Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sew What?! The World's Biggest Munchkin: A Tale of Defeating Stereotypes


I have never had a store-bought Halloween costume in my entire life.  It comes as no great surprise that neither of my parents are Halloween enthusiasts; my dad could take it or leave it and mom would just as soon leave it entirely.  Because my mom disavowed any true participation in Halloween, our costumes were always of the "homemade" variety that started with clothes from her closet and ended with a mustache drawn on with an eyebrow pencil.  Year after year, I wore almost-identical costumes with only a change in title - pirate, gypsy, artist, etc.  On the odd occasion, we managed to eke out a clown costume and for a couple years running, I was a scarecrow.  As a child, I was none the wiser.  As an adult, I am actually grateful that imagination, thrift, and ingenuity were thrust upon us.

For years, I have made Mary's Halloween costumes.  This year I was perplexed.  She has been Lucille Ball, Willy Wonka, Dame Edna, a pirate wench, a glamorous witch, Jean Harlow, and others that I just can't seem to pull from the recesses of my addled brain at this moment.  I was toying with the idea of "Scary Poppins," a macabre interpretation of the classic, Mary Poppins character, but in the design stages, it became too reliant on props; nobody wants to carry a carpet bag full of Jane & Michael's severed heads around all night!  

In thinking of things that were a little on the lighter side but still mildly-ironic, I decided that Mary (at 6' tall) could be The World's Biggest Munchkin!

A quick design sketch

The best part of this costume is that I had EVERYTHING I needed on hand.  Sometimes it pays to be a hoarder!  From the fabric to the notions to the discount placemat that I used to create the hat, it was a joy to avoid multiple visits to the fabric store during the Halloween season.  I "frankensteined" several patterns and ended up having to draft some of my own pieces.  I made the green, circle skirt a separate piece so she could incorporate it into her regular, post-munchkin wardrobe.  The bodice/apron is all one piece and unless she gets really brave, it will probably be cast to the back of her closet - the costume graveyard. 

The finished product.
I'm rather proud that the outcome very closely resembles my original design.

I played with the idea of forcing the perspective even more by having her in heels, but with a hat of almost 18", she already had to duck to get through doorways.

Would you have guessed that the hat was a repurposed placemat?
Well, if you would have, you're not alone.
A few people figured out that it was indeed a placemat.
It was already fluted/scalloped, I just folded it and wrapped it around
a foam cylinder (to hold the flowers) and affixed it to a buckram
hat frame.  I used the leaves and stems of some silk flowers and
took the red & white striped fabric used in her bodice/apron
to make yo-yo flowers with button centers. 

Mary shows off her layers of pink petticoats and pink stockings.

I had some serious ideas for a great photo shoot including miniature houses, horses, and people.  The coordination of those people, places and things was just too impractical at this time of year.  If and when it happens, I will be sure to post the photos!

After all, height is just a number, right?


Mr. Tiny


  1. Oh my gosh. This is seriously the coolest costume I have ever seen. I want one!! Mary looks fantastic, and fabulous job on "shopping the stash" :)

  2. So glad your childhood deprivation encouraged your incredible imagination and talent. And, producing a little sister who was game for all your creations can be credited to me and dad as well. Love, Mom

  3. The costume and Mary both are GORGEOUS! Wonderful speaking point about the entire idea of Halloween costumes is to show off your creative side, I'm with you 100%. I cannot BUHLIEVE the placemat hat, either. What a sharp eye!

  4. This was even more amazing in person. You continuously remind me how primitive my own sewing skills are. And I finally got to see a sketch :)

  5. That is spectacular!!! Seriously one of the prettiest & most original costumes I've ever seen!

  6. You have always been so creative... this is one amazing costume!

  7. That costume is amazing I love all the detail it has in it!!

  8. So, I'm really thinking you should seriously consider going on Project Runway. I'm pretty sure you won't, but I'd LOVE watching you work. lol. This is fabulous, Mary is so fortunate to have such a creative brother!

  9. Wow! Thanks everybody! For whatever reason this was one of her easier costumes to make but it seems to have been the most effective. Cheers!

  10. The munchkin who bumped her head on the rainbow...
    the hat would make a nice little centerpiece (with some of the similar placemats, as placemats.)

  11. These photos are amazing, but it is even more amazing in person! He even made matching shoe and jewelry details. Did I say AMAZING yet?? Please be MY brother!!!

  12. Trully AMAZING!!!! Your skills are just unbelievable!

  13. It's so beautiful! Mary is a lucky lady to have her own costume designer:)

  14. This costume is stunning. Would you be interested in making some for a school performance? If so, I'd love to hear from you. Please email me at rachel.a.daw@gmail.com. Thanks!