In early October, I actually started thinking about our Halloween costumes ahead of schedule! After placing so many little gnomes in the garden this summer, I thought, hey, why not? We could be gnomes! And since I seemed to have time, I decided I would try to make our costumes (gasp!) if I could find my old Husqvarna “HuskyStar E10” sewing machine. Oh, what I do to be allowed to attend the annual Halloween Bash™ at my brother and sister-in-law’s house!
The Fabric Store
Comfort is a priority for our Halloween costumes as we determined from all the previous party experiences. Since I needed to make something, it had to be pretty simple. I had never made, like real live clothes that adults actually wear type sewing and that meant a trip to the fabric store was necessary.
I always feel a little out of place there, like I’m going to be found out as not knowing what I’m doing. It’s not like I’m a stranger to these places having been there many, many times with my mother and I am somewhat familiar with the magical words and concepts that I soaked up by osmosis. I spent many hundreds of hours (it seemed) waiting for my Mum as she wandered through aisle after aisle – just touching and thinking. But I never really looked around and took an interest in the stock myself. It was a place to escape from.
Patterns & Notions & Coffee, Oh My!
Well, I looked online to try to find an appropriate pattern, but decided to just look at the books in the store and get one there. There is a Fabricland like 5 minutes from where we live (who knew!) so off I went. I took Hub as he is good at carrying things. Coffee is a must for any outing, so first stop at the drive-through for a large coffee. I had a shopping list: pattern, fabric, matching thread, notions as per pattern, red felt for hats.
After spending time pretending I knew where I was going, I eventually found the pattern catalogues desk. We browsed and selected an easy Butterick’s pattern for the tunic and decided I could just make mine a little longer for the lady gnome dress. I asked for the pattern and was told I wasn’t allowed to have the coffee in the shop. It was confiscated with lots of tutting and lip curls.
On to the Fabric
Almost immediately, I found the most perfect a light blue cotton fabric with a hint of wispy white clouds for the main gnome tunic for him and dress for me at this huge jumble of fabric on a sale table. Wow, it was perfect! This was going well now I had my handy pattern for reference. I needed a bit of cord for the front closing on both should be …over there I think, yes. Course I know what I’m doing. (Ok, I faked it at the thread wall. Just look for a nice one that matches. What are all those different kinds for? don’t ask, you’ll get more imagined eye rolls). I might need buttons for the cuffs, but I think I have a ton of buttons somewhere from removing them on old clothes or found…how exactly do I have a ton of buttons?
Getting the felt was actually more difficult than I anticipated. There are rolls or pre-cut slices of differing thicknesses (and price) and the colour variety is amazing. Didn’t really know how much I’d need, so got a metre of the thickest red stuff.
Cutting out was … manageable – Good thing I have enough pins. I really need to get some decent scissors though if I ever do this again. How do I fill the bobbin again? Oh I love you YouTube! Right sides together – I mean …darn those seam rippers are my new best friend. I cannot figure out how that collar thing works. Oh, I get it – cut on the BIAS cool. No problem, lots of material here, just cut out the piece again. Interfacing? Well good thing the store is just around the corner.
I just cannot figure out which side is wrong side and which is the right. Can I give up on that? Its only a costume! Oh the cuffs are beautiful – so cool. Okay, I see how it works – The second one will be easier. Glad I cut out both. Okay, so the thread bunched and pulled my fabric into the bobbin casing with it. I’ll never get it out! Oh, that all comes apart completely in there. I see how it works! I hate sewing! This is actually kinda fun. Be so nice to be done – slow down and focus. Mum I miss you – you would have loved this.
All done. The sleeves are incredibly HUGE – gathered at the shoulders with a really nice cuff – but so comfortable. It isn’t too cold here this October, but plenty of room to bulk up for warmth underneath if needed. The blue cording for the front closing is perfect and we both wore long t-shirts and leggings underneath.
Of course, I was having so much fun sewing and mastering that little machine, that I kept going and made us each each a small drawstring bag based on a tutorial on YouTube which seemed more in fitting with the costumes than walking around with a cellphone.
The hats came together from the medium weight by-the-yard felt. I measured our heads and cut a flat triangular shape with a deep curve at the bottom so they were more gnome-like in shape. After sewing up the side with the machine, no extra work was needed on the edges and they sat firmly and comfortably on our heads all night. As a final touch, I glued some little toadstools onto the end of the cords and on my hat. I even sewing in a few elastics in a loop inside my hat as secret holder of lipstick and the like – love secret compartments.
I rediscovered that YouTube is your friend and learned an amazing amount about a machine that I’ve actually owned for over 20 years.
Having only done small projects in the past, I’d never stuck with it long enough to master it. I would get to the frustrating stage but the small task was done and stop sewing. I got past that stage for the first time – and really enjoyed it!
Ready Ahead of time!
Our costumes were ready to go by mid-October and it was so nice to be all ready and prepared before the actual night.
My sister-in-law Lisa (the hostess) dropped by the house one day and saw our finished costumes hanging in the hall. After exclaiming that she didn’t know I could sew (either did I, but don’t tell her that), she asked if I could make another set for her and my brother -and I agreed.
I went back to the fabric store triumphant! No coffee – get that as a reward afterwards. I showed her the cording, the material – she picked green. I also thought it would be nice to make aprons out of gingham for each of us and added that in.
Off I went back to the scissors and sewing machine, but this time all forest green tunics and light green felt for the hats. A bit of green checked gingham for the apron and green cord matching the hats for the front ties and two more gnomes were born!
After spending hours really getting to know and understand my machine and arising victorious, I may have begun to actually enjoy sewing – shocking! Hey, I wonder if I should try to make a few more things while my kitchen table to taken over by the machine?