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.

Lavender and Clary Sage Body Balm Recipe

Here’s a project I did awhile ago but am just now posting. What with the move and all, I’ve had to take a long, hard look at my craft materials, and strangely this has been harder than going through other things, like, say, my clothes.

In the big craft weedout, I came across about a cup of chipped beeswax.  I can’t just toss this, I thought. I also had a small bottle of almond oil and the dregs at the bottom of a jar of coconut oil.

What would happen if I mixed them together? Would they become lip-balmy? A big gooey mess? What did I have to lose by trying?

So…I fashioned a makeshift double-boiler on the stove, added the ingredients to the nearly empty coconut oil jar, and let them slowly begin to meld(see above). When the wax and oils were evenly melted, I tossed a drop of the mixture onto the counter to see how it hardened. It wasn’t as hard as candle wax but not gooey at all. Seemed good to me, so I added essential oils and poured the mixture into my muffin tin lined with foil. Soon the mixture began to harden and turn from clear to white.

The resulting “balm” smells great and can be rubbed on the skin or lips.

Here’s my recipe:

1 cup chipped beeswax

4 oz. almond oil

1 tablespoon coconut oil

20 drops lavendar essential oil

10 drops clary sage essential oil

I think in the end it made about 8 rounds that are about 1/3 inch or more thick.

I like the way they look like little icebergs.

More Easy Cheat Batik: Gel Glue


This is a project I did quite awhile ago for my son’s nursery. With both of my children, I had really specific visions in mind for their nurseries, and the colors never matched up with what was being sold in stores. My son’s room is a soft aqua-greenish color with white and pale orange accents.

I got a little carried away with dyeing things for my son, but when you have an orange and aqua nursery, your options are a little limited.

I bought white (secondhand) cotton sheets and spread them out one at a time on top of a large piece of cardboard covered with a plastic garbage bag. I drew the waves on with Elmer’s gel glue. It’s a little tricky to draw with the glue this way, so it was probably best that I stuck with something simple. Recently I’ve read that using a metal tip with the glue bottle can help give you more control over the lines. I’ll have to try that next time.

After letting the glue dry, I used procion dyes purchased from Dharma Trading. They’re the real thing—-no playing around with this stuff, but they don’t fade and come off like grocery store dye.

So, the steps are easy:

1) Draw on fabric with gel glue. Let dry.

2) Dye according to directions.

3) Wash fabric.

The little man’s room has an aquatic theme. Here’s a shot of some of the fish on his wall:

He’s just moved to a big boy bed, so now I’m in the process of making the old crib sheets into a patchwork bedcover.