31 October 2012

The Smallest One Was Madeline

I started thinking about Halloween costumes months ago. You need to start planning early so you can figure out what you can buy locally and what needs to be ordered from the United States. I can buy a lot of fabrics here but not a lot of other craft supplies. Some ideas were heavy on things that needed to be ordered or purchased whole rather than made. After a while I gave up the idea of a family costume and decided just to concentrate on Muffin, because my October activities calendar was filling up. Eventually I decided I could easily make one really great dress, so I gave Muffin the choice of Olivia or Madeline, two of her favorite characters.

She chose Madeline. I turned to the books for inspiration. I decided on a yellow hat and cape with a blue dress and found a vintage pattern -- 1970's Simplicity 7410 from Lanetz Living -- that was perfect for the cape and dress. I opted for the sleeveless dress because it's 80 degrees outside and it would make my life easier.

I got a little stuck on the hat. I couldn't find a suitable hat locally and I was afraid ordering one would result in a crushed hat. None of the patterns I had in my stash seemed appropriate. I turned to the internet to find hat tutorials. I couldn't find a good hat tutorial, but I did see a lot of Madeline costumes -- all of which looked like the modern cartoon rather than the classic book, which made me a little worried about my cape and my color choices. (And I'm sorry, but grown women wearing Madeline costumes rather than Madeline-inspired outfits is a little sad looking.)

Still full of indecision about the hat and having a little bit of self-doubt about the costume in general, I went fabric shopping for my blue and yellow fabrics. I knew exactly which store I wanted to go to, but my driver suggested an expo instead. Against my gut instinct I agreed to stop in at the expo. And after fifteen minutes I'd assessed the whole place as having many lovely fabrics but nothing that was anywhere near what I was looking for. It felt kind of good to continue on to the shop I'd originally asked my driver to take me to, walk in, and find the exact fabrics I wanted right away. I bought cheap "matching fabric," the material used to make the blouses worn under saris. It comes in all shades of solid colors and it was at least a cotton/poly blend if not 100% cotton (I could live with a  blend for this project.). I brought it home, washed it, realized it was a little too see-through and decided to line the dress, and gave my driver a swatch to take back to the store to buy another meters' worth for the lining. With my blue and yellow fabric and some black ribbon from the grocery store I was ready to sew a Madeline costume.

I made the cape first. Muffin was thrilled with it. As I started working on the dress she became anxious about my progress and started "working" in the sewing room with me so she could monitor how things were going. She has a Madeline doll and I keep some craft supplies especially for keeping Muffin entertained in the sewing room. While I worked on her Madeline dress she worked on clothes for her Madeline doll. It was kind of sweet and it was the first time she did independent projects while allowing me to sew, so it was a nice milestone for us.

With a Halloween party bearing down on us I still had to figure out a hat. I went back to my patterns and decided to use the sunhat from Butterick 3846 with the brim turned up. I made the brim slightly wider to give me a little more to play with. I was prepared to "starch the hell out of it," as I'd read in one of the many hat-making tutorials I'd poured over in the last few weeks, but it actually worked out quite nicely with just some interfacing. The hat and cape were so cute together that I didn't care anymore that it didn't look exactly like the book or exactly like the cartoon. Muffin looked like a little French boarding school girl and the vintage pattern added a bit of style.

Her new black Mary Janes arrived in the mail just in time to finish off the look.


Sara said...

beautiful costume. I love that you used an old pattern for the dress. We love Madeline. Do you have the Christmas book?

Stephanie said...

Thanks! I bought the Christmas book and I'm saving it to bring out in a few weeks.

Anonymous said...

I loved Madeline as a kid! It was one of my favorite books and oh my goodness, Muffin looks just like the sweetest, cutest Madeline I've ever seen! Love, love love it!

Daniela Swider said...