1940s | Children | Vintage Sewing

My Favorite Halloween Costumes

By on September 29, 2014
vintage butterick halloween

My Favorite Halloween Costumes

By Tam Francis

I have wonderful memories of my mom making costumes for us as kids and I have carried on the tradition. As we approach the Halloween season, I thought I’d share some of my all time fave sewing projects starting with one of my favorite classic movies: The Wizard of OZ!

Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, Flying monkey Wicked Witch
Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, Flying monkey Wicked Witch

Of course, wearing vintage on a regular basis, I play dress-up more than most. As my children get older they have taken charge of their dressing up and their costumes have become less elaborate, so they don’t need mom’s help. I thought I would share some of my favorite Halloween Homemade Costumes. The above picture is my two kids and my friend’s daughter (Dorothy’s costume was store bought).

Wizard of Oz Witch and Flying Monkey Look Back
Wizard of Oz Witch and Flying Monkey Look Back

This was one of my favorite years. We had agreed to go with a Wizard of Oz theme, which may not be original in itself, but how many flying monkeys have you seen? I’m not sure why it thrilled me that my daughter wanted to be the wicked witch, but it was fun to make her costume and the fact that she thought outside the box not wanting to be Dorothy or Glenda filled me with glee. The Flying Monkey, was a horse of another color.


vintage butterick halloween
Vintage one-piece Halloween costume for Flying Monkey

At the time there were NO patterns for flying monkey costumes. Perhaps there are now, but when I made his costume I used a standard one-piece body suit (like the Butterick pattern) which I made in furry gray fabric. The jacket was pure fabrication. This was BEFORE DVDs were popular and we had The Wizard of Oz on video. I paused, and rewound and paused and rewound and hand drew the monkey jacket design. And talk about a pain in the emerald city, all the piping was crazy to sew. Of course I could have painted it on or done something less elaborate, but my mother’s voice is forever in my head telling me to do it right.

A couple years later I convinced my husband to do a couples costume and hoodwinked him to be one of the guys from the Brush and Wash from Wizard of Oz (you know the part where they’re in Emerald City and getting spruced up to see the Wizard). I had always loved the color green and the cute 40’s gals who did the hair trim! I fabricated my husbands hat and my collar and sleeve cuffs. I used a 1940s pattern for the dress body, but fit it a tiny bit long in the waist for me. Although it still worked, it scrunched up a tiny bit at the waist. It was amazing to swing dance in though!

Wizard of Oz Brush and Wash Couple
Wizard of Oz Brush & Wash Couple

I’ve done some other crazy costumes through the years like the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland (hand painted skirt–sheesh), and a vintage Marie Antionette. For more check out my blog


Do you have a favorite Halloween costume you’ve made?

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A Novelty Print Halloween Dress

By on October 25, 2013

Halloween is almost upon us! In honor of the day, I stitched up a novelty print dress inspired by this vintage ad.

Vintage Vogue 8811

I used Vintage Vogue 8811 for the pattern. It matched the silhouette of the dress from the ad just perfectly! The spiderweb fabric is completely sheer and tulle-like in texture, so I underlined the dress with a black cotton.

Vintage Vogue 8811

I love dressing up for Halloween, but there are only so many places/events where you can wear a costume. A spooktacular frock? I can wear it all month long!

See more photos, including a vintage bat button I used at the back neck slit and a close-up of my novelty brooch!

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1970s | Dresses | Mildly Insane Photo

’70s Givenchy evening dress / Quaithe costume

By on December 3, 2012

Daenerys and me

For my Halloween costume this year, I made a 1970s evening dress by Givenchy, Vogue 2014. I was making my wife a Daenerys costume based on the character’s outfit in the season 2 finale of Game of Thrones, so with the help of a red mask I went as Quaithe of Asshai (the version from the books, not the show).

Vogue 2014 is a Very Easy Vogue pattern, and I was able to cut it one day and sew it the next. With the exception of the centre front seam and the facing extension, everything is finished by hand.

I made the dress in vintage black Qiana without alterations, thanks to the design and the stretch in the fabric. The one change I made was to substitute a string of beads for the pattern’s 18″ back tassel. It’s probably a little too heavy, but I like the effect.

Here are a couple photos of me in the finished dress, taken by the fabulous Rachel O’Neill:

Quaithe full length
Vogue 2014 by Givenchy - full length
Quaithe - back detail
Vogue 2014 by Givenchy - back detail

More details and photos on my blog here.

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1960s | Accessories | Capes | Dating Patterns | Pattern Drafting | Vintage Sewing

A cape for Poison Ivy

By on November 15, 2012
poison Ivy outfit

poison Ivy outfitI made a capelet for my daughter’s halloween costume… better late than never, hey?!

Poison Ivy was a fictional character, enemy of Batman, created by DC Comics. She made her debut appearance in 1966.

It was a very quick and easy project, self-drafted using the formula for a circle skirt with the addition of a ruffle on a collar stand.

poison ivy back

I used a weighty green polyester satin for the self and a polyester satin lining in red for the inside.

The only difficulty I had was sewing two very shiny fabrics together…nightmare!

I forgot to enclose the ribbon ties in the collar stand so I used a couple of glitzy buttons to hide the ends of the ribbon which were sewn to the right side!

poison ivy capelet

She was very happy with the result and she looked amazing with the whole ensemble! I just feel very old!!

poison ivy costume

I have included a ‘how-to‘ on my blog, just in case you fancy making one! 😉

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1950s | Jackets | Vintage Sewing

1950s or Victorian? You decide.

By on October 10, 2012

Earlier this month I had an occasion that required a witch’s costume.  So I took the glamourous highroad and sewed up a  jacket out of a vintage Halloween novelty print.  It’s one part 1950s (if you base it on the pattern I used and full crinoline skirt), one part Victorian (if you consider the frou-frou lace cuffs and collar), and one part Steampunk (if you consider the amount of bosom that’s featured).   I fear my sewing will never be the same.  More pics and details at my blog.

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1960s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

halloween day dress ufo finshed

By on October 5, 2012

I started this sometime before Halloween last year,had the fabric for many more years.I had wanted to do something 50ish with it,this 1963 McCall 6759 was close.Wanting to emphasize the seams I added some glow in the dark rick-rack.Sorry about the dress form pic I don’t think it fit me.though I am curious about adjusting for a larger bust in this kind of seam.

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