27 Halloween Costumes

I’ve been obsessed with Halloween since I can remember. There’s the candy (specifically, Reese’s pumpkins), the movies (Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus on repeat), and then the absolute best part: costumes.

That’s why each October, I find myself filled with equal amounts of dread and excitement. How can I possibly top last year’s costume?

I blame my mom. She sewed us matching spider costumes when I was 5. I was a homemade foam banana at 8. And then there’s the costume that will forever live in infamy: the Titanic.


Yes, my parents actually constructed half an ocean liner out of cardboard. We completed the morbid look with blue lipstick, white face powder, plastic icicles in my hair, and a period-appropriate white life vest. Keep in mind, James Cameron’s epic came out earlier this year. I wasn’t a disaster-obsessed, politically incorrect adolescent. At least, I didn’t know I was at the time.


My mom continued helping me out into adulthood. A month into dating Marc, we went to a party dressed like Dirtbag Peter Pan and Lumière the Candlestick. As if the shiny vinyl, white batting, and gold lamé look wasn’t cartoony enough, my lovely friend Veronica painted my face with a glitter bomb of metallic makeup.


The next year, I spent Halloween at Horseshoe Casino in Indiana, where I pulled slots as an ostrich. That’s all tulle and fake feathers under the bustle. That same winter, my parents gave me a gift that would change my life: my beloved Brother sewing machine.

It was time to start making my own Halloween costumes.


Before I started this humble blog, I had an even humbler tumblr. That’s where I documented my first me-made Halloween costume: a spring roll. “You’re sushi!” Wrong, but close enough. The dress was a complete mess inside, but I loved it.


Then came double Wonkas. Never again will I sew two coats in the span of a month.


Last year I learned the importance of a good wig. Cruella de Vil just isn’t the same without the black-and-white hair. A cute puppy accessory doesn’t hurt, either.

That brings us to today. It’s only a couple weeks until Halloween, and I’m surprisingly zen about my costume situation this year. Let’s just say I’ll be chopping off a certain light-green bridesmaid dress, and I need to find or make a 2-foot-tall blue wig. 😇

Dad with me in an authentic Japanese kimono and obi

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have the Halloween-freak gene. Trying to outdo myself each year is daunting. But if there’s any trait that my parents passed on to me (beyond the obvious eyebrows, chimple and overzealous arm gestures), it’s resourcefulness. My Halloween costumes have never really looked like anyone else’s, and I want to keep it that way.

Halloween sparked my love for sewing, and sewing makes me love Halloween a little bit more each year.



A Love Letter to the Archer Button Up

Have I mentioned that I like making shirts? 😜  This is my fourth Grainline Archer Button Up. I should branch out with another women’s shirt pattern, but I honestly don’t know if I will. This workhorse of a pattern puts me in my comfort zone, in a good way.


And that’s saying a lot, considering how terrified I was to sew my first button-up shirt. This time around, instead of reviewing the pattern, I’m going to tell you what I love most about it. You can check out my other versions for more on construction and sizing.

Let me say: Please forgive the wrinkles in these pics! We took them after an hour in the car and then a leisurely brunch. (If you’re ever in Palos Heights, IL, check out Harvest Room. You won’t regret it.) Without further ado, here’s why the Archer Button Up gets an A+ in my book.

The lovable butt ruffle, courtesy of View B

You get two different styles for the price of one.

Sure, lots of patterns come with multiple variations. A mini and a midi skirt. A v-neck and a scoop neck. A tunic and a dress. Options are great, but I want great options. And that’s what Archer’s got: Two equally stylish variations that give the shirt a completely different feel. Make a classic shirt with a pleat at the back yoke, or go girly with the back ruffle.

It’s comfy and polished.

It’s a loose-fitting shirt, but the cut doesn’t look or feel sloppy. I especially like wearing Archer buttoned all the way up—something that I can’t do with certain RTW shirts because it feels like I’m being gently choked.

Grainline’s sew-along and pattern tricks are unparalleled.

I am so much more confident sewing yokes, collars, and buttons thanks to Jen’s straightforward tips. Some of the most helpful:

I love you, Archer.


And now for a barrage of photos of my latest short-sleeved version. My family and I went to Lake Katherine in Palos after my dad’s birthday brunch. It’s a beautiful nature preserve and a great place to walk around, but be prepared to accidentally photobomb some bridesmaids if you go on a Saturday.

grainline studio archer button up





Until next time, friends!





I can’t believe I’m writing this: I officially love shirtmaking. I love choosing the perfect buttons. I love the careful pressing it takes to make an even button band. I love sewing a symmetrical pocket. I even love the topstitching.

6044 men's button down shirt

This is the third shirt I’ve made for Marc. For the first two, I used Negroni from Colette Patterns. It’s a solid button-down pattern, but it lacks a couple of elements that are common in RTW shirts: a collar stand and a button band. The Negroni has a camp collar and uses a facing instead of a button band.

This time around, I used McCall’s 6044. It’s a pretty slim-fitting button-down without a yoke or a back pleat. This is a straight medium with no size-related alterations–yippee! For the record, Marc is 6’2″ with a 37″ chest and roughly 33″ waist. As you can see, it’s plenty long.


6044 shirt back

Marc asked for a Mandarin-style collar, which actually requires fewer steps than a standard collar. (I learned this trick from the Grainline Studio blog.) I’m not a stranger to ditching a full collar, as evidenced by my Cardamome Dress. Personally, I’m a fan of the streamlined look.



Before I wrap up, let’s not forget the fabric. The glorious fox nap fabric.

When I looked at your shirt, I thought it was covered in apples. Then I looked closer and I saw they were foxes! – Marc’s co-worker

It’s loud. It’s borderline cutesy. But in this particular colorway, and with an otherwise minimalist shirt pattern, it somehow works. I’m probably biased, but I think Marc pulls it off pretty well. 😍



Anna Dress in Rifle Paper Co. Rayon

Six weddings in five months. That’s been the happy, if daunting, theme of my year. Who doesn’t like a good wedding? The vows, the tears, the dress, the champagne, the Hall and Oates, the elderly couple who can kick your ass on the dance floor. I love weddings in all their sappy glory. And thank god, because half my friends are getting married this year or the next.👰🏼






And let’s be real—being a wedding guest is pretty easy. The hardest part for me is figuring out what in the hell to wear or, better yet, what to sew. I bought this Cotton + Steel/Rifle Paper Co. rayon challis completely on impulse. I figured I’d make a shirt for me or as a gift for someone, but then I remembered Anna. A few months ago, I sewed a wearable muslin of this dress in its maxi variation. Thigh high slit and all. It’s the most glamorous thing I’ve ever made, but I still haven’t worn it out of the house.

I was toying around with a knee-length version of Anna but was feeling pretty meh about it. Even after finding a few really adorable versions, I wasn’t sold on the style. At some point, my crazed sewing alter ego took over (as it tends to do the week before a fancy event). I succumbed, said f*ck it, and decided to eke a knee-length Anna out of a meager but beautiful 2 yards of fabric. That meant taking a shot in the dark when it came to fabric placement. I didn’t notice any flowers where they shouldn’t be. (And you don’t either. Right? Right…?!)

The Details

My last Anna is very fitted, so I used a slightly smaller seam allowance for the side seams this time (probably closer to 3/8″). I also used a quick and dirty tip from the BHL tutorial to reduce a bit of back gaping by sewing the invisible zip slightly away from the edge of the fabric toward the top on either side, and then tapering to the correct seam allowance a few inches down.

I decided to understitch the facing to prevent it from flipping up, but for some reason the seam line wanted to roll outward (see the back close-up). Initially, I hand-tacked the facing to the shoulder seam allowance, but that didn’t seem to be enough to keep that sucker flat. I ended up hand-sewing a portion of the facing to the front bodice with some tiny tiny tiny invisible stitches. Not a perfect solution, but it worked. Have you ever had that problem with a facing before? I’m curious.

And now for some gratuitous wedding photos:

The bride (Sarah) and groom (Alex) cutting their beautiful cake at their amazing wedding
Groupon reunion
my mang
I think my feet were almost bleeding at this point. But I love those heels.

This wedding was badass. The newlyweds walked out of their ceremony to the theme from Star Wars. And then there were Manhattans. And amazing soup. And dancing to Robyn. And a lot of love. ❤️

tessuti ruby top

Ruby Top and a Trip Down (Tumblr) Memory Lane

Waste not, want not. It’s rare for me to have enough leftover fabric to sew a second garment. Nowadays, I scour pattern labels and try to buy only what I need. I bought these black and printed linen blends to make a Hannah Dress. That’s it. When it turned out I had enough to make another Tessuti Ruby Top, I was thrilled.

ruby top back

The only caveat: I had to cut the back in two pieces, hence the center back seam. I top-stitched that down for a clean finish. This top feels a bit roomier than my first Ruby, maybe due to one of many reasons:

  • Maybe I undershot the seam allowances on my french-seamed sides. You know I am not unpicking those seams, though. Hell no.
  • Maybe I accidentally added some roominess when I cut the back in two pieces.
  • Maybe the armholes are a little low because I decided to follow the directions this time, securing the bias binding by stitching in the ditch.

ruby top full front

On my original Ruby Top, I heeded a tip from Thornberry and applied the binding to the wrong side, and then top-stitched in place. I decided to give the ol’ stitch-in-the-ditch method a shot this time around, seeing that the black thread would disappear against the black and/or busy fabric if I went astray.

ruby top

The result? A clean finish on the inside and out, but the binding on the armholes turned out a bit thinner than I’d anticipated. Live and learn. I’ve worn this top a few times already, and its comfort factor far outweighs any worries I have about low armholes.

Now that I’ve covered a happy fabric surplus, let’s talk about what happened before I knew to consider the width of fabric.

flannel batmanpris
The very first garment I sewed: flannel Batmanpris

Back before I migrated over to WordPress, I shared my sewing projects on a little Tumblr blog called Sewcially Inept. (Kinda miss that name. Feel free to explore my hilarious beginner attempts at clothes. And comically undersized things.)

I took on an “easy” project for my first garment: simple flannel pajama pants for Marc. Innocent, oblivious me made the trip to JoAnn and bought fabric for said pants, not realizing that fabric comes in both 45″ and 60″ (and more!) widths. Long story short (pun intended), I didn’t have enough fabric. The pants were ill-fitting and turned out cropped enough to be labeled manpris.

That day, I learned a lesson. I learned that men’s pants fit really tight on women’s hips. I also learned that sewing can be a frustrating hobby, one that sometimes even leaves me in tears. But I didn’t stop then. And I don’t think I ever will.


Victory Patterns Hannah Dress in Linen

I’ve been getting lucky with sleeveless dress patterns. First Cardamome, and now the lovely Hannah Dress from Victory Patterns. It took all of my will power not to buy this pattern the day it was released. It was game over when Kristiann from Victory announced a 20% off sale.


Is it hyperbolic to say that this dress is magical? I don’t care. The dress has so many different parts that come together seamlessly—I’m pretty sure Kristiann used some kind of witchcraft or wizardry to pull it all together. Per the description, Hannah “features angled side seams and front pockets, which transition cleverly into folding side-panels that wrap around to the back and criss-cross over each other.” Um, yeah.


I was afraid it’d be a little too clever, a little too advanced, for my skill set. Luckily, the directions are detailed and specific, and it came together more easily than a button-up shirt. No joke.


Even the hidden button placket didn’t take too much head scratching. It would have been even easier if I’d marked everything properly before I began sewing. If you make this dress, I have one important piece of advice: Take the time to mark every single notch, dart, fold line, sew line, and match point during the cutting process. I didn’t use a visible enough mark on the wild contrast print, and it was a pain when it came time to sew and press.


The Deets

  • Pattern: Hannah Dress, Victory Patterns
  • Size: 8 (my measurements: 36-29-39, 6′ tall)
  • Alterations: Added 2″ of length at lengthen/shorten line
  • Fabric: linen-nylon blend for main fabric, linen-rayon blend for contrast (both from JoAnn)
  • Fit: Very fitted across the bust and shoulders. I have a broad back, and this fits like a glove. I might consider giving myself a tiny bit more room through the upper back when I make this again.
  • Issues: The top layer of the placket doesn’t lie perfectly flat. This very well could be through a fault of my own. I’ll probably sew a small snap in between the layers to keep it flatter when worn.

And now for my favorite aspect of this dress…


Contrast hem facing! WHEEEEEE! It really is the small things that bring a smile to my face. Do you personalize the garments you sew?


Embracing Festival Style

I never thought I’d date a male model.

New York Times

To be fair, Marc didn’t know where this photo would end up when a random dude snapped it at Pitchfork Music Festival. That the dude turned out to be a freelancer for The New York Times was a hilarious and pleasant surprise. Not sure how I’m going to top the Muscle Men Negroni shirt now. 😊


I went out on a limb for my own Pitchfork outfit with this two-piece number. I’m calling this my “Slave to Almost-Tired Trends” look. Off-the-shoulder? Check. High-waisted shorts? Done. The shorts are Cynthia Rowley 1371 for Simplicity and the top is self-drafted based on a tutorial from Elisalex of By Hand London.


I sewed a size 14 for the shorts—no modifications. The waistband gaped a bit in the back, so I pinched out some fabric and sewed a dart to make up the difference. It’s a quick and dirty fix, but it works!

Surprisingly, these fit pretty well through the crotch even without lowering the curve, which is something I figured I’d need to do to accommodate my long torso. It might just be that these shorts run big? The fabric is a cotton twill that I initially intended to use for a shirtdress, but it’s got almost no drape. (“Medium weight” Denver Fabrics? Really?!) Still, it worked out well for these structured shorts.


As for the top, I’d highly recommend trying Elisalex’s tutorial if you’re in the market for a quick off-the-shoulder top. You draft it based on your full bust and high bust measurements, and it comes together incredibly fast when you use a serger and a sewing machine. This fabric is $2/yd. muslin with some “decorative” black serger trim. I was too lazy to rethread my serger and then really liked the look. No hemming necessary.


Photo: Chris Little


I was kind of nervous wearing an outfit like this out of the house. The great thing about going out of your comfort zone at a music festival is that there’s bound to be someone wearing a fishnet tank and pasties. Or someone in a full dog costume despite the 90-degree heat. Probably both.

Cheers to wearing what makes you feel good!