She got me thinkin'. She always does. That's why I love her.
I also completely agree with what JennGM said in Red's combox " the creativity of making the costume is half the fun, even if it's last minute tying on the toga sheet for St. Augustine." So I thought I would share some tips and ideas with those of you who just can't justify spending $40-70 on one costume much less outfit a whole family. While I am sure they are of excellent quality and are lovingly constructed, for most of us...food, real clothing and shelter costs don't leave us with that much disposable cash leftover.
We have pretty much always dressed up for All Hallows Eve/ All Saints Day. Everyone from St. Longinus to Our Lady of Guadalupe have walked my halls. In my former life, I was a drama major and since I didn't care to be on stage, that meant long hours slaving away backstage and in the costume shop.
I loved the costume shop! A technical director named Louise and her dog Katie made my many, many, many hours there so worth it! Louise is the one who really taught me how to sew. So part of the reason I don't sew regularly for my family is that my sewing only had to look good in the dark and for a very short period of time. However, it has been tremendously handy when making costumes.
Like Red said... most children love to play dress up and I have found that the slightest nudge towards something "authentic" erases all of the imperfections from their eyes. The best thing to do is find a picture and try to duplicate it or parts of it. If you get the colors close and a few accessories right, they will love it.
Now, The Professor surprised me this year by asking for St. Thomas More. A quick trip to the Goodwill followed by a run to the fabric store kept me busy but I didn't mind since the other three were done after rummaging through the dress-up box. I'll provide a more detailed post on what I came up with later.
I understand that Our Coats of Many Colors is a family run, cottage business so I really do believe that they are not interested in raking in the profits; probably just trying to cover their costs (materials and labor). But if you have noticed the same thing I have in fabric stores across the country, costs aren't so cheap these days. My grandmother used to sew to provide clothing for her family because it was less expensive than store bought clothing. Today, sewing has become a hobby and like a lot of other hobbies, it ain't cheap. One might argue, that homemade is better "quality" but that depends on the skill of the seamstress and the quality of the materials they use. Places like Our Coats of Many Colors are providing a lovely service for those moms who don't have the time or skills to craft something themselves, but if your budget won't allow it, and the Mommy guilt is more than you can stand, here are some other suggestions that might be doable for you:
1) a fireman for St. Florian
2) a gardener with gloves and a spade for St. Fiacre or a farmer (overalls, red bandanna, play shovel) for St. Isidore
3) A basket of rolls and roses turns an ordinary queen into St. Elizabeth of Hungary
4) St. Joan of Arc can dress like a knight with a skirt instead of trousers
5) A long haired wig and some pretty scarves turned Shortcake into St. Mary Magdalene one year
6)If you can sew, I have made these instructions for a Jedi robe work for everything from St. Francis's habit to St. Martin's tunic. You can also use them to make robes for girl saints like Our Lady or add a collar to it and it becomes the under dress for Mother Teresa.
7) Speaking of Mother Teresa, all I did for the habit I made Shortcake last year was take a long rectangular piece of white muslin and sew three stripes of blue ribbon on both of the long sides and one of the short sides. Then, starting from the short side without the ribbon, safety pin the corner behind the neck and over the head to cover the hair and let it drape down to the ankle. Come up the side and cross over the body to pin at the shoulder. She colored her own crucifix to use and pinned it at the shoulder with a safety pin.
8) Our Lady of Guadalupe just needs a pinkish dress or robe, a black ribbon sash, a piece of green fabric and a bottle of gold glitter fabric paint. Draw stars with the glitter and let it dry. Add a clip or a comb to keep it in place on her head.
9) If your sewing skills won't allow you to embroider an image on a tilma like some people I know (cough... MommaLlama), iron on transfer sheets work great and can be found at most Stuff-Marts. Add some silk roses or even just silk rose petals and you have an easy St. Juan Diego. I'd put him in a pillowcase tunic (pillowcase with arm holes and a neck hole cut in it), tie a rope around his waist and put sandals on his feet if it isn't too cold.
10) Remember to have fun. Let your child help come up with the ideas and they will be doubly thrilled at the result no matter how "imperfect" you think it is.
I would like to turn this thread into a brainstorming post. Feel free to post your clever ideas in the combox or on your blog (just provide a link for us). If you are considering a particular saint's costume but can't come up with an idea for it, ask and see what others can come up with.
I worry about the damage that "Mommy Guilt" can do. It seems as Catholic moms we are particularly prone to it. We all want our children to love their faith and to always stay close to it. We want them to be saints on the inside but a costume won't guarantee that no matter how good it is.