Sew Scary – Trick or a Real Treat?

by Cathleen Campbell

Halloween is just around the corner. Sure you’ve known it was coming for a long time, but with busy schedules and the dread of magically manufacturing perfection, often the experience of Halloween is at the very least challenging and more often nearly traumatizing.

For moms the process of making your children’s dreams come true starts way ahead of time. Whether your child knows exactly what they want to be – usually a complicated character that would take a Hollywood costume designer months to achieve! – or they have no idea what in the world would make them happy, most moms start feeling the pressure to create a jaw-dropping designer original around mid-summer. Most moms, however, don’t really start working on Halloween costumes until the moment is pressing down upon them. How to make everyone happy? The answer is sweeter than any piece of Halloween candy.

The trick?

Experienced or not, you really can create a costume delight in no-time at all. And to add to the fun, get your kids involved in the creation that will be all their own.

Stitching up Halloween costumes used to be a complicated deal. Finding the right fabric, figuring out complex patterns and designing the perfect get-up gave moms nightmares long before the spooky fun. Nowadays, you’re in luck. Companies, such as Simplicity and McCall’s offer terrific patterns that are easy to understand for first-time sewers, while still creating that authentic look.

Fabric stores like JoAnn’s and Wal*Mart are also holiday-friendly, and offer the exact right fabrics, notions, tips and accessories to complete the desired look easily. And for those moms who simply can’t fathom operating a sewing machine, you can breathe easy: the no-sew costume is a perfect way for you to get in the fun too.

Why make a costume when you can just grab one at the local party store or order online?

The experience of creating a costume for – and even better with – your child creates memories that will last you, and more importantly them, for a lifetime. Yes, there may be some tense moments or frustrations.

And even those moments are special as you teach your child how to work through challenges.

Sometimes the best part of creating costumes for your kids is when the costume doesn’t quite come together as planned. Kids learn lessons about making life work even when things aren’t as planned or how to take a disappointment and turn it into a happy time. And often, that princess-turned-three-armed-monster becomes a beloved family joke.

So where to start? Ask your children what they want to be for Halloween. If they don’t have a clue, check out this list and the resources that follow.

The hot looks this year?

*Super Heros – and Heroines! – abound:

Whether your child wants to scale the heights as a Spidey-Man or launch their arrows of desire as Merida from Disney’s Brave, whip together a super costume they’ll want to play with long after the holiday is over. Designer tip: look for shiny/glossy fabrics that sparkle to show off their super powers.

*Video Games come to life:

Does your child play games like Angry Birds? Stitch together a cute bird or even one of the elements of the game such as one of the trees. Designer tip: felt can be cut and glued without having to worry about ends unraveling so it makes for a great “modeling” fabric that can be shaped in many ways and glued into place with a hot glue-gun.

*Fairytales do come true!

Everybody wants to be a prince or princess sometime, and Halloween is a great time to indulge your child’s regal dreams. Simple A-line skirts and oversized shirts can magically come together with a few special embellishments, making a strong royal statement. Designer tip: save the budget for a few very special trims – faux fur, rhinestones and metallic ropes – stitch together the main part of the costume with the least expensive fabric you can, adding the special expensive touches for a noble result.

Check out and for inspiration. These pattern companies have been in the business of teaching sewing for almost 100 years each, so their instructions are clear and focused on the beginner sewing enthusiast as well as giving options for advanced designers too. Best of all, they have customer service contacts right on their websites in case you get stuck.

If you’ve never sewn before, remember, you’re not in this alone. The fabric stores and pattern companies have a vested interest in making sewing simple and accessible so you will want to sew again and again. Ask questions.

While sewing is often simple and intuitive, sometimes it does take a little insight from a knowledgeable person to get that one aspect right.

And best of all – the most important thing to remember when sewing a Halloween costume is it’s the one thing you can sew that nobody will bother checking the perfection of your stitches. As long as it looks somewhat recognizable and your child likes it, you’re golden!

So get stitching now, and have a Happy Halloween!

Cathleen Campbell, EFT-CC is a Hoboken-based energy practitioner, the only credentialed Emotional Freedom Techniques practitioner in Hudson County. She uses all the problem-solving and creation skills she learned through sewing and her 25 year career as a corporate executive in the sewing and non-profit industries to help everyone, especially moms and kids, release stuck energy (pain, frustration, unproductive beliefs, chronic behavior or learning issues, etc.) and teaches them how to create consciously in Living Harmony. For more information, please visit her website at or email her at with your questions. Cathleen offers Metro Moms members and readers a special referral rate, so mention you read about her here.

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