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!


Bringing It Home: Part One

Fall is my favorite season, partially because layering my clothes is a hobby. Mostly because I get a pause in the costuming schedule to remember that I have a plethora of other hobbies. But, this post is about what I did to end the 2014 season, so let’s look back.

First, I got a new sewing machine–the Singer Heavy Duty. I needed a new primary, since my older Singer has become unreliable, and I don’t want to have any unfortunate accidents with my pretty little Brother. The new machine, Jayne, has been lovely. I was concerned that she’d be too sturdy for my mid-size sewing table, but I haven’t had any issues.


Late September’s events began with the local fairy festival for the Little Princess and me. Despite the silly number of wings we each already have in the house, the LP wanted to wear an off-the-rack “Green Fairy” costume, so I indulged her with new cellophane wings for both of us. I was a pirate fairy. Frolicking in an enchanted forest happened. It was a magical time for everyone.


Later that day, I transformed into a dancing pirate for the annual pirate-themed hafla. Good times were had.

Later that week, we had an event for National Comic Book Day at my office, complete with a cosplay contest. I decided to do the second half of an original Frozen/DC mash-up by my friend at belle la vie, as the Anna Quinn to her Poison Elsa.


The project took less than ten hours–most of that being painting time for the mallet. The half cape and bodice were draped and sewn over two nights. The shirt and skirt were existing, and I added the diamonds with fashion tape. The mallet is a combination of floral foam, EVA foam, craft foam, cardboard tubes, bias tape, and a wooden pommel that was originally a decorative mug. This was my first Harley Quinn, and I feel like I can cross it off my cosplay achievement list.

The following weekend brought the RHPS Video Game Show. As per previous events, the audience was encouraged to dress up for the costume contest. I managed to pull a win with this Assassin’s Creed variation.

RHPS AC AC Jacket Side

The jacket took a couple of hours from draping to finishing. The white exterior might be waterproof, and I had just enough for this one day project. It’s lined with the wrong side of some kind of red [not-]silk in the hood, collar, and coat tails. The collar and armscye are piped with a braided red selection from a Jomar haul. The strapless top was a gift to which I added corset lacing. I wore black hot pants and fancy fashion tights with brown boots, belt, pouch, and my daughter’s bracers.

The cast member playing Janet borrowed my Zelda costume, so I made some updates to the vest and gloves and added a hair clip and new crown gem out of clay. I’ve never worked with clay before, so I was pleased that the pieces made it out and back the way they started. There was a lot of glue involved.

Zelda's Hair Clip Zelda's Crown Gem

The final week of September was devoted to the LP’s Queen Elsa gown. Over the summer, I’d picked up a glittery blue for the main fabric, blue lining, and blue tulle for the sleeves and train. I did some flat pattern drafting for this, based upon her last rennie gown that I made. My mom came in the day before the party to do the finishing and add stick-on snowflakes. The LP also wore the gown for Halloween, so here’s that shot, with the addition of a fleece shrug I made for the chilled weather.

LP Halloween

The second half of September was pretty busy for my craft room, but she didn’t get a break in October. To Be Continued…