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Costumes on a Budget

Shortly after Halloween two years ago, my son announced that he wanted his next costume to be Jason Voorhees.

Why? I am not really sure.

He has never even seen a horror movie let alone one from the “Friday the 13th” franchise, but he never wavered all year in his costume pick. I think it was his fascination with the old school hockey goalie mask.

The only problem with his choice was that were no costumes like this to buy for a tween. I found many adult-sized costumes, but none to fit my 10-year-old. (In case any large costume producers are reading this: Not every tween boy wants to be a Marvel/D.C. superhero.)

I can’t sew and I will never be that Pinterest-worthy mom, so I had to get creative in how to piece together this costume. I Googled costume pictures of the legendary screen villain and found one where he was wearing a torn-up denim shirt, a white T-shirt and blue jeans.

My son had a white T-shirt and a pair of jeans that looked pretty beat up from every-day wear, so that part was done. But there was no way I was going to buy a brand-new denim shirt just to completely destroy it. So, I decided to go to Goodwill. I donate to the Walkersville location quite often as my two kids have outgrown clothes and toys, so I figured I’d give it a try.

I ended up finding a beautiful George-brand denim button-up shirt in excellent condition for $1. It was a tad big on my son, but Jason Voorhees doesn’t look like the type of criminal that has to have fitted clothes.

After watching a number of YouTube videos on how to tear clothing for zombie costumes (go ahead, look them up), I grabbed a pair of scissors and went to work. I’ve got to admit that I was a little sad to tear up this shirt, because it looked like it had not been worn much, if at all.

As I snipped away at the fabric, I was actually surprised at how hard it is to make the tears look realistic. I ended up making small cuts with scissors and then using my fingers to rip the incision bigger and pull at the fraying threads. I cut off any parts that were neatly sewn together and made them as jagged as possible. Then we threw the shirt in some dirt and charcoal with some splatters of fake blood to complete the look.

I found a hockey mask at a Halloween store, but it was plain white and didn’t have the red markings like the character’s traditional facial cover up. After red paint failed to properly adhere, we ended up using a red Sharpie which worked well. My husband scuffed up the mask with sand paper and he applied ash leftovers from a recent cookout for a weathered, beaten-up look.

After finding a fake machete online, the total price for the costume was less than $10. This was the cheapest costume my son has ever worn, but I think one of the best because of all the creative work it took to bring it to life. I’ll admit, I had fun.

Sometimes thrift shop finds make the best costumes.

Goodwill also helped me to create a costume for my daughter when her class did a wax museum project. Each child was asked to pick a famous individual/hero to research, highlighting his or her background, accomplishments and how the hero overcame obstacles. Projects were displayed in the school cafeteria “museum” with the students posing by info boards they created. When passers-by pressed a button on the board, each student came to life to discuss his or her hero.

My daughter chose Urbana High School graduate and American Ninja Warrior superstar Jessie Graff. One of the stuntwoman’s most iconic outfits was inspired by Wonder Woman and featured a red crop top and a blue skirt with white stars. I had searched online for possible matches, but each were too expensive for a one-day event.

I headed back to Goodwill since my previous excursion was successful. I found a red top with small stars and a big blue star on the front. For the bottom, I found a one piece Fourth of July dress with red and white stripes on the top and a blue skirt with white stars. The skirt was actually sewn into the top so I was able to cut the skirt off at the hem without having to sew it (whew!). I reused the discarded top as a rag to clean shelves. The look cost less than $5 and my daughter was thrilled to match her hero.

My takeaway: As your children outgrow items, don’t throw them away. Make sure to donate them, knowing that they may come to life again at a wax museum or a Halloween party near you.

About Gina Gallucci-White

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