I love Hallowen. Like, love LOVE. Maybe it was the fact that I grew up without Halloween. Yes, we have a celebration where we wear costumes. It is Carnival, and where I come from, it is the biggest celebration in all the land. But I hate Carnival. The idea of wearing a costume to go dance to samba in 100-degree weather surrounded by thousands of people getting drunk is less than appealing to me.
But Halloween? It is all the things I love and more. I get to decorate with all the spooky stuff, wear a costume, and go to a club playing the music I like—all in weather that should be nice and cool. If Heaven exists, it is Halloween night at a goth club.
If Halloween is my favorite holiday, making costumes is my favorite sewing activity. I get to work with fabrics and materials I cannot wear everyday, creating garments that often push me to try new techniques and shapes. Full disclosure: I have a healthy budget and a good amount of free time that allow me to be more extravagant as I spend hours in my sewing space trying and failing and trying again.
But not all costumes require such investment. Some of my best (and most recognizable!) work was done with one pattern, a couple yards of fabric, and a few hours. If you are a beginner sewist who wants to make your own costume, or if you just need something quick for a fast approaching Halloween party, let me help you with a few suggestions that you can easily source and sew before your night out.
My go-to pattern here is the Megan Dress by Tilly and the Buttons. This pattern is only available in her first book Love at First Stitch. Fair Warning! I like the shape of this dress and how quickly it comes together, but I had to make a few adjustments so that it fit properly. Since Halloween costumes don’t have to fit perfectly, you can look at this as sewing a wearable muslin (a mockup of the pattern that helps you figure out fit issues).
If you don’t want to buy a whole book, the Cora Dress by Fabrics Store is a FREE download that will work perfectly for this project.
All the costumes below include a collar. These tutorials below can help you create one.
Some of these costumes require cuffs. This tutorial is for short sleeves, but the process is the same.
Wednesday Adams, Adams Family
The most memorable and recognizable of the list, Wednesday is most remembered by the long-sleeved black dress with white pointy collar (dagger? Pilgrim? I really don’t know the correct term for it).
When I sewed my Wednesday costume, I chose a black cotton sateen from Joann. I lengthened the sleeves and added white cuffs. For the collar, I used a large scrap of white quilting cotton.
The beauty of this costume is that it does not require much more than the dress. Braid your hair in the characteristic Wednesday fashion, black tights or white socks, and black shoes. You are ready!
Suzy Bishop, Moonrise Kingdom
Costumes that are only understood or recognizable by one person are my specialty. But oh, how that one person counts! You are both members of a very exclusive club—the superniche cult characters. Suzy from Moonrise Kingdom is one of those. If you are a Wes Anderson fan, this is your choice.
This is Suzy’s pink dress that you will be sewing. Some pink quilting cotton will do the job. With some white cotton, create a white collar using the Peter Pan tutorial, but replace the rounded corners for pointy ones and the cuffs. White frilly knee-high socks, white shoes, and a pair of binoculars complete the look, but you are welcome to add one or all of the following: a wicker basket, a raspberry beret, and an old-fashioned yellow suitcase. Leave the kitten home, though.
New Cults on the Block
Eleven (1st season), Stranger Things
There is no Eleven like 1st season El. Everything was better in season 1. This was my most favorite work costume, one that everyone immediately recognized and a 2nd place winner in the costume contest during lunch.
For the dress, I bought some white cotton sateen (also from Joann) and dyed it pink since this fabric only comes in black and white. I found the puffy jacket and white sneakers at a popular department store. I looked everywhere for the socks but could not find an exact match, so I simply found a similar pair and folded the top to bring the green and yellow stripes together. I got the blonde wig from Amazon.This costume is nothing without a box of Eggos. I ate the waffles; they were delicious.
This is a costume I have been eyeing for some time and finally committed to this year. Esther is one scary human. Unlike her school mates, I love every one of her outfits. The black coat that she wears when pushing a bully down a slide? Divine!
I am sewing the blue plaid dress from the movie poster. I found a close match to the blue and white plaid in a cotton fabric sold on Amazon. I don’t care for the gathers in the original dress, so I am sticking to the darts in the original Megan dress.
The ribbon around her neck and wrists is essential to the character. I’m going with red ribbon over some lace. Since I am planning on lots of dancing, I’ll pair my Docs with some frilly socks. I’m gonna perform some magic to get my long hair into mid-length pigtails and put my best psycho face forward.
How unbelievably appropriate that the Megan would be used for a M3GAN costume? Since adding a collar to the dress pattern might take too much skill and time, I’d settle for a detachable one—the t-shirt and the bow will hide any costume sins. If you feel like tackling another challenge, the Plantain pattern will work really well for the striped tee (and it’s FREE!).
To sew the dress, the best option is a beige cotton fabric. Finding buttons that match the fabric might be a bit challenging. If you can find shank buttons, you can just omit them—the bow can be exaggerated to cover the bodice. If I ever make this costume, I will definitely avoid tights. I won’t ever wear them, not even for the sake of a costume.
Even though I listed quilting cotton as the fabric for all costumes (because it is usually cheaper and found at any fabric store), you can sew this dress with a stable knit like ponte. It will be more expensive—and probably warmer—but it might work better if you plan on wearing it later as an everyday garment.
So… Which One?
Whichever costume you choose, just remember: This is a time when fun is more important than finish. As long as your costume stays put for a night, you’ll be fine. Sew your costume, embrace your character, and have a ball.