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Category Archives: Halloween

Doc Brown Mind Reading Helmet from Back to the Future

imageBut first, a note:  I set out to make a Doc Brown Mind Reading Helmet that was doable to the novice costume crafter.  I also wanted it to be light enough for a 12 year old to wear without breaking his neck.  To that end, you won’t find any sheet metal or welding required in this tutorial.  The ones that use those materials are AWESOME looking and will probably last well into the future (<—- see what I just did there?).  I like to think that what mine lacks in authenticity and ruggedness, it more than makes up for in cost, weight and ease of construction.  So, on to the tutorial…


As a woman who spent her formative years (high school and college) in the 80s, I could not have been more proud than this year, when my kids went out for Halloween dressed as Marty McFly and Doc Brown.

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Even more so because my eldest son Michael wanted me to make him be Doc Brown circa 1955 when he first meets Marty and is wearing the rediculous brain wave reading helmet.  It’s the moment when we start to truly understand what a nut, er, I mean visionary Doctor Emmet Brown really is.

First, let’s take a look at what we are dealing with here.

imageThe way I saw it, there’s a black helmet with chin strap, covered with some lighted cylendar shaped things (let’s call them electrodes), that are interconnected with metal bars.  I knew that I had a plain black bike helmet somewhere in the garage, and had Michael try it on – it fit, yay!

Ok, so now that I had my base, I wanted to get to work on the electrodes.  You will need 11 of them.  Here is what I sketched out.

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When the drawing was done, I showed it to my kids and said “See – you WILL need to use math in real life.”  My electrodes are about 5″ overall in length.  I think if I were to do it all over again, I might make them each an inch longer, but that’s your call.

The electrodes consist of 6 different materials:

1/2″ pvc pipe

1/2″ x 2″ flexible pipe insulation (this is shown on the drawing as the shaded area)

Shiny silver cardstock

Red Duck Tape

Wire Stars (I’ll show you how to make those in a bit)

A 4″ yellow glow stick

For right now, we will just concentrate on the first four items.  Cut your PVC into (11) 4-1/2″ lengths.  I used a hack saw for mine.

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Cut your pipe insulation.  The kind I bought was squishy and self-adhesive.

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I cut it with a scissors which worked great.  You will need (11) pieces cut to 3/4″ and (11) pieces cut to 1-3/4″.

Here is the (totally awesome) card stock I found at Hobby Lobby.  To me it’s a total fake-out for sheet metal.

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I love it!  Cut this into strips, (6) 12″ x 2″ strips and (6) 12″ x 3/4″ strips.  Cut each strip in half so you have (12) 6″ long of each width.  Now for each electrode gather the following:

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One piece of PVC, one piece of each size of pipe insulation, one piece of each size of cardstock, your red Duck Tape and fire up the hot glue gun.

First, take the smaller piece and adhere it so that it lines up with one end of the PVC pipe (this will be the bottom of your electrode). Right next to the insulation piece, wrap the pipe with a short length of 2″ wide Duck Tape.

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Next, line up the remaining (bigger) piece of insulation with the other end of the pipe and adhere it into place.  I you find that the red tape doesn’t completely cover the white pipe, color in any white space with a red Sharpie.

Ok, now wrap the smaller piece of insulation with the thinner strip of cardstock, cut it to fit and hot glue the ends together.

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Do the same thing with the bigger insulation/taller piece of cardstock, but with this one, you will line up the cardstock even with the bottom (the end that touches the red tape) of the insulation so that it sticks out 1/4″ at the top of the electrode.

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Repeat until you have 11 of these.

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I made 12 because I’m an over-achiever and forgot to stop at 11 because I wasn’t paying close enough attention.

OK now, time to attach those bad boys to your helmet.  So here is how to place them on the helmet.

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There’s five running right down the middle, front to back with one centered in the middle top of your helmet. then there’s two that run horizontally on either side of the center post.  Finally, the last four run around the outer sides of the helmet.

I used Gorilla Glue to attach myelectrodes and it worked like a dream.  The only issues I had were that my bike helmet isn’t perfectly flat and actually has some major holes built into the design of it.  I plugged up some of the holes with leftover bits of insulation so that the glue would have something to “grab onto” when it hit one of the holes.

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I laid out my positions with little yellow stickies.

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Then adhered them with the Gorilla glue following the manufacturer’s instructions.  HINT:  I also ran a bead of hot glue around the outer edge of each electrode since I had no way to clamp them into place while the Gorilla Glue dried.  This temporarily held them in place, but would never have lasted if I had only used the hot glue.  The best part about the Gorilla Glue is that it expands as it dries so it channels up into the PVC pipe, giving you a really good bond.  I let that dry for a few days since I was doing this early (True Confessions: it was August?) and I wanted to make sure it was really good to go.

If your Gorilla Glue is the white kind like mine and it has seeped out from under the electrode, also like mine, go back and color over the exposed glue with a black sharpie.

imageimageNow you should have something that is beginning to look pretty awesome, like so…

imageYeah baby!

So, now is when you should put in the strips that connect the electrodes right on the helmet.  For this I used a metallic Duck Tape that is 3/4″ wide.  In the category of “Don’t Do What I Did”, I will suggest that you put these on NOW, not after you have all of the criss-crossing bars in place.  It made a rather simple step into a much more painful one.

imageHere the red lines show you where I put the tape.

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I did contemplate putting this tape in place first, even before the electrodes but was concerned that the glue would be affixed to the tape, not to the helmet which would make them more likely to fall off.  It would however have given a much cleaner look.  In the end I erred on the side of stability.

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OK, now ready for those metal bars.  As I said earlier, I wanted to keep the helmet as lightweight as I could to keep my kid from breaking his neck during trick or treating time.  Also, I didn’t want to hear the inevitable whine “This thing is too heavy…can you hold it for me?”.

Anyway, to that end, the material that I used for the cross bars is good old Lowe’s paint stirrers.  Cheap (free!), lightweight, sturdy, easy to cut and as a bonus, a perfect width for my project.

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You will need about 20-25 of them, so if your local store is unwilling to just hand you that many, you may need to make a few trips until you’ve got all you need, or find someone who is happy to help a parent trying to make a costume dream (mine) come true.

Paint your stirrers metallic silver.  I chose craft paint, but it may have been easier to just spray paint them all.  Do whichever you prefer.

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Once these have dried, you can start cutting them to fit in between your electrodes.  I attached mine to the top 2″ section of the electrode, pretty much centered top to bottom.  These bars should go where I’ve drawn them here in green.

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It looks a little confusing and believe me when I say it’s even more so in 3 dimensions.  My advice is that you put the ones in that go around the edge, then the ones that go up and over the top front to back, then add in the mess in the middle.  Now for our second lesson in the category of “Don’t Do What I Did”.  When I put in the bars that go around the edge, I attached them with the bars laying horizontally, not vertically, which is 100% incorrect.  By the time I realized my error, it was too late to un-do them, so I just left them that way, then put all of the other ones in correctly like so.

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I cut the paint stirrers using what I believe are metal snippers (?) that I found in the ‘ole tool kit.

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I just held each bar up to where it was going to go and eyeballed a general size of the thing then cut it with a little extra “just in case”.  I continued snipping off little bits until it was pretty close, then took out my Dremmel with a sanding bit and sanded it down until it was a nice fit at both ends.image

I glued them each in place with hot glue.  Before the glue dries, clean up any extra using an extra piece of paint stirrer.  After you’ve got them all in it should look something like this…

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Now we’re getting somewhere!  Ok, now to add the wires.  I bought a spool of 16 gauge red wire at Lowe’s.

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The 25 feet was plenty.  I cut off lengths of it to fit along the same lines as the connecting bars.  I started off having them be nice and straight fitting exactly, but found that I prefered them when they looked a little wackier when they were twisted and a bit too long.  Just bend them a bit then attach them at each end with more hot glue.

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That’s what I’m talking about.  Ok, now to make those “stars” that I mentioned earlier.  If you look at the end of each electrode in Doc’s helmet, there’s a little black star shaped guard at the top.  I think the fictional Doc would have installed them to keep from touching what was surely a very hot 1955 era lightbulb.  I made mine with crafters wire using this super cool wire bending tool.

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The kit comes with a perferated metal stand and various sized pegs.  You stick the pegs into the holes in whatever shape you need for your design then wrap your wire around the pegs.  I did mine like this.

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The kit only came with two of the bigger sized posts, so I started them in the 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions then moved them to the 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions when I got there.  If you don’t want to invest the $20 in this kit (I did since I knew that I would use it again in the future), you can make your own by hammering nails into a spare board.  You want the stars to be about 2-1/4″ across and the middle needs to have at least 1/2″ space for your glow stick to pass in and out of.

Once you’ve bent it to shape, clip the ends to just meet each other then – you guessed it – a little hot glue will hold it together.

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You need 11 of these suckers.  Center each at the end of an electrode and hot glue them in place.  The star will be slightly wider than the end of the electrode.

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I chose at this point to give the helmet a long wire “tail” coming off the back of his helmet with a large suction cup at the end.  This was at the request of the costume wearer as he really wanted to smack it onto his little brother’s head.  If he hadn’t asked for it, I would not have added it, but do what you choose.  I basically took all of my remaining red wire, grouped it together in a bundle and attached one end to the back of the helmet with floral wire, and put a big suction cup on the other end.

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And there’s the money shot.

Next, I glued his wig into the helmet, but this is not really necessarily.  To do so I cut the crown (top of the head) part out of the wig then glued it around the inside edge.  Be careful of your chin straps when you’re doing this, as you don’t want to get them caught up in any way.

After contemplating many different lighting options (Battery operated Christmas string lights, mini faux-votive candles), I decided that glow sticks were probably my easiest, most “authentic” looking option.  I bought mine on Ebay for 60 cents apiece.  I needed 11 for Halloween night, so I got 25 – enough for two separate events plus a few spares.  The ones that fit the best are sold as 4″ but the glowing part is only 3″ long which fits perfectly into the PVC pipe.  I got yellow ones (which for some reason photographed as green) but looked yellow in real life.

imageYou’ll want to use a pair of scissors to cut off the little plastic hanger part at the end.
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Once it’s like this, it should fit really well into the center of each electrode.  I stuck mine in fat side first.  It was a little loose so I wrapped the fat end in a layer of masking tape which allowed me to maneuver it so that about 1/2″ of each glow stick stuck out the top.image

And there you have it.  He looked quite cool out there on Halloween night.  In the dark all you could see were these spots of light bobbing along in the distance.  With his best accessory, his younger brother dressed as Marty McFly at his side, they were a big hit.

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I love these guys!  No one told me that having kids gave you such great costume-creating opportunities!  They make all the hard work so worth it in the end.

Happy Halloween from us!  Can’t wait until next year!

House Number Pumpkin Topiary


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I belong to a very small group (there’s only four of us but until recently there were just 2 of us) of gals who each month have a “Crafter’s Smackdown”. It originally started with my BFF Wendy and I when I was living in Massachusetts. Each month, one of us would pick a crafting medium (like for instance a roll of duct tape).  We would each separately construct something from the chosen medium and not share the results until completed. The only rule was that while you could add whatever additional supplies you wanted (glue, paint, wood, etc.), the given medium (ie. the duct tape) needed to be the primary focus of the completed project.  It became a way to flex our creative muscles each month. Every single month I expect that we will come up with the same idea, and every single month I am wrong.  A few examples are as follows:

The coffee filter challenge:

Wendy made a garland of pom-poms and fairy lights while I made a rosette wreath that I tutorialized here.

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The popsicle stick/river rock Smackdown:

Wendy made a set of coasters, I made an hombre painting or tray (my rocks are on the back).

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For the Cork Smackdown, my college roomie and old friend Lori joined the group:

Lori made a beautiful trivet that looks like a Pansy, Wendy made the awesome shutter-turned-memo-board, and I made a tray for serving wine. To myself.

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For this month’s Crafter’s Smackdown, Lori got to choose and she chose gourds.  I already had my eye on these pumkin topiaries on Pinterest so I decided to take action on one of them.  I’ve seen several variations, and did a mixture of a few of those.

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I did not take pictures as I went along, but here’s the gist of it.  I should mention here that if you have less than or more than 3 digits in your house number, you should adjust accordingly.  I got 3 (a small, a medium and a large) “Funkins”.  These are the fake pumpkins that they sell at craft stores the greatest benefit of which is that they last forever.  I wanted to be able to reuse this for years to come so I got myself some Funkins.  Anyway, they are hollow, lightweight, realistic looking and EXPENSIVE, so I got mine at Hobby Lobby when they were 40% off.  Cut a 1″ hole in the top and bottom of the medium and large size pumpkins, and in the bottom only of the small one (the one that will go on the top).  Find the flattest side of the pumpkin and draw, paint, or stencil your house numbers on them.  I did mine with a Sharpie because I find that easiest, but if you look at the pumpkins very closely, well, I know it would look better had I used paint instead.  I just couldn’t be bothered.  Ok, now you are ready to assemble your topiary (Already?! I know, right?).

Take your urn, I got mine at Lowe’s and it was $12 and made of plastic.  Lowe’s also had a “real” one that was $70.  Unless you break the bank and buy the real one, you’ll want to weigh it down with something.  You can fill it partway with stones or bricks or sand.  I took a 10″ terra cotta pot, turned it upside down and stuck it into the urn.  The pot had a 1″ drainage hole in the bottom of it, which came in handy for the next step.  You will need a 3/4″ wood dowel that measures the same height as the depth of the urn plus the height of your 3 pumpkins combined.  I bought a 4 foot dowel and cut it down to about 3-1/2 inches.  Stick the dowel into the center of your urn.  For mine, I threaded it through the drainage hole in the terra cotta pot which helped secure it really well.  Now thread your three pumpkins onto the dowel with the largest at the bottom and the smallest (the one that still has a stem on top) at the top.  Garnish with fake or real leaves, moss or other fall foliage.  I used fake leaves at the bottom then a raffia-type product in between the other two.  I made a nice bow for the top and that’s about it.  My gourd Smackdown is complete and it only took me a few hours.

imageSo pretty!  I promise to post pictures once the other 3 ladies have completed their projects too.

I have a whole slew of projects I’m working on now for Halloween, so sit tight and I’ll have them up here before long.  Thanks!

DYI Posable Skeleton Hands – Made with wire, tin foil and masking tape

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I made these scary hands as part of my son’s Halloween costume this year. My initial intent was to just stuff some gloves with polyfil as I had done in years past, but I saw something similar to these on Pinterest and decided to give them a go.

First, gather up your supplies: wire (I used 4 wire clothes hangers), tin foil, masking tape, a piece of paper and a pencil, a Sharpie, scissors, pliers and wire cutters.

Lay your hand on the paper and trace around it.  Then, mark off where your knuckles are.  If you think your hands are kind of small, borrow the hand of a larger person.

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Now, cut and bend your wire to follow the lines of your finger and hand bones.  Use the picture and your own hand as your guide. I found that holding the wire with the pliers and using my hands to bend it worked best.

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Transfer the knuckle marks to your wires with a sharpie.

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Now, using your tape and starting with the palm, tape the four fingers together, leaving spaces between the fingers as you go.  You should have masking tape “webbing” between each wire when you’re done, and should still be able to line it up to your picture.

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Use some scissors to shape the upper edge so that it stays just below the knuckle lines.  Now do the same for the thumb and wrist.

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Fun!  Now you can start posing your fingers, using those joint markers as guides. It helps to pose your own hand the way you want the fake hand to be, and refer to it as you go. It should be noted that when I started posing the hand, I realized that I had limited my thumb’s mobility by making the gap between it and the index finger too tight. To fix this, I cut down the webbing, moved the thumb, then re-taped the thumb webbing.

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Much better.  So now we start adding the knuckles and fingers. You want to add a little flesh to your wires, or bulk up the bones, and to do this, you will wrap them in tin foil. Starting with the fingers first, take a small ball of foil to make the first knuckle.  Hold the ball in place then take a 1″ wide strip of foil and wrap it around the knuckle to hold it in place, then continue wrapping the strip of foil up the finger to the next joint.  When your strip of foil runs out, grab another and keep going.  Make another knuckle-ball (keeping in mind that the joints get a bit smaller as you go out the length of each finger), hold it in place and wrap it up in your foil strip.

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Keep doing this until you reach the end of the finger.

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Now, wrap your finger in masking tape using small strips of tape. Start at the base of the finger, being sure to secure the first knuckle to the hand with your first strip.  You may find it easier to work with thinner strips of tape for the fingers than you did for the hand.  If so, just rip the masking tape into more manageable size pieces. Feel free to pinch and mold the fingers as you go.   Continue until you have finished all the fingers and the thumb.

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Now, you can start fleshing out the palm.  Keep in mind that most of the “meat” in your hand runs around, but not into, the center of the palm, shape some tin foil to fit under the four fingers and down the pinky side of the palm.  Make a separate piece for the base of the thumb, again using your own hand as a guide.

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Cover the the first piece with masking tape.

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And now cover the thumb side piece.

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Add a little flesh to the center of the palm, and that will finish off the palm side of your hand.

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Creepy!  For the back of the hand, you need only add a little foil below the knuckles, as our bones really do show through back there.

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Cover it with tape and the back is done.

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Now for the hard part…repeat the whole thing for your second hand, making sure to reverse it so that you don’t end up with two lefts or two rights.  I took my original drawing, traced it through to the back of the paper and went from there.

Here are my finished hands, front and back.

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They are very posable, but use care when manipulating them as you don’t want to crush the layer of tin foil too much.  I left the hands just like this, but some of you may want to paint them or coat them in a layer of liquid latex. If you plan to use them in your outdoor decor, you should at least coat them with a waterproof finish. My son used them for his costume, and the whole thing was a big hit in the neighborhood.

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Super creepy fun!  Let me know if you’ve got questions and good luck with your own creepy hands.

DIY Sherlock Holmes Costume


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So this Halloween, Trevor, my minion from last year, said he wanted to be the world’s greatest detective. I suggested Sherlock Holmes and after we looked at a few images on Google, he enthusiastically agreed. I think it was the magnifying glass and the pipe that really clinched it.

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I’m calling this post DIY Sherlock Holmes, but mostly it’ll be DIY Sherlock Holmes hat.  I did make the coat too, but I just followed a pattern, McCall’s #M6641.  We will not be telling Trevor that I made his coat from a “girl’s pattern” since you know how 9 year old boys can be.


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I made the coat shown here in yellow, but without the hood and the collar instead. Also, I didn’t bother putting pockets or a lining in it since it’s just a costume after all. Once I completed the coat, I made the cape  and attached it around the outside of the collar. To do that, I cut two big circles from my fabric, as big as I could.  My fabric was 45″ so it was just a little smaller than that in diameter.  I cut a hole in the middle big enough for his neck and collar then cut an opening all the way down the front. I sewed the two circles together (one for the inside of the cape, one for the outside of it), and attached it to the coat.  Moving on.

For the hat, I started with two brown baseball caps that I puchased for a couple of dollars each from EBay.

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After turning them back-to-back, fit one over the other.

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It should be noted that you should do this with the caps on the head of the person who will be wearing them so that you get a correct fit.  One you are confident of the fit, hot glue the two hats together.  I just spot-glued them around the inside band of the top hat.

Next, I covered the hat with the same fabric I had used to make the coat. First thing, I made a pattern piece that matched the wedge shape that makes up the hat.  This is what I mean

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The top of the ball cap is made up of six of these put together.  I made a pattern piece to match these out of craft paper.  To do this I took the piece of paper, laid it over the cap and scored along the seams with my fingernail  there was a little trial and error with this method, so if you know of a better way I encourage you to use it.

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Once you have the pattern piece in hand, cut out six of them, making sure to add a half inch seam allowance all the way around.  When you sew them together, I recommend using a quarter inch seam allowance as you need for it to fit over the hat and if it is exactly the same size, you will struggle.  Start sewing the wedges together, pieces should be right sides together and sew a straight seam from tip down one side.  When you finish adding the sixth wedge, sew the first to the last to make a continuous ring of wedges.  Clip seams at curves and turn it right side out.  It should look like this

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Iron all seams flat.

Next you will make the ear flaps.  Use the same pattern piece you used for the wedges, but cut the tup off to make it blunt-ended.  Cut out 4 of them then sew them into two sets with the straight side left open.  If I was thinking, I would have sandwiched the tie for these into the tip of the flap, but since I didn’t, I just tacked them on in a later step.

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So now, I matched up these ear flaps on the outside of my pieced-together cap, lining each up with a wedge on an opposite side of the cap. Stitch these on across the straight side, lining it up with the bottom hem of the cap. Like so…

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It looks a little weird now, but it’ll get better.  Now, flip the ear flaps up and iron a hem along the bottom band of the cap. You may want to slip it onto the baseball caps to get an idea of how big of a hem you’ll need, but mine was about a half inch, all the way around.  Once you’ve ironed it in place, sew it around, close to the fold making sure you have your ear flaps pointing up as you do.

Before you permanently add this to your hat, you will want to to first cover the bills of the hat.  I only covered the tops of the bills, leaving the underside plain brown.  I made a pattern for the bill using craft paper, and employing the same (rather crappy) method that I did when making the pattern for the cap. Trial and error, a little wine, and lots of patience.  I ended up with this

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A little blurry (must’ve been the wine), but you get the idea. Cut two of these from your fabric, then zig-zag, surge, or use liquid sealer around the edge to keep it from fraying.

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Now I hot-glued these to each brim of the hat.

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My fabric worked well with hot glue and left no visible traces or bleed-through marks.  If you find that your fabric isn’t as forgiving, you may want to try traditional fabric glue.  Just be sure to give it time to dry before moving on to subsequent steps.

Alright now, almost done!  One more thing you need to do before putting your homemade cap onto the finished hat is to tack on the ties that hold the flaps up. As I mentioned before, it would have made more sense to include these in the ear flap construction, but I wasn’t thinking ahead at the time.  So instead, I took a 8″ length of ribbon (I found one at Joann’s that looks more like a shoe lace) folded the end over and machine tacked it to the top inside of each ear flap

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Now give the cap one final ironing and fit it over your baseball caps, lining up the ear flaps on the sides and the center seams in the front and the back.  If your baseball cap has a button at the top, clip a few stitches at the point of the cap and pass it through to the outside.  Trim away any excess fabric at the tip of the cap.  Once you are happy with the overall fit, glue that sucker in place with dabs of hot or fabric glue around the inside of the bottom band. Allow it to dry then tie the ribbon at the top of the hat.  Trim ribbon if necessary. I also glued the knot in place because the hat really isn’t constructed to allow the flaps to hang down and I didnt want my son to be tempted to futz with them.

Here is the finished cap…

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He really does LOVE that magnifying glass.

With the coat and hat done, I gathered up the other pieces of his costume. I purchased his beloved pipe and magnifying glass on EBay.  The set cost me $5.99. He had some navy dress pants and dark socks.  Still need to get him some shoes but with Halloween still a few weeks off, I’m feeling ok about that. He might also get a white button down dress shirt, but I’m not sure if he needs one since I made him this fabulous ascot that covers his neck.

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I used this tutorial that that I found on Pinterest, which was very straightforward. I downsized it a bit for my 9-year old.  I’m didn’t bother giving his a pointed bottom since I knew it would be tucked into his jacket like so…

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So it’s pretty much all done except for the Trick or Treating.  And I don’t need to tell you that he loves it.

One costume down, one to go!  Stay tuned for my older son’s costume to be posted as soon as I finish it.

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DIY Tardis Costume

image It’s Halloween 2013 and my 10 year old Michael has discovered “Dr. Who”.  He’s a HUGE fan, and like many Dr. Who fans, or should I say Whovians , he is obsessed.  He finds the alien, double-hearted, time and space traveling Englishman wonderfully interesting.  Not too surprising, he asked if he could be dressed for Halloween this year as a Dalek.  What in the world is a Dalek?  My thoughts exactly since as much of a fan as Michael is, I am a disinterested bystander. I hear endless recounting of plot lines and characters, but really, it’s just not my thing. So here is what a Dalek looks like. imageYeah, I said “no”.   I’m as adventurous as the next costume maker, but was not about to tackle something so oddly shaped and detailed, nor was I willing to send him out on a dark night in a costume that covers his whole head.   So, on to Plan B. He asked if I could make him a Tardis costume. This is a Tardis… image That at dapper fellow next to the Tardis is The Doctor (and don’t you ever call him “Dr. Who” for his name is “The Doctor”).  This, box shaped item with lots of squares, seemed much more doable to me.  At first, he wanted me to make it so that he was inside the tardis and could open the doors to reveal him, dressed as The Doctor inside. In addition to the technical challenge this presented, it also left him without a 360 degree view of the world around him, so we compromised.   He would be just the tardis, with his head sticking out the top and the light would be on top of his head.

So now, my pal Wendy had just received a patio heater in the mail and had this awesome, perfectly proportioned box for me to use.   Nice!  For paint, I used regular interior house paint. which I purchased in the handy “sample” size from both Home Depot and Lowe’s. image The black and white paints I already owned in regular craft paint, so I used those where needed. I painted the entire box before I did any cutting for the head and armholes.  I started with the base blue color and after letting that completely dry (I used an old hairdryer to speed up this process), I started adding all the details.  For all of these, I used painter’s tape. I highly recommend this technique, as I cannot imagine getting the nice sharp lines painting all of those squares, rectangles and stripes by hand.  Here’s a couple of pictures of the box at different phases of the process.  I apologize that the first pic is pretty crappy.image image In case you’re interested, I did the black strip first, then the white windows, then the deep blue squares and finally, I did all of the pinstriping.  Also, I worked on all four sides at the same time, so that I could remember all of the measurements for each section easier.  In other words, I painted the black box on each of the 4 sides, one after the other before I moved onto the windows which I did on each of the four sides before I moved on to the blue squares, and so on. With the painting all set, I was free to start adding all of the details.  I found the “Police Box” writing by Googling it, (you can find it here) printed it out, then enlarged it to scale for the box.  I literally just cut out the strip of letters, then glued it onto the box.  I couldn’t be bothered to cut out each letter individually, and it was almost completely unnoticeable on the black background.  Check it out… image Next, I printed out the notice and the emblem, sized them and glued them in place.  You can find the links here – Notice, Emblem. For the handle, I just bought a simple, small cabinet handle and literally screwed it through the side of the box.  I used washers at the back to give it a little more stability and to make it harder to pull through. After I cut out the head-hole (centered on top), I had the hardest time deciding where to put the arm holes.  I wanted to give Michael the most freedom of movement, but wasn’t sure if that would be accomplished with holes at the shoulders or down by the elbows.  I ended up putting them down at elbow height, and while he can’t touch his head, or put his hands together in front of him, it turned out to be the most comfortable for him.  In case you’re wondering, I used a serrated steak knife to do the cutting.  Don’t tell my husband, because he loves his steak knives at least as much as he loves me.

For the hat/light, I used a combination of things that I had laying around my house.  Here they are all gathered together… image I should clarify that the royal blue top hat was NOT lying around my house, I bought it at the party store.  The other items I used were a length of 2″ wide blue ribbon, four pencils, a blue elastic (from some asparagus I got at the grocery store), a small mason jar, one of those battery powered “push lights”, and (seriously) a martini shaker that we got as a wedding gift 12 years ago and have never once used.  In the picture, you will also see a cut up milk jug, but I ended up not needing it , so just ignore it. So take the mason jar cover and remove the flat plate from the inside of it.  Weave the ribbon through it so that it goes in one side of the cover and comes out the other side.  check out the picture so that you can see what I mean. image

After I took this picture, I realized that if I had two lengths, and crossed them like a plus sign, and did the same thing, that it would provide more stability.  You’ll be able to see this in the end photo.  In the above picture, you will also see that I cut my pencils to be the height of my mason jar plus a half inch.  I did this with my little hobby sized miter box.  I also disassembled the martini shaker and only used the cover.  The white thing to the right in the photo is the milk jug piece that I ended up not using.

Now you need to paint the jar cover (just the sides of the cover, only on the outside), the pencils and the martini shaker cover.

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I cut out the bottom of a Solo cup (a plastic “keg” cup), and painted it the same color. This will be used to cover the holes in the martini strainer top.

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Now is when it gets put together.  You will want to plug in your hot glue gun now, because it’s put together with lots of hot glue.  Take your mason jar cover, with the ribbon woven through the top, screw it onto the mason jar then invert it and center it on the top of your hat.  Glue the cover and the ribbons to the top of the hat.  Use plenty of glue because this is what will make your hat and your light into one solid unit. Next glue your pencils to the jar cover, spacing them out evenly at the four “corners” of the jar.  Once the glue dries, put your blue rubber band over the pencils at the same spot you just glued.  This will give them a little more stability.  Now,  invert your push light and put it on top of the mason jar’s bottom (when it’s on it should shine down into the jar).  If you haven’t already, glue the little plastic top to the martini shaker strainer top.  Now carefully squeezing the pencils together, place your cover onto the light.  It will sit on top of the underside of the light and catch the pencil ends in the edges.  When it’s time to turn on your light, just remove the cover to do so, then replace it.  I’m planning on hot gluing the cover in place for trick or treating, because my son will be running like a sugar-loaded maniac (which he will be by that time).  If you decide to do this, wait until it’s “showtime” because there will be no way to access the light once it is glued.

I decided after the fact to add some horizontal “bars” to my light.  I did this with blue pipe cleaners and just (say it with me) hot glued them in place.  Here is a closeup of the final hat/light assembly…

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I just realized that the cover is on a little crooked, but it DOES fit on there straight, I promise you.

And that is the whole thing.  He wore it to a party last Saturday and these pictures were taken on my porch before we left.

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That thing in his hand is called a “Sonic Screwdriver”.  It’s the Doctor’s tool and I bought it at Newbury Comics.  On Halloween night, he’ll be wearing a navy long sleeved tee, which I think will make the costume look even better.

I think that’ll just about do it.  Hope you enjoyed the tutorial and good luck making your own Tardis costume!

Halloween Costume Photo Decoration

20131002-165257.jpgA quick little post with a Halloween decorating idea. I bought one of those “school days” picture frames at the Christmas Tree Shop (which is a New England favorite for picking up inexpensive housewares). These are the frames that you would usually keep your child’s school pictures in year after year until they graduate from High School. I got one for each of my kids to put their Halloween costume photos in.

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In the large photo opening, I made a little Halloween paper decoration, but you could easily find a greeting card that you like and put the cover of it in this spot if you don’t feel like making your own.

We hang them up for the month of October when I put up the other Halloween decorations and every year the kids love to look at their old costumes and remember Halloweens past.

20131002-163044.jpgAs a tip, I recommend that you add the new photo each year before you put the frame back in storage. I’ve forgotten before and have found myself rummaging through my computer trying to find two decent photos from the previous Halloween. I seem to recall saying lots of swear words that day.

My plan is to hang these up every Halloween forever and ever.