Sunday, 17 November 2013

A Belated Halloween Post

Yes, I am perfectly aware that it is November 17th today. Better late than never, right?

After Halloween, I was so eager to finish my Ceylon dress, that a post about my Halloween costume got pushed aside and... um, forgotten about. My bad.

My Halloween costume this year was, as usual, put together the weekend before (actually, it's a little more usual for me to be putting it together the night before). I would have loved to have made a costume from scratch (one of these days I will make myself a fantastic beaded flapper gown for Halloween) but I'm always short on time. The one year I did make a Halloween costume from scratch was when I was in grade 10, and I was a parrot. My friend was a pirate, and I made myself a bright red shirt out of ruffled fabric, attached a red feather boa down my arms, and made multicoloured feathered shoulder pads and a headdress. That one I started about a month beforehand. Incidentally, our other friend was a boat, and I think she had the best costume out of the three of us. We painted a big piece of cardboard to look like a boat for her to wear, and I made her a headband with a pirate flag on it. It was pretty impressive.

Other than that, all my other Halloween costumes since I started making my own - an M&M, Pippi Longstocking (back when I had long hair to braid), a Rubik's cube - were done less than a week beforehand, and this one was no different.


I came up with the idea of Mary Poppins from my purse, believe it or not. It's sort of an inside joke - I have this bag that fits quite a bit, and I'm the kind of person to always have everything with me. If someone needs a band-aid, I have one. If someone needs a safety pin, I have one. If someone needs clear nail polish for a run in their nylons, I have some. People are also quite astonished when they see me pull a whole jacket out of this bag (which I can actually do with a light rain jacket or summer jacket. I haven't managed to fit a wool coat in there... yet). Anyways, everyone calls it my Mary Poppins bag, and that's where the idea came from. I figured that people who knew me would get it.


The costume was pretty easy. I already had my Mary Poppins bag (which I put a clipboard in to make flat on the bottom), a black blazer, the perfect shoes, a petticoat, and black tights. The hat I borrowed from my mom, and the umbrella I borrowed from a friend (the only ones I had folded up too small to be right for the part).


This white shirt I bought at a thrift store for $2 during an immensely successful day thrifting (which I will post about soon), and the skirt was $3. (Ignore the price tag on this - I bought it during a half-price sale.)

Excuse the unedited indoor picture. It was pouring rain when I took these and if I edit them all, this post won't be out for another week.
The shirt fit me reasonably well for ready-to-wear. There were no tags on it but it was in great condition and feels to me like cotton with a bit of spandex. There is actually a texture of solid stripes, although you can't really see it in this photo. The only problem was that it didn't button up all the way (although it did have a button at the collar), so I just sewed on some little snaps so that it wouldn't gape open. 

The yellow isn't a stain, it's just where I marked with chalk where the snap was supposed to go.
The skirt was huge on me. I measured the waistband, and it was forty-something inches... and my waist is 24. It was also quite long on me - I did want a longer skirt than I would usually wear, but this one covered my shoes.

Again, a horrible picture. Sorry. But this thing wouldn't quite fit on my coffee table.
If you buy things second-hand, do you ever think about the story behind them? This is an interesting skirt because it's made out of some awful polyester (I think, there's no fabric content label) double-knit that feels like plastic (I suppose because it is), but was well made. It has a covered button, lapped zipper, and hem done by hand. The label reads "Marjorie Hamilton Vancouver", and it appears to have been altered at home. There's a section added onto the waistband where there is zigzagging rather than serging to finish the edges, and when I unpicked the waistband I found that they had stabilized that section with some bright purple lining fabric, instead of the black non-fusible interfacing that had been used elsewhere.



It should have been an easy alteration, but of course I made it difficult for myself. I didn't want to re-do the hem, and since I had to take the waistband off anyways to take it in, I shortened it from the the top. I cut off the amount I wanted taken off, starting at the front. But... when I got to the back, I realized that I would lose all but one and a half inches of my zipper. Oops. It was too late to undo the damage, so I chopped of the majority of the zipper and figured that I would find another way to get it on.


I forgot to take an "after" picture of the zipper, but it ended up just over an inch long. It's cute.
Ready for my next facepalm-worthy mistake? Oh yes, there's more. I measured how much I would need to take out of each side seam, then sewed the new side seam, making a straight line of stitching all the way to the hem. I cut off the excess with my rotary cutter, and pressed the seams open. But when I went to attach it to the waistband that was the right size, there was still too much fabric! Either I miscalculated, or the fabric stretched. I blame it on the latter, but judging by how many mistakes I made while altering this it probably was some stupid math error.

Anyways, I measured and figured that I needed to take another 3 cm out of each side seam. I took it in on one side with no mistakes, but instead of taking in 3 cm on the other side, I took the same side in again. The centre seam, therefore, is not at the centre, and if I hold out the skirt, it's more flared on one side than the other. Double oops.

So, when I finally attached the waistband (not doing it properly, mind you, but it was late and I had had enough of this skirt already), I had a one and a half inch zipper and a lopsided skirt, but it was done. I can get it on over my head if I try, but I don't think I'll be wearing this one again. I'll keep it for a future refashion though, because I know that no one will buy it if I donate it back to the thrift store.


Oh, and I broke my needle with a few centimetres left to sew. I got a little too close to the zipper and for whatever reason it didn't like that. I ended up just leaving that bit unsewn, and it managed to stay together anyways.

All I needed now was a bow, but this proved to be much easier than I expected. I went to a little local fabric store and the salesperson suggested using some grosgrain ribbon  after I explained what I was looking for. I bought a metre for 75 cents, preparing for more stupid mistakes, but I was pleasantly surprised when I made it work on my first attempt.





I didn't make it so that it would go around my neck, because I tried pinning it and it didn't sit right because the collar sat too low down. I guess women's collared shirts aren't really meant to be worn with bow ties, who'd have thought? I ended up making two loops of ribbon, one big one and one small one, and slipping the big one trough the small one, and hand stitching it in place. I considered sewing on a snap to attach it to the blouse, but decided a safety pin would be much less hassle.


So that's it! A Halloween costume in a hurry! On the day of, I added a petticoat just for fun. It's not the same one that I wore when modeling this dress and this dress, because it was too short and looked really awkward. Instead, it's a longer and subtler (and softer) one that also belonged to my aunt. I also added some vintage pearl earrings although I have no idea if Mary Poppins wears them, but my ears felt strange without any.

I was pretty happy with the finished costume. Most people recognized it right away, and everyone who knew me got the joke. Oh, how I love Halloween dressing up! 

Seriously, I don't really care much for Halloween itself. But I do love an excuse to dress up.


Blouse: Thrifted
Skirt: Thrifted and altered
Blazer: H&M (probably my last fast fashion buy and makes me feel guilty every time I look at it)
Petticoat: Vintage
Shoes: Chelsea Crew
Hat: Borrowed from my mom
Earring: Vintage
Tights: Hue
Bow: Me-made 
Purse: bought at a market
Umbrella: borrowed from a friend

11 comments:

  1. I just found your blog through the knit for victory flickr. I love your stuff, it's great! I knit and sew too (though I'm still learning!) I'll be following you- you're awesome! :)
    Jo (http://makingitwell.blogspot.co.nz/)

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    1. Thank you! That reminds me... I should really get going on my Knit for Victory project!

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  2. Love the costume, especially in the last pic. Whyis it that sometimes you make mistake after mistake on one garment... Great that you persevered!

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    1. Thanks! It does always seem to be that way, doesn't it? Part of it is that it was at night that I was doing all these alterations and could have done with some sleep!

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  3. Fun! Mary Poppins is such a great costume!

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  4. Love the costume! Yay, so glad to find your blog. I'm 16 (almost 17) and most of the sewing bloggers are so much older, nice to find someone my age :)

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