Halloween Sewing: Lisa’s Past and Current Costumes plus What’s NOT a Costume

Makeup Tutorial for hubby’s Maleficent costume:

The only candy corn we recognize is Brach’s.

You can also try making your own with this recipe! https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/candy-corn-recipe2-2120004

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Lisa: (00:14)
Hello stitchers . welcome to stitch please the official podcast of black women's stitch, the sewing group where black lives matter. I'm your host Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax and get ready to get your stitch together.

Speaker 2: (00:43)

Lisa: (00:55)
hello stitchers welcome back. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of stitch please. The black women's stitch podcast today. We are about eight days away from Halloween. Halloween I think is always a pretty busy time for sewing. Uh, at least here in the U S I recall very vividly working at a Joann fabrics doing Halloween time and um, seeing folks who had never sewn anything ever come in with lots of fabric and really elaborate patterns and I'm wishing them best of luck in completing that Vogue pattern that you've never sold anything before in three days with really challenging fabrics. So I think this is a chance where people are willing to branch out and experiment and try something new. And so that's good for the sewing community. It's good for sewing in a lot of ways for people to try it. But it's also not good for long because people then realize that it's harder than you think and then you get frustrated and then people don't want to spend that much anymore. Or you put forth your best effort, um, to do some sewing for a costume in ways that you might not do for your regular apparel. So this is why I think, um, challenges or incentives like me made may is really useful because it allows us to think about sewing for everyday use instead of just for special occasions, like a wedding for example, or um, for many other people for Halloween. So I just wanted to talk a little bit about some of the favorite Halloween costumes that I've made over the years. Um, my own background with some Halloween costumes and to spend a little time doing that. And yeah, so I'll be back.

Halloween is a great time for experimentation with your sewing. Some of my favorite makes have been representations of things that I love. As well an opportunity for my children to connect to my sewing. So one of my first costumes that I made for my youngest when he was about was about two was a candy corn . Now I love candy corn and the one who knows me knows I love candy corn. This is quite controversial. There's a lot of candy corn hate out there in the world ,unfortunately. And I represent for candy corn, big time, because it's delicious, I've always liked it even though some people, also known as haters that do not like candy corn. So for my little one was about two and they came a candy corn costume and I didn't want the white tip, um, that they had, which is my favorite kind of candy corn. It's the white, orange and yellow bottom. So instead I made him a Brown little face, because he has a brown little face and then the middle was orange and the bottom was yellow. I have a picture of this on the, on the cover of this episode and I really enjoyed that costume very much. I thought he was so cute. And one of the great things about sewing for little kids is that they really don't care that much what their costume is. They have no investment. All they are is content to be given loads of free candy. And even at that small age, you know, he wasn't that concerned about, you know, achieving candy or--achieving candy for goodness sake, it's not an achievement-- collecting candy. And I think he even forgot that he had gotten candy. I think he was just, you know, happy to be out. And, um, the university where I work has this beautiful tradition of um, opening up the central grounds to the community.

Lisa: (04:32)
And it's all these children that come through hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and they go through the, um, original part of campus and go from room to room to room. And so my oldest boy, of course, he was delighted because you can really get a lot of candy in a very small time, in a very small space, but the little guy was just so content just to be wandering around and looking at things and seeing things. And so the photo of the candy corn costume is one of the cover images for this episode. Another great costume that I did was for my oldest when he was about eight. He wanted to be a nuclear waste disposal officer. I don't know where he came up with this idea, but um, I made it and it was this lime green body suit with this, um, very square helmet type thing that clasped underneath the chin.

Lisa: (05:25)
And some of the things that we use a lot in sewing, um, that we might not use very often, but I use a lot in costuming is Velcro. Velcro will save you. Um, they even make an iron on Velcro for those who aren't really adept at sewing closures. And so that, I think, I'm sure I used the iron on closure for that, um, for that, that helmet. And so he also, he was really excited about it and it also came with, I got him a grabber, which is something that people use if you have limited mobility and you can't bend or reach that you can use this grabber to kind of pinch and get things. I think he must have, I might've bought the grabber at a yard sale or something for some reason and I think his whole costume idea started with the idea of the grabber, what could I grab?

Lisa: (06:12)
And then that's when nuclear waste came up and he wanted nuclear waste engineer written on the back of his uniform, which I think I did somehow. Um, I didn't think I even, I don't think I might not have, I might not have had an embroidery machine at that time, but somehow I got it on there. But that was a costume that he absolutely loved. Another one that's been a favorite is, um, this fish and it's actually simply, it's a simplicity project, a simplicity pattern, but it's also a cat bed. I've seen this costume. Um, if you, so the bottom shut and you don't put the shoulder, um, cutouts on it, it's a cat bed and it looks like a fish. And then if you add the shoulder, um, elements that basically you take the whole thing sits on the shoulders of the child and straps underneath their shoulders.

Lisa: (07:04)
So it's like they're wearing a sandwich board, but instead of covering their body, it just covers their, um, their torso. Well, the shoulders and head, the torso was out. And so that was a costume that I made and I still have both of those. And that's one of those great costumes that you can easily pass along. Um, but it was funny that I saw that there was a simplicity version of this as a costume and then a few pages later it was a cat bed. Um, so I had made the costume version and that worked out really well. So those are three, uh, children's costumes that I've made and some of the things that help to make it work was um, working with foam, um, a lightweight foam, maybe like maybe a half an inch and using and sandwich. I didn't stitch through the foam though I could have just would have been a bit of a struggle to get that half inch foam underneath the presser foot of the machine. Instead, I did it like a pillow case almost where I made the outside and then just shove the foam inside and it gave the costume body as without having to stitch through it. And that was um, a good way to give it a shape, especially for the candy corn and the fish where it was able to stand up pretty well, stand up pretty easily. And had a lot of dimension to it.

Lisa: (08:25)
A more recent costume that I did, I believe it was a couple of years ago, was um, for my husband. My husband loves Halloween. He loves Halloween more than Christmas. Um, it's like his favorite holiday, he loves to dress up. And I remember one year making him a Snape costume and this doggone costume with the..between the... The jacket, I think it might've been a Vogue jacket, ended up having like 16 buttons or something. Like it had like nine buttons down the are 12 buttons down the front. And then each sleeve had four buttons. And my goodness, it was really quite the, it was quite the commitment of effort on my part. Um, and then the Cape talk about the whole nine yards, you know, the "whole nine yards" comes from, um, the nine yards that of fabric that was required to make a men's suit. I think that the Cape for that was six yards.

Lisa: (09:21)
And so it was, it was immense. And so I think what I've done in the past is take these key pieces and repurpose them. So his most recent costume from last year. And I think that this is also something I've put as a cover of the episode in the show notes. So if you download the episode on iTunes, I believe you'll see these images, the images of the candy corn I just described as well as the image of, um, my husband and his Maleficent costume. So this was a moleskin costume. This was the, um, the cartoon Maleficent, um, from Disney where Maleficient is not Angelina Jolie. Melissa is a drawing and she's got a green face and she's got these horns and the horns are actually my youngest son's. We were on a trip to Disney and my sister was kind enough to get the kids like hats of their favorite characters.

Lisa: (10:17)
And she asked Ryan, my youngest, what his favorite character was. And at the time it was Maleficent. So he wore these really cool Maleficent horns the entire time we were there. Of course it's Florida, it's about 50 - 11 million degrees. And he rocked those horns the whole time. And so, you know, he has since outgrown them, but my husband has not. And so if you look at the Maleficent costume, you'll see that he is wearing those horns. One of the most dramatic things about this Maleficent costume that I like is the collar, the collar from Maleficient Um cape really stands up really high. And that's another example of using the foam to help it to stand up and to be lightweight. I have noticed some, um, costuming or slash cosplay material. Maybe it's called Eva. I'm not sure. I don't know anything about it at all except that it's meant for costuming.

Lisa: (11:15)
You can use it to make shields, you can use it to make helmets, um, weapons, um, vests and other hard structures. And I believe you transform it using a heat gun. And I imagine that you could do a collar as well with this. But at the time all I knew was about foam and that's what I used and I think it looks really good. Um, and my husband did a lot of research and he found a YouTuber who had done some amazing makeup tutorial to do the Maleficient costume. And so that's what he used to do. His own makeup for the Maleficent. So if I can find that YouTube or in the show notes, if I can find that YouTuber I'll put her link, the link to her video, the video that he used for his makeup in the show notes because he did a really good job and followed her instructions to a T and she ended up seeing it. I think I tagged her in some Instagram posts from a couple of years ago and she was like, "good job." But he was very proud that um, she recognized, um, his work as being, um, in line with what she had envisioned when she created the tutorial. So those are some of the recent costumes that I've done. Um, I want to take a little break and when we come back we'll talk about what I'm sewing this year for Halloween

Lisa: (12:46)
stitch please. The black women's stitch podcast talks a lot about sewing, but if you'd like to see some of what we're discussing, we invite you to follow us on the socials on Facebook. You can find us at stitch please. And on Instagram you can find us at black womens stitch on Instagram. You'll find a lot of great pictures and compelling social commentary. In addition, you can participate in a weekly live Instagram chat at 3:00 PM on Thursdays at Eastern standard time. So follow us on the socials, Facebook, it's stitch please on Instagram at black women's stitch and get your stitch together.

Lisa: (13:31)
So we talked about recent sewing that I've done for Halloween. Now let's talk about what I'm working on right now and I have to confess that as I'm recording this, I have not made as much progress as I should have made. I, uh, just got back from an amazing black women stitch stitch please fall sewing retreat. And you could think you would think that I might have sewn some of these Halloween costumes during that retreat, but you would be wrong because what I sewed was a bra that fits--hallelu! I sewed a Zadie jumpsuit that I learned to tie properly cause I had been tying mine wrong all these many months that I've made the jumpsuit and made this gorgeous, um, simplicity dress that I was able to get some really good support on how to get the bodice and the skirt to fit even though I'm two different sizes in the bodice and the skirt. I made.

Lisa: (14:29)
Um, I did some repairs. I did, Oh, I did em, I did every type of sewing y'all, but these costumes. So, uh, really anything I sewed anything and everything but these costumes for my beloved family. So beloved family. If you are listening to this podcast and I hope you are, um, just know that today after I take my child to his hair appointment, I will be getting right on these costumes that I'm going to tell you about right now. So my kids have aged out, um, of, of costume sewing, of me sewing costumes for them. My youngest is at a phase where this is, you know, it's above me now. Um, he might deign to pass out some candy, but, um, he might just watch TV and play video games and not be bothered. Um, my oldest is at college and I think that they are, he does dress up, but he's, you know, created his own costume.

Lisa: (15:30)
It's really cute actually. He's going to be a loan shark where he got this gigantic shark's head from um, Walmart, I think some big costs, some big store. And then he wears his interview suit and a briefcase. And that's what, and that's his loan shark costume. And then he sets up to do loans and for people. But the loans are like candy. It's really cute. I thought it was really very inventive. So my kids have aged out, but my husband has not aged out and my nephews and nieces have not aged out. So on my agenda for costumes, one is done. Yes. Because I made it like four years ago and this is his fantastic lie in costume. So one of my twin nieces has her lion costume ready. The other niece wants to be a seal, a seal. She's very into seals. And so my husband and I had a very protracted discussion about what color a seal was.

Lisa: (16:25)
I thought a seal was gray. He thought a seal was Brown. I was like, no way, that's gonna look like a Manatee. I mean we just went back and forth anything, I guess for me to just drag my feet on this. And so I am going to get gray. We finally came to gray as what a seal was obviously. And then, um, I have a jumpsuit for her that I'm going to make out of the gray. I'm going to add a seal tail. I'm also gonna add fins to cover her hands, but not too much because she's little and she needs to balance and suddenly she needs to carry her candy buckets. So the biggest challenge I'm thinking of now is how to shape the, how to shape the, the, the hood, um, to change it so that it looks more like a seal's face.

Lisa: (17:14)
And that's gonna mean, just doing a little bit of stuffing at the top, adding eyes on either side, adding whiskers. The whiskers I think will definitely make it seem more like a seal. Um, and so that's my, that's a, that's, that's a challenge with that main thing if you're, my husband is very good at costuming. So, um, I think he could also do some sketches that I could use to, um, to, to do the, the stuffing and execute that. I'm excited about that. And then my oldest nephew, um, is going to be Megan Rapinoe, which I thought was really great. You know, we love her. She's just such a bad ass. And, um, and so we have a jersey that I need to decorate and I'm going to decorate the, the women's soccer jersey with her name and number on it and we've got this patch and stuff like that.

Lisa: (18:03)
So that's that, that, that's something that I know I haven't imminent. I think that by the time this episode airs, I would have finished this and mailed it because he has, you know, he has costume commitments. Y'all, he's got a parade at school. He's got all kinds of stuff. And they also, um, I mean in New York city and something I'm going to mention for next week because next week's episode is with Ayesha Depay talking about cosplay and she likes to march in the West in the village parade, which I guess is a very big Halloween costume parade. Um, and so she's going to be marching in that and who knows, maybe you know, my family be want, we'll be marching in that too. Who knows. But, um, I just thought that was really a great community event in the city and so, um, Ayesha's going to be doing that and she's going to talk more about that next week.

Lisa: (18:50)
But um, you know, I want them to have all their stuff ready. I haven't heard anything from my other nephew about what he might want. Um, and so my sister hasn't mentioned anything, but this is what I'm looking at right now is um, working on a seal and working on a bit of a uniform for my nephew's Um, Megan Rapinoe costume. So I'm excited about that. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. My husband is dressing up as Emperors Zurg from Toy Story. And so again, thank goodness I get to use that Cape again. I'm telling you that Snape cape that was also a Maleficent cape, um, has really come in handy and I think I might use the same Maleficent cape with the super high collar that's already structured on there as um, to help get the balance. And then I'm making Zerg um, a purple gown and Joanne's has this new fabric called like new super plush or something like that.

Lisa: (19:49)
Anyway, I bought a whole bolt of that fabric and part of it is from my husband's costume and part of it is for me to make some lounge wear for myself because it's so wonderful y'all. It just feels good on both sides. I've already washed it and dried it. It washes up well. So I'm looking forward to having, you know how you'd like to have a cozy outfit, which I also call "secret pajamas" because you could wear it out in public and you look kind of fly, but you could also just sit around the house in it. I mean, so I'm looking forward to making an Emperor Zurg gown slash some secret pajamas for myself and make myself some lounge wear. Um, and so those are the, those are the things that I have coming up on my sewing horizon. Currently I have...I just need to go buy the fleece today and, um, to review my patterns.

Lisa: (20:42)
I don't want to have it for my niece to have the feet be covered in the costume because again, I think that's a tripping hazard. So these are the things I'm thinking about. Once I get it in my head and start to cut it, it's not going to take me long to finish it. So no worries. I will have it done, I promise. Um, but yeah, so that, I'm pretty excited about that. So those are the things I'm looking forward to sewing and crafting and I get to kind of bring in my silhouette cameo, which I always enjoy, um, for costuming just because it provides some really interesting details, really nice details. Um, and you know, if you do a good job of it, which I try to do is something that can last for more than one year. And, um, so that's pretty exciting for me.

Lisa: (21:25)
I want to close this episode on Halloween. Sewing with the reminder of what is not a costume. Cultures are not costume. A culture is not a costume. Um, I think that while we have an opportunity to indulge our imagination and to, you know, make really fun things for our friends, family, ourselves, our clients, um, I just want to reiterate something that everybody must already know. I always think people know this and it just messing with me when they say that they don't, is that a culture is not a costume. Um, this is not the time for blackface, for brownface, for yellow face for, because that time is never, there is never a good time for that. Not ever. Um, and one of my most harrowing experiences. And one of the reasons that I ended up creating a black women stitch as a project as well as black women's stitches, a sewing retreat was because I was at an event, a sewing event with white women and one other black woman other than myself.

Lisa: (22:28)
And there was this huge elaborate yellowface minstrelsy scenario that played out. It was horrific. Um, it was meant to be, uh, in dedication to Asian fabrics. You know, if you're in the quilting world, you know that Asian fabrics are very popular in the U S their local Asian fabric clubs and these kinds of things and different groups. And so as, I think it's one thing to celebrate Asian fabrics, although Asia is not a country, um, but there's one thing to celebrate Asian fabrics, quote unquote. And it's another thing to dress up and to use, not just cultural appropriation, um, such as wearing a kimono and not recognizing that a kimono is, um, indigenous to a culture for a particular, a specific reason, reasons. Um, it's another thing to then, um, indulge in racist stereotypes while doing this. And that was one of the experiences that happened to me a couple of years ago.

Lisa: (23:36)
And it was so just shocking. Yet while I was so shocked because as these women were indulging in these racist stereotypes, everybody else besides me and that other black woman, they were all laughing and I was so, I was so stunned. I was so hurt. I ended up going to the organizer after her and just telling her straight up, "this is racist, this is harmful, this is not okay." And it was really frustrating to have to explain that to someone. There's these people who are close to my mother's age, these are whole ass adults. Um, and yet they were trying to maintain this sense of innocence. Like they didn't know any better. And I mean, I can hardly explain the scene to you, but just suffice it to say, it involved a kimono. It involved, um, what some people call a quote unquote a coolie hat, which is a pointed straw hat that they had attached a ponytail to the back of these are horrendously offensive, racist terms and stereotypes.

Lisa: (24:46)
And then they were talking in this, would they, what I perceived that they perceived was this quote unquote Asian accent. It was horrible. It was just horrible. So not only was that horrible and just a violation, it felt to me like, and I was so shocked and stunned and hurt. It was also worst. I think the worst part of it was that they also perceived themselves to be innocent. "We didn't know. We didn't tell, I didn't, why do we have to be so politically correct,: et cetera, et cetera. That was the last time that I was able to spend time with that group. That was the last time I was able to go to their events. That was the, that was it for me. That was absolutely it for me. And this idea of doing harm and maintaining one's innocence at the same time just felt so pernicious to me.

Lisa: (25:44)
And it just wasn't illustration of that these spaces are not safe. And that sewing means so much to me and it gives me so much solace and it gives me so much, um, good vibes and good energy that I did not want to risk jeopardizing that for having to put up with or be exposed to this kind of casual harm, which is exactly what that was. So I just want to remind everybody and not everybody needs reminding. Again, this is black women's ditch. Um, we center the voices of black women girls and femmes here. Um, so not everybody needs this reminder, but for those of you all who might, um, that a culture is not a costume and that you can have a great time on Halloween and you can do that without employing racist stereotypes. So I wish everybody the best and come back next time.

Lisa: (26:36)
Talk soon. Thank you for joining us for today's episode of stitch please the black women's stitch podcast. Let's continue the conversation. Come find us on the socials. We're at black women's stitch on Instagram where we have a very active page and you can also find us on stitch please on Facebook. We also would love to hear from you, so feel free to email us at blackwomenstitch@gmail.com there are three big ways you can support this project and one of them you're doing already by listening to the podcast, you're really helping us, so thank you for doing that. In addition, if you rate review, subscribe and share the podcast with other folks, that helps the podcast to grow and it also gives the algorithm that manage podcast information that will also help our podcast thrive. The third way to help the podcast is for those of you all who happen to have a little extra change, burning a hole in your pocket and if you don't have any plans to use it to buy your 20th or in my case 378th big four pattern, that's how many I have in my top pattern drawer about 378 patterns.

Lisa: (27:45)
You could take that money that you would spend at the pattern sale and give it to us. We are accepting donations at our Patreon site where you can donate as little as $2 a month or you can buy us a coffee at KOFI and small donations are greatly accepted and appreciated. So thank you for considering that. If you'd like a transcript of that episode, you can find that at stitchpleasepodcast.com and we also ask that you check the show notes where we have lots of additional information and supplemental information for what we discussed in the podcast. You can find affiliate links there for the products that we like. You can find web links to the black women that we've been talking about here on the show to elevate and center their work and you can also find the info we've mentioned about donations as well as our email link. All of that is available at stitchpleasepodcast.com thanks again for joining us today. We look forward to seeing you next time. Come back and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Speaker 3: (28:51)

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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