Green Ninja Costume

I’m just a teensy bit late with this Halloween post. Our little man just had to, had to be the green ninja from Ninjago. It was a bit of a trick figuring out how to make up the costume, especially the sword-holding thingy in the back, which, according to my son, was absolutely essential.

I bought cheap green jogging pants and used gold fabric paint (the kind you squeeze out) to make the little gold shapes on them. On the figure they’re actually silver but, whatever.

The top is a green fleece I refused to paint on since I wanted him to be able to wear it plain later. I did add black cardboard-and-toilet-paper-roll epaulets on the shoulders, tacked on with thread. These were only semi-sucessful. You can see them hanging off his shoulders. We probably should’ve skipped them.

The headpiece is another simple balaclava I made like the ones for the knight costumes, only with a silver piece sewn on. The green is a thrifted sweatshirt and the silver from the same thrifted sweater that I used for one of the knight helmets.

The black belt is actually Daddy’s bathrobe sash. Ha! And the sword-holder-thingy in back (sorry, no picture) I made by cutting slits in a small cardboard box that I painted black. Four slits for the swords, then some small holes for the ties cut from sweatshirt material. We then tied the ties around his chest to hold the box on his back.

It’s not fancy, but it worked. This is kind of my costume philosophy—-I want them to be comfortable and re-usable but inexpensive and quickly slapped together. Thrifted knits are great for this.

For other low-sew costumes with thrifted parts, check out our fireman suit, knight, and turtle costumes. Oh, and here’s a princess for good measure, with maybe a little more sewing involved.

In other news, I’ve been doing some development work on secondary characters in my novel, using this questionnaire. The questionnaire was originally written for role-playing gaming, but totally works for novel-writing, too. I’ve been surprised at some of the interesting things that are coming from it. Hope I can put them to good use.

Northern friends, I hope you’re not stuck in the snow, or at least if you are, that you’ve got power, food, and board games.

Simple Knight Costume

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I made four of these after one of our nephews asked for a knight costume like the German Waldorf one our son has. I figured everyone should have one!

The “tabard” (red drapey thing) is basically a round-cornered rectangle with a hole for the head, finished with bias binding. I machine-appliqued letters on the front of each.

The “helmet” my son has is crocheted with silvery yarn, but I don’t crochet and knew I couldn’t knit anything fast enough, so I came up with a balaclava-type answer.

The first nephew got one made from a thrifted silvery sweater (picture #2). The sweater wasn’t big enough to make more helmets, though, and I knew the other three nephews (brothers) would be happier if theirs were all the same.

So, I made theirs out of a thrifted grey polo, with the added bonus of the bottom edges  already being finished (parts of the sleeves or bottom hem of the shirt). I added a “visor” of sparkly thrifted fabric and added pewter-look buttons to each side as the bolts.

I thought they turned out really well. Also, the time invested ended up feeling appropriate. Know what I mean?

I hope my little knights will defend their aunt when necessary! Although I look kind of Joan of Arc-y myself, don’t you think? Maybe I should’ve made one for me.

Low-Sew Halloween Costumes

Folks seem to already be looking for Halloween costume ideas, so I thought I’d round up previous posts on the topic. My favorite handmade costumes are  ones that don’t take too much effort.

Here’s our fireman costume from two thrifted shirts:

Another oldie and goodie—-the Turtle Costume from a sweatshirt and a sweater:

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andf lastly, the Princess Dress from Upcycled Fabrics:

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For more ideas, go to elsie marley’s post here.

For the best Halloween decorations ever, look to Blair Peter of wisecraft’s posts here and here.  And here.  She does the WAY coolest stuff with things found for pennies at the thrift store.

I’m not sure what we’ll do for Halloween this year. It’s not really done in Germany, so last year we called friends around the neighborhood to warn them we’d be coming and begging for candy. It was fun, but I do miss our neighborhood Halloween back in the U.S.

Semi-Handmade Halloween: Quick and Easy Fireman Costume from Two Shirts

Lately  my little man has been looking for the turtle costume  that I made two years ago. Sadly, I left it in NC in his memory box in storage, thinking he wouldn’t want to wear it for a 3rd Halloween in a row, not realizing that he might just want to dress up in it. Twice he’s been looking for it and I’ve had to tell him it’s in NC. Both times he burst into tears and totally broke my heart. So you can imagine how much incentive I had to make a new costume for his third birthday.

The first shirt is cotton with a little stretch, which is ideal because it wrinkles less, but any adult-size red button-up will do. Actually black or gray would work fine, too. I got this one at Goodwill. Short-sleeves are best, but you can always shorten long sleeves if you need to.

Step 1) Size it down

I left the shirt long so that the costume will fit for a long time. I cut down the sides in a slight A-line and cut down the bottom of the sleeves as well so they weren’t quite so wide. It’s good for them to be a bit wide, though, for easy dressing. I used my son’s bathrobe as a rough guide for sizing.

Step 2) Decorate with strips of yellow cut from a knit shirt

After sewing the sides and sleeves back up, it’s time to decorate. You could use yellow felt, but I had this old, very stained t-shirt of my daughter’s handy. I cut it into strips and pinned them around the bottom of the jacket and around the sleeves. Some of them I sewed together because I needed a longer strip. I must’ve pinned them a little crookedly, but who cares. Then, sew the strips down. My mom, who was visiting, did this part (thanks, Mom!).

Voila! A fireman costume. My parents bought him a hat to go with it, though you could try sewing one of those, too. There’s a pattern for a hat in the new book One Yard Wonders. I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet.

The little man loves his new costume and says it’s his favorite birthday present. It’s pretty big on him still, but oh well, this way it will last a long time.

** Edited November 11 to add: my son wanted to wear this over his winter coat today. It was a little tight but it worked. I realized this would be a really easy costume to make to go over  a coat if you’re using it for Halloween in a place where it’s already cold at that time of year.

Upcycled Princess Gown from Thrifted Items

gownI decided that I would make this costume for my daughter from things I already had on hand. I started thrifting when I lived in Boston and couldn’t get to a fabric store easily. Luckily, Boston is a great place to thrift (I miss you, Urban Renewals!) and I often found fabulous things to wear as well as wonderful, sometimes crazy pieces to tear up and sew back together. I haven’t lived in Boston for several years, but all the materials for this costume (except the back of the bodice) came from my time there.

The bodice of the dress is made from something that looked like a long jacket made out of a sofa from an ancient sitting room. The skirt is made of various table covers that were once used at the performing arts organization where I worked. I saved them from the trash, what a hero. I did line the inside of the skirt with muslin, though, to make it less scratchy.

Taking a cue from the Disney-fied costumes sold in stores, I made the back of the bodice from an old knit nightgown so that it would stretch to fit.

The applique and the pink edging were the only things I purchased. Can’t wait to see her in it tonight!

Handmade Halloween: Turtle Costume from Castoffs

My 2-year-old little boy is going to wear the turtle costume I made last year, which still fits because of the way it’s put together (and because the pants are very stretchy). I started out by going to Goodwill and finding a sweater and sweatshirt in two contrasting colors of green. It was important to get things that were very finely knit so that I could cut them without having to worry about finishing them off to keep them from unraveling.

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I cut the arms off the light green sweater (a very soft, stretchy chenille) and sewed them into the pants, using the waistband of the sweatshirt as the pants waistband (cut down to size). It was still a little too large, so I cut a slit in the waistband and threaded a cord through them so I could pull it tight and tie the cord.

I re-sized the body of the light green sweater by taking it in, then used it for the body of the costume, sewing on dark green shapes cut from the sweatshirt. I’m not sure why I did this by hand—it could certainly be done by machine. Again, the pieces didn’t need finishing because of the fine knit.

Turtle Costume Front

For the turtle shell, I took a really large platter and traced it onto the dark sweatshirt, then applied light green shapes to one side of it in the same manner I had done to the turtle body. I sewed the two ovals right sides together, then cut a slit in the plain side, flipped it right side out, and stuffed it with fiber fill. Then I sewed the shell to the back of the body.

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For the hat, I took two U-shaped dark scraps and sewed them together at the top—no finishing.

The little man is still a bit young to object to having mom pick out his costume. If I can just get my daughter to agree to wear the one I made for her last spring, I’ll be all set.