Thursday, October 31, 2013

The First Halloween: Timmy the Lamb and Mama Sheep

For years before I became a mom, I'd dream about having a child to share Halloween with. It's my favorite holiday (if you couldn't tell by my past crafting and spooky baby shower), and I'd started to hit that age where raging parties were hard on the body and the schedule. At that point, Halloween becomes a stay-at-home holiday, and I became relegated to the giving end of the trick 'r' treat ritual. Nothing wrong with that...unless the only one that comes to your door is your downstairs neighbor looking to bum a smoke.

So, when I had Vinnie, I began planning his costume waaaay in advance. Maybe too far in advance. Like, when he was a few weeks old. In January.

OK, to be fair, I was hit with a bolt of inspiration thanks to my Netflix queue. I watched quite a lot of TV in the early days of Vinnie's life, and the one show that never failed to cheer me up on the most difficult, sleep-deprived days was Shaun the Sheep. If you're not familiar with Shaun, it's a British claymation show featuring a cast of  mischievous barnyard animals. The lack of dialogue lends a universal quality to the show, making it enjoyable by all ages.

There were two characters in particular that struck a chord with me: the little lamb, Timmy, and his roller-sporting mother:

They were too flippin' cute, and spoke to the core of my new mama-hood. I knew what I wanted us to be for Vinnie's first Halloween.

Easier said than done. Timmy is a very specific lamb, and no generic sheep costume would do. This would involve garment sewing and possibly pattern making, two things I have little to no experience in. So, I called in the big guns: my mother, who is an extremely talented quilter and seamstress. She'd made plenty of Halloween costumes for me and my brother growing up. A couple of sheep costumes would be a piece of cake, no?

Since she lives across the state, we perused patterns online and I'd call her from fabric shops for her input. We decided on a McCall's toddler pattern for the body (which she'd scale up for mine), with leggings and long sleeve shirts underneath. We debated about the hats for a bit, until my mother commissioned a crafty friend to crochet a pair of black beanies. During a week-long visit to her house, we (and by "we" I mean "she") whipped up the two soft, fluffy sheep shells.

Costume fitting!
My job was the hats, and I had to create the ears and face from scratch. It was trickier than I initially imagined. The ears had to stick out, but I couldn't use wires or anything that could hurt the baby's soft little head. I ended up using fleece stiffened with interfacing, then adding a layer of batting. I also did some top stitching to make the ears stiff. I then split them in half a few inches, inserted the ends in the holes left by the crochet, and stitched them closed inside.

I then cut out the eyes on black and white felt, and the nostrils using black felt, and appliqued them to the hats. The Mama Sheep had her rollers to deal with, too, which I attached by winding strips of leftover fluffy fabric around the rollers then poking them through the crochet holes to tie inside, much like the ears.

It's the little details that kept me the most busy. Every time I thought I had it done, there was one more elements to the costumes that needed attention (such as finding the perfect yellow pacifier for the Timmy costume). Finally, after numerous visits to the fabric store, a cross-state trip, things being mailed last-minute, and sewing against the clock, the costumes were done.

Ta da! It's Timmy! All that hard work and...wait...


...well, crap.

We got him to wear the hat for maybe a total of two minutes. Maybe.

It was hard not to be disappointed, but as my husband pointed out, there's a good chance we'll be able to use these costumes again next year. Even if Vinnie doesn't appreciate it now, someday, when he's older, he'll look back at the pictures of his first Halloween and see just how much his mama (and grandmama) love him...

...or how crazy we were.