roll in, it makes me happy to turn on the radio, sit down at the sewing machine, do something with my hands and think my own thoughts. The trouble is now I can’t think my own thoughts because Little Man has enough for both of us (and then some).   

In amongst all of the chatter yesterday Little Man told me “Momma, I loooove it when you sew my costume,” and he gave me a big hug. It was just the sweetest thing ever and that’s all the reason I need.

cindy murphy
10/16/2011 8:21:27 PM

Homemade costumes are the best! I always thought so, and was pleased to hear my sixteen year old daughter tell that to my ten year old the other day. We were in a Halloween store to pick up a few accessories, and the 10 year old started eyeing a packaged costume, when the sixteen year old piped up and said “Mom can make you something way better than that, and half the fun of Halloween is helping make your own costume!” Then later that week, I heard her tell her guy friend that I always had the best ideas, and therefore, she had the best costumes. Xena: Warrior Princess (try that one without any sewing skills what-so-ever; I don’t sew at all, but am very handy with a glue-gun, and rivets), Road Kill, Dinner (the proverbial head on a silver platter), and a corpse bride were favorites. I was surprised. They remember. I remember too. My brothers and I always had home-made costumes. My aunt was a seamstress, and our cousins were a couple of years older than us. We got hand-me-down costumes my aunt had made, then Mom helped us tweak them to suit our tastes. Witches became bats, and later, black cats. Hobos became (slightly evil) clowns, and princesses became sorcerers. I may have had one or two store-bought costume over the decades as an adult, but I don’t remember what they were. I do remember nearly every costume from my childhood though, and how Mom helped us get them just right. Thanks for stirring up the Halloween pot of good memories, Sarah. I’m sure as you create his costume, you’re creating some good memories for Little Man too…and for yourself!


nebraska dave
10/14/2011 4:46:47 PM

Sarah, those spontaneous hugs and (I love you)s make it all worth while. Doesn't it? We always wish life away for our children. If only they could go to the bathroom by them selves, if only they could get themselves dressed, if only, if only, if only. As they get older the physical care becomes less by the social care becomes more time consuming than getting them dressed etc. Then one day after all that work they up and leave home. I've been through it all so I say enjoy every single stage of raising kids. Those are precious memories for both the kids and you. Happy Halloween costume making day.