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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Halloween costumes: the DIY way

    Timothy Galaz
    Timothy Galaz / Arizona Daily Wildcat Costumes, which were inspired by Alice and Wonderland and designed by Shawn Halstead, 32, a Fashion Design sophomore at the Art Institute of Tucson are displayed at the institute on 5099 E. Grant road on October 26th 2009

    What goes into making a fantastic Halloween costume? Some costumes are poorly constructed and at times can barely hold out through the night. So just in time for this year’s Halloween, fashion design students from the The Art Institute of Tucson gave their input on how to construct a Halloween costume.

    “”I like to make Halloween costumes,”” said Shawn Halstead, first-year fashion design student at the Art Institute.

    In the past, he’s made his own top hats, Cookie Monster costume (which his mom now likes to wear for Halloween) and a Popeye mask made of chicken wire and insulation foam. This year, Halstead is making Elvis jumpsuits for himself and his wife.

    Second-year fashion design student Sara Selby will be making a costume for her 4-year-old son.

    “”Your easiest bet is to go to the local fabric store,”” she said, to get the right fabric at a low cost.

    But what is the right fabric?

    Dustin Beaver, a third-year fashion design student, recommends knit fabrics like your average t-shirt, woven fabrics like a button-down shirt or chiffon. He said they are typically cheaper and provide versatility in construction.

    “”If a pattern tells you to use knit, then use knit,”” Selby said. “”Knits are harder to sew because it stretches.””

    Some costumes can get elaborate. For top quality, what are the best types of fabrics to use for an involved costume like, say, Dracula?

    “”Cotton is a good base for a Dracula costume,”” Selby said. “”It’s easy to dye if you can’t get the fabric you want.””

    Usually, Halloween night gets fairly cold, so it would be best to be equipped with a costume that protects you from the elements.

    “”Mixed blends such as fleece would be recommended for going outside,”” Beaver said.

    Selby said you can make a Li’l Bo Peep costume simply by cutting off the sleeves of a top purchased from a thrift store and then re-sewing frilly sleeves cut at a diagonal or bias to avoid fraying threads.

    All three students recommended an easy trick for making a skirt. Pick a large piece of fabric, roll it out and cut a hole right in the middle. What results is a simple skirt that can be worn right at the waist, much like the poodle skirts of the ’50s.

    Halstead estimates that a week’s worth of his spare time will be used for his Elvis creations, which also include a matching jumpsuit for their dog.

    “”The female jumpsuit takes longer to make because it’s contoured,”” he said, in reference to the construction of a costume for a woman’s body.

    Typically, Halstead said, fabric used for making Elvis costumes is fairly weak. The trick is to get tougher fabric that will still have a lot of give so that it stretches lengthwise and widthwise. His female jumpsuit will be closely fitting to his wife’s body, in contrast to his own, which will be straight and have less curvature.

    Halstead is making the jumpsuits based on Elvis costumes he’s seen on the Internet. His will be shiny and deep blue with silver accents; hers, off-white with gold accents. Both will be adorned with Swarovski crystals instead of rhinestones. Swarovski crystals are top-of-the-line and have a more light-reflective quality; they make for a more sparkly costume.

    Halstead suggested that making a costume with your own interpretations is key to keeping costs down.

    “”Tailoring and fabric embellishment,”” he said,  “”… can make (costumes) expensive.”” Alterations like that can run up to $1200 dollars.

    Construction of a Halloween costume can be fun and inexpensive with the right amount of creativity and vision. Just go in with a picture in hand and assemble the pieces.

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