Friday, October 29, 2010

How To Make A Halloween Costume With Minimal Disaster

Call me a crazy, but I thoroughly enjoy making my own Halloween costumes, rather than purchasing one of those bagged ones from the ubiquitous Halloween stores that pop up mid-September in pretty much every recently-vacated storefront. In previous years I've constructed a margarita costume, a space girl, and Devin's Max costume (from Where the Wild Things Are). Once I get going on the project, there's no stopping me. And I make few compromises in quality and accuracy (until it's like 2 am the night before I have to wear it, I'm sleepy and my fingers are covered in hot glue gun burns).

This year, however, we're not throwing a Halloween party so I'm kind of sort of not sure what the point really is as we have yet to nail down plans. Oh well.

The standard for ladies costumes seems to be to take something ordinary and slut it up. Slutty school girl, slutty nurse, slutty mechanic (why?), slutty Harry Potter (why? why?), and slutty Spongebob Squarepants (why? why? why?). And, y'know, I get the appeal of dressing like a slut. I really do. It's just never been my thing. I'd rather look like an idiot.

This year, I'm trying to start a new trend in ladies costumewear. Instead of the slutty version of everything, why not the sweatsuit version? Shouldn't we be warm and comfortable? It's practically November, after all.

Hence, my endeavor to make a sweatsuit Kermit the frog.

I wasn't without inspiration. Does this kid look cozy or what?

After a brief search it became quite obvious I was not going to find all pieces of my ensemble in a matching, Kermit-green. So, I decided I would purchase everything in white, and then dye it so they'd all be uniform.

Now, we begin.

Day 1:

First, we have a white hoodie. I cut the bulky arms off, with the intention of layering a tighter shirt underneath, because Kermit has such scrawny little arms.

Then, the pants. You might be asking, but doesn't Kermit also have scrawny legs? Shouldn't you wear leggings? Probably, but there ain't nothing scawny about my legs and I'll be damned if I'm going to walk around in leggings without rear coverage.

Lastly, a wrinkled, discolored, food-stained long sleeve shirt I yanked out of the bottom of my hamper. Also, 2 curious pets.

I threw all three items into the washing machine, as per the instructions of the package of Amazon Green dye.

With 30-40 minutes to kill, I could've started on the other parts of the costume. Instead I made some mozzarella sticks and watched the first episode of the new season of 16 and Pregnant. Did you see it? Who gets married in a freaking racing uniform? Or, I guess I mean, who lets a guy get married in a freaking racing uniform? And why live in a barn for the same price as rent in a normal apartment?

Aaand we're back. Time to mix up the dye. In a step I didn't quite understand, I was supposed to mix the dye powder in 4 cups of water. Expecting the solution to turn a pleasing kiwi green, I was alarmed when I instead whipped up a batch of swamp water.

Oh well, no turning back now. I then added the dye to a sink full of warm water + salt, and pushed in the clothes.

With 60 more minutes on the clock, it was time to get the rest of the costume pieces in order.

First, Kermit's eyes. This took some inventive thinking as I wandered the aisles at Michael's craft store. Eventually I purchased a clear Christmas tree ornament that came as two halves --meant to be filled with I don't know what. glitter? Realizing, however, that their thin rims might not be substantial enough to stay on the hood with glue, I also gathered some styrofoam balls to mush in.

Then I painted them white, which took a few coats, and cut the pupil shapes out of black paper.

To adhere the pupils to the eyes, and to give everything a uniform, shiny finish, I applied a generous coat of Modge Podge.

All the while, as I worked away, my assistant sat clear across the room, contributing nothing.

On to the neck triangles! Who knows what the heck these are meant to be, but they are totally necessary to distinguish a Kermit costume from a regular ol' frog costume.

Some snippy snips at a few sheets of felt, and we're in business.

The dying timer went off and I was relieved to discover that my clothes were exactly the right shade of kermit green! So, as per the dye package instructions, I rinsed them and then washed them in warm water.

40 more minutes of waiting, and it was time to throw them in the dryer.

Aw shark farts. They're the color of mint chip ice cream, but paler. This picture doesn't truly do justice to the level of failure. Now what?

Day 2:

Frustrated that 80% of my costume was all wrong, I vented to some coworkers, who all concluded that you cannot follow the package's instructions and wash the dyed clothes in warm water. I've been swindled!

After work I went to Joanne fabrics to "quickly" pick up another package of dye and try again. Apparently everyone else decided to go to the store at the same time. After fighting for parking spaces for 15 minutes, I found a spot on the street about a block away. Inside the store was a madhouse, and I wound up waiting in the kind of checkout line that has no business being in a craft supply store.

Having wasted 45 minutes, I got home feeling the kind of pressure I normally experience the night before I take a trip and I haven't done laundry or packed.

When I walked in the door, before doing anything else, I mixed up another sink full o' dye and added the clothes again. Here's what's weird. This was the exact same shade, but the color was now wrong. Oh well.

There are no pictures of this because I was distracted baking cookies, drinking Pumpkin Ale, and supervising Devin's pumpkin carving. (Domestic goddess that I am.) So we'll skip ahead to the final product:

This doesn't rank as my favorite costume I've ever made, but it sure is the snuggliest. Happy Halloween!


  1. this costume is great, nicely done!

  2. "This year, I'm trying to start a new trend in ladies costumewear. Instead of the slutty version of everything, why not the sweatsuit version? Shouldn't we be warm and comfortable? It's practically November, after all."

    Now THIS is a movement I can believe in!

  3. jessica fantasticaNovember 5, 2010 at 3:18 AM

    I unknowingly joined in your movement! I was Mario from the new Mario Bros. on Wii. Wanna see? Here ya go: (hope that works)