What Quilters (and Their Kin) Wear for Halloween

Susan Brubaker Knapp and I share something besides our love for creating fiber art. Our birthdays are side-by-side: mine is October 30 and hers is October 31. I can say–and I’m sure Susan agrees–that it’s a lot of fun to have your birthday on or near Halloween. Everyone gets dressed up and there is a ton of candy!

Susan’s spooky birth date threads through her life, from her cat ‘Wicked,’ to her pumpkin, gourd, and leaf-themed fiber art projects, to sewing her own and her children’s Halloween costumes.

Susan Brubaker Knapp is frighteningly fond of pumpkins–especially of the fiber art variety.

She gets her scary-good sewing skills from her mom (and her mom’s mom). “My mother was a home economics teacher and an excellent quilter and garment sewer,” she says.

Susan has been posting pictures of the Halloween costumes she and her mother have made for Susan’s daughters through the years. In the spirit of the holiday, I thought I’d share some of those pictures–as well as ones from the Quilting Arts team–with you.

First up is this spot-on reproduction of Snow White’s gown, complete with pleats! Susan’s daughter Lea wore this when she was just a tot.

handmade halloween costumes snow white
Susan’s mother made this Snow White
costume for her daughter Lea.

Now here’s something scary: a throwback photo of me and my brother in Colonial garb, made by my mom.

handmade halloween costumes colonial
We still have these handmade costumes,
and the coat fits my son perfectly!

Here’s a more recent DeNegre family costume, a pirate ensemble worn, in character, by my oldest about 15 years back.

handmade halloween costumes pirate
Ahoy, matey! A throwback to when I made my children’s
Halloween costumes by hand–not that long ago.

Quilting Arts Assistant Editor Kristine Lundblad made many costumes for her children over the years, including princess gowns and several wild animal ‘skins.’

handmade halloween costumes lion princess
Who could resist these cuties in their handmade costumes?

Last in our Halloween costume parade, a throwback to when Quilt Daily Online Editor Cate Prato’s kids were at Hogwarts. Cate says her textile art techniques run more to low-sew fabric crafts, but I think these Griffindors look magical in their costumes created from felt, glue, and some simple straight stitching.

 handmade halloween costumes harry potter
Hermione (left) and Harry, ready to hit Honeydukes
–er, the neighborhood–for candy.

I hope you enjoyed our little parade. And if you celebrate Halloween, I hope you have a fun and safe time. As the birthday girl today, I declare you can dress up and eat as much candy as you like–all calories are cancelled!

moda fabric posh pumpkins
Leave a comment for a chance to win this gorgeous
roll of fall fabric squares from Moda.  

I also grant you the gift of instant gratification: we have a scary number of digital ebooks, videos, and patterns available to you. They download directly to your computer or mobile device–just like magic!

P.S. Do you sew Halloween costumes, or did someone make them for you? Tell me, what was your favorite, scariest, most elaborate, or best last-minute costume? Leave a comment for a chance to win a roll of fall-themed fabric from Moda: Posh Pumpkins by Sandy Gervais. Update: The fabric winner is Carolyn Higgins!

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98 thoughts on “What Quilters (and Their Kin) Wear for Halloween

  1. The worst Halloween costume was for my son when he was about 4 and wanted to be Spiderman. I had no idea what the superhero looked like then so I wrapped him into his snowmobile suit with cheese cloth to make it look like spiderwebs on a cold wet Minnesota Halloween. Later I made queen costumes for my daughter and a witch costume for myself one year.

  2. The Moda colors look just like those I experienced on my walk today … vivid, bright in the sunshine, more muted under clouds, and reflecting nature at its most majestic moment, just before it prepares for a long wintery sleep.

  3. When I was expecting my first daughter, I worked in a fabric store and we were all expected to make a Halloween costume using patterns and fabrics available in the store. I made “Land Shark” costume that was perfect!

  4. When I was expecting my first daughter, I worked in a fabric store that asked us to all make Halloween costumes using patterns and fabrics available in the store. I made a “LandShark” costume that was perfect for me!

  5. When my son was 4 we dressed up for a Halloween party at his preschool. He was a cowboy and I was a school marm, I bought his costume but made my own. I think we looked very cute together.

  6. My youngest son came to me when he was 7 or 8 years old and told me he wanted to be a ’57 Chevy. I always tried to make their costumes so I gave it a go. I used a cardboard box and painted (luckily Neil had a toy car to work from) used plastic wrap wads for headlights and foil for the bumpers. I made straps for him to have it suspended from his shoulders. My husband took him trick or treating and one of the guys at a house said “How cool a ’57 Chevy”, I think I did ok.

  7. My youngest son came to me when he was 7 or 8 years old and told me he wanted to be a ’57 Chevy. I always tried to make their costumes so I gave it a go. I used a cardboard box and painted (luckily Neil had a toy car to work from) used plastic wrap wads for headlights and foil for the bumpers. I made straps for him to have it suspended from his shoulders. My husband took him trick or treating and one of the guys at a house said “How cool a ’57 Chevy”, I think I did ok.

  8. I made my 2 daughters THAT Snow White pattern one year! 🙂 Except they had to wear winter coats over them. Their uncle offered to “warm up” a peanut butter cup…by EATING IT. Still hasn’t been forgiven. (she’s 30 😉
    Laurie in Maine

  9. I’m fairly new but years ago I made my son a pilgrim outfit for his first grade play at thanksgiving. I had lots of help from a family member but it turned out so well the local paper took his picture for a human interest piece! We were so proud and I still have the clipping. Happy Birthday! Thanks for the giveaway!

    tdkcarpenoctem@hotmail.com

  10. I’m fairly new but years ago I made my son a pilgrim outfit for his first grade play at thanksgiving. I had lots of help from a family member but it turned out so well the local paper took his picture for a human interest piece! We were so proud and I still have the clipping. Happy Birthday! Thanks for the giveaway!

    tdkcarpenoctem@hotmail.com

  11. Only my youngest child liked me to make his costume. The other 2 wanted store bought. We would plan for weeks just the right costume, colors and style. And he is the only one who wanted to learned to sew. Even as an adult, we still collaberate on a sewing project. Whether its for his children or himself.
    My most favorite costume was when I dressed him as robin hood. Tights, boots and all. He was about 3 yrs. Old.

  12. As a young girl I remember taking a vintage bridal gown and hand sewing pink trimmings on it to be a “princess”. Thanks Mom for teaching me how to sew at a young age. 🙂

  13. As a young girl I remember taking a vintage bridal gown and hand sewing pink trimmings on it to be a “princess”. Thanks Mom for teaching me how to sew at a young age. 🙂

  14. My favorite Halloween costume HAS to be the “sushi roll” costume my daughter and I made for her daughters HORSE (yes….horse!) for a recent horse show. Complete with a “spinach wrap” and a butterflied “shrimp!”

  15. My favorite Halloween costume HAS to be the “sushi roll” costume my daughter and I made for her daughters HORSE (yes….horse!) for a recent horse show. Complete with a “spinach wrap” and a butterflied “shrimp!”

  16. My darling, talented Mother made a devil’s costume for my older brother, complete with the devil’s scary, threatening three-pronged fork (this was drafted, carved from wood and painted gold by my lovely, skilled Father). As I recall, my brother managed to keep me terrified for weeks after the night he wore his costume!

  17. I made costumes for my son growing up. It was so much fun seeing him in them! Those fab fabrics are the fall colors to have. Hmmm I see a bunch of leaves on a table runner or maybe a wall hanging. Happy Birthday to you both! May they be your scariest ever!!

  18. When my daughter was 3, she and 2 of her friends had to be pumpkins. So I made them each an orange romper complete with a smiling jack-o-lantern face, green tights and a green cap stem. Too cute!

  19. I’ve made many costumes over the years for my 3 daughters. Some have been for halloween, but many have been for plays. One of my favorites was a dress for my middle daughter when she played Anna in the King and I when she was 12( it was a kids production). It was a ball gown including a hoop skirt!

  20. I’ve made many costumes over the years for my 3 daughters. Some have been for halloween, but many have been for plays. One of my favorites was a dress for my middle daughter when she played Anna in the King and I when she was 12( it was a kids production). It was a ball gown including a hoop skirt!

  21. My favorite costume I made for my son was a can of crinkle-cut carrots (yes, that’s what he wanted to be!) but it didn’t involve sewing. I guess the favorite sewn one was when he was a giraffe.

  22. What great photos! When my boys were young they loved the Ninja Turtles (what’s not to love :)). I made them turtle shells out of cardboard, paint and elastic to stick they’re arms through. They loved it and wore them shopping, to preschool, you name it. I decided to make the real deal for them. I paid way too much for the pattern on eBay and went to work. I am a quilter not a sewer so 3D was way out of my comfort zone. I was successful, despite my inexperience. My kids wore them once (“It’s too hot”) and promptly went back to their cardboard ones.

  23. This dates me, but I made an Opus, the penguin costume. It had the big red tie, and the headgear had the famous big beak. At the time I worked in a hospital and the admin had me walk around handing out candy instead of working that day. Best part is 20+ yrs later my kids have worn the outfit for Halloween as well.

  24. I have made many Halloween costumes for my son and a few nieces and nephews and friends. The year I made my son a Hammer costume and his friend a Nail costume was one of my favorites.

  25. When my children were small I made a Minnie Mouse costume for my daughter and a Donald Duck costume and a Pink Panther costume for my sons. The Pink Panther costume was a small adult so that was worn several times and also borrowed out. Our church would have costume parties for the children at Halloween and the adults also dressed up. I wore my husband’s robe and dressed as an Arab with aviator sunglasses and darkened my skin. I’m under 5 feet and the adults didn’t recognize me until I started to speak. They thought I was one of the children.

  26. When my children were small I made a Minnie Mouse costume for my daughter and a Donald Duck costume and a Pink Panther costume for my sons. The Pink Panther costume was a small adult so that was worn several times and also borrowed out. Our church would have costume parties for the children at Halloween and the adults also dressed up. I wore my husband’s robe and dressed as an Arab with aviator sunglasses and darkened my skin. I’m under 5 feet and the adults didn’t recognize me until I started to speak. They thought I was one of the children.

  27. Before my quilting life, I carried on the tradition of homemade costumes for my two children.
    The most complicated was a jukebox with flashing lights. The easy ones were aboriginal tribesmen, pirates, and a mermaid created from bright green stretchy tube fabric. I really miss those days. I hope my two will continue the tradition.

  28. Such beautiful fabrics. I tend to mix clothing pieces I currently have to make costumes. Although I did make one dinosaur tail for my boys, it was bright orange and could be pinned onto a hooded jacket or sweatshirt, depending on the weather.

  29. Such beautiful fabrics. I tend to mix clothing pieces I currently have to make costumes. Although I did make one dinosaur tail for my boys, it was bright orange and could be pinned onto a hooded jacket or sweatshirt, depending on the weather.

  30. I also have an October birthday, the 28th, and love to have costume birthday parties. I made my sons any costumes when they were little – pumpkins, a panda bear, a little devil and more. One year my son asked to be a “couch potato”! We didn’t have much time and the couch didn’t make it through the evening but it was a great idea!!

  31. At 24 my daughter still asked me to make her a skirt for her “Snow White” costume this year. She and her group of friends love to do group costumes each year. They are all very good at it and look awesome every year!!

  32. Up until this last Halloween, I could not have picked a favorite homemade costume. This year, I made a Supergirl costume from scraps. It cost me nothing and was a great hit with the children in the library (I’m a children’s librarian).

  33. My sister made me a pumpkin costume. She went all out on it. Metal strips molded to a pumpkin shape. Bright orange fabric . Hole at the top and bottom so I could put it on. But, she forgot to put holes for my arms! My friend carried my trick or treat bag. And, we got a lot of laughs at the different houses we went to.

  34. I made many princess type costumes but the one I remember best was St Lucia
    complete with a headpiece of candles – my daughter won 1st prize in the local
    costume contest- a gift certificate to ToysRUS.

  35. I made a dinosour T Rex for my oldest son and a Fred Flintstone for his younger brother…. They were so cute and loved every minute of trick or treating. I used camoflauge fabric for the dino and an old fake fur coat for Fred. What great memories! Jennifer Fried

  36. I keep a photo of my husband from some 20 + years ago on my work desk. He had made a clown costume of red white and blue pillow cases and red suspenders. Added some big colorful hair and a crazy expression. Good for a daily smile.

  37. Hope your birthdays were spooktacular!!
    I made my oldest son a T Rex costume from camoflauge and his little brother a Fred Flintstone costume from a fake fur coat. They enjoyed evey minute of trick or treating. Such good memories. Jennifer Fried

  38. Hope your birthdays were spooktacular!!!
    I made my oldest son a T Rex costume from camoflauge and his little brother was Fred Flintstone. I used an old fake fur coat for Fred Flintsone. They looked so cute. They enjoyed every minute of Halloween and trick or treating. Such good memories.
    Jennifer Fried

  39. When our son was 13 and thought he’d outgrown Halloween, he decided at the last minute he wanted to go Trick or Treating. He decided to be a mummy. We bought a lot of rolls of crepe paper and wound it around him, leaving ends trailing out. He couldn’t bend his arms and legs and had a hard time getting in and out of the house. Then it rained! Getting wet crepe paper off was really hard. We did have a trapped teenager, though!!

  40. Halloween costumes are the most fun to sew. My daughter worked her way through the “Wizard of Oz”. She was a witch, Dorothy, and then Glinda. Glinda was fun to make–her skirt involved twisting wire hangers and using webbing to attach the hoop to a belt under the waistband–anyway, it worked.

  41. Several years ago I was a space man. Using a disposable paint suit in various places I traced around styrophome cups with different color magic markers, then cut out the center of each circle. These were primarily for comfort, so were many.
    My head gear was made using a bowl that fit my head, gluing the cups glued together bottoms towards bowl – all the rims were painted. With frequent checking the head piece became almost 360 degrees, leaving enough room to slide my head inside. No eye or breathing holes were necessary since there were spaces between cups. By adding white gloves, no one could figure out male or female. All quite mysterious & lots of fun.

  42. Several years ago I was a space man. Using a disposable paint suit in various places I traced around styrophome cups with different color magic markers, then cut out the center of each circle. These were primarily for comfort, so were many.
    My head gear was made using a bowl that fit my head, gluing the cups glued together bottoms towards bowl – all the rims were painted. With frequent checking the head piece became almost 360 degrees, leaving enough room to slide my head inside. No eye or breathing holes were necessary since there were spaces between cups. By adding white gloves, no one could figure out male or female. All quite mysterious & lots of fun.

  43. Several years ago I was a space man. Using a disposable paint suit in various places I traced around styrophome cups with different color magic markers, then cut out the center of each circle. These were primarily for comfort, so were many.
    My head gear was made using a bowl that fit my head, gluing the cups glued together bottoms towards bowl – all the rims were painted. With frequent checking the head piece became almost 360 degrees, leaving enough room to slide my head inside. No eye or breathing holes were necessary since there were spaces between cups. By adding white gloves, no one could figure out male or female. All quite mysterious & lots of fun.

  44. We never had store bought costumes growing up, so I made costumes for my kids when they were little. I had 3 girls, and the best ones I think we had was when they were 3 blind mice. They each wore black leotards, and tights, I made ears and a tail, and they were super-cool with their black sunglasses!

  45. I enjoyed making costumes for my children when they young. Raggedy Ann & Andy, Bunny, Pumpkins…I have grand-kids now and I look forward to making costumes for them.

  46. My favorite homemade costume was Peter Pan, complete with green dyed tights, for my son Ben. The costume was for a school play rather than for Halloween, but the dress-up fun was just as exciting!

  47. My Mom used to make princess dresses for my sister and I when we were young. I don’t sew garments, but my granddaughters might be able to talk me into trying when they are older. Thanks for the giveaway.

  48. I’m a quilter, not much of a garment sewer, but I did manage to make our boys all their costumes when they were growing up. Even made a few for some school activities. Wonderful memories.

  49. I made my first children’s costume for Halloween when my first son was 9 oths old in 1963. It included a tied on headcover/hat with stuffed Devil’s horns and a pin on stuffed, pointed tail for his red tights! He wnt from crawling to standing in that outfit!

  50. I always made costumes for my kids. My favorite was the year I made them Minnie and Mickey Mouse costumes complete with noses made out of styrofoam balls painted black.

  51. This year my 4 year old granddaughters costume was a group effort. She went as Unikitty from the lego movie. My son and daughter made the head and I made the tail. Best costume ever!

  52. I needed a quick costume for my one-year old son. It had to be comfortable and warm at the same time. What was quicker and easier than buying a white hoodie and matching sweat pants, buying some black felt and cutting out two floppy puppy ears and a bunch of random shapes and sizes for black spots and giving them all a quick blanket stitch on my machine to attach them. I now had the 102nd dalmation!

  53. I needed a quick costume for my one-year old son. It had to be both warm and comfortable. I purchased a white hooded cotton sweat suit, bought a half of yard of black felt, cut out random shapes and sizes and two black floppy ears from the felt, and blanket-stitched the spots all over the suit. I attached the ears to the hood of the sweat suit. Easy!!! A speckled pup!

  54. My favorite improvised costume was ROLLER DERBY QUEEN, complete with knee pads, helmet, and skates. I wore this to a Sunday school costume party on a November 1, and this party was a costume/road rally/scavenger hunt. Imagine me skating through the local mall with a Tootsie Roll and 2 person horse running after me! I still laugh out loud every time I think of that party!

  55. I always make my costumes. I don’t always SEW them, sometimes I use clothing that I pick up at Goodwill and put the costumes together with scrounged elements, but the costume I am most proud of is the witch costume I made for my daughter when she was five. I am not a seamstress by any means, and just because I like to sew quilts doesn’t mean I like to sew clothing, because I don’t. I got the idea for her costume from a Country Living book called “Halloween,” and went by their abbreviated instructions, even making my own pattern. On top of that, the fabric I bought was shiny and slippery- like satin- another challenge I had never encountered. It turned out great though- if you didn’t look too closely. At least it didn’t fall apart! She was the cutest little witch, with her stripey stocking and ankle boots. I still have that dress in the box of Halloween costumes, and I am keeping it to remind me that I can do things even when I think I can’t.

  56. I made costumes when my boys were little– clowns, Tin man, scarecrow and the cowardly lion to name a few. I enjoyed every minute of it!!!

    Thanks for the giveaway!!

  57. My favorite costume was a devil. My mom put a real long tail on it that I had to end up carrying over my arm all night. I made an angel costume for my oldest granddaughter. I had her lay down on some paper on the floor and traced her for a pattern. I even made the wings. Her mom took her to walmart and had her picture made in it.

  58. Gorgeous photos, my quickest most effective costume made for my husband to wear to a pyjama party was…….A yellow single bed sheet sewn up the sides with a v neckline and arm holes, I appliqued a winking eye + sequins, under this an elaborate key…….YES!! Wee Willie Winkee. I wrote this on the back with applique, and a candle holder with candle and flame. Maybe this is a Scottish nursery rhyme.
    WEE WILLIE WINKIE GOES THROUGH THE TOWN, UPSTAIRS AND DOWNSTAIRS IN HIS NIGHTGOWN, PEERS THROUGH THE WINDOWS, CALLS AT THE DOORS, TIME THE CHILDREN WERE IN THEIR BEDS, IT’S PAST EIGHT O’CLOCK.

  59. Happy Birthday to Vivika and Susan both! All the stories and pictures of Hallowe’en costumes bring back memories of my two little boys (now in college and no longer putting in orders for The Most Difficult Costumes in the World) poring over costume patterns and changing our minds endlessly. October 30 for many years was a 24-hour marathon of sewing, painting, stapling – improvising! I wouldn’t give up those memories for anything. Happy Fall!

  60. Happy Birthday to Vivika and Susan both! All the stories and pictures of Hallowe’en costumes bring back memories of my two little boys (now in college and no longer putting in orders for The Most Difficult Costumes in the World) poring over costume patterns and changing our minds endlessly. October 30 for many years was a 24-hour marathon of sewing, painting, stapling – improvising! I wouldn’t give up those memories for anything. Happy Fall!

  61. The fastest costume I made was a pirate outfit for my son when we took him to school they said he needed to dress up, we took him home, my husband made a sword with cardboard and tin foil, while I made an eye-patch with paper and string, he wore one of my black shirts that went to his news and we put a big belt on him, tada, a pirate! My all time fav. costume that I made as a kid was when I was a ladybug, made it myself when I was 8.

  62. My oldest loved sparkly, so I made a pink satin unicorn with a lace heart on the front, and a golden horn with twisted sequins. Still haven’t figured out how to keep the horn from drooping.

  63. What gorgeous fabric: I love harvest-y colors!
    My mother made all my clothes, except underwear and socks, my whole childhood. One year, my friends were all trick or treating in traditional outfits from our different heritages. I always wore kimono for Obon festivals so I wanted something different. I FINALLY got my mother to make an American colonial dress, which ended up very similar to the “pirate” costume above. Such a happy memory.

  64. When my kids were small, we were living overseas. I made a clown costume out of all the leftover fabric I had from making my clothes. That costume was passed down from one to another until it began to fall apart. What good memories…

    I love the fall colors. They remind me of my mother. She always dressed the house up for Thanksgiving in these colors.

  65. i have often made costumes for my children, as they grew up, for halloween…. one year when my daughter was 4 (& very much into all things fairy) they boys dressed up in wizard & monster costumes to go trick or treating & my daughter just wanted to wear her beautiful fairy dress…. we did the usual scary face paint & she declared that she was the “scary fairy” complete with fangs!

  66. I have made capes of various lengths and colors as well as fabric textures…. for last minute costumes add a super hero symbol lightning bolt and wear an appropriate color-usually monochromatic-under the cape….
    they have become princes&princesses,vampires,witches, super hero, pirates/swashbucklers etc. Add a hat and a little makeup WOW…
    Mom and now grandmother is a hit:))))

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