Homemade Halloween costumes
Five creative Brooklyn parents share the inspiration-and shortcuts-behind their handcrafted Halloween designs.
Sun Sep 20 2009
Empire State Building, Spiderman and Chrysler Building
Designer: Melanie Conklin
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Occupation: Product developer and housewares specialist
Child: Perry, 3
Is Halloween a big deal in your house?
Yes! My sister comes up from North Carolina every year to celebrate. It's been a tradition since childhood for us to spend the day together making homemade costumes. Most years we manage to get them all done in one day.
Where do you get your ideas?
Now that Perry is older, he knows exactly what he wants well before Halloween—never a homemade costume! We've always been into themes, so I compromise by letting him pick out his costume from the store and build costumes for the adults around it. Last year he wanted to be Spider-Man. We tossed around the idea of making other superhero costumes, but that wasn't very exciting. Once I realized that we'd spend a lot of time carrying him, it made sense for Spider-Man to be climbing New York City buildings. My husband and I wore black shirts and I made the tops of iconic buildings—the Empire State and the Chrysler—for our heads. People knew exactly what we were.
How much work goes into your creations?
Not too much. I don't even know how to sew! My favorite tools are hot glue, packing tape, cooking string, a stapler, paint and foam-backed fabric.
Does Perry help too?
I try to make sure that there are parts of the costumes that are safe and easy for him to work on, so we get to enjoy it together. He can paint, use markers and tape things. He loves cutting shapes and seeing things come together as we work.
How can parents simplify costume making?
Focus on one or two details that define a character, and add them to a store-bought clothing item. For example, an elephant costume could easily start with a gray sweatshirt. Tie on a trunk with some string and add ears to a headband. Those stretchy fabric headbands are great because they can be decorated with ears, horns or yarn to top off any costume.
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