I received my sewing machine around the time my first child was born. It was a gift from my husband (which he had been saving for since I started borrowing machines to make the wedding favors and linens for our wedding two years prior). In the years since then, that machine has saved us unknown amounts of money as a source of clothing repair, curtain and bedding making and (my personal favorite) the creation of costumes and special occasion outfits for the kids.
We (Ryan and I, as well as a tight inner circle of friends and family who help us scout for supplies) closely guard a secret theme each year, revealing the homemade costumes on Halloween day. How elaborate the costumes will be is determined by our finances each year, as well as the availability of supplies. We usually settle on two or three different ideas, create supply lists, then start searching garage sales and thrift stores for fabric and props. The winning selection is based on what we can find the most materials for, the goal being not to go above $10-$20 per costume.
I share this ever-growing collection of past Halloween costumes every year. It helps add to the anticipation for this year’s big reveal. Don’t forget to check the blog and my various social media accounts on Halloween to check out what I’ve been hard at work on for the last several weeks. Remember, this is my first year sewing for four!
Little baby Charlie was almost 3-months-old at the time of his first Halloween. I spent a full $20 between the plush fur fabric and complicated sewing pattern… but look how cute my little Charlie Monkey was!
Finances were dangerously tight that year. Luckily Charlie’s name …and undeniable likeness… easily lent themselves to a very affordable (but effective) option using a $1 bottle of paint and one of his existing shirts.
Did I mention that I hoard fabric scraps? Well, I do! And it paid off when I still had brown fur leftover from Charlie’s 2009 Monkey costume to use for his 2012 Viking costume. The shield and hat came in a generic play set with a toy ax (not pictured) that I found for $6. Thanks to a coupon, I got the fleece for James’ dragon costume for $3. And please excuse the poor picture quality but my only camera was a cheap borrowed cell phone.
Luckily a family member contributed the green corduroy fabric that I used to make Charlie’s Once-ler coat. Everything else came from the dollar store… including the fuzzy yarn I used to crochet his “thneed” and matching “trufulla tuft” flower. A friend gave us a hand-me-down pumpkin baby costume for James. I covered the black trim with orange double-fold bias tape and used $0.25 sheets of craft felt to make the Lorax face that covered the jack-o-lantern smile on the bonnet.
Thanks to being snowed in at our cabin for over a week with my sewing machine, free pajama and baby bunting patterns and a collection of thrift shop jersey bed sheets and clearance fabric bolt ends, the “Classic Batman” theme was a smashing success. The kids *still* play with the capes too! Little Evie was only 6 days old at the time and obviously couldn’t appreciate her BatGirl awesomeness.
This one was a labor of love. Fabric was dyed (the blue Felix shirt was originally white and the brown overalls were blue). Fabric was painted (those striped tights were a nightmare!). A friend who contributed some of the clothing items also gave us the toy hammer…which she even spray painted gold for us!… as well as all of the craft supplies (fabric paint, felt, candy buttons, ribbon and more!!). I won’t list her name without permission, other than to say she was our hero!!! There’s no way we would’ve pulled it all together in time without her help. The Felix patches were ordered on Etsy for $7 and the giant fists were actually “Bruce Lee” fists that were on Amazon for $5. I was working until the last possible moment but the kids looked great!
After binge-watching the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films the kids begged to do these costumes for Halloween. How could I say no? But scrounging up supplies was a challenge. Charlie’s Gandalf robe was made from gray bed sheets and I had to hold off until the last minute so I could get the fleece for the cape and hat (which is a cover over a dollar store witch hat!) on sale. I hand-tied Evie’s tutu and only had to buy a tiny piece of black fleece since I had the shiny red fabric in a bag of fabric scraps I’d gotten for free on Craigslist… which I used to cover dollar store wings and alter a black hoodie! JD’s costume was easily the most work. You might recognize his coat from Charlie’s 2012 “Once-ler” costume but I had to alter the button-front shirt, trim, hem and dye his pants and hand paint his entire vest. After that it was just a matter of working my butt off to buy a beard, hobbit ears and furry feet using Amazon gift cards I earned from Swagbucks. To read about the process in depth (and see more pictures!) click here to read my article about the Hobbit costumes.