Making Halloween Costumes Is Stupidly Expensive. And I Can’t Stop Doing It.

little-girl-dressed-as-witch-with-pumpkinI have a sewing problem.

I can’t help it. When my husband drags us all to the Halloween display in the store during what he refers to as “the most magical time of the year”, I immediately start critiquing the offerings. Thirty bucks for double-knit polyester and slapshod construction? I can do better. Not only can I do better, but I can do it for cheaper, which is how I enable myself.

I am a lying liar full of lies, obviously.

My process works mainly by looking at what my daughter picks out, mentally tallying up the cost of fabric and a pattern, and then confidently proclaiming that I can make whatever she wants. After all, I have a sewing machine, which everyone knows grants magical sewing abilities upon its owner. This is likely due to the magical sewing machine gnomes that live inside the machine, but I digress.

So I go to my neighborhood fabric store, and peruse the fabrics until I find what I want, which is when I notice that a slightly nicer version of that fabric is only a dollar a yard more. Plus, I should really buy some extra fabric, in case I mess up. Maybe three extra yards? Okay, four. I have no concept of how large a yard is, which is weird for someone with magical sewing abilities.

Of course by the time I get the fabric to the checkout counter, I’ve also picked up wildly expensive sparkly thread, some buttons, and a new pair of pinking shears because the lady at the cutting table looked like she would cry if I didn’t buy them.

More often than not, I can’t find a pattern that matches what my daughter wants, so it’s time to start draping and swearing. I don’t know how to calculate opportunity cost, but let’s just say that if time is money, I waste a lot of it assuring my daughter that I won’t stick her with a pin and then apologizing after I stick her with a pin.

Sometime around the halfway point, I end up making a mistake, which makes me glad that I purchased extra yardage, but this is also the point in the process where I start realizing what I forgot; an invisible zipper. An invisible zipper foot. Velcro. Food for the sewing machine gnomes. Back to the fabric store I go to spend in notions what the original costume probably cost and to buy Scotch-gard from the cutting table lady who I’m assuming now sees me as an easy mark.

Fast-forwarding a bit, I usually finish the costume about four minutes before trick-or-treating, which means that whatever is wrong with it (and there’s always something wrong) can’t be fixed in time, which leads to my daughter prefacing her statements to me with things like, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but…”

I love making Halloween costumes. It’s just that I’m kind of bad at it, and terrible at weighing convenience cost against the price of my daughter’s love.

This year, my daughter wants to be a vampire. A store bought vampire. She will brook no argument on this point, and it may be time to let go. “I can make you a vampire costume!” I insisted to her when she said in no uncertain terms that she would prefer a crappy double knit polyester red and black dress.

She just hugged me, petting me on the arm, as if to say, “there, there, little one.” The child may or may not have actually shushed me.

So we’ll buy the costume. But let’s be real: I’m going to spend way too much money putting together a homemade version of the same thing that she won’t wear because — as we’ve already determined —

I have a sewing problem.

(Image: Lena Ivashkevich/Shutterstock)

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