This year for Halloween we decided that Wesley was going to be a spider (I couldn’t figure out how to make a snowman without a sewing machine) and that Jillian would then be a fly. A nice little theme. In the spirit, but not gruesome.
Here is the step-by-step for the costume creation starting with the spider.
We decided early on that Wesley would have eight legs total. His own two arms, his own two legs and four extras. I wanted Wesley to be the spider, not be wearing a spider. I mounted the legs, made out of pipe insulation, to cardboard with nylon ties.
Next we created the body parts using a can of expanding foam insulation. It is light, cheap, and can be made any shape you want. It cures in about an hour (longer if you make it as deep as we did). It puffs as it dries and sticks to darn near anything. I wore latex gloves and safety glasses. The thorax was sprayed directly over the legs and the abdomen was sprayed onto a paper bag and then placed over a sponge to give it a curve and make it look fuller. I ran out of foam and could have used more, but it turned out okay.
Once it had cured we cut and sanded the foam until it was the right shape. Then the legs were spray-painted black to cover up the writing and give it a better color. Unfortunately it didn’t stick well. Nothing really stuck to this stuff. The hot glue melted it and nothing else came close to bonding to it. Worked out okay though.
Because the foam was full of bubbles we covered it with black fabric. A little spray adhesive and it was done. It is a little lumpy, but okay. Ideally I’d have stretched the fabric more and used staples to keep it in place. Next time…
We attached the two pieces of the body together with Velcro. That way if Wesley sits down he won’t rip it apart, it will just pop off. The whole thing was then attached with Velcro to Wesley’s sweatshirt. So we can take it off of him easily without having to undress him. Here he is trying it on after we cut down the legs to be a more reasonable length.
We felt that it needed a bit of something to draw the costume together. So out came the silver spray paint. Amber drew the patterns and gave me direction on where all the stripes should go. I also inserted some lengths of wire clothes hanger and bent them to get a nicer look on the legs. Without the wire once we cut them down to size they stopped curving and just stuck straight out. Here is the finished costume with his spray-painted sweat suit. Ideally he’d have a hat with extra eyes, but Wesley doesn’t wear hats.
The fly costume was supposed to be the easy one. And while it did take fewer hours overall to put together it posed some real problems. Originally we thought we’d use a little headband to hold the antennae to Jillian’s head. But a brief trial left such deep red marks on her that we decided to go a different route. Here she is trailing the headband.
The eyes were made out of egg shaped Styrofoam that Amber got at a craft store. They were cut lengthwise and then carved out to fit the shape of Jillian’s round little head.
We then used spray adhesive to cover the eyes with mostly red glitter. There is a little bit of green in there too to give it that iridescent look.
I should have worn gloves for this part too.
The wings were a bit of a trick. I wanted them to be sort of shiny and clear like real wings. I did spray-paint some silver wings, but they just looked terrible. So we decided to make the wings out of bent wire and cover them in plastic wrap after seeing a similar set of fairy wings (though covered in nylons-like material). The trouble with plastic wrap is that it is clear so you can see the back (no tape) it melts with hot glue (had to be very careful) and it doesn’t really stick to anything. I went so far as to try to shrink it using a hair dryer. In the end it just took a number of tries and careful use of the hot glue gun. I think they look better in person than in the photo.
Since the elastic headband was too squeezy we made our own. I just folded over and sewed some black fabric and made a clasp out of velcro. To that we glued the eyes. I then cut a slit in the headband between the eyes, pumped it full of hot glue and inserted the shortened antennae. The longer version looked like a threat to nearby eyes. She isn’t too wiggly so the non-elastic band stays on just fine and doesn’t mar her little scalp.
All finished the fly costume looks like the photo below. Jillian adds a whole level of cuteness that really makes it adorable. More pictures of the actual trick-or-treating later.
And of course, like any good craftsman I kept my work area neat and clean.