Halloween 2022: Descendants (and a sorcerer)

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve written anything here. I don’t have a good excuse, except that we listened to a podcast that dug into the reality that not getting enough sleep will kill you and I started going to bed a whole lot earlier. I used to stay up and write until midnight; now I go to bed when the kids go to bed.

There’s been no shortage of photo documentation of our days, but a whole year of things has passed without me writing about it. I’m going to give myself some grace and start here, at Halloween, and see where things go.

Vivienne pointed out that she’s often the first of us to decide what she wants to be for Halloween, and I do think she’s right about that. She’s been responsible for setting the theme the last few years. To be clear, I don’t insist on or even really push for a family theme; I know how improbable that is with such a wide variety of interests and I want Halloween to be what the kids want it to be. But we’ve gotten lucky the past couple of years and it worked out again this year. Well, OK, to be honest Jude is never on theme, but sometimes he’s close enough that I can pretend he’s on theme. Two years ago we all did Neverending Story and he wanted to be an Earth Giant from Frozen 2, but that was awfully close to the Rock Biter, and last year we all did Harry Potter and he wanted to be a made up spider by the name of “Lightning Spider” but it was easy to pretend he was Aragog. This year all I can say is, “Surely there’s some sort of invisible sorcerer on the Isle of the Lost, right?”

Vivienne wanted to be Mal from Descendants. I hadn’t seen any of the movies and when I looked the character up I immediately thought, “there’s no way I can make that better or for less, so let’s just buy the costume.” I hate the idea of just buying the costume, but it was what she wanted to be. But then Jonah said that if Vivienne was being Mal, maybe he’d be Jay. It turns out you can’t buy a Jay costume, so now I had to think about how to make one. As I brainstormed this it occurred to me that if two kids were being Descendants characters, maybe I should join them (I think I’d seen a movie or two by this point), and then Kristin asked who she could be, and we had a theme. I would be Uma, Kristin would be Hades, and Jude was a character of his own creation with a specific costume in mind.

I decided to search thrift stores for faux leather moto gear, and ended up finding two jackets and a vest on Poshmark. All of them were pure black to start. I learned that you can paint faux leather with basic acrylic craft paint and that you can put studs on without any special tools (with only one or two stabbed fingertips in the process). I honestly had SO MUCH FUN making these jackets.

I used a couple of different colors of green color-shift metallic paint, plus gold, and hot glued beads onto my Uma jacket to create the textured sequin look on hers. It was time consuming, but surprisingly meditative.

All of the pieces were a little imperfect (the Uma and Hades jackets actually both arrived falling apart, chunks falling off, total garbage, but the kids said, “that’s OK, everything on the Isle is supposed to be that way!”). Realism for the win, I guess? I wasn’t totally happy with the way the yellow came out on Jonah’s Jay vest, but he loved it and that’s all that matters. Originally I had it a much closer color to the original, but he wanted it warmer and I feel like it ended up a little nacho cheese, but whatever. He also really wanted the cobra on the back, and I was not at all confident about hand painting a cobra. I couldn’t find an affordable stencil and don’t own a Cricut, so in the end I decided to make my own stencil by printing the image, putting it into a plastic page protector, tracing it with a sharpie and then using an x-acto knife to cut it out. It wasn’t perfect, but it absolutely did the trick. I touched it up after the fact and he loved it.

I did Hades last, and you might have assumed I would have been tired of all of this by now but I wasn’t; I LOVED doing this Hades jacket. The jacket we bought had no studs, and we needed it to have a lot of studs. I bought two different sizes/shapes on Amazon and it was slow going, but Vivienne and I put them on by hand. The large ones were easy, the tiny ones were a giant pain, but I was really happy with how it turned out.

After the studs were done, I got to paint the details. Lost souls, blue flames, and the words “Soul Stealer” across the back. It was tons of fun.

Jude’s costume was simple but it may have been the most challenging. For some reason I could not figure out how to make an easy hooded cape. I like sewing, but I am am amateur. We bought the morph suit, but he specifically wanted a hooded cape with stars/constellations on it. I found the perfect velvet and my mom bought a pretty purple satin lining, but when my mom came over one weekend to help me make the cape we spent HOURS searching online for a tutorial that felt reasonable. Finally my dad came over and joined the search and we eventually found a no-sew variety and merged it with something slightly more complex and pulled it together. I won’t even pretend to be able to teach you how to make a cape; this isn’t that blog post.

He also wanted the cape to be lit, and fortunately I had several strings of mini-lights in a closet. I poked holes in the fabric and wove the wires through between the cape and the lining. Unfortunately when he wore it to school on Halloween some kid stepped on the battery box and ripped it off, so on Halloween eve I had to re-string the whole thing with a new light strand in time for trick-or-treating. I added a pocket for the battery box this time.

I think that Jonah looked just like Jay, especially with his long hair.

I found moto-leggings at Goodwill and painted them the same colors as the jacket to make them more authentic (but it took about a dozen coats because acrylic paint just soaks into black fabric). I decided to add the pirate hat from Decendants 2 because I felt like it completed the character, and had fun adding gold trim and seashells and crab claws to embellish it. I also made a gold shell necklace and shell earrings because the kids insisted that I needed them.

And Hades – I think she nailed it. We had a hard time getting the wig to stay in a mohawk, but I think we got the general idea. I repurposed fabric from Jonah’s dementor costume to make a black dress/toga of sorts.

Vivi expressed a little disappointment that her costume was the only one that I didn’t make by hand, but it seemed like she felt entirely confident and excited about it by Halloween. She loved her wig, and I did end up having to do a little sewing to take in her leggings because they were way too wide. I think she looked great.

My parents and my sister said that they think this is my best year so far. There are so many costumes that I’m proud of looking back, but this year sure was a lot of fun.

Halloween 2020 – The Neverending Story

2020 has clearly been the spookiest year even without embellishment, but the thought of Halloween not happening this year because of COVID was pretty crushing for me. Halloween was my favorite holiday growing up, and it could be argued that I’ve carried more traditions down for that holiday than for any others. For awhile it seemed like trick-or-treating might not happen, but I began costumes in earnest in September because I needed to hang onto something.

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