Saturday, October 10, 2015

Make Halloween & Cosplay Fun

Halloween is just around the corner.

PaNiC!? Nope. Taking my own advice, because Halloween and dressing up, don't have to cause panic.

A dress-up holiday? A DIY extravaganza? Yes, and yes! We love to Cosplay... for Comic-Con, for Burning Man, for parties, for Monday-got-nothing-beter-to-do... make-believe and make-up can be fun all year, but Halloween is special.

This post is chock full of links to Ol'Halloweens Past and other dress-up occasions, lots of pictures and a few reminders to myself: Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best~

Of course not all simple ideas are simple to execute: Like being a bale of straw, for example. A box, some paint and glue, and straw. Even with spray adhesive, getting all of that straw to stick to the box was more difficult than expected. However... it did work, and would have been less traumatic if we weren't scrambling at the last minute to complete this costume.

In the end this was an excellent costume for a shy guy.

He could pop in and out of the scene at will. We added fallen leaves to the top, where he was wearing the cut out for his head as a hat. Arm hole flaps... and voila! Straw Bale.

The same year Max was a bale of straw, and Maria was a Pumpkin Princess, Alex was Dex, a character from a favorite movie. It's all about the goggles and the ray-gun. Accessories are everything when it comes to making a costume. And the shirt? Thrift shop. Anyone looking to fill out their costume and prop shop absolutely must haunt their local thrift stores. Start early, be open-minded. You never know when that weird shirt, or huge dress is going to be the perfect thing for your next costume.

To be Young Indiana Jones Max added an old binocular case, and a lantern. The safari hat was already on hand. The pumpkin costume? I made that for William's first Halloween, so that means it's been through 17 Halloweens by the time we see Maria wearing it, again. Children aren't always too particular, and I never feel disappointed when they ask to be a skeleton four years in a row.

This DIY costume reminds me of all kinds of essential ideas for Halloween success:

1. Let children follow through on their own ideas. Maybe you can do it "better," but Alex's expression has as much to do with his own accomplishments, as the prize basket he won for Scariest Costume at Legoland! He made his paper mâché armor, and painted his sweatshirt.
He's the Scorpion Knight, by the way.

2. Freezer Paper! If you don't have Alex's confidence for painting your own clothes, then look for Freezer Paper. You can achieve great stencil painting results with this crafting, and sewing, wonder resource. It sticks to fabric, and it peels right off. I use it to make pattern pieces, and for painting on fabric, it's indispensable.

You will love what you can do with Freezer Paper!

These blank masks are everywhere. Clear the dining table, lay down some newspaper, bring out paints and glue and glitter, and bolts?? Sure, why not.

Acrylic craft paints are affordable (always print or clip a coupon before heading to Michael's or Joann's) and easy to use... these same paints work on clothes, and even rocks... ooh! I am thinking of the fun Halloween themes we could paint on rocks. They make glow-in-the-dark acrylic paints, too!

Painting masks is a fun party theme, too.

On our way to a party, and I had nothing to wear. My go-to costume is a hat and dramatic make-up... glam it up! Maria was tickled about her ensemble... tulle skirt (off the rack, of course) a hat, and her cat mask.

Hats, hats, hats... they're always making an appearance. A top hat, a bowler, and the witch's hat. All off the shelf, and easy to find. And there are those goggles, again. Alex added a flour sack to his regular, everyday attire, but with those black gloves, and the creepy puckers of the flour sack... he's scared up a great costume. No one will recognize Max the Gentleman Ghost. I never pass on white sheets when I see them in the secondhand shops. 2-4 dollars, and endless possibilities. Max's face was drawn on with a Sharpie pen, and holes cut out for his eyes.

A little soft focus around the edges, and the effect is completely haunting!

It's more than dressing up... the fun is in the play. Be sure to take pictures, look for props, and think about lighting... just before sunset is nice, because they aren't blinded by bright light, or lost in a mix of light and shadows.

Of course, dramatic lighting has its own effects! Mood, lighting, the natural seasonal touches of fall, any of these can make a costume more interesting.

When taking photographs, I try to keep my subject in mind. Mostly, this means: Ignore the background! Don't try to get the whole forest in the picture, if it means losing sight of your fairy! If I don't have a blank wall, then I at least try to be sure and get in close, and focus on the child.

You can sew without knowing much about sewing, or even without a machine. This was a dress I bought in 1998! Stretchy top and gauze skirt, and perfect for repurposing! I cut the short sleeves out, then tacked down tulle all around the neckline, with ribbon. Then I took apart flowers, and stitched them all over... just a needle pulling a thread! Around the waist is a wide ribbon with more tulle stitched to it... it ties, like an apron. Maria is wearing it with a head lei from the party store. It would work very nicely with a floral wreath, too, and this link will show you how to make one, easily!

Another way to top your fairy costume is with a flower cap. I made this one by taking a plain cap from a yardage store and then hot gluing rows of flower petals around... start at the bottom edge, and go to the top, so the petals overlap, then I covered a twist of wire in florist tape, to make a curling stem at the top. Any old hat can be refashioned with flowers, tulle, spiders, birds...

This vision was Maria's scheme... a seemingly innocent and frothy princess, but in her hat?

A murder of crows!

And her smile, all fangs! Chilling.

And easy... all thrift shop finds, and borrowed bits from the dress-up drawer. No sewing required!

Borrowing is a Halloween save! Max got his hands on a plague doctor's mask, and he punched in the point of the witch's hat, but the lovely, dark cloak was loaned to him by Lucas, who does know how to sew!

I've been trying to make all of this costuming and making look easy and stress-free, but sometimes we cannot help ourselves, and we go all out. Certainly William raised the bar when he introduced his reverently made gravestones.

And sometimes classic jack-o-lanterns deserve star treatment!

This post-link includes a few of our more ambitious Halloween getups, and it may not be tame enough for impressionable ones (like me). Suki made herself up as a zipper-faced beauty pageant contestant, Alex made himself a Clive Barker character. Elaborate and spooky, and very inspiring.

When it comes to costume success, it doesn't have to be complicated or expensive to be special. We love thrift shops, repurposing, sharing and borrowing, altering, dramatic make-up, a unique hat, and making. It's even more fun to let your kids rummage through odds and ends and make their own character, rather than just laying down cash for something store-bought... and hey, the year Alex wanted to be Scooby-Do, we went for it! Scooby-Do has enjoyed repeated use over the years, so no regrets.

And sometimes a carved pumpkin on your head is all it takes to make Halloween fun!

And by all means, do get together with friends... themes are fun, company is fun!

If you can't think what to be, maybe you'd rather think about your other decorations...

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