Every year my daughter gets another wonderful idea for a Halloween costume. It is always something joyful and unique and special. And for some inexplicable reason, each year it gets harder to make.
It all began years ago. The kids were young and the combination of internal costs and external factors reduced out cash flow to a point that The Hub and I were on a very minimal budget for anything. My daughter was in girl scouts at the time and she was absolutely elated at the prospect of attending an upcoming father-daughter dance. (Hub aside: The Father-Daughter dance that year is one of my fondest memories. We danced almost every dance and she had Two! root beer floats.) There was only one problem: she grew like a weed in those days and she did not have a dance-worthy dress that fit anymore.
And so I dug deep in myself to overcome my childhood dislike for sewing and my general conviction that the sewing machine and I were destined to be lifelong mortal enemies. I read every book I could about sewing and scoured the internet for resources and talked to friends…and my mother-in-law…and my sister-in-law…and my other sister-in-law. After all of that I had exhausted all possible means of procrastination and so I took one of my daughter’s play dresses and some large sheets of paper and drew up a pattern. It was not the best dress – in fact it started to come apart after the third washing. But miraculously I did made my daughter a dress and off she went to the father-daughter dance happier than I think I had ever seen her.
This set off a wonderful tradition that I now share with my daughter: we sew together. Well, actually I sew and she hangs out with me, and chats, and enertains me, and provides her services as a model along the way to make sure everything I am sewing will fit. It is one of the things we both love the most about when The Hub takes my son off for camping trips or boy scout events or other manly pursuits. We wait until the car pulls out of site, and then my daughter and I break out the sewing machine, fabric, popcorn, and tea. And then we sew.
Back to Halloween. Each year the dress my daughter dreams up gets more and more complicated. The downside is I am always on the verge of not being able to pull off the costume for her, but the upside is that my sewing skill have gotten much better. We have made a spider queen with a webbed veil, Misery (from the Ruby Gloom cartoon), and this year she wants to be Alice in Wonderland. Here is the kicker. She wants to look like the Alice in the Disney cartoon. The dress has to look just like it. She want the apron to be the same. And she wants a petticoat to go underneath. Well. I can now easily sew her a dress, but a fitted dress for a teen is more daunting than the straight A-line dress you make for young girls. And then there is the concept of circle skirt bottom and poof sleeves…. I honestly am not quite certain I will get the sleeves right. So after 5 hours on Sunday I ended up with the dress mostly done. Those poof sleeves still illude me, however. And the peter pan collar is TBD. But what they heck, I still have a couple of weekends till Halloween…
I sew by trying to visualize the end result and the steps in between before I start. It is the same way that I paint or draw or even bake. Before I get to that point, it is almost like magic has to happen. I know that the magic part is not really true, but that is what it feels like. My desire to help someone I love drives me through the uncertainty and doubt. The point is that somehow, some way, and with a bit of prayer, I am able to supply my kids with what they need.
And this year it was Alice.