Friday, November 4, 2011

Emergency Imperial Stormtrooper

There is nothing quite like a costume emergency to get your creative juices flowing.

Halloween, 2007.  I was dimly aware that my six year old nephew had grand plans to dress as an Imperial Stormtrooper, that he wanted a store-bought costume (which broke my sister's heart) and that these costumes were proving very popular, and therefore a bit tricky to actually lay hands on.

Sometimes a boy just wants what a boy wants.

When Max was around three years old, he became absolutely obsessed with a little movie called The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl.  I mean, OB.  SESSED.  He wanted to watch it two, three times a day.  He was a big Sharkboy fan, but his heart, and his fashion-envy, belonged to Lavagirl.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

That's Incredible!

When my nephew, Jack, turned seven, he decided to have a superhero-themed birthday party.  He was a good sport, and invited his young cousins, and the then almost-three-year-old Max decided it was a perfect opportunity to dress up.

I think what Jack, my nephew, had in mind were the classic Marvel and DC Comics characters:  Spiderman, Batman, Superman, an X-Man or two.  But to young Disney-loving Max, there was one superhero, and one superhero only, that would do: Dash Incredible.

to the fairies they draw near.....

I have been active in community theater for the past nine or ten years, as a performer, director, stage manager, technician, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  As a director, I usually have very clear ideas about what the various costumes should look like, and I often pitch in with the construction or, at the very least, collection of the numerous pieces we need for any given production.

In the summer of 2005, just after Max was born, I had the opportunity to costume an entire show, a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream set to music, and presented outdoors in a local park.  My sister Katie and I had performed in this same show as small children, and she was, in fact, directing this time around.  She told me she wanted the fairy costumes to be reminiscent of the costumes we ourselves wore as "Cobweb" and "Ladybug" back in 1982, but gave me free rein with the final product.

I had a lot of fun outfitting the "mortal" members of the cast, in a kind of 1950's, Mayberry/rockabilly style comprised entirely of items pulled from the theater's costume closet and items that I thrift-shopped and altered to suit.  But the most thrilling part, to me, were the FAIRIES.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Let the wild rumpus start!


For Max's first dress-up Halloween (I refused to make him a costume for his very first Halloween, on the grounds that he couldn't even sit up for me to take a picture of him in anything) Max from Where the Wild Things Are  was a fairly obvious choice.


Now, apparently it's no big thing these days to purchase a Max, King of the Wild Things costumes.  I can only assume it's because of the movie that came out a couple of years ago.  But in 2006, purchasing the costume was not an option.   (Or maybe it was, and maybe I just had it in my head that Halloween costumes are supposed to be homemade, and I just didn't even look for one to buy.  No matter...)

I do remember that I searched and searched for an all-white, or even ivory, sleeper with footies, and did not find one anywhere, at least not in toddler-size.  So, several yards of white ribbed jersey (and a trial-by-fire learning curve in machine-sewing stretch fabrics) plus one clumsily-hand-sewn-in zipper later, and the bulk of the  costume was complete.  Having purchased the pattern for the sleeper, I was too cheap to shell out for another pattern to make the hat, so I took a winter hat that Max already owned, the kind that fastens under the chin, and used it as a model to fashion the head piece out of more white jersey.  I cut out the ears from cardboard, covered them with fabric, and hand-sewed them onto the hat.

The final element was the tail.  I purchased some fake fur and cut out the shape I wanted.  I knew that it would be difficult to deal with Max's car seat if the tail was attached directly to the costume, so I folded over the top of the tail, glued it down, and ran a string through it so that the tail could be tied around Max's waist.

As soon as I tried the costume on him, I realized it's fatal flaw - he was slipping and sliding all over the place!  So I traced the feet onto a piece of that grippy rubber shelf paper, cut out the foot shapes and glued them right on.  Worked like a charm.

I made Adrian a "Wild Thing" costume that year, which he wore with great humor.  His costume featured a striped shirt that I made out of some upholstery fabric (did I mention that Adrian is a very good sport??) and some scaly silver lame spandex pants, plus a tail like Max's and some furry cat ears.  He was supposed to be Moishe:


and I am very sad that I do not have a decent photo of his costume.  It was okay ;)


All you can really see there, as he is leaning over to talk to our little wild thing, is the big brown tail.  You can catch a glimpse of the silver pants down at his ankle.  Oh well.

In true me fashion, I ran out of time to make my own costume that year.  I did manage to do an iron-on Max long-sleeved t-shirt for myself, kicking off a long trend of me dressing everyone else and throwing something together last minute for me.

Of course, the very best part about the Wild Thing costume is that it was repurposed a couple of years later.  Max's uncle directed a production of "101 Dalmatians" at his middle school, and my boy just had to go in costume.  Out came the Wild Thing costume, a bunch of black felt, and some glue:


Instant Dalmatian!

Three....two....one.....

The day after Halloween seemed like a good time to launch my new blog.  I'm not abandoning the old blog, this is something different altogether.

Somewhere along the way, between my involvement with community theater and raising a son with a love of dressing up, I became a costumer, of sorts.  Some of my costumes are elaborate, the kind that require giving my kitchen table over to yards and yards of fabric and my sewing machine for weeks on end, and some are what I call "quick and dirty", made from t-shirts or scarves or whatever I have on hand.  And some fall somewhere in between.

I have a BFA in painting and drawing.  I rarely paint OR draw these days, which is a source of great frustration to me.  But I do make costumes.  That will have to do, for now.