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Craft project: Ezra's Max costume

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I always loved making my Halloween costumes — coming up with an idea, figuring out how to make it work with things I had on hand in the house. One year, my friend Catherine and I decided to go as Scarlett O’Hara and Melanie Hamilton. We had some old prom dresses in the dress-up basket, and, after taking costume books out of the library and drawing several schematics, I made a proto-hoop skirt by threading wire through the hems of the skirts. Another year, I went as Little Women. The book. I made a sandwich board for myself with a carefully drawn copy of the cover art on my edition, and put it on over my best old-fashioned dress.

Over the years, I became less interested in investing so much attention to my own Halloween costumes. But this year, with a special new guy in the house, I was suddenly inspired again, especially after a babysitting swap allowed me and Sandy to see the magical Where the Wild Things Are.

After a few days googling “infant max wild things costume,” I realized that I wasn’t going to be happy with any of the ideas I was finding (turn a grey sweatsuit inside out, paint whiskers on his face), and that I was going to have to make my baby a real Max suit.

A search through pattern books at JoAnn’s turned up Simplicity #2537, which, though that gingerbread man is terrifying, seemed like it had the bare bones I needed: a body suit, a snowman hood that seemed amenable to the addition of pointy ears. I went with flannel instead of fleece because I worried that fleece might be too hot at an indoor party. Also, because I totally didn’t think I could pull this off (it has sleeves for heaven’s sake), so I though cheaper fabric was a smart move.

Ezra is a hefty four-month-old (18 pounds!), and I found that the 1/2 size on the pattern (which corresponds approximately to measurements I’ve found for 12 month sizes) worked fine for him, especially since I wanted him to wear the costume over his clothes.

I’m not a terribly careful or advanced sewer, and I found this to be pretty doable. The hood, with its crazy shaped pieces and multiple darts, seemed hard, but once I figured out how to clip into the curves to make them stretch to fit each other (i.e. once I remembered to follow the directions and schematics in the pattern), it was cake.

For those of you playing along at home, I made the following alterations to the pattern:

  • Made the velcro opening in front, instead of back.
  • Skipped the turtleneck-style neck band and just sewed down the neck edge in a kind of bootleggy hem.
  • Instead of hemming the legs, I just sewed them shut. That way I didn’t have to worry about matching socks. I also skipped the stretchy wristbands, but that was just because I was lazy.
  • Sewed velcro into about 3/4 of the crotch seam to make a diaper-changing hatch.
  • Cut the stupid widow’s peak off the hood and made the face opening larger.
  • Sewed velcro to attach the hood tabs to the front of the suit (instead of to itself, under the chin) and to attach the hood to the back of the suit, so it’s removable.

The ears, whiskers, and tail are all just sewn into seams: the ears are in darts in the hood, the whiskers (pipe cleaners) are in the seam attaching the hood to its lining, and the tail (feather boa) is stuck in the back seam.

And voila. My little Max. You guys, I’m insanely proud of this thing.

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