Perhaps your plans to go on an over the day trip with your mother has also been canceled due to an uprise of corona cases. That is very disappointing, especially the lack of kebab that you will not experience. But on the other hand, you can now join your friends for a small and very much safer corona wise social gathering. The only problem: it is in less than 24 hours and you have no costume. Fear not, I have had the exact same thing happening to me, and am therefore qualified to talk you through it.
Looking at fabric options and freaking out
For me, this step was all about pulling fabric out of my overstuffed drawers and walking around panicked. I realised that most of my fabrics are with and/or green, but I also had some blue.
Come up with a concept
The fabrics you have available will determine this, but for me with my nature-like fabrics the obvious choice was some kind of witch or fairy or other supernatural being. I did not have enough fabric to pull off some other full length clothed supernatural being, and I did not have enough time to do a pair of wings, so I chose the witch.
For my witch I went with a blue see through fabric with a white organic looking patter for my skirt, and since I didn’t want to flash everyone I used a dark blue cotton fabric for a lining. I then chose an off-white fabric with embroidered leaves to make a top out off.
Making a skirt pattern.
I already had a pattern for a great skirt, it’s a high low skirt with pointy endings and it is just one big piece of fabric so it is quick to make.
Originally I had planned to make a full on circle skirt, but I did not have enough patience to lay my fabric paper in such a way that I could draw a perfectly round shape, and thus it ended up pointy. You can of course make a round skirt instead, but then you will lose the high low effect. To make this type of skirt pattern, I recommend using the magic of the internet to find a circle skirt calculator. I used this one, it works in both centimeters and the American way of measuring.
Assembling a skirt
For this skirt I took the outer layer and my lining layer and laid them right to right, pinned around the entirety, except I left two openings at the back, and then I sewed around it with a simple straight stitch. After sewing, it is important to press the seams with a flat iron, even if it always feels really boring. Then I turned the skirt “inside out” so the right side of the fabric was seen.
Now I had an almost finished skirt that I could not finish, because I did not yet have a zipper.
How the fuck do I make a corsettop?
This step was started with a lot of watching of instructional videos, many of them on tik tok. Eventually I found a step for step tutorial by Nava Rose with a free pattern that could be printed out and used. Great I thought, except we still don’t have a new printer. I long for the days of innocence when I did not yet know what a luxury it is to have my own printer in my home. A time when I did not have to rely on my parents to print things out for me from work. A time when I could print everything I needed for my craft at once.
Anyway, I had to re-think. Since I was short of time, I wanted to have it as easy as possible and preferably not have to make a whole new pattern, because that takes time and skills that I mostly lack. Luckily I had a pattern for the top part of a dress that I made in school forever ago that would just need a little adjustment.
Everything is going so well
To make the top I took the old dress top pattern and traced it on some plain white cotton which was left over. I have rarely felt as satisfied as when I did this, because there was just enough fabric. Then I took my parts, assembled them at their side seams with a straight stitch, after that I manipulated the bodice so that it would look just like I wanted. If you use an already perfect pattern there is no need for this and your life will be easier.
After the bodice looked like I wanted, I traced it on to pattern paper so that I had a version of the correct pattern to trace out on my nice looking fabric. The assembly was as with the test object, straight stitched down the sides and don’t forget to press the seams flat.
Things are still going fine with the top
Since I already had a perfect replica of my bodice (aka the one I manipulated) I decided to use that as my lining. I did as I did with the skirt, took the two parts, placed them right side to right side, pinned and sewed around with a straight stitch. I left an opening of around 5 cm to turn it “inside out”. But firstly I pressed all of the seams. A great idea is to cut small notches at the curved part (on the outer part of the seam that is!) so that it will lay flat when turned.
Then I turned it. Another great tip is to use something pointed to poke the corners out so they look nice and sharp and not rounded. I used the legs on my giraffe ruler, but closed scissors or a pen also works.
Shopping and putting in a zipper
Now it was time for a shopping break, I needed to buy a zipper, some ribbon because I wanted to do a lace up back and some grommets to make the holes for my ribbon. The store had all of this.
I did not have time or energy to sew a hidden zipper, so I chose to buy more of a statement zipper with silver zipper teeth. This was also the first time I tried the skirt on, and there for the only time I had to make adjustments in the size. It was a bit too big for me in the waist, so I made an angled fold in on both sides so that it would fit me and then I put the zipper on there.
To sew in a zipper, the best thing is to use a zipper foot on your sewing machine, this allows you to get just right next to the teeth. You can also use a regular foot, you will just not get as close to the teeth. It is just like sewing regularly, you go down along the zipper, I used a straight stitch. It gets a little tricky when going past the pull thing, because it will often be in the way of the machine. Depending on the situation I either sew the side down in two parts, to the pull thing, then I stop, remove the fabric and change the place of the pull thing, then I return and sew the last part down. Or I simply lift the foot but leave the needle in, pull the puller upwards, let the foot down and continue sewing.
After sewing the zipper I closed the rest of the back side up by putting the fabric right sides together and sewing straight up. I fucked up the part where the edge meets the zipper, so I can not explain how to do it and still make it look good. If you can, please tell me.
And so I had finished a skirt fit for a witch.
Things goes really bad, really fast
Now it was time to finish the top, something I had very little time to do. No problem I thought, how hard can it be to add grommets? Turns out, really fucking hard. Firstly I could not do it at all, but then my father came to my aid and it turned out, that I was just not hitting the thing hard enough. Still, not even he managed to make all the grommets behave, so we tried other things. Like just cutting holes. In the end the straps on the top looked like shit and I was officially out of time.
Time for improvising
The skirt was still wearable, so I only had to find a fitting top out of all of the tops I own. In the end I chose a black shirt with lace details that I felt were witchy enough. I have a pair of tights patterned with flowers that works really well with my whole “modern flower witch” aesthetic. To finish the look, I put on every necklace that was kind of occult looking, somehow I lucked out and they were all of different length making for a cool layered effect. I also put on a lot of rings and some bracelets. Worth noting is that I put on all of this in the car because I had no time to do it at home.
For my hair I had slept with many braids the night before it was very fluffy. I did a half up half down ponytail. To disguise my hairband I cut out a long strand from the same fabric as my skirt and tied it in a bow around my ponytail. I had also brought some fake flowers that I bent into a flower crown. To finish off the look I put on my ghost earrings and my dark red/purple lipstick.
And that is how to do a last minute Halloween costume.
Side note: To make a garment look really good it is often good to do a top stitch around the entirety of it. This is to make sure that the seams lay flat. I did this on my skirt the day after the Halloween party when I had more time.