haunt couture

Detailfamilytmp If I were the type of mother who had time to devote to optional domestics I’d visit an art supply store–where they’d all naturally know me by name. And that name, of course, would be Doris, Flora, or Judy. I’d know precisely how many yards of fabric I’d need. At the checkout counter, I’d buy a butterscotch but wouldn’t eat it until I was in my car.

Once home, with my beige shoes placed on an indoor mat, I would unfold, mark things with chalk, whip out the scissors, and sit at my Singer, sewing Halloween costumes while singing Christmas songs.

I’d, by now, have completed their baby quilts: patches of their baby clothes stitched together in squares and triangles, resembling something like a star or a wheel, a game of tic tac toe, or a chicken dance. For some reason, when I see quilts I think of yamakas and the stained glass collage at Temple Emmanuel, where I spent my childhood Sundays.

As per the pagan costumes, we’d dress up (well, dress down actually) as a family of S’mores, with Phil dressed like a box of Honey Maid Graham Crackers, lest I be considered any type of maid, French or otherwise; I’d be a large white marshmallow, and our kids we’d dress as chocolate bars or chocolate Kisses. We’d attend a Halloween party and win for creativity, but who has the time and patience to create something KNOWING in advance that it’ll last just one season? You know, aside from reality show clothing designers.

Oh, how I wish I knew of some talented, yet terribly bored, seamstresses who’d like to sew all Halloween costumes for us here on out. Alternatively, I will be wearing a t-shirt reading: (Semi) Sweet. Phil will wear (only because I’ll force him) a t-shirt reading: (Bitter) Sweet. And easy way out, the toddler-taters will be Hershey’s Kisses. How sweet. Sickeningly sweet. Almost as bad as the time I dressed them as pumpkins and forced them into a pumpkin patch.

I know it’s way too early to even be thinking of such things, but I can’t quite help myself these days. It seems whenever it’s time for me to sit down and work, thoughts like these ransack my overtaxed brain. So, I end up reorganizing my internet bookmarks, and find, to my surprise, a site that reminds me it’s time to think of decorating our windows and lives in preparation for All Hallow’s Eve. Those who sew must be starting on their costumes by now, no? I can’t imagine ever being that mom. Unless, that is, someone teaches me how easy it is to sew. How easy it is to thread a needle without having to search for that thinger–whatever it’s called, that metal dingy that looks like an ace or a frog in heat. I’ll bet it has no real name. That it’s called "a needle threader." I’m tired just thinking about it. Guess it’s time to go eat candy and add some pep and glee to my victorious* life.

*"Shake up a cocktail. Add a little pep and glee, and we’ve got a victory!"–camp cheer song
Who needs a costume when you’re such a nut naturally?



  1. I'll never be that mom, either. I miss homemade costumes, which is what I wore every Halloween when I was a young 'un. Some of them I wore more than once, they were so great. But my boys are allll about the purchased plastic and polyester costumes. It's just as well – I wouldn't have the slightest clue how to make a SpongeBob costume.

  2. I think the women in paragraph one sounds more neurotic than a loving housewife with free time. Such restraint to wait to eat the candy until safely in the car. Lifes too short, so in the shameless words of Louie CK I would say to that lady "If you want the donut, just eat the donut…" we should all know that joke ends with dead hookers.

  3. You got those t-shirts at the Ferry Building, didn't you? At the chocolate store, near Golden Gate Meat Co., right?

    FROM STEPHANIE: Yes! Phil bought the (semi) sweet one for me. And once I saw it, and the other options, I insisted we get him one for Halloween. He refused. So now I'll have to order him one. That or paint a cardboard box to look like the graham cracker box… because really, how can you in good conscience dress your child like a cracker?

  4. so as it turns out I'm not alone….I started thinking about my Halloween costume about 2 weeks ago (I'm 22). I wanted it to be something witty and clever so that my bf and I could turn head and people would say things like "Aww you guys looks great together" or "oh that was a great idea!"

    but alas, he doesn't want to date anymore. did i subconsciously sense us growing apart and is that why i was trying to find something that would glue us together?

    that website looks amazing…I will definitely look around on there seeing as to right now I have nothing to do…absolutely nothing.


  5. Stephanie,

    I'm embarassed to say that I have already decorated for halloween. I think I'm in love with Pumpkin Man…So for your mind to be racing about dressing your children for halloween, you're normal in my eyes.

  6. My helper at Michaels's is a fabulous gay guy named Rob. He is the craftist coolest man. I want to adopt him…I am not kidding. I only shop when I know he is working, he gave me the hardcore smirk, when I sported my Pillowcase purse like it was a Birkin Bag. He called me the day the Martha Stewart line of Halloween goods came in last year. I love him, I bring him Starbucks and Christmas presents. He is my Crafty Queer Eye. He went from clerk to floral, to teaching classes and now he is manager. I follow his career closer then my Man. Yes I have issues. Besides Culinary and Wine pursuits, there is nothing that makes me happier then decorating for the holidays. Life has been a major Bitch the past year, yet the cat cutout in the window, the mum in the pumkin,and the ornate pumpkin masterpieces that I hav learned from Rob showing me how to trace it on, fills me with such a happy quiet peace that I am normally afraid to admit it. I am hardcore business woman, but nothing except my child fills me with the delight and sheer glee of being crafty. Stitchin and bitchin, homemade ornaments, outrageous floral crazyness. Cheers to all the Robs and all the girls who just want to be sexy crafty things. Wink.

  7. When we were kids (I'm 40 now) my mother made all our costumes. GREAT costumes too. And my father, being very artistic, was always in on it.

    But one of the best costumes was one made by my Aunt, for my cousin (who was a boy) but I, as a girl, was also able to wear it – but years later than he did. He was little when she made it, 5 or 6, but I wore it when I was a teenager.

    It was a lion. To make the mane, she used one of those old lady hair nets (the triangle ones) that you put over your hair when you set it in curlers. She then took several different color yarns and hooked them through each of the holes in the netting (like you make a hook rug). The result was this thick, huge, triangle shaped mane. All you have to do was tie it on your head like a scarf, add a turtleneck, tights and a tail, and you were set. BEST costume of my youth.

    In my adult years, I made the best Carmen Miranda costume anyone had ever seen. From scratch, no pattern. I even had a had that my brother helped me make – wire lath, covered in fabric with plastic fruit screwed on. It was awesome. Email me if you're interested in seeing the pictures! BEST costume of my adult years.

    Anyway….no matter what you do for your children, whether you make the costumes or buy them, it'll be great!!

    FROM STEPHANIE: I really thought you were going to say she made him a great costume. "He was a lion, a witch, and a wardrobe all at once!" I can see it now… Lion mane up top, a black wet nose, whiskers painted on the face. A black smock with those pointy curled witch shoes. On the arms: tiny loops, through which a few lightweight hangers hang… the clothes of all the children the witch boiled. And for those too dim to get it, on the back of the black smock in pale green paint (or sewn on felt letters) would be "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe."

    Ideas are free here all day long, folks.

  8. I'm already thinking about Halloween too – because I'll be in Austin for a girls weekend! I can't wait, I've never been. I'm stalking your past blogs for places to visit and eat.

    We're trying to come up with costumes because we'll be staying right on Sixth St.

  9. I don't have the time or the talent to make homemade costumes. But I love watching my boys play dress up. It's great for the imagination. Every year on the day after Halloween I head to Target and buy up all the leftover costumes, masks, accessories, etc. at bargain basement prices. We have an armoir filled with pirate gear, power ranger suits, wizard capes, silly hats, wigs, and dresses for when the girls come to play or when the boys want to express their feminine side. It's all great fun and some of the store bought stuff is actually quite nice.

  10. My mom used to make our costumes, but she wasn't a SAHM, she was just really into Halloween, a trait I inherited. Six years ago, my husband and I made him a Spongebob costume (let's just say, it took a lot of foam). I mostly buy the base of mine and then supplement as needed.

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Halloween. I dress up the entire day, even when I'm teaching (I'm a college prof). It would make me so mad when I lived in Baton Rouge that hardly anyone ever dressed up. And those who did just dressed like sluts or were guys in drag. I'm hoping Milwaukee will be better about Halloween.

  11. candy, costumes, and scarey stories…oh my…one of my favorite times of the year…not to mention hay rides and pumpkin carving and seeds.

  12. There must be something in the air — my kids started talking about Halloween costumes this morning. Nine year old twins, they've decided to go as Spy v. Spy.

    I am SO ready for autumn.

  13. I just got my son's costume (online! Love the interwebs..) last week. It'll be his first Halloween and he'll be too young to trick or treat. I want to take pictures of him in his outfit and take him to a hayride and Halloween festival. I know there have to be some in Austin or even if we take a trip to a small town.
    I also decided I'll never make the mistake my mom did- wait until the last minute to get costumes and nothing left in the stores. More than once I remember all 5 of us going as 'ghosts': sheets thrown over our heads with the eyes cut out. Oh, and the eyes weren't necessarily aligned. That made things so fun! I once got to be a 'ghost' with race cars on the sheet. Poor mom, she never saw Halloween coming.

    I've always loved Halloween but now especially because it reminds me of my favorite season, fall. It's hot all year here, unfortunately. Holidays are pretty much the only way you can mark the passage of time when the leaves never change.

  14. When I was a kid (a bit older than yours though!) me and my brother took sewing lessons at a small local fabric store, and they had a class where you could make your own halloween costume. We still have the devil cape with horns that my brother made one time.

  15. To "The real Bee Shady"…that's too hilarious! I now want to cross stitch a framed sampler that says, "Stitchin and Bitchin". Ha! Maybe I could give it to my sis-in-law.

    Love Halloween and ALL things fall. It's my most favorite season and time of year. Hell no, I'm shopping for my costume now!

  16. What's wrong with the pumpkin patch pictures? I thought those were adorable last year when you first posted them and I still think so.
    By the way, if you were one of "those" moms with the perfect handmade costumes, you'd end up with children who resented the fact that they couldn't have a "cool" costume like their friends. Trust me. Been there, done that. I always wanted the costumes at Target, but my mom made ours. Looking back, I think they were adorable… but I remember thinking, "Why can't I just have a friggin cool costume like everyone else!??!?"

  17. I love Halloween! it's probably my favorite holiday. My chosen profession was a costume designer, however, I somehow ended up in the finance industry. My neices, nephew and a bunch of my friend's kids have had some of the best costumes from me. Belly dancer, snake charmer, mermaid, lobster, dracula, princess – I've done it all. My favorites that I've made for me have been Carmen Miranda & Cleopatra (white lame sheath dress – was fabulous!) The kids are now too old to dress up in costume but I'm always looking for someone else to sew for!

  18. I had a few homemade costumes as a child, and they were just as cool and just as not as any purchased costumes I had. Since I don't know how to sew I won't be making any for my future kids either. Although I'd love to learn how to sew! Then I could take in some of my favorite "fat" clothes!

  19. I'm not a Mom but I have made some great costumes for family and friends throughout the years; the more elaborate the better! I went way overboard most of the time but any excuse to use pearls, fringe, sequins, etc was all I needed. I love to sew and making clothes was always fun (I loved to change patterns around) but I always took it to the next level on Halloween and I know my neice & nephew always had the best costumes!

  20. i have to say, i'm a little frightened by the prospect of you dressing those babies up as chocolate bars. halloween, indeed. i mean, there won't be any blackface involved right? just asking . . .

  21. I was never "that" mom either, but I did get creative b/c finances demanded it when my sons where little. Once they were cowboys, one year a grease monkey and a handy man, probably my favorite and the easiest was when they were dalmations (the year 101 dalmations came out) white footed pj's that i painted black spots on with a marker, cheap little girl head bands with felt spotted ears hot glued to them, a felt spotted tail pinned to the back and black eye liner for their spots on their faces. they were too cute. God I miss my little boys! enjoy every holiday and seson with your beans it goes by much too quickly.

  22. Johanna,
    Here's what you should do…
    Find a black shirt that you feel sexy in. Get some velcro, white fleece and fabric glue.
    Cut out the magic 8 ball symbol with the white fleece and glue it onto the back of the black shirt. Put one side of the velcro on the front of the shirt.
    Print out and laminate cute "advice" or "fortune" strips and put the other half of the velcro on the back of the laminated strips. Put them in your back pocket.

    You can be the Magic 8 Ball..when someone wants their "advice", you give them a shake, pull out a strip with the word of wisdom and place in on the front of the shirt.

    Now you have an amazing, original costume that gets great attention at a party….All that's left is to decide where to go!

    I'm always up for a Halloween party if you're in the DC area :)


  23. ieishah…..i don't know how anyone else feels about your comment, but it was a little weird. blackface? really?
    either you don't know Stephanie at all….or you just didn't look at the picture of the hershey's kiss outfit.

  24. It's not seriously time to start thinking about Halloween costumes right now, is it??? Those Hershey kiss costumes are pretty cute though.

    Just started reading your blog a few weeks back, when my book club read "Moose" (which was a big hit). I enjoy your blog- especially the photography!

  25. No matter what you do they will be on the psychiatrist couch blaming you for SOMETHING. Then one day they grow up and you are the most amazing mother in their life.

    I was a horrid soccer mom!


  26. Thanks Joanna….great name! That sounds like an awesome outfit…very interactive.
    I'll just have to prevent people from wanting to paste the velcro "advice" onto my shirt themselves…..it'll be quite tempting I"m sure.

    Not in the DC area….but heck i'm bound to find some parties in NY right?

  27. I totally can understand dressing the twins as you like for Halloween… in a couple of years they will demand their own costumes and you'll be at their mercy. But, pretty please, don't make Phil dress up to your demands if he doesn't feel like it. He is a grown man, afterall. It sounds like you are really into Halloween so I say more power to you if this floats your boat. Not everyone is "in" to this stuff. Let him pick his own costume.

  28. Those pumpkin patch pictures are too stinkin' cute!
    I wish I could be that mom. I have aspirations of being that mom…especially since my son was born on Halloween!

  29. I was a hershey kiss for halloween one year. it wasn't anything fancy … a sliver trashbg stuffed with newspaper worn over silver tights … a little tinfoil cap with a white strip of paper that said "HERSHY'S KISS HERSHEY'S KISS". one of my favorite costumes. That ant the rubik's cube!

  30. I am relaxed….I'm just not a fan of people wanting to complicate things and wanting to make everything about race.

  31. Ah yes, so when you do all the crafty scrapbooky stuff you do, its artistic and highbrow, but other women doing other crafts have lower middle class names, bad shoes, and sad lives, with indoor shoe mats. Isn't it kind of crappy to set up an imaginary sad-sack of a mommy as your strawman and take potshots at her? Why not just say some women sew, and love it, and some take gorgeous photos, and love it, and celebrate people who try to make beautiful things, instead of swiping at those other, less cool women of your imagination? Whats the point?

  32. I am stealing your family costume idea. Since we live in different states, I can assume this is allowed :) right?

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