Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wonderland Halloween

Last year, Max went through a major Alice in Wonderland obsession.  Not the classic Lewis Carroll book, not the Disney cartoon, but the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version.  He hummed the music, he played the video game, he endlessly dug his rabbit hole.  For Halloween, he decided he just had to be the White Rabbit.




For this costume, we employed one of my favorite shortcuts: one of "Daddy's work shirts."  My husband wears a suit to work every day, and he is pretty adventurous in his selection of dress shirts, which affords us a somewhat endless supply and array of slightly ink-stained or collar-frayed raw material.  I have made several costumes out of these discarded shirts, and it's a huge time and stress-saver, since I don't have to worry about putting sleeves in, or buttonholes, or any of the other fiddly bits.  I simply put the shirt on him, button it up, trim it to length, and then pin it to his silhouette; a quick running stitch up the sleeve, around the armpit and down the bodice and it's done, ready for embellishment.  For this particular costume, I removed the pocket from the shirt (if you run the shirt through the wash once you remove the pocket or any other details, it will mostly erase any residual needle holes or other signs that there used to be a pocket there) and cut the cuffs off, but left the collar as is.  I shortened the sleeves, then reattached the cuffs, so that they could be turned back, in the style of the White Rabbit's coat.

I had some extra fabric from an old project that had a bold blue and white print.  Max really liked this fabric, so although it wasn't a perfect match, we made a vest from that and lined it with some scraps of pink satin.  I used some more of the patterned fabric to make a coordinating belt around the coat, just to tie it together and add a little oomph to the coat.  I cut up an old white oxford cloth shirt (I wanted something with a little stiffness) to make ruffles.  I cut a length three times the circumference of his wrist, with a scallop edge on one side.  I sewed a narrow channel down the straight edge, threaded some elastic through, and sewed the ends together; when he slipped these onto his wrists, tucked under the turned up cuffs of the coat, it looked exactly like the ruffled cuffs of a shirt sticking out.  I cut another piece from the oxford cloth, about six inches wide and eight inches long, to which I sewed several tiers of ruffles.  I attached a long ribbon to the top so I could tie the whole thing around Max's neck, and this became the jabot.

For the rabbit part of the White Rabbit costume, he wore a white turtleneck, white pants, and white sneakers.  Max did not really love the idea of face paint, so we opted just to draw on some whiskers.  We added a store-bought pair of white rabbit ears, which came with a big puffy tail, so I sewed that on to the back of the coat, in the general region of his derriere.  He also wore a pair of white gloves.

The final, and most important, element was the over-sized pocket watch.  We crafted our own, from yellow and white fun foam and pipe cleaners, and Max used a ball-point pen to "engrave" it.  I was not totally happy with how it turned out, and so I went online and ordered what looked like the perfect prop and turned out to be the biggest piece of crap; the face was a sticker that was peeling off before we even got it out of the packaging, and the chain links fell apart after about five minutes.  SO:  lesson learned, homemade is better.  Max loved his homemade one, so it was not a big deal for him.

His cousin had an Alice-themed birthday party earlier in October of that year, so he was all set (minus the jabot and cuff ruffles in this photo):


We put Allison's party in our rear-view window, and Max decided the entire family needed Wonderland costumes for Halloween, a couple of weeks later.  Adrian could be Stayne, the Knave of Hearts:


This was a really fun costume to make.  Adrian had an old pair of black sweat pants (Frankensweats, we used to call them, they were from a factory-seconds store, and featured a long, lumpy stripe across one thigh where they had been very inexpertly mended.  One leg was longer than the other, too...by about four inches.  They were really something special!) that I cut off right at the crotch (hehehe, I said crotch).     I cut the remaining legs open at the seams, so that I had four squarish flaps hanging from the waistband, which I edged with silver Duck tape.  He wore these (turned sideways so that a flap covered his manly bits) over a pair of black running tights that he already owned, and his twenty-year old oxblood Doc Martin boots, and that took care of the bottom half.  For the tunic, I bought a long-sleeved black t-shirt, and striped the sleeves with red Duck tape.  I cut triangular pieces from the cut-off pant legs, and used more silver Duck tape to edge them and attach them to the shoulders of the t-shirt.  I cut a red heart out of fun foam and pasted it onto an eye patch we already had, and topped the whole thing off with Adrian's incredibly useful and versatile cape.

I was to be the Red Queen:

Now, we all know that I was not about to give myself enough time to make some big elaborate costume. Plus, it's always like a million degrees here on Halloween.  Luckily, I had this costume already in my closet:


(You will note that it is not actually me, in that photo.  But that's the costume.)  Several years ago, I put on a murder mystery event with a 1920s speakeasy theme, and ended up making four of these outfits, two for my sister and I, who were organizing the event and thought waitresses made the most sense for our costumes, and two for participants who were actually playing waitresses in the murder mystery.  Confused?  You can read more about that event, here.

ANYWAY, I had this little red dress.  I also had a black lacy bodysuit, circa 1993 (don't judge me).  I purchased the Red Queen wig and a pair of red and black striped tights, and that was about all she wrote.  I did cut out a black fun foam heart and attach it to the bodice, and, although you can't really tell in the photo, I used red lip pencil to achieve the exaggerated heart-shaped Cupid's bow lips.


As for Milo....well, much to my chagrin, we failed to get a decent shot of Milo in his costume.  He was just too wiggly.  But he was, since I know you are curious, the Doormouse, stuck in a teapot.  He wore a long-sleeved brown onesie and a pair of silver pants that Max and Gran found at the flea market (!!!!  WHY are there silver pants in this size??  The world may never know.)  I used some gray tie-dyed flannel to fashion a plush teapot, complete with spout and handle (you can see the spout pointing directly toward you in the photo above), that slipped on over his head.  I made a little beanie out of the same flannel to be the lid, and attached some mouse ears made from felt.  It worked, okay, for that one moment when we said, "Hey look at Milo's costume!"  Then he took the hat off, wriggled out the teapot, and that was that for the rest of the night.

We never did find our Alice!  Oh well.  We could mine Wonderland for costume ideas for years to come.  I am sure we will find ourselves an Alice, one of these days....

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