Branching out

Halloween is E’s favorite holiday. Hands down. She may disagree on Christmas morning, or when the whole family is sitting around the Thanksgiving table, or lighting the Chanukah candles, or when she’s learning about the 10 plagues (okay, that may have been a stretch), but I think Halloween is at the top of the list. It’s not about the candy (but I’d be lying if I told her she didn’t like that part). It’s about the costumes, the dressing up, the pretending to be something else, and the planning. We skipped her very first Halloween, as she was only 5 months old. So her first Halloween she dressed up, she was a monkey. I’m committing to going back in the boxes and finding the pictures (it was pre-digital camera at our house). That was the last year she had no input into the process. Ever since then she’s been coming up with her own ideas. She starts thinking one year in advance, and each year, she’s stuck with her decision. No waffling in this kid. Princess, butterfly, black lab, Pippi Longstocking, vampire, Snoopy, and witch. Not a repeat in the bunch. She’s already planning next year’s costume. It’s a good one too.

For the last 7 years we’ve been heading down to a friend’s house in southern Berkshire county. I used to work with Deb, and the girls were born 4 months apart. They became friends at their daycare, and while we live 20 miles away, in two different states, we’ve managed to keep in touch enough that the girls have remained friends. As they get busier, it’s harder to get together, but the glory of friendship is that it’s not always about frequency of visits.

So, long story longer, this Halloween, Eliza had decided she wanted to be a genie. Unfortunately, when we started talking about Trick or Treat we realized that Halloween was Monday night – which is also ballet and jazz class. Uh oh. Committment is something we take very seriously at our house, once you’ve committed to something, changing plans requires a lot of consideration. E said it herself – if there was class, she’d have to miss Trick or Treat. I knew that wasn’t easy for her to say. She also knows it’s up to her to investigate the options. So she asked her teachers if there would be class that night. Well, after a week of deliberation (and considering the fact that most of the students wanted to go Trick or Treating), ballet was trunkated to an hour, and the jazz instructer decided to cancel for the evening. So, Trick or Treat was back on! We’d delayed costuming until we knew it was a reality. Which left us 12 days to make a costume – she needed it by Friday for an event at school. In the past Grandma had made costumes, and we’d repurposed ballet costumes, or put available peices together. I’d offered to sew before, but E had declined. This time, we decided to work together on the costume.

Her ballet studio was selling old recital costumes, and there was a leotard and pants that were the perfect color. We talked it through, and I set off for JoAnn fabrics to get the necessary materials.

At this point I think it’s important to clarify something. I know how to sew. I earned the sewing badge when I was a girl scout. When I was in Jr. High, Home Ec included sewing and cooking. Mine was a forward thinking school. Home Ec and Shop were not gender specific – we all had to take both. I can work a sewing machine, and I’ve made a few items – including an unlined blazer, skirts, shorts and a knitting bag. HOwever, I’ve never really done anything without a pattern. My husband has reupholster a couple of couches, but I’m one who likes to have a plan, be it a pattern or a recipe. I knew what I wanted the costume to look like, but I wasn’t sure if I could execute on it.

I found some great organza, some decorative elastic and some beads. E wanted to do hair sticks for her hair, and what genie would be complete without earrings. The plan was that I’d work on the costume and E would do accessories. I pondered, I sketched and I thought about what I wanted to do.

Overall, it was a simple concept. I wanted to put inserts in the pants so they’d balloon out with elastic at the ankles. The top needed sleeves. Without sleeves, it was just a leotard. I knew how the pants should work, so I started with them. I didn’t take a lot of pictures. Time was tight, and a lot of sewing was done late at night. I managed to do all the sewing in two nights. E woke up and tried the pants after the first night, but our mornings are such a scramble, there was no time for pictures. so I snapped a couple after I did one sleeve. I had her try the pieces on so we could make sure the pants worked, and the sleeve was what I’d pictured. She was still up after some particulalyr complicated math homework, and was talking to her grandmother.
genie pants

She loved the inserts. What really pleased me was the sleeve. I came up with a shape, and sewed it onto the leotard strap:

Success! I was so excited, and I am still really proud of myself for doing this.

The very best part is that E absolutely loved her costume. She brought it for a party at the after school program, we all went to a Halloween party Saturday night (in the middle of a major snowstorm) and she wore it all day on Halloween and got to go Trick or Treating in it:
Trick or Treat

It was insanely cold and the ground and pumpkins were snow covered:
Snowy Pumpkin

But the girls had a good time, and their costumes were perfectly coordinated:


A genie and a peacock:

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