I can’t be the only mother who secretly likes their child receiving invitations to parties, at the same time as cursing (inwardly) when the parties turn out to be fancy dress and ‘wear a costume if you want’. If it’s a pirate party or a fireman party it’s no problem because we have those costumes to hand, but for anything else there’s inward cursing.
I think that part of the problem is that my own mother is so darn handy with a needle and a sewing machine. Any costumes we needed as children for school and drama group productions were whipped up with minimal apparent effort and fuss. They just appeared when they were required. And so my schema of a good mother includes the ability make costumes. I can use a sewing machine and have some experience of dress-making, but my skill in both areas could only be described as basic.
Recently Little Woollydaze was invited to a party (whoop) and it was a knights theme and there were the dreaded words… ‘wear a costume if you wish’ (*&%$”@). I have no problem with children having themed parties, I really don’t, I just wish the themes stayed within the confine of the time and setting of the party!
I had a quick look online and decided that paying £15 or more for a costume was a little ridiculous so, heart in mouth, I decided the time had come. Time to step out of my comfort zone. Time to make a costume. I decided to base the costume on the knight on the invite. Well, it amused me.
Friends, I wish you had seen me with some sheets of newspaper, a pair of scissors and a roll of masking tape trying to work out a basic pattern. Little Woollydaze was initially cooperative but quickly got bored, so in the end I had to figure out how the pattern didn’t fit, cross my fingers and hope and cut the fabric out free-form. It was a simple tabard but this is where my knitting skills came in handy because I had some idea of the shape that it should be when flat.
I dug out my sewing machine, which was last used when I was pregnant with Littlest Woollydaze, and started to search for the box of spools that *should* have been with it. A day later I was still searching, and after yet another exasperated hunt in all of the possible places Little Woollydaze came and told me he didn’t want to go to the party anyway. Which was a surprisingly astute and kind comment for a three-nearly-four-year-old, I feel. I assured him that finding the spools was my problem and he would have a costume.
I found the spools. I sewed together the tabard, I tried it on Little Woollydaze. It fitted! I used the scanner and printer to blow up the heraldic lion emblem, cut it out, traced it onto felt and cut that out, then hand stitched it to the front of the tabard. I then added a belt that I intended to put elastic through, but I couldn’t find the elastic and I didn’t want to shout about that too loudly so I just let that one go.
Concurrently, Little Woollydaze and I had made him a helmet out of papier mache which, thanks to the power of the Aga, was dry overnight. We painted it, I added some details in black pen.
I thought at this point that my part was done, so I delegated the making of the shield and sword to Mr Woollydaze. I was imaging cardboard covered in silver foil, but he opted for wood. Made pointy. For a birthday party with excitable three- and four-year-olds. Sometimes we’re on very different wavelengths.
Here is the result of all of this activity, a great joint effort by the Woollydaze household. At the end of the day, this is what costumes for children should be all about; time and togetherness rather than money.
And, do you know what, not one single person noticed/mentioned to me that he was the knight from the invite. Humph.