Halloween is not a traditional holiday in my country, however, I love it for various reasons. The roots are Celtic, and the Celts lived in my native country before the Romans came. Also, I am fascinated how a pagan holiday blended in Christian religion, resulting in folkloristic traditions that probably most people around the world don't know anymore, because today's Halloween has become quite a commercialized event with not much left in common with the ancient believes. Plus, my kids love to dress up, and I love to make costumes, and it's a good opportunity for all of us to shorten the time until Christmas and put some colour and excitement in the dark evenings of autumn.
As a sewer and a huge admirer of authentic folkloristic crafts, one of the most beautiful things I have ever come across are the various and extraordinarily beautiful traditional costumes of the regions of Mexico. The rich and colourful embroidery is thrilling, and I could spend hours rolling over pictures of those garments that have their origins in Azetc traditions that were mixed with Spanish motives. Of course it would be convenient to have an embroidery machine, but still, trying to produce garments that would look authentic would still be a huge challenge and very time-consuming.
To keep it simple, I made a Charro style jacket for my son from a pattern for a short collarless jacket I found in my 1950s Lutterloh book. It was by the way the first time I made a two-piece sleeve. It didn't turn out too well because the fabric was a rather cheap synthetic material, but it was certainly a good experience. I also made a red scarf and sash. Luckily I found a cheap felt sombrero from an online shop, and some black trousers completed the outfit. (He first refused to wear it as he wanted to be a ghost or a spider or a transformer. I insisted, as he should match his big sister and it's probably the last time mommy can put him into a costume like that...)
My daughter's costume was far more time-consuming. The skirt should recreate the look of embroideries on a bottom ruffle. I spent much time studying pictures of amazing traditional Mexican garments. I sketched some flowers and leaves and made my own stencils, and in some of my many sleepless nights I printed them on the fabric. The material is a rather slinky viscose (rayon) javanaise, similar to a challis, but with a hint of a shine. Maybe not the best choice, but I had it in my stash, and plenty of it, and the skirt would certainly be very flowing a good for twirling. Hand printing viscose was a new experience for me, and I was happy I made some tests before starting with the pieces I planned to use for the ruffle. It's quite different from cotton! There are various flowers, and I used as many colours as possible.
I certainly don't claim this IS a Mexican skirt, but I tried to be as close to the embroidered costumes as possible. And even though my printed version doesn't justice to the beauty of the originals, it's certainly a garment that shows my deep admiration for the traditional outfits.
When it came to making the floral crown, I took to it like a duck to water. I love Frida Kahlo's look and especially her hairstyles, and my daughter does too. There was no doubt it would be the template to follow by for the updo. Felt is a wonderful material for making flowers.
As an avid gardener I absolutely wanted to make flowers that had something to do with Mexico, so I made some researches. To my utter surprise, many of our annual garden flowers originally are native to Mexico, as marigold, cosmea, zinnia and dahlia. I added lilies, calla lilies and some roses, as these are popular in Mexican culture like Mexican folk songs, embroideries etc. Finding a way how to fix and arrange all the flowers on a headband was rather tricky. I couldn't find a tutorial that would meet my needs, as my flowers are a bit heavier than ready-made synthetic faux ones. So I had to find my own solution. But I think it was totally worth all the hours I spent on it, and also stitching almost all the flowers to the headband by hand instead of using the glue gun.
My daughter's costume is completed by a true Mexcian embroidered blouse I found incredibly cheap for a couple of bucks on Ebay, plus a pashmina shawl from my wardrobe. I must admit I am no very skilled at painting my kids' faces on such occasions, but I was quite pleased with the result, keeping it rather simple.
Even if I didn't have as much time as I would have liked, and despite working mainly in the night (oh black fabric really IS a pain in the back in poor light!), everything looked much better than I had hoped. I am well aware that most people are happy with off-the-rack costumes that are available for little money and that can be thrown away after some wear. Yes, I am a bit crazy for all the effort I put in the kids' costumes.
|At least a carved ghost for my son's pumpkin...|
|...and a Mexican skull on my daughter's. I might need some practice.|
|This gap-toothed little señor completely stole my heart...|
Jacket: self-made after Lutterloh "Der Goldene Schnitt" (The Golden Rule), book edition 6-1949, mod. 139, p. 80
Felt Sombrero: costume online shop on Ebay
Sash: handwoven from Mexico
Skirt: hand-printed and self-made dirndl skirt with hand-printed ruffle (no pattern required)
Blouse: true Mexican embroidered blouse, Ebay
Flower crown: self-made felt flowers on head band