November 11, 2014

Halloween 2014: Anatomy of a Tarantula (Costume)

I know, I know, your brain is so far past Halloween that you're mentally stuffing turkeys and already using your best pen to check your gift lists twice. But if I don't get this down and documented now it will be gone. So humor me and think back on glowing jack-o-lanterns and too much candy. [Tangent: Why are all those people giving my kindergartner fist-fulls of candy anyway?! One piece is fine, thankyouverymuch.] That same child with a literal overflowing bucket of candy (seriously enough with the candy, people!) had a very clear vision of what she wanted to be this year: I present to you Hairy Tarantula, Age Five.

Hairy Tarantula Halloween Costume: uses foam for shape so this spider costume is flexible and comfortable. | The Inspired Wren
All eight of these arms gave me a hug and it was wonderful.

What do you want to be for Halloween this year?
A spider.
Like Itsy Bitsy?
Nope. A hairy spider.
Like Little Miss Muffet's spider?
No, mom, a tarantula.
Like Eric Carle's The Very Busy Spider?
[Clearly exasperated] NO, MOM, a hairy tarantula with orange here on the arms.
Okay. Got it. One hairy tarantula coming up.
So I did an image search for tarantula and sure enough, orange stripes on the arms and plenty hairy. How she chose this I have yet to figure out but, man! I love the way her little big-brain works. More importantly, how the heck was I going to do that? With foam and faux fur, of course! I printed out some of the images I found, pinned a whole bunch of spider-inspired costumes, drew up a sketch or two, and bought myself a mountain of fur and foam.

Hairy Tarantula Halloween Costume: uses foam for shape so this spider costume is flexible and comfortable. | The Inspired Wren
Think of her feet as the tarantula's spinnerets.


I briefly considered creating the abdomen as giant bustle and using her actual legs as two of the eight. But then I had visions of an unwieldy spider-butt knocking down other kids and sweeping jack-o-lantern candles off porches while trying to trick-or-treat. At this excitable age they don't need costume extremities to do that, arms and feet seem to suffice. So the final costume is three separates: a skirt, a jacket, and a cap.

THE ABDOMEN (Skirt) 

I initially planned on a bubble skirt, but when taking out our annual Halloween decorations I came across our old toddler pumpkin costume and realized it was the perfect shape. I used the exact pattern pieces from that pumpkin (minus the arm holes) to create the skirt out of fur and 1/2"-thick foam (the same foam as I used on the Robot of 2012). The waistband is 5" black elastic and the hem is gathered with 1" black elastic. It was the first piece I made and The Peanut was downright giddy when she tried it on -- even before there was a single spider leg, or piece of orange fur, she was happy. Even better? She could easily walk and sit, so I was happy, too.

Hairy Tarantula Halloween Costume: uses foam for shape so this spider costume is flexible and comfortable. | The Inspired Wren
She was so very happy with the comfortably flexible, hairy, bulbous skirt.

THE CEPHALOTHORAX & LEGS (Jacket)

The jacket is from the same pattern as our favorite Elephant & Piggie jacket. Her arms and the bottom two legs are at the proper side seam of the jacket, while the middle four legs (slightly longer than her arms) are sewn into a second seam created by a center panel on the back of the jacket. This was done out of necessity (so they would all fit), but it had the added benefit of keeping her real arms unobstructed.

Hairy Tarantula Halloween Costume: uses foam for shape so this spider costume is flexible and comfortable. | The Inspired Wren
I meant for the two middle arms to be longer than her original two arms, but failed to compensate for the space between the side seam and the back seam. Ah well.

None of the legs are stuffed or hemmed. I used thick (top-stitching) thread to connect the arms and tied each leg tightly creating a bit of a gather at each "leg joint."

Hairy Tarantula Halloween Costume: uses foam for shape so this spider costume is flexible and comfortable. | The Inspired Wren
Thankfully (and surprisingly to me) she accepted this pale orange fur as "orange here on the arms." 

For the closure I went with snaps instead of buttons because they're faster to insert, but used seven to compensate for the added weight of six extra arm-legs of fur. I had orange snaps on hand but the costume was looking so good I was afraid they'd be too bright and ran out to get brown snaps on Halloween day. (I'm aware of the crazy that is me.) The jacket has 5" and 3" black elastic at the waistband and cuffs to save time on making casings and hems -- she's a sporty looking spider.

Hairy Tarantula Halloween Costume: uses foam for shape so this spider costume is flexible and comfortable. | The Inspired Wren
The center placket is made with black denim scraps I already had on hand.


  

THE CHALICERAE & EYES (Hat)

I made the hat while she was in school on Halloween day from the same original pumpkin costume pattern (the shape is the cap for the Lady Bug view). I inserted the eyes into the top cotton layer, then inserted a thick piece of batting between that layer and the lining to protect The Peanut's head from the plastic screws.

Hairy Tarantula Halloween Costume: uses foam for shape so this spider costume is flexible and comfortable. | The Inspired Wren
Fur triangles proved impossible to turn, so I just sewed them right side out and put the seam toward her face.



When the cap proved way too small for her head, I cut up the back, hemmed along the cut lines and threw another piece of 3" elastic across the bottom -- now her pony tail even had a place to pop out, ta da!

Hairy Tarantula Halloween Costume: uses foam for shape so this spider costume is flexible and comfortable. | The Inspired Wren
Last minute hat fix: not my best sewing (I didn't even match the thread!), but it made room for the ever-present pony tail.


But this costume is really best when it moves. So here's a Halloween Treat from me to you, click over to Flickr and check out my favorite singing tarantula in action! Do you see how all that candy doesn't fit in her bucket? Craziness.

The Peanut has already told me next year she wants to be a witch. After Robot (2012), Mary Poppins (2013), and Tarantula (2014), a witch feels so ...pedestrian. Here's hoping something else wonderful and out there strikes her fancy in the next eleven months.

Hairy Tarantula Halloween Costume: uses foam for shape so this spider costume is flexible and comfortable. | The Inspired Wren



PS -- Thanks for reading to the very end! If you're in a costume-y mood be sure to check out the Flexible Foam Robot (it can sit!), the Harry Potter Tri-Wizard Swimmer, or our Mary Poppins Fan-Wear.





Ren Murphy writes for The Inspired Wren.

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20 comments:

  1. This is absolutely brilliant, every detail is amazing and I have no idea how you came up with all of this, but it works perfectly.

    And even if she doesn't change her mind, I'm sure she'll have a rocking witch costume.

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    1. Thanks! I'm consoling myself on next year with the idea of Hermione, McGonagall, Bellatrix or even Umbridge ...witches all.

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  2. That is amazing! Well done. I think its the cutest spider I have ever seen for a costume

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  3. Gorgeous Ren, cute model.......

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  4. Oh my gosh, this is the most amazing costume I have ever seen. Well done you! Your daughter must have been thrilled.
    Michelle :o)
    http://stitchunpickrepeat.blogspot.com.au/

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. She really was buzzing with happiness -- and that was the best part of this costume.

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  5. That's the best Halloween costume I've seen this year, and on a 5 years old it's even better. My daughter is probably similar to yours : her initial idea for Carnival last year was "a mushroom covered with caramel". Luckily for me, she later changed it to Nemo. :) https://lardoncouture.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/la-maman-des-poissons/

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    1. Thanks!

      I love the idea of "a mushroom covered with caramel" -- how fabulous! She was a perfect little Nemo in the end.

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  6. This is so amazing. I love the idea for the arms - our youngest has been begging to be General Grievous for a while, and I hadn't taken the time to think through how that could even be done. This is perfect! ^_^

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    1. Thanks! I admit, I had to look up General Grievous -- that would be a fun challenge!

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  7. This costume is AMAZING! She must have stood out in the sea of princesses and superheros!
    I wonder how she came up with spider idea...not a cute little spider, but a hairy tarantula! I would not want to search and printout the images of tarantula, so if my little girl ever asks to be a tarantula(I doubt she ever will), I am coming back to this post! :D

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  8. Wow.


    You are brilliant. I love every bit of this. You are absolutely on the money with those little spinaret feet! And I really appreciate the spider anatomy lesson and the thoroughness of your research. If you're going to do it, do it right, huh?!
    brilliant. Truly brilliant.

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  9. What a great costume! And totally freaky!!

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  10. SERIOUSLY??!!! This is one of the most incredible costumes I have ever seen. AMAZING!!
    Thank you for linking up to my party!

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  11. My son wants to be a tarantula also....i thought, odd choice but typed in spider costumes and this one popped up. Not only is it amazing, but it also is a incredible likeness to a real tarantula! My son saw it and said, " that's exactly what i want mama"! I wish i could sew and make this for him but, i am defeated in that department. Just wanted to share that although i can't make it, my 4 year old was ecstatic over these pictures. Great job!!

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