My Favorite Halloween costumes

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love the drama of it.  I had so much fun dressing up as a kid, and when I became a mom I was so glad that sewing was one of my hobbies – being able to take a couple of words and ideas from my daughters’ imaginations and create the perfect costumes for them makes me so happy!
I just want to share some of these costumes with you, and how I made them.  They all came from Maya and Lily with my own construction twists – There are probably tutorials online for most of them, but I wasn’t online so much then, so I wasn’t searching pinterest for cool ideas 🙂

My favorite has to be when Lily was 4.  I asked her what she wanted to be for Halloween (expecting her to say ballerina or fairy…) and she grinned, “Can I be a basket of laundry?”

This costume truly is simple.

A wicker basket with the bottom cut out (a friend of mine had a broken basket that she gave me, but you could probably find a cheap one at a thrift store)

Some sturdy ribbon

a staple gun

a dozen or so pieces of clothing

I started with the basket and cut out the bottom.  I used waistband elastic to make the suspenders, but I definitely recommend wide grosgrain ribbon or something else non-elastic.  With the elastic, the basket “bounced” as she walked and I think it made it seem a lot heavier to her.  I stapled the ribbon directly to the  edge of the  front of the basket, and then to the back of the basket (making sure they would cross in the back so as not to slip off her shoulders.)  It may take a bit of experimentation to figure out the exact placement of the straps so that he/she is comfortable.

After that I took items of clothing and stapled them so that they were hanging over the edge of the basket, as well as putting some up along the ribbon. The underwear on the head really makes the costume, though, don’t you think?

What I love about this costume is that is doesn’t matter how cold it is…you can layer all you want under the basket, and mixing and matching just makes the costume better!


I find it funny that as I go back through the photo albums my favorite costumes have been “no-sew.”  Here is another – Maya’s Frankenstein:

I dug through the thrift store racks for anything olive green.  I found corduroys and a sweatshirt in her size as well as an oversized t-shirt.  Loved the price of 1.49 per item! (especially since I was going to cut up the shirt and tatter the hem on the pants)

I had been saving wine corks for years. While I planned on doing something crafty with them, I did not anticipate using my champagne corks as bolts in Frankenstein’s neck! I made a simple band of green fabric as a collar (the closer you can get the color to that of the facepaint, the better, but I didn’t bother) with velcro at the back.  I painted the corks black and hot glued them to either side of the collar.

The rest of the costume is makeup – gelled back hair, a green face/neck, an incision across the forehead, black eyebrows and lips…have fun with it!

Here’s another favorite (if only because of the absurdity.)  If your child tells you she wants to be a purple and green alien monster – please don’t say no!

It took a bit of discussion to understand what she meant (I don’t think she quite knew herself)

I cobbled together a costume in this shiny scaly green fabric I found at Joann’s using  patterns from my stash (you could very easily pick up a sleeper pattern) and a vest out of purple furry fleece (or something like that) If you have a vest pattern, instead of cutting it straight across at the waist, taper it down to a point at the center back like a tail.

I made little cone spikes, stuffed them with batting, and hand stitched them down the back of the vest

The final touches (other than makeup) were the knit hat with vinyl horns and “teeth” and the wrist/ankle bands with vinyl “claws”

Maya was a ghost one year… the only thing I needed to buy was cheesecloth and facepaint:

I honestly can’t remember exactly how I did this…she wore black clothes and I think I just tacked layers of cheesecloth over her clothes…and wrapped a plastic headband in it as well to make the veil.  I know I didn’t buy anything but the cheesecloth.

I hope I’ve inspired you to listen to your kids and make their off the wall ideas reality.  I know for our family it has been wonderful for both them and me!

August 8, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Sewing. 1 comment.

Cool Slashed and Twisted T

I guess it comes with the territory…as my daughter approaches the teen years, I find myself making more “cool” things than “cute” things.

This latest project is a no-sew alteration to a t-shirt.


We started with a slightly fitted t-shirt that had a cool image on the front.

Step 1 is to cut the collar off:


Step 2 is to mark the back of the shirt with chalk where the slashes will go.  We marked a triangular shape that was wider at the top and came to a point at the center of the hem. The top line was 1″ down from the neck edge and across the back stopping about 2″ from the sleeve seams.


Step 3 : We placed a magazine inside the shirt and used a ruler and rotary cutter to cut 1″ strips (staying within the chalk triangle.) We didn’t go all the way to the bottom…stopped about 4″ from the hem. But there’s no reason you couldn’t go all the way down.

Step 4 is to start looping the strips down the back. Let’s see if I can explain this…oh – it’s a lot easier to do while the person is wearing the shirt

You take the first strip and bring it down over the 2nd strip. Now grab the 2nd strip and pull it up and over (catching the first strip)

Now pull this 2nd strip down over the 3rd. You will then grab that 3rd strip and pull it through, catching the 2nd strip.

Continue down the back of the shirt in this manner – each strip is looped through the strip above it.

When we got to the end, we used a thin scrap of the t-shirt fabric to tie off the last loop and keep it from unraveling.

** watch out for tagless t-shirts – we wound up cutting the very top strip of the shirt off because she didn’t like the way the printed logo on the inside of the shirt looked when it was exposed after twisting  the back**

I’m so pleased with the way it came out! I’m going to make one for myself, but instead of the strips being wide at the top I’m going to make all the slashes 2 or 3″ long centered down the back – hopefully it will look more braid like and less airy.

July 5, 2012. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

April Review

April has come and gone.  It was a super busy month for me, but I have my photo mosaic to share.  I haven’t done much knitting, but I have a skirt pattern in the works.  It will be a child’s skirt written for sizes 7-14. I’m about to start knitting the sample, and hope to work the kinks out in the next month or so.  I’m being really indecisive about the yarn to use.  I want a basic, easy care yarn that will block well.  I’m thinking about Cascade 220, but not sure if I should use superwash or not. Decisions, decisions….

May 1, 2011. Knitting, photography. Leave a comment.

Jharana at KnitPicks!

My Jharana Scarf pattern is now available through the Independent Designers Program!

Like its name, the Hindi word for waterfall, this lace scarf cascades over your shoulders. The wavy border and the mesh center are worked all in one piece. The rich color, subtle sheen, and great stitch definition of KnitPicks Gloss make it a wonderful yarn to show off the stitch pattern.

When I made the sample, I used every inch of the yarn and had a 9″x48″ scarf. Gauge isn’t crucial for this pattern, but if you think you’ll want it longer than this I definitely recommend getting a second skein. I loved working with this yarn 🙂

April 11, 2011. Knitting, patterns. Leave a comment.

This Month Flew By!

Wow…I can’t believe it’s been an entire month since I’ve posted. I’ve certainly been busy, though, since it is recital season and I have hundreds of dance costumes to alter. Most of them are simple, but there are some that are going to be a royal pain in the butt.

I’ve been (mostly) keeping up with my photo project. I have to admit to a teeny bit of “cheating”, but I’m not going to let it stop me. Here is my March Mosaic:

If you’re on Ravelry, we’ve got a group going for this Project 365…come join us!

April 1, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

59 Days

I’ve completed the second month of my project 365 challenge.  The cold weather and snow kept me inside quite a bit, but I think I got some great shots anyway (eh…and some not so great shots too)


March 1, 2011. photography. Leave a comment.

Jharana Scarf

As part of my Project Yarnway challenge on Ravelry, I designed this wavy edged lace scarf, and I am now offering the pattern for sale. It can be knit in fingering, sport or dk weight yarn.  Gauge is not crucial to this pattern, but knitting on size US 7 or US8 needles should give a scarf that is about 8 inches wide.  I recommend a blockable solid color yarn to best show off the lace pattern, as variegated yarns tend to overwhelm the detail.

The pattern includes a chart as well as row by row written instructions.

Jharana Scarf Pattern – .pdf download – $1.99

I hope you enjoy the pattern.  Please check back as I will be adding more patterns (both free and for purchase)

February 5, 2011. Tags: , , , . Knitting, patterns, Project Yarnway. 2 comments.

One Month Down…

I have challenged myself to use my camera each and every day this year. My first month is complete and so far the project is a lot of fun. It has been interesting to see how this has changed how I look at the world. I’m noticing things more. I tend to do a lot of close up shots, but I’m going to push myself and try different styles and techniques.

Here is a thumbnail mosaic of January. Clicking on it will take you to my page where you can see the full size photos if you like:

If you have a favorite photography/photoshop tutorial or technique I’d love to hear about it!

January 31, 2011. photography. Leave a comment.

American Girl Cable Waist Vest

I had fun knitting this vest.  It starts with a cable, and stitches are picked up along the long edges to work the bodice and the ribbed body.  Everything is worked flat except for the arm ribbing where stitches are picked up and worked in the round.  There are quite a few ends to weave in – I found it helpful to weave them in as I went so they didn’t get in the way.

needle size: US4
yarn: Sirdar Snuggly DK
gauge: 6 sts and 9 rows in 1 inch
other materials needed: 5 inches of sew-in velcro (or snap closures)

Stitch Guide:
T5R – Slip 3 stitches onto cable needle and hold to the back.  Knit next 2 stitches then p1, k2 from the cable needle
T3F – slip 2 stitches onto cable needle and hold to the front – purl next stitch, then knit the 2 stitches from cable needle
T3B – slip 1 stitch onto cable needle and hold to the back – knit the next 2 stitches, then purl the stitch on the cable needle
Make Bobble: knit into front, back, and front of next stitch.  Turn and k3. Turn and p3. Turn and k3. Turn and sl 1, k2tog, psso.
CDD: sl 2 together as if to knit, k1, pass both slipped stitches over

Errata: For anyone who may have printed this pattern between 1/17/11 and 1/30/11 — There are 21 live stitches when starting the neck ribbing, not 20.  I’m sorry for the confusion and the erroneous errata 🙂

Cable Band:
CO 13
knit 10 repeats of the cable chart
k2, p2, k2, p1, k2, p2, k2
p2, k2, p2, k1, p2, k2, p2
repeat the last 2 rows 3 times
bind off

Written out cable instructions:

Row 1 – k2, p2, T5R, p2, k2
Row 2 – p2, k2, p2, k1, p2, k2, p2
Row 3 – k2, p1, T3B, p1, T3F, p1, k2
Row 4 – p2, k1, p2, k3, p2, k1, p2
Row 5 – k2, T3B, p3, T3F, k2
Row 6 – p4, k5, p4
Row 7 – k4, p2, make bobble, p2, k4
Row 8 – p4, k5, p4
Row 9 – k2, T3F, p3, T3B, k2
Row 10 – p2, k1, p2, k3, p2, k1, p2
Row 11 – k2, p1, T3F, p1, T3B, p1, k2
Row 12 – p2, k2, p2, k1, p2, k2, p2


Turn the cable horizontally with the cast on edge on the left.  Pick up and knit 98 stitches along the top edge of the cable band (3 stitches for every 4 rows starting at the bind off end)

purl one row
knit one row
purl one row
k32, bind off  next 6 stitches, k33, bind off next 6 stitches, k19

Front and back sections will be worked separately at this point.  If using a circular needle, the unworked sections will remain on the cable.

Right Back

purl 20

k1, ssk, knit to end

repeat last 2 rows 3 more times (16 sts)

knit 6 rows in stockinette
k7, place remaining stitches on waste yarn or stitch holder
work the 7 stitches in stockinette for 8 rows

break yarn leaving a tail long enough to kitchener the shoulder, place stitches on holder.

Right Front

reattach yarn
purl 17 stitches, turn
row1 – k1, ssk, k11, k2tog, k1
row 2 (and all WS rows) – purl
row 3 – k1, ssk, k to end
row 5 – k1, ssk, k8, k2tog, k1
row 7 – k1, ssk, k to end
row 9 – k1, ssk, k5, k2tog, k1
row 11 – k1, ssk, knit to end
row 13 – k1, ssk, knit to end
row 14 – purl

Work 8 rows of stockinette

Break yarn, place stitches on holder

Left Front

reattach yarn

purl 17

row 1 – k1, ssk, k11, k2tog, k1
row 2 (and all WS rows) – purl
row 3 – k12, k2tog, k1
row 5 – k1, ssk, k8, k2tog, k1
row 7 – k9, k2tog, k1
row 9 – k1, ssk, k5, k2tog, k1
row 11 – k6, k2tog, k1
row 13 – k5, k2tog, k1
row 14 – purl

work 8 rows of stockinette

break yarn, place stitches on holder

Left Back

purl 32

row 1 – k29, k2tog, k1
row 2 (and all WS rows) – purl
row 3 – k28, k2tog, k1
row 5 – k27, k2tog, k1
row 7 – k26, k2tog, k1
row 8 – purl

work 5 rows of stockinette
p7, place remaining stitches on holder

work 9 rows of stockinette, break yarn leaving tail long enough to kitchener the shoulder

place stitches on holder


pick up and knit 102 stitches along bottom edge of cable band (4 sts for every 5 rows)
work 2 inches of slip stitch rib:

right side – p2, *k1, sl 1 purlwise, k1, p2 rep from * to end
wrong side – k2, *p3, k2, rep from * to end

Join the front and back sections together at the shoulders using the kitchener stitch.

Neck Ribbing

Place the 21 live stitches of left back on right needle.  Reattach yarn and knit these stitches.
Pick up and knit 29 stitches along left front neckline, and 29 stitches along right front neckline
Knit the 9 live stitches of right back

row 1: (p2,k2) 18 times, p1, p2tog (mark this center stitch), p1, (k2, p2) to end
row 2: (k2,p2) to 1 stitch before center stitch, CDD, (p2, k2) to end
row 3: work as set (center stitch is a purl)
row 4: work as set to one stitch before center stitch, CDD, work as set to end
row 5: work as set
bind off in pattern

Arm Ribbing

Pick up 44 stitches around the arm opening, work in 2×2 rib for 4 rows
bind off in pattern


Weave in remaining ends

Sew velcro (or snap) closure along back opening

January 14, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Knitting, patterns. 8 comments.

Holiday Shrug

Well, it’s that time of year – I’ve taken the easy way out the past few years but this year I did something I have always loved doing – Making my daughter’s Christmas dress.

My 10 year old daughter is getting much more opinionated about her fashion style.  With the insistence that it not be “poofy” we searched through the pattern books and realized that there are very few dressy dress patterns in her size.  We managed to find only one that, with the right fabric, would work for Christmas, but it’s sleeveless – not a good choice for December in New England.

It was fun watching Maya choose fabric for her dress.  She’s still learning how different fabrics behave,  but she has a good eye and chose a burgundy polyester shantung and a black sequined mesh for an overlay.  I had to talk her out of a gorgeous flocked taffeta because I knew it wouldn’t drape the way she wanted.  Even though I would have loved it, I wasn’t about to spend the time and money making a dress that she wouldn’t wear because it didn’t match the image in her head.

Because of the bare shoulders, I was also asked for some sort of knit shrug and she chose Vanna’s Glamour yarn in platinum. It doesn’t feel as soft knit up as it does in the skein, but it is still nice and has a lovely, subtle, twinkly sparkle; Perfect for a girl who loves anything glittery.

The shrug starts with a rectangle, is partially seamed at the sides to create armholes, and stitches are picked up for a ribbed sleeve cuff.

Tips for resizing

* The ribbing section must have a multiple of 4+2 stitches
* The knotted openwork must have a multiple of 3 stitches.
* When changing the number of stitches cast on or the gauge, the decrease/increase rows will not be the same as what I have here…decrease/increase as evenly across the row as possible.
* The edge of the knotted openwork section is what becomes the opening for the sleeve…work this section until it is the same measurement as the circumference of the upper arm.

Knotted Openwork Girl’s Shrug

yarn: Vanna’s Glamour – 400 yards (2 skeins…had enough to make the matching doll shrug with what was left over)
needles: US5, US9
gauge: 24 stitches/4 inches on smaller needles in stockinette,
17 sts/4 inches on larger needles in knotted openwork
size: 10/12, 18″ doll size instructions below

*new*-  notes on how to modify to girl’s size 6 (below size 10/12 instructions)

knotted openwork stitch pattern:
row 1 – k2, *yo, k3, with left needle lift and pass the 1st of the 3 stitches just knitted over the last 2, rep from * to last st, k1
row 2 – purl
row 3 – k1, *k3, with left needle lift and pass the 1st of the 3 stitches just knitted over the last 2, yo, rep from * to last 2 sts, k2
row 4 – purl

Size 10/12:

Cast on 146 sts (on size 5 needles)

Work 3 inches of 2×2 rib (beginning and ending right side rows with k2)

Decrease round: (RS)
Switch to size 9 needles
k1, *[k2tog, k1] 8 times, [k2tog, k2] 3 times, repeat from * to last stitch, k1 (102 sts)

Purl one row then work 9 inches in knotted openwork stitch

Increase round: (RS)
Switch to size 5 needles
k1, *[kfb, k1] 8 times, [kfb, k2] 3 times,  repeat from * to last stitch, k1 (146 sts)

Work 3 inches of 2×2 rib (beginning and ending right side rows with k2)

Bind off in pattern.

Fold the rectangle in half lining up the cast on edge and the bind off edge.

Seam up the sides of the ribbing.

Pick up and knit 56 stitches around armhole.  Work 2 inches of 2×2 ribbing in the round. Bind off in pattern.

Repeat with second sleeve.

*new  sizing info*  Someone asked me how to modify this for a girl’s size 6 and I thought I should post it here as well.   I would make the rectangle 20 inches wide instead of 24 inches (at the same gauge, I’d cast on 122 sts and decrease to 84 sts for the knotted openwork section. Work the knotted openwork until it measures the same as your daughter’s upper arm circumference (probably about 8”) and then increase back to 122 sts. Seam, and pick up 48 stitches for the sleeves)

I haven’t knit that size, but that’s what my math says 🙂  I’d love to hear how it works.

18″ doll size:

The basic construction/gauge is the same as the child size.

CO 42 sts

Work 10 rows of 2×2 ribbing, beginning and ending with k2

Switch to size 9 needles
k1, *k2tog, k1, k2tog, k2  repeat from * to last 6 stitches (k2tog, k1)twice (30 sts)

Work 4.5 inches of knotted openwork

Switch to size 4 needles
k1, *kfb, k1, kfb, k2 repeat from * to last 4 sts, (kfb, k1) twice (42 sts)

The next row is a WS row, (p2, k2) to end, last 2 sts are p2
work 8 more rows of 2×2 rib

Bind off in pattern.

Fold in half (lining up cast on and bind off edges) and seam up the sides of the ribbing.

Pick up and knit 24 stitches around armhole.  work 10 rounds of 2×2 ribbing. Bind off in pattern.  Repeat with other sleeve.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2010. Tags: , , . Knitting, patterns. 11 comments.

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