I love Halloween. When I was a kid it was my absolute favorite holiday. My mom made all of our costumes and my dad always took us trick-or-treating. We lived in a wonderful Halloween neighborhood; there were kids everywhere and people drove in from other parts of town. We would stay out as late as there were porch lights on, and my dad always wanted to cover just one more block before calling it a night. I got a little bit sad when I realized that I was starting to get too old to trick-or-treat (not because it was uncool, but because lots of people seemed to frown on teens coming to their doors), so that first year that I stayed home we decked the front yard out in a graveyard with spooky lights and music and I sat under a pine tree in a witches costume to hand out candy. It was awesome.
When I became a mom I was determined to continue the homemade costume tradition, even though every year I get in a little over my head and end up in tears at least once from the pressure that I put on myself to get it just right. This year Jonah is really into the show Octonauts, and he wanted to be Captain Barnacles (“the boss” according to Jonah). Since it was a hit last year we decided we’d keep all three kids on theme (I’m sure they won’t be into that forever, so may as well do it while we can). Originally Jonah suggested that both Jude and Vivi should be vegimals but it was tough to find costume ideas on Pinterest. We ultimately decided that one of them ought to be something simpler, so Jude became Peso the medic penguin and Vivi was Tunip, the only vegimal in our crew.
There were lots of pictures of good Captain Barnacles costumes on Pinterest, and even though Jonah and Jude each started with a sweatsuit, there was a surprising amount of work involved.
I struggled quite a bit with the collar shape. For some reason I could not figure out what shape to cut in order to get it to lay correctly. My mom wisely suggested that it should just start with a circle, and then be trimmed down. That worked brilliantly. Please forgive the bad lighting in all of these photos – it’s because we worked on these at roughly 10 p.m. every night.
And for the record, rotary cutters are amazing. We’re lucky to be living with my parents right now because my mom has oodles of sewing supplies, including a sewing machine (which I do not have) that she graciously used to do all of the machine sewing for all of these costumes. I did a fair amount of hand sewing as well, but she really made this happen.
We used this pattern for the hoods for both Barnacles and Tunip. We just didn’t use fur and didn’t line them, but seeing how quickly my mom whipped through the second one once she knew the pattern kind of makes me want to ask her to make all of the kids warm furry animal hoods just for winter fun. We actually used a sort of fuzzy white fleece, and I bought way more than we needed (because I’m not really all that good at this and knew I’d need wiggle room). It was my mom’s brilliant idea to dye the remainder of the white fleece yellow, using turmeric, and use it for Vivi’s costume. We did two rounds of hot water and turmeric to achieve this color (leaving in a bucket overnight), and were really pleased with how it turned out.
I referred to this costume boot tutorial in order to make Barnacles’s boots. Jonah almost wouldn’t wear the before we went out tonight (he claimed that they were supposed to have the Octonauts logo on them, but they didn’t) and I basically told him that he had no choice. I was getting a photo at the very least. Fortunately he decided to keep them on all night.
The hats for the boys were kind of free-hand based on the shape I thought they should have, and initially I really wasn’t happy with the height of the one I made for Barnacles. It felt too extreme, but once I got the Octonauts logo on I felt much better about it. I printed out a logo and put white felt on top of it and attempted to trace. I definitely threw away two drawings before figuring out that I needed to just free hand the legs (they were turning out like ghosts with no legs when I tried to trace such tiny parts with a felt-tipped pen). We ended up having to hand stitch the stripes on because the fabric glue wouldn’t hold on such a small piece, and my mom hand sewed them onto the hoods for the boys.
There were virtually no pictures of Tunip costumes online, and the only one that we found looked super involved. I wasn’t sure that V would wear a hood floppy enough to have the face on it, so I decided just a few days before Halloween that maybe it should go on her belly anyway. Tunip’s facial features are actually pretty low, so that seemed like the right solution. My mom lined the little suit so that we could stuff it with batting. Initially Vivi hated wearing it (I’m sure it felt weird) but the candy won her over pretty quickly.
The costumes even survived a costume parade at preschool this morning, which was a huge fear of mine. I was sure they’d destroy them before we could do any trick-or-treating, but it all turned out just fine. Since I knew that the kids were supposed to bring them to school, I probably hand-sewed things that I would have otherwise glued, and I think that was the right move. I’m really pleased with how these turned out and even more pleased with our first Halloween in Michigan. Our experience tonight was exactly the way I remember Halloween feeling when I was a kid, and it was so special to share that with them. I kept asking the kids “Are you having fun? Do you like Halloween?” and even Vivi kept saying “yeah!”
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