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.


Re: Green Woman

Green Woman (2006

An unnamed poster dressed as the Green Woman. Posted to the Green Man Tribe on in 2006.

I thought I would share a costume that I’m working on for this Halloween because it’s an easy one to do, easy to wear at work (necessary since Halloween falls on a Thursday this year), and it goes so well with the season. I’m going as the Green Woman, the female personification of nature. You have most likely heard of her male counterpart, the Green Man, who is particularly associated with the forest in British folklore.

Making a Green Woman costume is very easy. Ideally, you’ll need something green for the body of the costume.  I’m going to be wearing a plain green tunic and pants, but if you have something in a leaf print, for example, go with that.  Next you’ll need several garlands of fake (or real) fall leaves, depending on what’s easiest to work with. I picked up several leaf garlands at my local Joanns Fabrics store. One I used to make a crown for my head. The others I used to make a leaf drape to wear across my body and over one shoulder. The final touch is the leaf mask which I made by gluing leftover fake leaves to a purchased half-mask from the craft store. Total construction time: About two hours.

A big plus here is that the crown of leaves and the mask really give you an alien, otherwordly look which is very neat. You can add green facepaint if you like as an extra touch. If you have other harvest/nature bits and bobs–moss, nuts, berries, etc.–hanging about your crafting area, go ahead and add them to the costume.

Re: Take Back Halloween, Round Two

Morrigan Take Back Halloween

The Morrigan, the Celtic goddess of war and battle, and one of the costumes voted on and financed by Take Back Halloween’s 2012 Kickstarter backers.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve heard me talk about Take Back Halloween before, the website that encourages people to dress up as famous women, queens, and goddesses for Halloween (or any time of year) by putting together costume guides. Much like House Greyjoy, Take Back Halloween does not sew and uses only commercially available items.

Last year, they launched their first Kickstarter campaign which was very successful and enabled them to add a bunch of new costumes. This year, they are Kickstarting again for the month of October and are hoping to raise more money for more costumes.  At this writing, they are 80% towards their goal and have 17 more days to go towards their initial amount of $4,500. Last year they were able to make some stretch goals as well and they are hoping to do the same this year. For $5.00, you can contribute money to a good cause and get to vote on which awesome costume they should do next. Read all about it here.

I consider myself to be pretty well-read, but I’m always surprised by the interesting information I learn on their website, both about the women I’ve never heard of and the ones I thought I knew everything about.

Full disclosure: I supported their campaign both this year and last. I can also report that the buttons I received as my thank-you gift were extremely well done.

[Update as of 10/18/13: Initial goal has been reached and Take Back Halloween is pushing hard towards it’s stretch goal of $7,000.  You’ve still got 13 days to pledge if you haven’t already. Update as of 10/21/13: First stretch goal of $7,000 has been reached. Ten days left to reach the second stretch goal of $9,000. New Greek Goddess poster has been added to the prizes. We can do this, folks! Update as of 11/05/13: Not only has the final stretch goal been achieved, but the super-stretch goal of $13,500 has been made as well. Many, many thanks to all those who contributed. Your support keeps a great site in business].