Small Talk

Making the most out of Halloween

I really tried to channel my mom last night, but she must have been busy. My daughter and I took a stab at sewing. I am now hyperventilating.My daughter decided she wanted to try making a fairly complicated Halloween costume and presumed I could help. I presumed it too. I presumed wrong. When I make a costume, I keep it simple, just start cutting and wing it. It is never amazing, but it serves. My daughter inherited her grandmother’s taste for perfection. The ready-made versions of her costume were “just junk” and “wouldn’t fit properly.” I wanted to remind her it’s just a costume, but I knew that would be a waste of breath.

I tried hard to muster the nonchalance my mother always had when you asked her to sew something up from scratch. She never blinked an eye. But last night when we opened what I thought would be a simple pattern (it was from Simplicity for pity sake!) for a small ringmaster’s jacket, I was nearly buried alive in tissue paper.

Once we sorted out the pieces needed just for the jacket, there was twice what I expected. And you have to make two of everything. Moooooooom!

As we pinned material to pattern I became nostalgic. As we began cutting it out, I began to panic. We had chosen a difficult material, all stretchy and slippery. At least the edges don’t ravel. See, I know about raveling seams, but I forgot about stretchy material. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

About 5 minutes into the cutting, I also realized we didn’t have proper scissors and I still did not possess the proper patience required. Are we done yet?

But the real hurdle will be fitting it. I can sew a straight seam on my machine (inherited from my mom, of course) but exactly where to sew it is quite the puzzle.

Then I remembered we needed to raise the bodice and cut down the back for tails. Now I’m really scared. I believe I will be searching out a professional seamstress tomorrow who is willing to take our cut pieces and make them whole.

I am glad we gave it a shot, but I am, once again, completely humbled. People who have the artistic hands and eye and the endless patience to create from cloth are so very gifted, yet they never seem to think so. To me, it is pure magic.

I told my mother so frequently, once I was old enough to stop whining about standing still while she adjusted and pinned. For that I am glad. I badly wish now, though, I had done more than halfway observe.

I might have remembered to choose a material that isn’t slippery and stretchy.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who is very glad women today are not required to sew a fine seam. Contact her at

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