Costume For A Day

Halloween is less than two months away, and I don’t have a costume. This is a costuming blog, so, obviously, there are a few clarifying statements that need to be made, but the dilemma is the same for many people: “What am I going to wear for Halloween?” Parties, school, work, candy distribution, candy collection, parades, charity appearances, scary movie marathons–all of these events get our wheels turning to come up with the perfect ensemble for “the one” (HA!)  day of the year when dressing in costume is deemed acceptable. As a hobby costumer, Halloween is my nightmare scenario.

Only a nightmare for the naughty…

First, my Halloween costume will be worn solely for a contest at work. Important to some people, there are “cash” prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. There are rules to be followed with regard to the level of appropriateness, the ability to physically work, and the inability to harm coworkers (unintentionally or otherwise). The winners are decided by popular vote, which equates to a costume contest at a bar where a cosplayer shows up in Warhammer 40K gear, then promptly loses to a mundane in a Naughty Wizard costume-in-a-bag based upon crowd noise. I’ve seen it happen, and it’s fucking devastating.

“I bought it on Amazon–tee hee!”

Second, I do not like competing, but I do enjoy office participation…within reason. In a business casual setting, wearing a costume is a good way to show your team members something about yourself, and to learn something about them in return. When I wore my Clockwork Droid in 2011, I quickly found the Doctor Who fans in the building. However, my company has grown to multiple offices across the country, and the Halloween costume contest has gotten ugly in the 10+ years that I’ve been around–rallying for votes, trash-talking, using kids as props–it’s all absurd and only touches a handful of participating folks company-wide. The fun of the holiday has been tarnished because some people just want to win.

“Calm the fuck down, Chad. I’m not a real robot.”

Third, I’ve been told to “let someone else win.” As it happens, I’ve won the contest a few times…and placed every year that I’ve entered. Even years when people feel inclined to ask me, “What are you supposed to be?” [Cue costumer rage], I end up with a little extra coffee money. The first, second, and third years that I won first place, I took the following year off–still dressing up, but not entering the contest, only to be berated, “Why didn’t you dress up? I wanted to beat you this year!” I’ve stopped taking years off. I only dress up because costuming is fun for me, but I wouldn’t turn down a bonus in my paycheck just because someone’s feelings could potentially be damaged. I never go in to win, I just make and wear what appeals to me and hope for the best. A wise t-shirt designer once wrote, “Those who hate, shall hate henceforth.”

2nd, 2nd, 1st, Year Off, Had a Baby, 1st, Year Off, 2nd, 1st, Year Off, 1st, 1st

Fourth, regardless of how I feel about entering the competition, Halloween at work is a great opportunity for me to make a costume that I wouldn’t wear to comic con or to the ren faire. I always make something new, but I do appreciate a receptive audience–be it one person or many persons. I want to bring joy (or abject terror) to at least a few fun lovers. I’m a giver. Which also means that I fret over what I’m going to wear up until the day of, in the same way that I would fret over baking a pie for a potluck–is my contribution going to fall flat?

Costumes that I would choose for a comic convention include characters that are often too specific for a group of three hundred people to connect with–Hawkgirl, Twi’Link, anything anime. Garb that I would wear to a renaissance faire or pseudo-historical event are obviously beautiful and well-made, but do not give off a Halloween vibe (excluding the headless Anne Boleyn idea that I’ve been toying with). When it comes to Halloween at work, my costumes have been popular characters, company themed characters, and clearly time-intensive pieces of art.

Chad: “What even are you?” Me: “Stand down, little boy, and I’ll give you a cookie.”

For pop culture, I try to stick with fandoms that I’m into–sci-fi, fantasy, video games–that other people may also enjoy. The company themed characters got me labeled a suck-up, but they were both badass and I’m still proud of what I did. The harder pieces that I’ve created tend to be mash-ups and I often ended up wearing those costumes more than once (something I don’t do with con costumes for some reason). My ideas have come months before and hours before, but there’s always something. This year, I am completely stumped.

I’ve considered upgrading an old work costume, wearing one of my cosplays, not wearing a costume at all, polling my friends and making whichever character they choose, and leaving it to the week before Halloween to see what comes out of my studio. As an added bonus, I have a number of other costumed events that will require my attention before I can even start on a Halloween outfit.

“Oh, I ain’t requesting nothing. Ask who I am. “

All that to say, “I’m taking suggestions.” Thanks for reading!


Sleepless: Weekend

I really shouldn’t tell untruths about my sacred crafting time.

I really only spent one day out of a four-day weekend working on our Sleepless costumes, but progress was made. Since we’ll be heading out a ren faire this weekend, and the kiddos have outgrown all of their acceptable garb, I’ve put my Lady Pyppenia on hold again.

Much to his dismay, he’s not getting the sword.

Last week’s sewing hours were used on my [not a] baby’s guard ensemble–tunic, pants, and hat. The slouchy pants were traced from a pair of sweggings (slim fit sweatpants, masquerading as jeans), and are made from some sort of jersey that I grabbed at Jomar years ago. They’re thin and super soft, and he loves them already. The hat is purple satin with an interfaced lavender cotton band–nothing exciting, but it looks adorable with his curls. The lavender tunic is the last of some broadcloth that I’d originally used for Her Little Highness’ Tudor-ish Rapunzel gown. The basic shape was traced from a football jersey, then length and width were added to the bottom. I rough cut an old dance skirt into bias strips for the trim, and used a remnant of goldenrod cotton for the Sleepless applique.

I love little costumes!

One day, I’ll firm up my process for appliques, but today is not that day. I had planned to use Silhouette’s Trace functionality on a photo of the guard logo, but it turns out that this art style, while gorgeous, is absolutely not conducive to copying. Good to know. In the end, I just stacked a bunch of preset shapes together to make the outline. I ironed Silhouette brand fabric stabilizer to the cotton, sent it to the cutting machine, realized that I was supposed to add the EZ-Steam, painstakingly cut out the EZ-Steam against the fabric, then ironed the piece onto the tunic. I used a 2.5” stitch to secure the applique to the tunic, then did a little free-arm embroidery to add the details.

I, too, feel like I’m being stabbed through the eye while I’m up late sewing, rather than sleeping.
Stupid applique…

Because he’s four years old and will not accept “no” in any form, the Princeling has requested ears and a tail, like Bini, to go with his outfit. In an effort to avoid spending a stupid amount of money on a small amount of faux fur, I plan to sacrifice a stuffed toy. I’m hunting an unknown prey through our house, and I feel completely justified. After I skin the sacrifice, I’ll stitch it’s soft hide into fox-like ears and a tail, and use magnets to attach them so that I don’t have to ruin my [hours and hours of mostly slapdash handi-] work by adding buttonholes or other attachment points. The tail will also be attached to his belt. The ear magnets will probably need a headband, hidden under the hat. Ugh. This is why I don’t work with kids…for them, sure, but not with them.

Comic Bini is regal and loyal, I see why the Princeling wants to be like him.
My commandeered Bini prop will not be harmed in this culling.

The shining gem of the last few days was the Sleepless brooch for the Husband. Same as the applique, I merged a bunch of shapes in 123D Design and ran a test print. I don’t know why I’m surprised when my 3D prints work. I really should have more faith in my ability to learn from YouTube. The only change it needed was to enlarge the slots for the pins on the back. I’m waiting for a few printer upgrades to run the piece in gold colored filament, but they should be done in the next month.

Stackin’ shapes
Pullin’ shapes
Printin’ shapes

Tonight, I’m going on a resource hunt through the house for the fur and some kid-sized undershirts, then I’ll start on HLH’s gown. As I’m sure you can imagine, their room is a wonderland of toys and cast-off costumes. Hopefully, I’ll emerge with the quest items so that I can avoid another Prime & Pray con-crunch over the next four days.