Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sew What?! Like A Bat Out of Hall-oween 1929

Before I talk about our Halloween, or the costumes I made, or the fun that we had, I have to do a little bit of bragging about how disturbingly cute my nephew is!  Can he really be related to me?  I question his genetic make-up because nobody, but nobody, has ever accused me of being cute and then this guy comes along and ZOWEE - off the cuteness charts!!!  That's not an exaggeration; we took him to the doctor and found out that he was in the 99th percentile for height in 2 year olds but they said his cuteness is unquantifiable.  They actually referred my sister and brother-in-law to a crisis counselor because they said he was at dangerous risk levels for developing an "acute cuteness complex" at any moment.  If I was super hip, I would "hash tag" this - #cutepeopleproblems.  I, as you are undoubtedly well aware, am woefully, tragically, painfully unhip.

"Reach for the sky!"
He was actually trying to smile in this one.

Aren't I lucky?!!
I get to hang out with this mug on a regular basis
and give him cool, vintage cowboy stuff.
But he did have to take off his boot...
there was a snake in it.

This one reminded me of a Disney cartoon - if you
can believe it.  Have you ever seen...

"A Cowboy Needs a Horse" (1956) ???
Watch it!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming (but really cute though, right?)

Particular attention has been paid to Dennison's Bogie Book this Halloween season.  I guess we bloggers are following the same spiritual vibrations because the costumes I made this year are directly inspired by the beautiful, deco-era illustrations found within those books.

That's my kind of Halloween party!

I've always found the Halloween costumes of the 1920's and 30's to be exciting.  Instead of blood and gore, the costumes make it seem like every Halloween is a Cole Porter musical.  It's not only the costumes, but the decorations, the games, and even the ephemera. Papier-mache pumpkins, die-cut witches, lanterns, funny hats, cider, anything spooky from as early as the Victorian era through the 1930's - that's what Halloween means to me.  Blessedly, our friends, Kevin & Jody, feel the same. 

Kevin & Jody's place
A spooky old tree and a Victorian house being slowly
enveloped by a thick, green fog.

I love this chandelier!!!
It drips with lanterns, masks, ornaments, and mementos of Halloweens past.

Yes, to all of the above!

Amazing house. Check.  Amazing hosts. Check.  Player piano, cool party guests, good food.  Check, check, check.  The only thing left was the costumes. Oh yeah, I also made some costumes.  Check.

I found a really nice, very inexpensive crepe georgette at
my favorite/secret, out of the way fabric store and used it to style a
 late-20's dress.  There are drapes of
fabric at the front, the back, and the side seams and a swagged
garland of self-fabric yo-yos at the dropped waist.

Like a good bridesmaid dress, I wanted Mary's Bat/Vamp costume
 to be something she could wear again.  Bat wings at Christmas?
Bat wings at Easter?  Bat wings on Boxing Day (Canada)?  That works.

The inspiration for this costume was, of course, the central figure.
I know crepe paper used to be made of heartier stuff, but I wonder if a
dress and headdress made entirely of crepe paper (as the instructions
 suggest) would survive a full-night of Halloween merrymaking.

Mary's hat is made of a deconstructed wall-hanging, bat decoration( from the 99cents Only Store),
a deconstructed pirate hat (thrifted), and deconstructed, black tinsel spiders (Target dollar section).
I'm telling you that hat was broken down!
All told, Mary's hat cost three dollars...
if you don't count the gas used driving from store to store to store!

Based on the Dennison's illustrations, I made
"carnival cane" type walking sticks/scepters;
Mary's had glittering bats.

I guess I had more inspiration that may have been subconscious;
several people told Mary that she looked like an Edward Gorey illustration.
My parents were ardent fans of PBS' "Mystery" series. Growing up
I saw the opening sequence about 475,692 times (reruns included).

The Edward Gorey opening theme from
the PBS series "Mystery" (a parental favorite)
See the bat lady at 0:21-0:25

My costume was a little less macabre than Mary's, but it wasn't all comic (see the tear drop on my mask?).  Speaking of the mask, I just realized that I'm always wearing some kind of face furniture.  Because I don't wear contacts, I just went blind all night.  I have particularly horrible night vision so I spent the entire evening squinting and tripping because my depth perception was off - the ideal party guest.  I'm going to have to include the necessity of glasses to my personal list of hard and fast costume rules - no face paint (messy, greasy, and easily smeared) and nothing more restrictive or less comfortable than pajamas.  If you look at the old-timey ilustrations, with the exception of the giant spiderweb, all the costumes look extremely wearable.  Let it be known that I love all those clever costumes thoughtfully created with moving parts, giant masks, added appendages, etc.  For me, however, comfort and the ability to sit, stand, and move is paramount.

A bit clown, a bit choir robe, a bit Mama Cass on
the "Mike Douglas Show" - all comfortable.
I prefer to think of it as male maternity wear.

My post-pasta pigout Pagliacci costume was
 topped with a diminutive, handcrafted hat. 

The costume started with my yo-yo clown.
Oddly enough, my brother and his girlfriend thought
this was super creepy.  The two-year-old buckaroo,
however, thought it was hilarious.

I very crudely embroidered the face on some remnant muslin
and stuffed the head/hat with batting that I snuck from a pillow.
Each arm and leg is made up of THIRTEEN yo-yos!!! Spooooky!!!

"Every party needs a pooper..."
Sad clowns

Kevin said this photo of us looked like something from Vanity Fair.
We just wanted to be close to the snack table...
(photo courtesy of Kevin Kidney)

I've already bragged about my nephew so I don't want to boast even further, but with the exception of missing a few parties that I know were awesome, this was a pretty perfect Halloween.  It was the ultimate haunted house experience!

"The Haunted House" - Ray Noble & The New Mayfair Orchestra (1931)

I hope you groovy boos and ghouls had an awesome Halloween too.  Honestly, we spent half of our night planning and preparing for next year's festivities.  When I was young I liked Halloween, but the older I get, the more I LOVE Halloween!   Thanksgiving, Christmas - those are a lot of work; Halloween is pure fun - just a little responsibility and a whole lot of candy!!!

Bonus photo: I made a sweet pumpkin dip (served with ginger cookies)
to take with us to the party.  Like all good things, this recipe contains Cool-Whip
and I used that container to store the dip.  When I removed the lid, there
 was a Jack-O-Lantern staring back at me.  A Halloween miracle?
I think so. You see it too, don't you?


Mr. Tiny


  1. That photo of you and Mary is gorgeous! Thanks again for another fabulous post, Mr. Tiny!

    1. Thank you! I have to rely on others to get good photos. One of these days I'm going to break down and buy a "real" camera...and see if that makes a difference.

  2. You seem to have had a lot of fun!!! I love Mary's and your costume, perfect Halloween colors!
    We also had a scary Halloween party... it was only the second time I celebrated it because it's not really popular in Europe...
    Here is our pictures:

    1. Thank you! I'm thrilled that Halloween is catching on. Keep up the good work; you and Sylvain looked awesome!

  3. What a little cutie-pie your nephew is! Also, love your costumes! I am so sad that we didn't get to celebrate Halloween this year (because we were at the wedding on Saturday, which is when most of the fun parties took place) but it means we will go all out next year!

    1. Thank you! Isn't he great? He is a wild man but I can't get enough of him! I hope next Halloween is awesome for you guys!

  4. You never cease to amaze me, bravo!

  5. Yes yes yes to the Mystery-ish costume! I knew exactly of what you spoke before you showed the clip. I adore Gorey... in fact Mel and I once went as 2 of the Gashlycrumb Tinies, Hector done in by a thug and Winnie embedded in ice. (Of course no one got it, not that we expected them too.) And I'd have to agree, your nephew is head-explodingly cute!

    1. Thank you! He is the best. Is there photographic evidence of these costumes? I would love to see them!

  6. oh wow mary's costume! so gorgeous! i would wear that all year round! and i literally squealed with delight when i saw yours! so perfect! you guys seem so fun. and what a sweet little nephew! if we have a kid i'm rooting for a girl (because i have LOTS of vintage dresses saved up) but if it is a boy he will have a cowboy room and be forced to be a little buckaroo every year! so so cute.

    1. Hahaha! Thank you! Trust me, we aren't as fun as we seem. We're ten times more fun than that! I love when cool people have kids; it gives me hope for the future of the world. Whatever you have (when the time comes), I am sure you guys will be great parents and you will have the coolest kid on the block! I am much older than Mary so when she was born I got a girl and now I have a boy with my nephew - all kids are awesome!