Custom Made Costumes by My Grandma

Every year around this time you see that section in the grocery store or your local Walmart filled with Halloween goodies.  Decorations, candy, and of course costumes - I can’t help but find myself walking through these aisles every time I’m at the store.

As my roommate and I established on our walk to school the other day, I am that Fall b*tch.  I watch the Nightmare Before Christmas from October 1st until the end of December and I’m not afraid to admit it.  

But if I had to cite one reason why I get so excited about spooky season, I’d have to credit my grandmother.  From my very first costume at 7 months old until I was 12, she either made, or had my costumes made. I always felt special at Halloween because I got to have something exclusive that none of my classmates or friends.

So, here’s a walk through of all of my custom-made costumes.

  1. 1. Jack-O-Lantern (1997)

    My first Halloween, I was a Jack-O-Lantern, a costume made by my grandmother herself.  I always laugh when I look at this picture, because the pumpkin has these wide, googly looking eyes. It’s obvious how much was put into this - I have a stem coming out of my hat, for goodness sake!

  2. 2. Bunny (1998)

    My second Halloween, I was a bunny. Fun fact: I’ve never seen a photo of me truly smiling in this costume, so maybe I just hit my emo phase real early.  This is one my grandmother had made for me, and the floppy ears were literally half the length of my body. Apparently, it was really cold that Halloween night, so it was the perfect time to be covered in faux fur.

  3. 3. Butterfly (1999)

    This year I went as a butterfly, and yes, I did wear those gigantic wings to walk around my neighbourhood.  It seems I was maybe a little too into character because it was so windy this Halloween that I almost actually took flight.  

  4. 4. Flower (2000)

    It seems my grandmother was onto the jumpsuit trend before it made a comeback, because this year I had a fully sequined stem jumpsuit, with a matching petal headpiece.  I’m sure this look will be flying off the shelves at H&M any day now. These photo shoot did not come with the flowerpot included, meaning yes - we did carry a large clay flower pot into the studio, so I could sit in it.

  5. 5. Bat (2001)

    I don’t know why, but this is still my favourite costume I’ve worn to this day.  If we could get this remade in my current size, I would wear it again in a heartbeat.  When I was five-years-old, I was a bat. I still remember the gloves had little glittery press-on nails glued to them to mimic claws, so I couldn’t pick things up.  It was probably when I realized acrylics would never be for me. I also included two photos because come on, the second one is just too cute.

  6. 6. Little Bo Peep (2002)

    Have any of you ever worn a hoop skirt? Well, to be Little Bo Peep I had to - and I had to wear it to school. I think this was the most annoyed I had ever been with a costume I wore, but I've come to appreciate this costume more with time. Looking back on photos, it is undeniable how well done this year was. Also, yes, that’s definitely a candy cane Christmas decoration wrapped in gold tape.

  7. 7. Wizard (2003)

    Seven was a tragic year for me: I lost both of my front teeth right before Halloween. That year I looked like a wizard who'd gotten into a bar fight. I think this was also when my grandmother discovered she loved putting me in black wigs, which later led to me cutting my hair into this exact style.  

  8. 8. Spider Queen (2004)

    You know what a spider queen is? Me neither, but I was one.  That year for Halloween, I had no idea what I wanted to be, and I remember my grandmother and I went to the fabric store and just started flipping through the pattern books.  We liked the design so much we both went as one. It turns out the collar was multifunctional because I wore it again years after and aged the costume up with a new dress.

  9. 9. Princess (2005)

    This Halloween came with another costume misfortune. A couple of weeks before the big night, I was carving a pumpkin and cut open the skin between my thumb and pointer finger.  I finally got to live every girl’s princess fantasy, and here I was with my fingers taped together. A little strategic hand placement in the pictures and you’ll never know - but slinging a pillowcase full of candy wasn’t exactly easy.

  10. 10. Genie (2006)

    The show I Dream of Jeannie was definitely before my time, but it gave my grandmother a pretty clear vision of what she wanted for this costume.  She paid a seamstress to make the outfit, but my grandmother hand stoned my shoes, which were pink water shoes, and made the lamp from a lamp base she’d thrifted.  So, there it is, my grandmother was the original DIY queen. Also, look at me rocking winged liner in 2005.

  11. 11. Angel (2007)

    This was a terrible wig. To my grandmother who is probably reading this, I love you and appreciate everything you have done for me - except for putting me in this awful wig.  This year I was an angel - we love a wing situation it seems - and these wings are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. We had them because I had played an angel in a musical at church. Catch me rocking this star halo at Coachella next year though.

  12. 12. Fortune Teller (2008)

    This was the last year I had a custom costume; the year I graduated from elementary school. In my moody teen years, I didn’t think it was cool anymore. In this photo I'm psychic or a fortune teller.  This was a costume I wore a second time in my first year of college, and my Mom wore as well because of the adjustable corset.  

Having the opportunity to wear a costume that was uniquely mine is something I’m extremely grateful for. My family didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, but my grandmother put in the time and money to make me feel special, and those are feelings you can’t just pay back. So that’s why I love Halloween!


...Now if I could only decide on what I’m going to be this year.