Mid-September, my hubby and I started brainstorming ideas of what the kids should be for Halloween this year. Since Gigi is old enough to walk on her own this year (I carried her in the Bjorn last year), we immediately began thinking about ‘couples’ costume ideas — in the sense of having two children, close in age, of both sexes (in case you’re looking for couples costume ideas). After a couple days of brainstorming, we decided on a homemade lion costume for Rocco and a Dorothy costume for Gigi.
Why Wizard of Oz you ask? Well, when I got back from London, I brought Rocco and Gigi both stuffed Lions from the London zoo. Rocco had taken to regularly growling at us for fun and saying “I’m a lion,” so we figured it was the appropriate time to dress him as one.
I set out to create both of the kids’ costumes myself (last year I made Rocky the Flying Squirrel costume for Rocco), so I figured I could handle it.
I headed out to the fabric store and found some brown fleece in the sale section. Fleece is simple to sew and I figured it would give a bit of a furry look to the costume. The first store I tried didn’t have fur that looked very lion-like, so I checked out a local fabric store and found some longer tan fabric that I thought would be perfect for the costume.
To make the body of the lion costume, I took a pair of Rocco’s pajamas to get a general size. My husband kept nagging me to simply take measurements of my child, but given that he never sits still, I opted to just use his clothing. If you choose something your child currently wears, it will give you a good idea for length and width. I always over-estimate on width because, last year, I made his body way too thin and ended up ditching the first attempt. If you feel like you need a pattern, check out this simple baby costume pattern.
This time around, I cut a full three inches extra around the entire costume to ensure it was large enough. I sewed around the body, leaving the arm, leg and neck holes open. Once the entire thing was sewed shut, I cut down the center of the back and asked Rocco to try it on. I found the sides were too big, so I ended up taking in about an inch on both sides and also took the length of the arms and legs up about an inch. To add some fur to the arms, leg and neck, I just traced on the back of the fur while laying it on top of the body costume. I cut a four – inch piece for each of the arms and legs and a half-circle (using a large bowl) for the front and the back of the neck. I hand-stitched the fur onto the fleece because I was afraid if I use the sewing machine, it would get caught-up in the long fur. I also used fabric glue to hold the fur in place.
For the tail, I simply cut out a long three-inch-thick strip of fabric and sewed it shut. Once it was closed, I used a pencil to turn it inside out, to hide the seam. I only pushed it half-way through so the fabric was doubled-up inside the tail, which gave it a stiffness, instead of stuffing the tail with stuffing. I glued and hand-stitched a piece of the fur to the end of the tail and then hand-stitched the tail to the back of the costume, at the bottom of the center opening.
The most complicated part of this costume is the hood, but it was pretty straight-forward using this hood pattern for reference. I hand-drew the hood, but you could also blow-up this pattern if you felt less confident in hand-drawing from this picture as a reference. I cut out the two sides and then measured a four-inch panel for the middle of the hood. I secured the three pieces with stick pins and then sewed the two sides to the middle piece. Once it was all sewn together, the bottom was not quite even, so I simply just used a scissors to make it even. I made the hood a little too large so I could try it on Rocco and took in the seams a bit more to make it fit a bit better.
I attached fur to the hood in two main pieces. I covered the back to the top of the head and the top of the head simply by laying the fur over the hood and eye-balling it for measurements. I was a little off on one part of the hood, so I just cut a small piece of fur to fill in that space. Luckily, the fur is long and pretty forgiving, so you can’t really see my mistakes. I used a dark brown marker to color the back half of the hood. It probably took about an hour to color the entire thing, but I think the effect is really great. The darker color adds dimension and depth to the hood. To complete the hood, I just attached two long-thin pieces of fleece so I could tie the hood on Rocco’s head.
If my eye-balling ‘method’ seems too complicated, you might also like to check-out this easy fur animal hoods tutorial, which seems pretty straight-forward to follow.
I started making Gigi a dress for her Dorothy costume, but I have been traveling a lot for work and ran out of time to complete it at the level I would feel good about presenting her to the world, so we opted to let her wear her gingham dress, bows in her hair and, of course, the sparkly red shoes.
I feel like it is a little bit of a cop out since I didn’t finish her dress, but she was completely happy in her little dress and shoes. I think the pictures of her swinging her pumpkin is proof of just how much she loves her costume.
As for Rocco, we were quite worried he wouldn’t actually wear his costume. I asked him to try it on for me several times while I was working on it, and, although he would try it on, he almost immediately protested to take it off of him.
So how did we get him to wear it? Well, we broke out the big plastic pumpkins and told him that we were going to ‘practice’ trick or treating. Last year, he had no idea what trick-or-treating was all about, but this year, he is super excited to go. I think the change actually came about by reading this Boo book. He loves it. We have read it every single night since Grandma sent it to him for his birthday.
The day we took the kids out for practice was actually a lot of fun. Gigi stomped around in her red shoes and Rocco held her hand and led her around the neighborhood. He really wanted to go up someone’s driveway to actually ask for candy, but he reminded him this was only practice and we would get to go trick-or-treaing on Saturday. I’m so glad he loves his costume and is excited to celebrate Halloween this year. It makes all the effort in making his costume so worth it.