Every fall Julia Tobin and her mom, Janet, come up with the costume idea. The Eiffel Tower costume was based on Julia’s sketch. Next, dad gets into the act. Jeff cherishes the time they spend as a family designing and shopping for each year’s creation. They find most of their supplies at a nearby fabic shop.
The elaborate costumes are constructed mostly of felt and foam rubber. Jeff says, “Felt holds its shape better” and is easier to work with than a softer fabric.
As for the design process, he explains that it’s quite simple: “I eyeball it!”
He does admit to making a plywood template for the Eiffel Tower costume and that he was able to reuse it another year for the costume of Cogsworth Clock from Beauty and the Beast.
Jeff’s most important tip for first-timers is to make sure your child can move in the costume. “Remain fluid in your design process,” he says, adding that you should be prepared to make changes once your child gets in the costume. If he or she can’t hold a candy bag and walk comfortably, then you need to start tweaking the design.
“I don’t have any skill that anyone else doesn’t have,” he adds, playfully. “Get yourself in over your head—you can’t fail!”
As a father, he says each costume is a tangible way of showing Julia how much he loves her. What does the creative family have planned for this year’s costume? A pirate in a pirate ship, a cup of hot cocoa or, possibly, a giraffe. Quick, someone get the camera!
Ready to start? Here are the essentials for a well-stocked creative home workshop:
1. Felt—big strips, little strips, and all sorts of idea-inspiring colors.
2. Fabric glue—because those felt pieces aren’t going to stick themselves together.
3. Fabric cutting wheel—a pizza cutter for cloth keeps arcs smooth.
4. Eye pencil—raid Mommy’s cosmetic drawer for a dark eyeliner, which can be used to add designs to your child’s face.
5. Paper and markers—childhood runs on these two staples will help with finishing details on the costume.
6. Ribbon—wavy ribbon can be used as a cosutme detail (like the frame of the clock’s window) or silk and satin.
7. Fun and collaboration— never underestimate the contribution your child can make to hisor her own costume.
And no matter how the costume turns out, this time spent together is sure to build many happy memories over the years.