Previously Published: October 15, 2019
Updated: October 20, 2020
I love Halloween! Next to Christmas, Halloween is my favourite time of year. I have such fond memories of dressing up and Trick o’ Treating with my family. What kid wouldn’t love playing dress up and getting candy for it?
For today’s blog post, I would like to walk down memory lane and share some of the handmade Halloween costumes made by my mom over the years. My mom would ask each of us what we wanted to dress up as for Halloween and then she would proceed to make our costumes. She didn’t make a new costume every year because she had four kids to make costumes for (which is a feat in and of itself!), so we usually had to wear the same costume until we outgrew it and then it was handed down to the next kid in line.
The first costume I ever remember my mom making was a bunny rabbit costume, which she had made for my sister and me when we were toddlers. I don’t remember wearing the costumes, but I remember seeing them later on in our costume box. The bunny rabbit suit was a pink onesie with a fluffy white tail on the bum accompanied by a hat that covered the entire head except the face and it had two tall-pointed ears on the top. The bunny rabbit costume also had a large carrot necklace, which was made from orange material stuffed with cotton batting and attached to a string to hang from the neck.
I wish I had pictures to share of this adorable costume, but unfortunately I can’t find any pictures in our family albums and we no longer have the costume.
In first grade, my mom made a clown costume for me. It was an orange and yellow jumpsuit with ruffles and a wig made from loops of yarn. Judging by my smile in the picture below, I looked quite proud of my clown costume. I’m just missing the big red nose.
Two years later, my mom made a Little Red Riding Hood costume for me and a Jill costume (from the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme) for my sister, Ronnie.
My mom’s interpretation of Jill’s dress from the nursery rhyme was a dress with a pink top and floral bottom. The overall straps were sewn on the dress to make it look like two pieces, but it was all one piece. Then she gave Ronnie a metal milk bucket to use as a prop.
The Little Red Riding Hood costume was a red dress with a white apron in the front and a red hooded cape. In the picture, I’m holding a basket of fruit as a prop. In the early nineties, grapes and other fruits, such as peaches and apples, used to come in an open cardboard basket with a handle in the middle, not the plastic containers and bags they come in now. My mom used to keep these baskets and sew coverings for them to reuse for other purposes, as you can see in the picture. The fruit in the basket was velvet-covered plastic fruit that my mom used for decorating. I often see these plastic fruits appearing at garage sales and estate sales now.
Three years after the Little Red Riding Hood and Jill costumes, my mom made an angel costume for Ronnie (if my memory serves me correctly, I believe she also made one for me, but I don’t have any pictures of me in my costume that year).
For Ronnie’s angel costume, my mom made a long flowing dress from a satiny material with long, exaggerated sleeves and silver ribbon bordering the hems. She also made a silver halo as a headband and cardboard wings covered in cotton batting. It was quite an elegant costume and probably her best one yet!
That same year, my mom made a Jasmine costume from Disney’s Aladdin for my baby sister, Katie. My mom designed the off-the-shoulder top and balloon pants from her own pattern and used a satiny blue material. Then she wrapped a headband with the same blue material for the crown. Katie looks quite proud of her costume in the picture below. Sadly, however, Katie’s school teacher refused to believe her costume was handmade and disqualified her from the best handmade Halloween costume contest. The poor girl came home in tears. She would have won the contest if it hadn’t been for her teacher’s disbelief that our mother really was that talented of a seamstress.
Once I reached my teen years, I got into the more morbid costumes and stopped asking my mom to make them because I usually just pieced together whatever I had in my closet. For example, one year, I decided to dress up as Dracula. All I wore was a black button down shirt with a white T-shirt underneath and black pants. I painted my eyes black and my face white with some blood dripping down my chin. When I inserted a plastic retainer with long fangs in my mouth, I think I made a pretty convincing Dracula due to my already long, dark hair and thin face. In the picture below, I’m featured with my baby sister, Katie, who is dressed as an angel. We make quite the contrasting pair of good and evil!
For my last Trick o’ Treating hurrah, I decided to dress up as the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. I wore a black button down shirt and skirt that I found in my grandma’s closet and my mom made the witch hat for me. Then I painted my face green and braided my hair into pigtails. I completed the costume a straw broom (not shown in picture).
In my early adulthood, I asked my mom to make one more costume for me for a university costume party I was attending. I wanted to dress up as the Bride of Frankenstein and asked my mom to make a wedding dress. I didn’t want her to do anything fancy for the dress. I just wanted it to be a long, flowing white dress, like the dress Elsa Lanchester wore in the 1935 film. To complete the costume, I wrapped my arms with strips of white material and wore tall leather platform-heeled boots. I found the wig at Value Village and added a bouquet of black fabric flowers from the Dollar Store. Out of all the costumes my mom made for me over the years, the Bride of Frankenstein costume was my favourite costume and one I kept for years. Originally made for me in 2005, I donned it for the third and final time in 2011 for the Halloween party Ronnie and I were hosting at our house
Last year, my husband was asked to perform at a geekdom Halloween-themed convention and I was excited to have an occasion to dress up in costume, but I had given away my stash of Halloween costumes and decorations when we moved last year. 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. Using items I already had on hand, I managed to put together an inexpensive costume based on my favourite poem by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven.”
In the poem, the narrator is mourning the loss of his wife, Lenore, when the raven comes tapping at his chamber door and eventually drives him to madness. 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. For more details on how I put this costume together, see my blog post: The Lost Lenore: A Halloween Costume Design.
Halloween has always been fun for me not only because I got to dress up and gather candy (although, I’m sure the candy was the best incentive), but also because it was an evening spent with my family and friends. I don’t dress up for Halloween anymore, but I still spend the evening with family and friends handing out candy and admiring all the costumes the kids are wearing these days. I’m happy that I now have the opportunity to continue the tradition for the next generation of kids like the generations did before me.
What were your best Halloween costumes in the past? Write your answer in the comments section below, and if you’re not shy, post pictures of your best ones!
I hope that you will find peace and inspiration through my blog and handmade creations!
Subscribe below to receive a monthly newsletter with crafting tutorials, recipes, and information about green living.
Subscribe to my Newsletter Here