I was casting about for an idea of what to bring to a Halloween potluck when I came across a video showing someone unrolling some canned cinnamon roll dough, arranging the coils of dough in a pan to look like intestines, and then topping the dough with cherry pie filling to look like blood. It looked delightfully creepy, but since I’m not really a fan of canned cinnamon rolls I decided to go a step further and make the dough myself.
A little searching online turned up this fabulous recipe for a similar dough made with red velvet cake mix– brilliant idea! Unfortunately for me it didn’t turn out quite as planned– the dough was very soft and sticky,* and after I rolled it up with the filling it refused to unroll so I could form the intestine-coils. I ended up just pulling the dough apart and plunking it into the pan– I didn’t expect it to turn out well, but by the time it puffed up in the oven it looked pretty great, particularly with the addition of some edible eyeballs (canned lychees). Nevertheless, I’ve adjusted the flour/water ratio below so you’ll hopefully get dough that’s easier to handle!
Have you ever needed a bow tie for a costume or event, but couldn’t find one in just the right fabric? And it’s tough to make one from scratch, because the silk fabric used to make ties isn’t usually available at regular fabric stores. What to do?
Make one out of a regular tie!
I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of money on a nice tie just to make a bow tie, but if you happen to be at Goodwill and find a tie with the perfect fabric for $1.99 like I did (score!), here’s how you can make it work.
First, unpick the stitches up the center back of your tie, and use a cool iron to press the fabric flat so you can see what you have to work with. I only unpicked the wide half of the tie so I could use the skinny back half as a neck strap. I removed the interfacing from the unpicked half.
Next, find a pattern for a pre-tied bow tie. I used this one , which worked great.
My daughter decided this year for Halloween to be Kiki, from Kiki’s Delivery Service.
The black dress, red bow, and broom were simple to come by, as was the little stuffed cat (Gigi), but for some reason she focused in on the orange messenger bag as a crucial element of her costume, particularly as it would hold tons of candy for trick-or-treating.
Unfortunately, inexpensive orange messenger bags can be hard to come by, particularly if they need to be lightweight enough for a 6-year-old to carry around all night while full of candy. I had basically given up the search when I noticed an orange cotton sateen blazer on the rack at Goodwill that was crying out to be converted into a bag.
For a Halloween party this past weekend I was tasked with bringing something sweet– last year I made iced pumpkin cake balls, which were a rousing success, so I decided to revisit the idea and try again with a different theme. Eyeballs!
This time I started off with a regular box of white cake mix, doctoring it up with some sour cream in place of the water– in this case 1 1/4 cups of it. This really is necessary to make the cake batter thick enough to properly fill the wells of the cake pop maker– otherwise the batter is so thin that when it rises it just overflows, rather than doming to fill out the ball shape.
Once my cake balls were cool I popped them in the freezer for a little while to firm them up a bit while I prepared my coatings.
Once I’d finished sewing my Janet costume I knew that I also wanted to carry a cactus.
Not just any cactus, though– a cactus-shaped purse. Stylish *and* practical!
While there are a few cactus-shaped purses floating around the internet (some more expensive than others), I didn’t really like any of them– particularly as none featured pots, which I saw as being part of the gimmick– so I had to make my own. I decided to make a barrel-shaped cactus with a drawstring top for maximum storage capacity. Something shaped kind of like this:
I started off with a plastic 5″ pot to form the base of the purse. It was actually hard to find– usual sizes are 4″ (much too small) and 6″ (too big)– but I needed that size because I wanted to be able to fit my phone and a few other bits and pieces inside, but didn’t want it to be too bulky.
I decided right away that I would only bother painting the design on the sleeves and collar, since the rest of the blouse wouldn’t show beneath my vest. I carefully detached the sleeves from the blouse, then removed the cuffs and unpicked the stitching from the long seam up the sleeves so I had flat pieces of fabric to work with.
To make my pattern for the painted design I went to the Mood Fabrics site where the fabric was available for sale and adjusted the zoom on my screen until the ruler was actually correctly sized (as measured on screen). Then I just put a piece of paper up to the screen and traced out the design in pencil, going over it in heavy black pen afterwards.
I traced the design out onto my fabric using Jacquard water-based resist, basically forming a dam blocking off the areas I wanted to color in. Once the resist was completely dry I stretched the fabric over cardboard frames I’d constructed from a storage box, and pinned the edges to keep it taut. Then I diluted some Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow fabric paint and did some blotchy watercolor painting inside the resist lines in shades of blue.
Sorry for the delay in posting about this costume– I was waiting for a zipper to arrive, and then it turned out to be out of stock (thanks a lot, FashionFabricsClub.com, for making me wait three weeks without bothering to tell me you didn’t have my order), and I had to order it from Amazon.
Anyway, Janet’s skirt is a bit more flared than a standard A-line, but doesn’t have the fullness through the hip of a circle skirt. The panels (I think there are nine, since there’s no center front seam) are actually fitted through the hip and then flare out from just below the hipline.
To draft my pattern I took my waist measurement and my hip measurement (8″ down from the waist), and divided by nine to get the fitted top part of the skirt. From the hip point I continued drawing the lines along the same angle just for reference, extending them down to the hem (the panel was a total of 25″ long). Once I determined where the original lines would be, I extended the width of the panel by 3″ at the hem (total, so 1.5″ on each side) to get that extra flare.
It’s no secret that I enjoy making elaborate Halloween costumes. But the first Halloween with our baby daughter, to my surprise, my husband agreed right off the bat to my first idea for a family costume– Mary Poppins and Bert, with the baby as one of the dancing penguins in the Jolly Holiday animated scene.
I recently started watching The Good Place. To be more specific, I had a free weekend and decided to try watching an episode on Netflix, and before I knew it I’d binge-watched the first two seasons and was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the third. It’s just such a fun show! (I promise no spoilers for season 3 if you haven’t seen any episodes yet)
One of my favorite characters has got to be Janet– basically Siri or Alexa come to life. The actress, D’Arcy Carden, delivers her lines with a deadpan helpfulness that cracks me up every time, and her costumes are reminiscent of vintage flight attendant uniforms in a way that evokes the same feeling.
So with Halloween fast approaching (and a newfound awareness that it’s always nice to have an easy, casual daytime outfit for more involved costume convention weekends), I decided to put together a Janet costume.
I originally planned on finding a purple suit to start with, but it was harder than I’d anticipated to find one– mostly because all of the suits had pencil skirts instead of flared skirts. The closest I came was a wool suit with a pleated skirt, but the pleats bugged me and I’d still have to convert the jacket to a vest. I would have to start from scratch.