The Raven & the Lost Lenore: A Halloween Costume

My husband was asked to perform at a geekdom Halloween-themed convention this past Saturday and I was so excited to have an occasion to dress up in costume. I gave away my stash of Halloween costumes and decorations when we moved this past summer, so I had to start from scratch for this costume. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on my costume and decided to browse through my closet to see what I could use from there.

In my closet, I found a cute black and white floral dress with a puffy skirt which I had purchased for $2.50 from a yard sale this past summer and hadn’t had an occasion to wear yet.

Costume Clothing
Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved

I decided to pair the dress with black leggings and black pilgrim-style boots. I had purchased the leggings from a garage sale for $1.00 (I find such amazing clothes for incredible prices at garage sales!) and I’ve had the boots for at least ten years (one of my best and longest lasting Wal-Mart purchases—bought when their shoes used to be made with better quality).

With these three items, I had the basis for my costume but I still didn’t know what I would be dressing up as. So I brainstormed some ideas on the trusty internet to see what my dress and boots could transform me into. At first, I thought about adding fairy wings to my back and going to the convention as a dark fairy. It would’ve been quite simple to make the wings from wire and mesh. But then I decided that I needed my costume to be more specific than just a generic fairy since we were going to an actual “comic con” type of Halloween convention. I wanted to choose a specific character to dress up as.

Since I had already thought of dressing up as a dark fairy, I thought my costume could be based on the Seelie Queen from the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. But I still wasn’t quite satisfied with this costume idea and decided I wanted to choose a character based from a favourite book or story I loved.

Suddenly, I had a random, brilliant thought to use the birdcage I had bought for $1.00 at a yard sale this past summer (the same yard sale where I found my dress).

Cage and Raven
Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved

Of course, I would put a black raven inside the birdcage, the same raven from my favourite poem by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven.” I remembered that, in the poem, the narrator had been mourning the loss of his wife, Lenore, when the raven came tapping at his chamber door, and the narrator was convinced that the raven was sent to haunt (and taunt) him, driving him to madness and eventually death.

As I reread the poem, I realized that Lenore was mentioned a number of times throughout the poem, and I began to wonder, what if the lost Lenore was the raven in the poem?

    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

From “The Raven,” Edgar Allan Poe

Source: Poetry Foundation

I decided I would become the manifestation of the lost Lenore, real or imagined. It was irrelevant for my costume if she was a ghost haunting her former husband or merely a figment of his sorrow-ridden imagination. All I needed was for her to come alive from my interpretation of the poem.

The rest of my costume was simple to put together. I went to Dollarama (my favourite place to shop for inexpensive Halloween decorations) and purchased the following for a total of $10.00:

  • a black raven – $3.00
  • a black feather boa – $3.00
  • a black lace tablecloth – $4.00
Feathers and Lace
Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved

To start, I made two feathered armbands from a pair of black leggings I had in my dresser and the feathered boa I bought from Dollarama. I measured and cut the leggings to the length I needed for my arms. Then I hemmed the trimmed ends so the material wouldn’t fray, and cut thumbholes on one end of each armband so I could wear the armbands like fingerless gloves. Next, I measured and cut the feather boa into four strips the length of the armbands, and sewed two strips onto the forearm of each armband. The resulting feathered “wings” extended from mid-hand to just above the elbow.

Feathers on Arms
Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved

Secondly, I made a cape from the black lace tablecloth. The lace had spiderweb designs which gave it a nice gothic touch. First I cut off a small strip at the end of the tablecloth and set it aside for later use. Then I folded the tablecloth in half so that it wouldn’t be too long when I wore it and hemmed the ends together to ensure it stayed folded together.

Afterwards, I rummaged through my costume jewellery box and found a beautiful diamond flower pendant (another garage sale find) which I sewed onto the folded end of the cape on one side and sewed a loose loop of black ribbon on the opposite side (about a foot from each hemmed edge). This allowed me to attach the two ends of the cape together so that I didn’t have to hold it closed or worry about it slipping off my shoulders.

For the accessories, I cinched a black belt around the waist of the dress, and rummaged through my costume jewellery box for a Victorian-style necklace and a tourquoise ring to complete the costume.

Jewelry and Belt
Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved

 

 

Complete Dress
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Finally, I inserted the raven in the birdcage—it was a snug but perfect fit. Then I stuffed any stray feathers that had fallen off the boa into the bottom of the cage beneath the bird’s feet. For decoration, I tied the lace strip I had cut off the tablecloth in the step above around the top of the birdcage and tied a second knot a few inches from the top of the cage so I could insert my hand through the loop and carry the cage. Finally, I added the finishing touch to the cage by printing the word “Nevermore” in Showcard Gothic font onto a 1¾” x ½” white shipping label and sticking it onto a scrap of embossed silver cardstock glued onto a larger strip of black cardstock. Then I glued the nameplate onto the birdcage.

Raven in Cage
Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved
Raven in the Cage
Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved
Raven in the Cage
Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved

And voilá, the Lost Lenore with her pet raven costume was complete.

Complete Costume
Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved
Complete Costume
Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved
Complete Costume
Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved

I was quite happy with how my costume turned out. The idea was creative and unique, and I was confident no one else at the Halloween convention would’ve thought of the same idea.

There were plenty of creative and unique character costumes at the Halloween convention, but my particular favourites were: the Invisible Man from the 1958-60 TV series, Carrie from the 1976 film, the Ghostbusters from the 1984 film, Luke Skywalker from The Return of the Jedi, Jayne Cobb from the Firefly TV series, Eleven from the Stranger Things TV series, and Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar from the film Wayne’s World.

I loved how much effort everyone put into creating their costumes. We had a great time at the convention, and my husband’s video-game style performance was well-received.

Lazy Nerd 204 About To Jam
Hubby known as Lazy Nerd 204 setting up his DJ system before his performance. Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved

What are you dressing up as this Halloween? Write your answer in the comments section below, and if you’re not shy, I’d love to see a picture of you wearing your costume!

 

I hope that you will find peace and inspiration through my blog and handmade creations!
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