Re: Halloween Costume Forecast 2014

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble–but enough about my lunch. Tradition beckons and once more I gaze into the bubbling cauldron to see what is going to be cooked up for costuming this Halloween.

  • Zombies show no signs of relinquishing their lead over other scary characters in this year’s costume apocalypse. Go dead or go home!
  • Media-wise, I predict costumes from Frozen (Elsa and Anna in particular), Malificent (it’s not about the quality of the film, it’s about Angelina Jolie’s iconic head dress), and Game of Thrones will be popular. In GoT’s case, Spirit Halloween has come out with an official costume line from the series which will up the quantity of Targaryen princesses and Brothers of the Night Watch at your door. “Trick or treat, smell my feet …”. “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” I am also rooting for plucky newcomer, Guardians of the Galaxy (Groot in particular) and the new and improved Sharknado 2.
  • In the politics/current events corner, I don’t see any pop culture reference that’s really catching my eye.


Re: Bookish Pursuits

Bishop's Miter

Finally, two things that I love–medieval manuscripts and historical clothing–have been brought together. The above image is from Eric Kwakkel’s Medieval Fragments blog and shows a bishop’s hat or miter with a lining made from 13th Norse love poetry. After the introduction of the printing press, the handwritten books that had proceeded them were regarded as old-fashioned and were often re-purposed. Because medieval manuscripts were written on vellum–scraped animal skin, could be calf, sheep, or goat–it wasn’t a big stretch of the imagination to re-use these pieces of illuminated leather as linings for clothes.  Re-used manuscripts also show up in the bindings of printed books as well. Check out the whole post here.

Re: Outfabbing Your Opponents

OutFab Your Opponents


Re: Radagast the Brown

Radagast Bird's Nest

Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown showing one of the neat details of his costume: the bird’s nest on his head where actual birds hang out underneath his hat.

The costuming in The Hobbit (both movies) is as wonderful as you might expect. So far, my favorite costume is the one created for Sylvester McCoy’s wizard, Radagast the Brown. It’s costume designer, Ann Maskrey’s, favorite as well. Here’s a link to an article where she talks about creating Radagast’s outfit as well as the other costumes for the movie (s).

Re: Post-Halloween Costume Roundup 2013

Patrick Stewart Lobster Halloween 2013

I don’t normally publish celebrity Halloween costume photos, but this pikker of Sir Patrick Stewart dressed as a lobster was too good to pass up. I hope that I have his energy and since of fun when I’m his age.

I know, I know. You were beginning to wonder if a Halloween Roundup for 2013 would ever be posted. Gotta tell you I was sort of wondering, too, but I finally decided just to do it. I haven’t finished sourcing some of the pictures yet, but at this point, I figured that perfection was the enemy of accomplishment. So, for your viewing pleasures, a small sampling of the cool and fun costumes from this past Halloween. Remember, folks, it is never too soon to start thinking about Halloween 2014.

Gru Costume Halloween 2013

An unidentified gentleman dressed as Gru (Despicable Me) with an inflatable minion.

Shan Fox Pinterest What Does the Fox Say

Pinterest pinner Shan Fox dressed as a fox from the Ylvis music video, “What Does the Fox Say?”

Lady Pin Cushion Dress Craftster Halloween 2013

Craftster X made this fabulous Pin Cushion Dress for her costuming class. Tres adorbs!

Lady Pin Cushion Accessories

The accessories are fabulous as well.

Spy Vs. Spy Costume Halloween 2013

Instructables poster X kitted out her son and daughter as Mad Magazine’s Spy vs. Spy. The kids had specifically requested that they wanted to go as a duo.  Simple concept, great execution.

Child's Map Costume Halloween 2013

Instructable Poster X’s son wanted to go as a map of the world for Halloween. His mother made him the above simple, but effective costume.

Re: Baba Yaga Update

Lori Russell as Baba Yaga Nov. 2013

My 82-year-old mother, Lori,  as Baba Yaga (Nov. 2013).

Lori Russell as Baba Yaga Closeup Nov. 2014

This is only her second-ever Halloween costume and her first photo shoot.  I had intended to wear the costume and have her take my picture, but she makes a better Baba Yaga than I would have.

Lori Russell as Baba Yaga III Nov. 2014

I put the costume together, but all of the facial expressions and poses are her idea. Gotta admit that it gave me a turn seeing how natural she looked hauling a skeleton through the snow. I sent this entry to the Take Back Halloween Costume Contest and, out of about 200 submissions, she wound up taking third place in the Best Overall category. Mom for the win!

Re: Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga

Inspired by Take Back Halloween’s Baba Yaga page, I’ve decided to make a Baba Yaga costume to greet trick-or-treaters in this Halloween. (Yes, I am multi-costuming this year :-). My first step was to find out more about Baba Yaga. I had some idea of who she was–a Russian witch who lived in a house with chicken legs–but I thought I would see if she had any distinctive characteristics or props that I might replicate.

The bad news is that Baba Yaga is generally described and depicted as an old Russian peasant woman. Which lead to my first question: what are the main characteristics of Russian peasant dress?  The good news is that the Internet largely exists to answer these questions for the costumer.

Below is a picture of a Russian woman’s costume from 19th century Moscow. I’m not looking to be authentic, but I do want my costume to say “Russian” to the on-lookers.

Russian Woman's Outfit from Etsy

The peasant costume of a Russian woman appears to consist of a blouse, sarafan (a jumper-like dress), skirt, and a headscarf or tiara-like headress.

Peasant blouse:  I have a peasant blouse-style dress so I’m going to use that as my top and underskirt. However, if you don’t have a peasant blouse, they are readily available these days so shop around, either on-line or at a used clothing store. You may even be able to get one with some embroidery on the arms and/or neck which will look even more Russian.

Sarafan: The sarafan is a jumper or pinafore like dress worn over the blouse. In summer time, the sarafan is worn on its own as a summer dress. This is the item of clothing that had me the most worried. Was I going to have to sew this, I wondered? But after reading Roman K.’s description of a sarafan as essentially an A-line skirt with straps (on the blog Folk Costume and Embroidery), I realized that I had the perfect solution. I already had an old Indian-style gypsy skirt with a bad waistband. All I had to do was add two straps and possibly some trim and voila!–a sarafan.

Skirt: I already had a full skirt from another costume. However, if you don’t, full peasant (broomstick-style, no pun intended) skirts are very much in fashion these days and relatively easy to obtain.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t match. The more the pieces conflict, the more peasant-y you will appear.

Headscarf: I opted to go with a headscarf since that’s usually what Baba Yaga is portrayed as wearing. I have a Turkish print scarf in my stash, but if you don’t, opt for something with flowers (ideally big cabbage patch roses) on it or go with a solid color.

In addition to the basic elements listed above, I wanted to add a few of my own touches:

Shawl: I have a flowered, fringed hip scarf that a friend made me to throw over my shoulders. Baba Yaga is sometimes shown wearing a short, loose jacket so if you have one of those, you can use that.

Skull necklace: Taking a tip from the Take Back Halloween website, I picked up a garland of skulls which should make a nice necklace. However, if you have skull or skeleton jewelry of any kind, now is definitely the time to bring it out.

Baba Yaga Matchbox House Craftster

Matchbox Baba Yaga hut posted on Craftster in 2012 by cackle.

Chicken-footed hut: I applaud the idea of using chicken-footed socks for the Baba Yaga costume. However, I didn’t want to go that route myself. Picked up a small wooden birdhouse (strangely appropriate) which I plan to paint and add chicken feet to in order to create a prop house that I can carry around in my skull planter. Not sure if I’m going to be able to get this done by Halloween.

Skull-decorated planter:  I have one of those plastic skull bowls on a pedestal which I thought would do for Baba Yaga’s mortar. No, it’s not big enough to ride in.

I’ve opted not to wear a wig. Although Baba Yaga is generally depicted as an old woman, there are stories in which she appears as three sisters–young, middle aged, and old. This is would also make a fun family or group costuming option.

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