Thursday, January 9, 2020

A Very Star Wars Halloween

Raising Small Human Beings is oftentimes an exercise in simultaneous frustration and amusement, and the selection of Halloween costumes is a prime example. When SHB#1 was three, he was obsessed with zebras, so he wanted to be a zebra for Halloween. That was fairly easy to make, and the fleece zebra suit I made for him got plenty of wear afterwards for pretend play. The next year, he was into construction vehicles and dinosaurs, so he alternated between wanting to be a pteranodon, a stegosaurus, or a "construction stegosaurus." I managed to convince him that a stegosaurus would have a hard time fitting a construction vest over the plates on its back, and together we settled on his being a "construction zebra" since the zebra suit still fit. I had to laugh when I saw his class picture: so many store-bought superheroes and princesses, and a lone zebra wearing a neon vest.

Here's a picture of the zebra costume, with a red cape so that he could be Superhero Zebra (4yos are nothing if not literal) for his third comic con. His stuffed zebra is also wearing a tiny red cape so that they can match! I was dressed as Dark!Rey. 

This past year, he was into the Octonauts for a good deal of it, so he went back and forth between wanting to be Tunip or Kwazii. I was despairing about finding teal or orange pants at the thrift store when he suddenly, in the last month before Halloween, got super into Star Wars, and decided he actually wanted to be Darth Vader. SHB#2 wants to do everything big brother does, so she immediately declared that she, too, would be Darth Vader (despite my best efforts to convince her that she would make an adorable Ewok). SHB#1 then decreed that we should be a Star Wars family, so I had to be Rey and Mr. Cation had to be Luke Skywalker. I can't lie; since Star Wars was one of my first fandoms I was super proud of the kids' geeky decision and secretly thrilled to have an excuse to make all these cool costumes!

Both kids already had black pants, and finding black turtlenecks at the thrift store was easy, so then it was just a matter of figuring out how to make Darth Vader's iconic chest plate, belt and cape. I thought about trying to applique all the pieces onto the turtlenecks, but that sounded like waaaaay too much work, plus I wanted them to be able wear the tops for regular, non-costume things. In the end, I decided to cut all the little buttons and "lights" out of tape and put them on black felt that I had leftover from a school costuming project. Gray duct tape worked for most of the details, and for the red and green bits I just used Sharpie to color over masking tape. After I showed the completed chest box to SHB#2, though, she immediately tried to take off all the "stickers," and I realized I would need to find a way to make them more durable to survive kid handling. I bought some iron-on vinyl and put that over the chest box and belt pieces and it worked perfectly; the tape seemed to really meld into the felt and it was easy to stitch it onto some scraps of black fabric and ribbon in order to allow it to all be tied on. The capes were just half circles cut from stash black jersey knit and sewn on with some elastic to gather the top and allow for easy slipping on over the kids' large heads.

Finished costume, a little worse for wear after being stuffed into a backpack, but still holding up fine! 

On Halloween, with their matching lightsabers. SHB#2 absolutely refused to wear a DV mask. 

Since SHB#1 hadn't specified which version of Luke he wanted Mr. Cation to be, I went with the easiest to put together, the ANH Tatooine Luke. I borrowed a gi top from a friend, and then it was just a matter of wearing his own khaki-colored linen pants and a dark brown leather belt with the buckle turned to the back. I also wrapped some strips of brown linen around his calves to mimic Luke's puttees.

Rey was the last costume to come together, even though I've been working on her the longest. I was originally planning on making her Resistance outfit to Rebel Legion standards, but stalled when I realized how difficult it was going to be to thrift the right fabrics. I'm committed to making my costuming greener where I can, and if that means not being screen accurate, then so be it. Costumes already get so few wears, I'd rather not add to their environmental burden by buying new fabrics for each one. Anyway, a year ago I thrifted some long brown pants; I cut off the bottoms and used those to make the kneepads. The shirt is made from a tea-dyed large white polo shirt, and the belt and wrist cuff were purchased from a seller in the Rey FB group. I found a very 80s grey wool herringbone coat at the thrift store for $10 that I initially thought might work for Rebel Legion approval, but upon closer examination, I realized that it was actually black and white herringbone, which together looked gray from far away. At this point I was too disappointed to continue work on Rey, so I stuffed everything into a garbage bag for a year.

From (a galaxy) far far away, it reads as gray, but up close it's pretty obviously black and white ;__;

A year in a naughty bag gave me time to get over the sting of disappointment, and when I pulled the coat back out, I felt okay about making the vest to complete our family costume. Thankfully, I still had the pattern pieces that I'd drafted and the mockup vest, so after what felt like miles of seam ripping to take apart the coat, I managed to get the pattern pieces to mostly fit.

From my Instastory. See the welt pocket I had to work around on those top pieces?

I ended up using a bunch of the scraps to practice the closed blanket stitch that's used on the edges of Rey's vest.
Why I chose to put in the time for that tedious that detail for a non-RL-approvable vest is beyond me. 

I did have to fudge a little by sewing some buttonholes closed, but it worked out in the end. I lined the inside of the vest with gray cotton flannel, which, with the interfacing that was already fused to the wool, made the vest stiff and heavy enough. I did reinforce the center front edges of the collar with some ironed and stretched horsehair braid, a technique I learned from my evening gown class with Lynda Maynard. After that, it was just a matter of adding the hand-sewn closed blanket stitch to all the edges. That took forever, and I only finished it just before we had to leave for trick or treating!

See that buttonhole I had to sew up right next to the side seam? Also I probably should've done something about the bulk at the shoulder from all the layers of wool+flannel+batting+turned seam allowances, but at that point I no longer cared. 

Look at all that time I spent carefully doing all that ladder-stitching by hand!
Gray flannel lining and wool held together by closed blanket stitches, and also all the whipstitched edges on the shirt.
So. Much. Hand. Sewing.

And here we all are! 

During trick or treating, it was so fun to hear people react to SHB#1's costume -- "Aww, a tiny Darth Vader!" -- and then to hear the even more excited reaction when they saw SHB#2 come up to the doorway right afterward -- "OMG AN EVEN TINIER DARTH VADER!!!" -- because obviously the smaller something is, the cuter, right? Only a couple people realized I was Rey, and not just somebody with somewhat odd clothing choices, but Halloween is really about the kid costumes. I would like to finish making my knock-off Po-Zu Rey boots at some point in the future, but in the meantime I'm just glad I finished this vest so that I could remove at least one UFO from my costume list and make my son happy at the same time.

Then again, maybe his happy face is due to the fact that he just ate a piece of his trick or treating loot. 


  1. Been following you for a long time. You're clever, funny, nerdy, inspiring (oh, how I could sew like you!), and it's a good day when your post shows up in my email. Just...thanks and warmest regards!

    1. Aww, your kind words have made my day! Thank you for following and reading!

  2. "During trick or treating, it was so fun to hear people react to SHB#1's costume -- "Aww, a tiny Darth Vader!" -- and then to hear the even more excited reaction when they saw SHB#2 come up to the doorway right afterward -- "OMG AN EVEN TINIER DARTH VADER!!!" -- because obviously the smaller something is, the cuter, right?"

    Stole the words right out of my mouth (ok, right off my keyboard I guess)!

    1. Hahaha there's basically no other possible reaction to an even smaller version of an already small thing! :D


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