Tag Archive: Halloween


Well, Halloween has come and gone. My kids dressed up and threatened people for sugar along with their ravenous gang of friends. They’ve entered the time of the year I like least, when the perpetual sugar high from Halloween begins. It’s a sugar high that lasts through the end of the year thanks to holiday baking and stocking candy.

I was able to complete Pynni’s Weeping Angel and I didn’t have to threaten her within an inch of her life to get her to wear it, either. I cannot express to you the rush I felt when she WANTED to wear that costume and was determined to get it on almost two hours prior to trickertreating time. That rush, of having finished. That rush of her LIKING the results of my work. That rush of seeing her traipse along the sidewalk among her friends, completely satisfied with her costume. SUCH a rush.

I’ve made things for people before; worked really hard on them, but I don’t live near a vast majority of those people. I never see them wear what I make. Oh, sure, I get thank yous and lots of great feedback, but somehow, it isn’t the same. It is a GREAT feeling to see her unabashed enjoyment. And she was SO grateful! I was worried that she wouldn’t wear it. Not because she didn’t like it, but she balked so strongly whenever I had her try parts of it on. She would get embarrassed if anyone asked her about it. She didn’t want to be seen in the various parts and stages of this costume, but boy, how she owned the role, when she donned it in its entirety.IMG_1668

So after all the hard work and random moments of drama, The Weeping Angel was finished. I was glad that I’d planned in advance for Chi to be something other than another involved costume creation because I was tweaking Pynni’s costume until about 4pm on Halloween.

Chi decided he wanted to be a Ghostbuster. He likes them an inordinate amount for a kid who doesn’t like scary or freaky things. His costume was purchased and it came with a jumpsuit and a blow-up Proton Pack and gun thingy. He was over the top excited about being a Ghostbuster.

Pieces was the 10th Doctor. I got him a pinstriped suit and a Sonic Screwdriver. He already had the Converse. He, of course, was unbelievable cute in his suit “fixing” everything with his screwdriver. He was, also, super stoked to get dressed in his costume.

I went prepared when we went trickertreating this year. I brought bottles of water and a wagon. The wagon was to hold the costume parts my kids would inevitably shed through the course of the evening. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised when my kids kept all of their costumes on almost the whole evening. The only exception was Pynni and her wings. She wore them for probably 80% of the night, but they started getting heavy and she wanted to take them off. Which, wow! My kids have not once, EVER worn their entire costumes all night.

When Chi was Mario, he took off his mustache right away and his hat about 15 minutes into trickertreating (that’s 3 Halloweens). When Chi was Harry Potter, he removed his glasses right away and took off his robes and put down his wand about 15 minutes into trickertreating. When Pieces and Chi were Minecraft Steve and Armored Minecraft Steve, I ended up carrying two heads, an axe, and a sword. Tinkerbell? Wings. Wall-e? Uh, no wait, Pieces wore that all night. He wanted to sleep in it.

Ok, so wow, this post has gotten away from me. So here they are. My kids on Halloween.

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IMG_1680I bought the newspaper for the papier-mâché, which was an adventure all on its own due to it being a Sunday and WHERE DO YOU BUY NEWSPAPERS THESE DAYS? A book store seemed logical to me (the bookstore I worked at in a previous life sold newspapers), but that was a big bust and gave me a good reminder of why I hate malls. So, then I thought about the convenience store I worked at in an even earlier life and how it sold newspapers, and that’s when I started hitting the gas stations. That turned out to be the right place , although the line was stupidly long.

After I got home, I tore the newspaper, which was much easier to do than tearing the tissue paper had been. Then I began dipping and placing. At first, I thought I’d hang the wings and paste like that, but the wings weren’t holding their shape well at the time so I laid the wings onto a covered work surface and started. Even this part was more involved than my brain had planned for it to be. I thought I’d be able to get one whole layer of paper done before letting it dry and doing another, smoother layer. WRONG.

IMG_1649Since the wings weren’t holding their shape, I had to reshape them on the table. AND since the wings to which I was pasting paper weren’t solid either, I was basically creating wings around a wire frame the paper stuck to the table. So after one side of one wing was done, I had to hang the wings up to dry, or the side would dry to the table. It took many hours for the one layer to dry completely, and since I was using a flour paste, complete drying was a necessity to prevent mildew.

When I laid the wings down to work on another side the next day, the previously pasted wing had… warped while drying. This goes back to the whole bit about the wings not holding the shape I wanted them to have. I decided I would do one side of the other wing and find a way to prop it away from any surface to which it might stick while it dried. Then I would reshape the warped wing when pasting the other side of it.

IMG_1648OKAY!

I’m just going to short-story it here for you and say that the reshaping didn’t work as great as hoped. THEN, I remembered that this is a costume that will be worn an entire ONE time, and probably not for the whole trickertreating event because my kids shed costumes on Halloween like cats do fur in the summer: just sort of constantly. THEN, I, also, remembered that it’s going to be dark and little details like feathers and slightly warped wings aren’t going to matter. THEN, I, ALSO REMEMBERED that between having to do a quarter of the wings per day and also having to do the ribs along the top of the wings separately, I WAS RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

IMG_1645The ribs took an entire extra day to dry completely. I think this is because the paper tubes got soaked and had to dry, also. When I tried the wings on Pynni, which aren’t at all as heavy as you’d think, the elastic bands from the Wings That Were were not nearly strong enough to hold the New Wings to her back. They just sort of hung down by her side. And this was BEFORE the wings were even painted.IMG_1646

So, while I waited the extra day for the wings to dry, I crocheted a new harness and a new mechanism to hold the new harness on the wings. And I went to the store to buy paint. I had decided after my “this doesn’t have to be perfect” epiphany that I was just going to spray paint the wings grey. At the store, they had “stone” faux finish spray paint. PERFECT!
Then I painted the wings which took more paint than I could have fathomed, but ended up looking like stone anyway.

The final step to all this was to attach the harness and try the wings on Pynni. After some adjusting of the harness and tightening of it against the wings, everything was about as perfect as I was like to get it hours before the trickertreating started.

I have to admit. I wasn’t happy with the wings even after the alterations. They weren’t exactly how I’d pictured them and they didn’t hang on Pynni’s back the way I wanted. I was, actually, very disappointed in them. I felt a little nauseous. I had done all this work, and this one integral part was not right. In the end, when the whole costume was put together, I was happier than I thought I’d be.

And Pynni loved it.

These WILL be angel wings when I'm done. I think.

These WILL be angel wings when I’m done. I think.

The wings.

Ah, the wings. Honestly, when I was first planning this costume, I thought the wings would be the easiest part, because I was going  to be repurposing wings I already had and not making anything from scratch like the dress or the wig. I was pretty far off the mark.

The dress was the easiest and now I know I can sew from-scratch garments decently.

The wig was next easiest, and it only missed being the easiest because there aren’t as many webpages out there about making yarn wigs as there are about making dresses so the planning was more difficult. The wig took longer to make because I had to let glue dry and set between rounds of working. Plus, you know, manufacturing hair.

The wings. Ah, the wings.

So my plan was as follows:

  1. Reshape the existing wires of the wings to more fit the shape of angel wings.
  2. Use pipe cleaners to connect the existing wires into the final shape. The idea was that these pipe cleaners would connect the spaces between the wires and finish the general outline.
  3. Use toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls to create the rib along the upper edge of the wings.
  4. Papier-mache over the whole lot. First layer would be covering the framework and the second layer would be the shape of the “feathers” to give the impression of carved feathers after painting.
  5. Paint the dried papier-mâché wings using highlights and lowlights as needed to give depth.
  6. Crochet covers for the straps that hold the wings onto Pynni since they are green.
  7. Voila! Wings.

IMG_1588The reshaping went well and worked better than I thought it would. The pipe cleaners, not so much. They were much flimsier than I needed them to be and so I ended up doubling them to make them sturdier. They weren’t supposed to be integral to the structure of the wings, but more guidelines for the paper-mache, but the wings, after being reshaped, weren’t as  sturdy as I thought they would be. Moving the wires around compromised the integrity of the structure, making the green nylon stretched over the frame loose and unable to help the wires hold their positions. I had to have the paper-mache do that job, but it was tricky to get the wings to stay put while the paper was applied.

The toilet paper/paper towel rolls were a little more difficult to apply than I had envisioned. They needed to go around a curved edge. I employed a version of lobster armor by laying narrower strips of the rolls, over-lapping one another along the curve, and had to cut slits in some of the pieces to make a sharper curve than the lobster armor technique was allowing. I tried to hot glue everything as I went, and ended up having to tape some of the pieces because the glue wasn’t holding them exactly the way I needed them held.

I’ve papier-mâchéd before, but it’s been a while and I needed the end result to be fairly light weight. So I did the research on papier-mâché to get all the info I could before starting this part of the project. One of the resources I used suggested using tissue paper to make a lighter project so I bought a bunch of tissue paper.

I sat down and laboriously tore that paper into strips (which doesn’t tear all neatly like newspaper) and dipped it into the paste I’d made before sitting down. The paper practically dissolved before I could pull it out. I tried several pieces of varying length and width and it fell apart every time. It was something I thought would happen when I was reading the article, but I gave it go anyway. The author of the article must have used thicker, more expensive tissue paper than I had, so I had to go buy newspaper before my paste started drying out.

to be continued…

The costuming has been going much slower since the first big push with Pynni’s Weeping Angel dress. Last week, I was able to eek out some time to work on the wig. This was surprising because I was keeping Abshie and Timmus while my brother and his wife were out of town, and they are public school attendees. So here I was, thinking that I would be too busy with my normal schedule plus morning and afternoon carpool topped with homework and extra baths.

All my time concerns were for naught, though, and we were able to keep a tight schedule that allowed for the PS kids to have playtime with the HS kids, and THAT gave me time to work on the wig.

I started out crocheting a beanie with a flap around the ears and back of the head to better mimic Pynni’s natural hair line. Then I created bundles of yarn about 18 to 20 inches long that I tied along the center line of the beanie every two rows or so. This created the center part.

I looped yarn “latch hook” style (a’la amigurumi hair) all along the front, inside edge of the beanie  so that when I pulled the yarn up into the twist, there would be no beanie parts showing. Next I created two, much fatter bundles of yarn of similar length to the attached bundles and braided each of them. One of those braids, I rolled into a disc to attach to the back of the beanie to be the base of the messy bun. The other braid, I glued along the small space between the first bundle of yarn in the front and the amigurumi hairline. The Weeping Angels have some sort of ribbon wrapped around their heads and through their hair, and I thought this would fit the bill while also filling in gaps and covering exposed beanie.

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I wrapped a styro head with plastic wrap and worked the, now, yarn covered beanie onto it. I couldn’t decide, up until actually getting into the nitty gritty of this part of the project, what I was going to use to secure the yarn down on the wig. Originally, I thought I’d use fabric glue, but that is made to be flexible. I was wanting stiff because this is supposed to be statue-like. So I thought I would use Elmer’s glue. This would dry clear and stiff and, maybe watered down a little, would make a good over-all treatment to make the whole thing stiff. When I started gluing, the Elmer’s glue was a failure. It didn’t dry fast enough to be of use for securing large sections of the wig, so I had to try something else.

I settled on my glue gun and got to work. This worked exactly as I’d hoped, if a little more painfully. Did you know that glue gun glue is HOT? Yeah, me, too, but I burned my poor fingers over and over because yarn hair isn’t very solid and glue oozes easily into the spaces. I tried using tools like popsicle sticks to maneuver the hair around in the glue, but they just stuck to the glue. Whatever. It got done sans a few fingerprints.

Not really, no fingers were permanently damaged in the making of this costume (disclaimer: yet).

I glued down the braided disk and the head band type braid and then, beginning on the left hand side facing me, I began twisting the “hair” along the hairline toward the back and wrapped the “hair” around the braided disc. Along the way, I glued and secured the “hair”, leaving some of it down to create curls along the hairline after the main part of the wig was done. I, then, worked on the right side facing me and repeated the process, making sure the hair was a symmetrical as I could make it.

Then I trimmed the remaining “hair” and wound it into “curls” and glued and pinned them into place. I discovered that Elmer’s glue had it’s uses. In the end, there were ends of yarn that didn’t want to lay flat and weren’t long enough to tuck in anywhere hidden, so I used Elmer’s to glue the ends down and pins to hold them in place while the glue dried.

I also decided to forgo the stiffening of the entire wig. I’m not making the dress stiff so why would I do that to the wig? It doesn’t flow around her shoulders or anything. All the tresses are glued in place so the illusion of stone should hold without any extra gluing.

Things I learned during this process (yay bullet points!):

  • Hot glue is hot. Go figure.
  • Elmer’s glue dries aesthetically better than hot glue. Hot glue is shiny, not matte, this is problematic when imitating stone.
  • I should have used LESS yarn in the bundles that I tied down the center, as the yarn I used was very bulky when all gathered in the back.
  • I should have gathered the hair down one side and then the other BEFORE swirling one side and attaching it to the bun disc in the back. It was difficult to work the second side into the previously glued and dried half done bun and I ended up with WAY too much yarn for the bun in the back.
  • If I’d done the previous bullet point, I could have thinned the yarn out as I worked my way down the sides of the wig OR if I’d done bullet point 3, I might not have had to do even that.
  • I should have found grey yarn to make the beanie out of. I thought the black would be fine if there were gaps in the “hair” yarn, but it’s very visible. Yes, I needed a soft acrylic, but I should have looked harder for something closer to the “hair” color.

The dress.

So you have to understand that I’ve made curtains. I’ve sewn pillows. I helped assemble quilt tops. I have altered clothing to various ends. I have never made a garment from scratch, and this garment has no pattern so I have to make that, also. Two firsts!

My nieces and Pynni in their Grammie Dresses.

My nieces and Pynni in their Grammie Dresses.

IMG_0822My mother is pro at making clothes so I have a great resource right there. My conundrum was that I really have no idea how to even start making a dress and I needed this particular project to be as easy as possible since I have several other parts I need to complete to make the whole costume.

So I asked questions that I thought would get me started and watched videos after I got some answers. Being a visual learner, videos clarify things spoken and written words confuse. I gathered some of Pynni’s tops and dresses that had a similar style to the Weeping Angel dress, and I found a bunch of blogs were cosplayers had documented their costume making. You can find the one I liked best here. Also, Pinterest was my friend.

I measured and measured and made notes and drew outlines on paper until I felt like I had the top part of the dress figured out. Some of the people who made the cosplay costumes made their dress in two pieces with a blouse type top and a skirt. I was wanting to make one piece. Also, cosplay costumes have to be worn for a whole day at once and maybe to multiple cons, and I only needed this costume to suffice for a night of trick-or-treating, and potentially, a Halloween party.

There were things I was going to take into account that maybe a cosplayer would not. Pynni is little and the dress can’t be too heavy. The dress can’t drag on the ground or be stiff because Pynni will get tired of wearing it if it’s too cumbersome (I do have experience with this. Picture me walking around holding Minecraft heads and pickaxes while my sons trick-or-treat in their street clothes. It happens every year. I’m bringing the wagon this year.) I was not going to try to make this costume a perfect replica. I’m trying to make my own version of a Weeping Angel because disappoint lies down the perfection path (this being my first garment and all).

I ended up having to make the top twice. When drawing the pattern out, I intended to cut the straps longer than the pattern in order to pin it to the correct length. I completely failed to do that once I started cutting and ended up sewing a top together that was too short in the armpits, which makes it too small everywhere else. So I had to do that twice.

Fabric all gathered.

Fabric all gathered.

Instead of making a blouse-y top and a skirt, I opted to gather material one time and attach it to the top I’d made, which is basically the yoke of the dress. The gathered material is 4 yards long and I don’t know if you’ve ever gathered material by hand, but it can be tricky. You sew along the edge with the longest stitch your machine can do, twice to make two parallel rows. Then, pulling either the bobbin threads or the top threads, but not both, you gently push the material toward one end of the length. You have to be super careful because the thread wants to break, and if it breaks you have to pull all the stitches and resew and start the gathering process all over. I had to restart once. In the end I was very proud of my gathers. I got my visual tutorial from this blog, The Crafty Cupboard.

Here you can see where the top and the skirt meet.

Here you can see where the top and the skirt meet.

Pynni practicing her Weeping Angel.

Pynni practicing her Weeping Angel.

I created the simple placket where the velcro was going to attach to the skirt and did the same on the top before pinning it all together and sewing everything into place.  I got it all tried on Pynni. Instead of sewing a hula hoop into the bottom hem of the skirt like the cosplayers did, I’m going to have Pynni wear a hoop petticoat.  So once I get her in the petticoat and the skirt, I’ll pin up the bottom for hemming. I’ll post a picture of that next time.

 

Weeping Angel as seen in the Doctor Who episode "The Time of Angels".

Weeping Angel as seen in the Doctor Who episode “The Time of Angels”.

This past holiday season, Pynni got all caught up on her Doctor Who episodes. She was enthralled by the episode The Angels Take Manhattan. As a Doctor Who fan, myself, I find that episode incredibly sad. I won’t post any spoilers here except to say that the bad guys are the Weeping Angels. Hoo-boy. Pynni loves her some Weeping Angels.

So she decides she wants to be a Weeping Angel for next Halloween, read: 2013. I say, “Sure!” Because I like making things, I’m pretty crafty, and I’D APPARENTLY LOST MY EVER-LOVING MIND.

Then, as the year progressed, Pieces says he wants to be The Doctor, but not 11. No, not the most easily identifiable one, what with the bow-tie (Bow-ties are cool!) and the occasional Fez (Fez’s are cool!). Nope, he wants to be 10. Which, let’s face it, 10 may be the best character ever to have graced the small screen, but his Doctor outfit isn’t especially… out-standing. But, whatever, man! I can do that!

Right around that time, Chi says he wants to be a Dalek.

“A Cyberman, you say?” I ask.

“No, a Dalek,” says he.

“Not the 11th Doctor with the bow-tie, which is cool?” says I.

“Ex-ter-min-ate!” he says, in the best robotic imitation.

Work space chaos.

Work space chaos.

Alright! Sure! No problem! I’m making a Weeping Angel and somehow cobbling together a 10th Doctor, in between I can definitely whip up a Dalek!

Right.

So the plan was to start making and make through the spare time I had during the summer. I look back, now and laugh. Spare time?!? HA!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

The fabric I have the most of.

The fabric I have the most of.

About a week ago I started researching the costumes, gathering pictures and ideas and organizing my thoughts on the projects, in general. I realized that the Dalek was going to be a very involved costume if I was going to get Chi to wear it and that coupled with handmaking a Weeping Angel that will please Pynni was stressing me out.

So I got together a lot of pictures of different costume ideas for Chi to peruse, in the hopes that something would strike his fancy. I lucked out and he picked something both inexpensive, and already manufactured. So there’s that.

So now I have a pile of grey fabrics that don’t match because I couldn’t find enough of any one kind of cheap fabric. I’ve researched, measured, and drawn out the yoke that makes up the top of the WA’s dress using one of Pynni’s dresses for a guide. I have a general idea of what I need to do to make the draping of the dress happen.

These WILL be angel wings when I'm done. I think.

These WILL be angel wings when I’m done. I think.

I’ve scavenged a set of luna moth-like wings from Pynni to reform and redress to be statue-like angel wings and I’m digging through the recycling for all those discarded toilet paper rolls to use as the upper spine on the wings. I’m thinking about reshaping the wires of the wings and covering them with papier mache so they won’t be too heavy, but I may just drape them in left over fabric soaked in a stiffener and pin them and allow them to dry. I’m not sure yet.

Also, a wig. Weeping Angels have statue hair. So my plan is to crochet a beanie and then glue yarn to the beanie in the shape of Weeping Angel statue hair.

I just have to keep telling myself that it doesn’t need to be over-the-top as it will probably be worn once, maybe twice, if we go to a Homeschool Halloween party like we did last year.

Speaking of. I better go work on it some.

Yar! Chi's Jack

My Three Bandits. Out to take your SUGAR!

We carved our pumpkins too early and they rotted in a most dramatic fashion on the front porch steps. Gross!

Our costumes were ready in time (read: not last minute), which isn’t in the buckets of fail per se,

Pie's Pumpkin

but it causes little kids to beg to dress up and trickertreat NOW even though Halloween is a couple of days away. It also results in being dressed for trickertreating much earlier than strictly necessary.

My kids were costumed and ready to rock an HOUR before we were scheduled to trickertreat, right around the time it started to rain while the temperature dipped into the lower fifties/upper forties.

Pieces Jolly Jack: A self portrait

They had to be de-costumed so they could consume some nourishment and then re-costumed after that.

Then we had to decide: Do we trickertreat in spite of the weather? Do we not trickertreat? Do we go to the mall and trickertreat inside?

We go to the mall and trickertreat inside! Brill! I bet everyone and their damn dog will be there and how fun is that? To cram shoulder to shoulder and chest to back with a bunch of pushy, self-ish strangers?  we’re the only people to think of that! I bet we’ll make out like successful bandits!

Piece-E

(Maybe I should have crossed out that last part, instead.)

Yeah, so the mall was more packed than I’ve EVER seen it. There were lines of cars just to get into the parking lot and people cruising the isles for a spot, any spot. Then the nightmare of the interior of that place is hard to relive. 7 billion people indeed. INDEED!

Fancy Nancy Pynni Pie

So after an hour of trudging through the masses and getting like 5 pieces of candy and lots of pushing,we returned home. Sad. Things were not looking up for the my children and their quest for the yearly harvesting of large quantities of sugar in all its glorious forms.

We, the parents, decided that this was not to be born and decided to do some trudging in the rain along the

Chi was Mac from SSX. When asked he said, "I'm Mac from SSX. It is a video game that is coming out for the PS3 in January 2012. All other SSX's were on the PS2!

sidewalks of our little neighborhood the usually turns out en masse for this yearly harvesting. And do you know what? There were quite a few people trickertreating, too and more people that I thought were handing out candy and the two coolest Halloween houses were all decked out and battery powered and SPOOOOOOOKY. Pieces

Hubs made the snowboard. Chi chose a Pokemon and Hubs freehanded the drawing. We wrapped it in plastic because its made of paper which isn't really waterproof.

was convinced the ghosts and the witch that fly through the air all around their house were real.

In the end, we trickertreated with friends from the neighborhood, hit a few houses, got soaked and cold, and harvested a decent amount of shaped sugar. The kids? Well, you couldn’t tell by the way they acted that there was anything amiss with the weather. Hubs? He was sopping wet and cold. Me? I hung out under the umbrella so that I didn’t go into anaphylactic  shock (I’m allergic to the cold! Sheesh.) Still, I was itchy, but I made a good holder-of-parts-of-costumes-the-kids-were-tired-of-wearing.

I like that the kids had fun anyway. I want to be more like that.

Post Trickertreating GORGE!