Where do I even begin to explain these costumes?
How about this - let's start by saying, ad nauseam, that halloween is, undoubtedly, my busiest formal "sewing period" of the year. It is also the shortest - because I have a dominant procrastinating gene, I usually have to start and finish three costumes in about 10 days. This includes several disorganized and panicky trips to the fabric store(s) for all the cheap sales on shiny and pretty fabrics and fancy trims. It is also one of the few times of the year when I sew at nights (hate) and throughout the day whenever the kids let me.
I'll also say that halloween costumes in our family are very seldom about trick-or-treating. Once a year, the girls get to pick a new costume they can wear throughout the year for their pretend play. Halloween is sort of the arbitrary deadline by which I aim to complete them, so they can conveniently also wear them out to snag candy. I make them as warm as possible because the candy-snagging happens after sundown, when the temperatures here often dip to 45 degrees or worse, but also because half the year is winter and it's nice to also wear warm snuggly dresses indoors while dressing up.
There is great wisdom in making a trick-or-treating costume that's simple, quickly-put-together and refashioned out of sweatpants, chicken wire and old yarn, but trick-or-treating lasts maybe 45 minutes and then the girls will never wear their outfits again. Whereas if they are allowed to choose and design a dress-up costume, they will wear these all through the year, which makes it absolutely worth my while to invest a little more time to properly construct them and make them fancy.
This year, after much hemming and hawing, the girls decided they wanted to be musketeers. Actually, Kate wanted to be a grape (cute, easy, unfortunately totally redundant for pretend play after Oct 31), but we knew she would come around when she saw her sisters' costumes. Ever since they watched the Barbie and the Three Musketeers movie, they'd wanted to be musketeers. We made swords and sword belts for them some time ago and they've improvised outfits from whatever is in their dress-up box, but they've also pointedly hinted that I should make them the real things someday.
They got their hands on the book
and decided their costumes should be just like these
and have skirts they could remove to transform from belles-of-the-ball into sassy, crime-fighting heroines.
"That's sort of a change from (their usual) princess-fairy-ballerina-mermaid request." I thought unsuspectingly. "So, okay."
"Boots, too." Emily reminded me.
Here is Kate in her ball gown.
Layers of sheer and satiny stuff, scalloped-hemmed, over a fleece skirt. They are all cut semi-circular, so it's all twirly (very important, say all three children).
Everything in the bodice is layered over skin-tone sweatshirt fleece, so it's warm and camouflaged against actual skin.
Here is Jenna in her turquoise Victorian-style gown.
Emily, after seeing Jenna's dress, rejected the original purple gown in the book and wanted a purple version of Jenna's.
Very demure and ladylike.
But notice the back - the back seam of the skirt is suspiciously unstable -
because, in a crisis, the fancy skirts can be pulled
and these damsels become protectors of the crown-
and Viveca -
(all for one etc.)
-and a (particularly young) child shall lead them.
Here follow photos of the dresses at rest. I thought it would be easier to show some of the details when the dresses weren't being twirled around or whipped through the backyard leaves.
Jenna's dress - satin and liquid gold layered over skin-tone sweatshirt fleece.
That liquid gold (which is what the fabric store called it) doesn't fray, so it was wonderful for layering
The ruffles were the most time-consuming part of the costumes this year. Ruffles are very not-me, so none of my clothes have them. Which also means I fail at being fashion-forward because everyone in blogland seems to be deliberately upcycling their lovely plain Tshirts by adding ruffles. I could never do it.
I could add sequins and trims, though. And fake gems. As long as it isn't me wearing it.
On the wearer, the gold neckline trim looks like a necklace on bare skin. Good old sweatshirt fleece.
The entire long skirt un-velcro-s
to liberate a shorter, flouncier semi-circular skirt underneath. Better for crime-fighting, apparently. And -look - more liquid gold ruffles on this new hem.
Because the velcro strip didn't quite blend in with the fabric, I sewed the drop-waist as a separate flap that conceals it, at least in the front where it would have been most noticeable.
Emily's purple dress is the same design as Jenna's, but in purple.
Her accent fabric was already sparkly and starry, so I left out the extra sequins and trim swirls.
It has the same faux-necklace neckline trim
Kate's is quite faithful to the book.
Do you see the random jewels stuck on the bottom tier of the skirt? Kate wanted to decorate her own outfit, so I gave her self-adhesive craft gems to do it with.
It has the same hidden velcro panel and twirly semi-circular long skirt, overlaid with scalloped layers of sheer stuff, all of which also peel off as one
to reveal ye old musketeer suit
The leader of the pack is set apart by having an especially ornate necklace.
The sleeves are different from the book's design because Kate firmly told me she did not want short puffy sleeves. So I cut out some odd-shaped layers and then promptly and irreversibly sewed one of the skirt pieces onto the sleeve, even though it looked so wrong that I had to reshape it. It was late at night, and I remember ticking myself off, "What the.........? Have you gone stupid so that you can't even cut a sleeve overlay right?" It was only the next morning when I tried to attach the skirt layers and couldn't find the topmost one that I discovered what I'd done. It's all corrected now, though.
The girls made their own weapons (except for Kate's sword, which momma made, because it was cardboard, and momma likes monopolizing that).
And those boots!
They were fun to make. I'll deconstruct them for you in the next post!