Happy National Sewing Month! In September 1982, President Ronald Reagan officially proclaimed September as National Sewing Month in order to recognize the “industry, the skill, and the self-reliance which are so characteristic of this nation.”
Even if you don’t know how to sew, September is the perfect month to learn – especially with Halloween rapidly approaching. Instead of spending money on a ready-made costume at the nearest store (ensuring that your child will be one of hundreds of little Power Rangers, Disney princesses, or Supermen running around on Halloween) or you can try making one yourself.
Patterns are great if you are a little unsure – they have easy-to-follow instructions and range in difficulty from “easy” to “expert.” (Browse through some of these patterns for inspiration and ideas.) You can add your own little spin by selecting the fabric colors and embellishments, and you are guaranteed that nobody else will have the exact same costume. Plus, sewing your costume will ensure a better fit, is cheaper, and will hold up better than some of those mass-produced costumes you’ll find at the local discount store (meaning they can be reused!). And, you’ll have great memories of the costume. (My favorite costume of my son’s was handmade. He was six and going through a mummy phase. He wanted to be King Tut. I couldn’t find a King Tut costume for a six-year-old, so I made it myself. It turned out great and he was the hit of the neighborhood.)
If you want to practice a little before tackling a costume, begin with a simple treat bag. Fold a 12″x30″ piece of felt in half. Sew up each side and then turn it inside out so the stitches are on the inside. Add a strap by cutting two wide, long strips of felt and sewing them along the edge. (Turn the handles right side out by using a safety pin attached to one end then pull it through the fabric “tube.”) Sew a handle onto each side of the bag. Decorate with felt scraps in different colors – for example, cut a ghost from white felt and stitch it on to the front of the bag. Cut eyes from black felt and add them to the ghost.
There are plenty of no-sew DIY Halloween costume ideas, as well, if you don’t want to tackle sewing your own. Whatever you choose, just remember that while September is still quite pleasant weather-wise, it could be very different by the end of October. You won’t want your little trick-or-treater getting chilly, so use warmer fabrics (velour or velvet, for example) and make it long-sleeved.
Remember to keep things safe while planning your costumes – accessories should be soft and flexible (including the swords and ninja gear). Add reflective tape to the costumes and avoid dark colors. Avoid billowy skirts and big, baggy sleeves – these are fire hazards. Make sure the bottom is hemmed enough that your child won’t trip. And while those fancy high-heeled shoes go perfect with the costume, your child’s feet will be aching in these (not to mention the potential to twist an ankle) so make your child wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes.
Happy costume making! After completing your handmade costume, be sure to share it with us on Facebook.