Hot! Halloween Costume Compromises

The other day, when I posted a photo of Penelope's first real Halloween costume (and in my opinion the best costume ever), a friend asked whether or not Pen wants to pick out her own costume this year. The short answer: Penelope has a set of criteria that I must meet for her to be willing to wear the costume. Below is an Venn diagram that illustrates our preference and overlap:

As you can tell, I try to force my child to be a hipster or at least some sort of gay icon. She suggests Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, I suggest Judy Garland from Summer Stock. She wants to be a "pink pirate" and I try to sell her on 1970s era Steve Martin (with arrow!) Fundamentally, Pen just wants to be something "pretty" and "for a girl." Because parenting is all about compromise, I decide to let her pick (within reason) a costume from the Butterick Halloween pattern catalog. 

Thankfully, she skips over all the trashy sort of costumes that just make me so sad. Her reason: "those are mommy costumes." Not that they're the costumes I would wear, mind you. Instead, "mommy" is the interchangeable word for an adult woman. 

image from Looking through the catalog, Pen sees Snow White and is pretty interested. She continues looking and sees a bat costume that piques her curiousity. And then she's starts frantically pointing at a costume and says "That's the one I want!!! In a little version!!" She has her finger on a Regency-era gown from Butterick. Not only that, she says — and I'm not making this up — "it's like that movie…that movie…bedudice!" "Bedudice" is what she calls the 1995 A&E version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. I don't know how she did it, but she sat through about two hours of the movie on some rainy Sunday a few months back.

It was pretty great to see her so excited over a historical costume. While the dress meets most of her criteria, I also feel like I can create something special and different. And she's happy. She wants her boy BFF to be the boy (Mr. Darcy). As cute as that would be, he's going to be a pirate. 

For her costume, we're skipping the "Mommy version" from Butterick and I'm working with Sense and Sensibility Pattern's Girls' Regency Dress Pattern. I was able to find some white gauzy cotton for the dress and golden yellow pseudo dupioni silk for a jacket. Both pieces of fabric ended up costing me about $1.


Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. Love the diagram! Julian has chosen clown and his idea of a clown is pretty old school, so that satisfies my criteria: homemade, timeless, able to support warm underlayers.
    I will be freestyling with the pattern, but did a rough draft in a doll size first.
    Scarlett would like to be a character from a kid’s DVD of which no one has ever heard because it is a start up that reached out to mommy bloggers…
    Pen’s Gallagher costume is still on my top 3 fave list. (See the picture I posted on this week for my new fave:

  2. She has great taste.

  3. I make costumes for the grandchildren every year. This year:
    Emma (6), a cheerleader—pink, of course. Done.
    Eliza (9), a “vampire princess in a pretty purple dress.” In the works. I settled on an irridescent purple something off the sale table for the [long] skirt and a piece of black sequined knit, also on sale, for the bodice; there’s enough of that left for elbow-length mitts and possibly a crown of some sort.
    Riley (5), an orange dragon. Still thinking about that one . . . but I do have a yard and a half of hideous orange-y snakeskin printed polyester that everyone laughed at me for buying (at 75% off) last year. . .
    Next year, I think, I’m going to tell everyone that I’m going to surprise them.

  4. That’s hilarious Mena! I didn’t give Leila a choice this year, although I am sure she has an opinion. I am going to try to fit in on last year of my choice. I try so hard to avoid all the pink fufu princess stuff. Leila’s dress up clothes look more like hobo garb! She found a pair of princess heals at school and loved them. I looked the other way.

  5. Best use of a Venn diagram EVER!

  6. Someday I’m going to publish a coffee table book of all of your infographics.

  7. Hhaha – love the use of the “Pen” diagram! I love that she knows what Pride and Prejudice is – the costume is going to be adorable!

  8. That’s hilarious. And that costume is going to be ADORABLE.
    I am about 75% sure that Mark really wants to be Brobee from Yo Gabba Gabba but we’re dressing him up as Abraham Lincoln instead. I think he’ll think it’s funny.

  9. I think Pen’s idea of Dorothy is better than yours. Granted, the only costume that I think of from Summer Stock is the one of Judy at the end in nothing but a hat, jacket and heels. No, that one would look better on you, not her. :-)

  10. Great post. Love the diagram.

  11. That was probably one of the funniest posts I’ve read in awhile.
    It’s hard to top the Gallagher one from the other year, but I think Regency dress is pretty spectacular! Well done, Penelope! And Mama!

  12. how lovely, especially that she likes Jane Austen at such an early age (although who doesn’t), can’t wait to see the photos. x

  13. My mom made me a dress like that for Halloween one year. Probably the same pattern. Ha! I loved it! Not sure what I thought I was … a woman from olden days? … but I liked the 800-foot long string of pearls I wore with it. :)

  14. I love the Sew Weekly, and this was without doubt, one of the best posts. So funny. Your daughter sounds like such a character. I hope i have a daughter like her one day! Thanks for making me laugh.

  15. Impressive story all around and I totally agree with you about the trashy costumes. That girl of yours is smart and classy!

  16. I’ll bet this is going to be amazing! I’m so glad you bought directly from S&S patterns! I have yet to sew my own up :P

  17. How fun!! Last year I made myself something along these lines, however, I was from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I adored my costume and I can’t wait to see the final dress for your little one!
    If i could attach a photo of mine, I would!

  18. That’s so funny, because if her boyfriend BFF is going to be a pirate, she’s going to be an accidental romance novel heroine.