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PortWatch

October 9, 2013

Homemade Halloween

From parrot beaks to mermaid tails: DIY costume tips

If you’re thinking of making this year’s Halloween costume yourself, you can stick with simple or go Hollywood pro. Neither has to take much time or money, and either can create a convincing costume, whether you’re looking to draw guffaws, shrieks or admiring nods.

Brenda K.B. Anderson, who builds creatures and costumes for the touring “Sesame Street Live” show at VEE Corp. in Minneapolis, says some of the same theories she uses there also apply to making Halloween costumes. A good costume blurs the line between reality and fantasy, she says; even simple subterfuge, such as donning a wig or wearing thick-rimmed glasses, can suffice.

“When people can’t see what you really look like beneath the makeup, hair and clothes, you are much more believable,” says Anderson, author of “Beastly Crochet.”

For instance, she suggests padding a costume — such as around the middle for a clown or bear — to disguise your own shape and make it more authentic.

Start pulling your costume together by visiting a thrift shop, Anderson advises.

“Thrift stores are kind of a gold mine for the beginnings of Halloween costumes,” she says. “For very little money, you can get a whole bridal gown — something that looks more authentic.”

Kim Conner, of Burlington, Vt., writes about thrifty craftiness in her “seven thirty three” blog.

“I try to utilize things that I have, and what I have to buy is inexpensive,” Conner says.

For instance, her simple pig costume: felt ears attached to a pink headband, a plastic bottle cap wrapped in felt and topped with a pink button to resemble a pig’s snout. Her mermaid costume, a little more complicated, involves sewing.

An added challenge is trying to keep her children warm on Halloween night without having to cover up with coats. Some tricks: Incorporate a hat, wig, hooded cloak or long gloves into the costume. On bare arms, wear nylons. Legs stay warm in thick cotton stockings, leggings or tall boots.

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