Costuming my Kids

Despite having access to an experienced in house seamstress (me), my children have rarely asked me to make them costumes.  For three years straight, when she was five to seven years old, my daughter Charlotte was a cat for Halloween.  It was a costume that required only a black leotard, cat ears headband and some face paint.  Up until last year, my son Ben wanted to be various Star Wars characters, using store bought costumes.

Still, I have made some costume pieces for my children.  For my daughter it was a dress to wear to the Bristol Renaissance Faire.  We don’t go to the Faire often, averaging about every other year, so we like to make the most of it.  When Charlotte was eleven she decided she wanted to dress up for our visit.

Charlotte and Her Bow and Costuming
This girl loves her bow something fierce.

I showed Charlotte a dress idea I had pinned on Pinterest.  It’s a reconstruction of the dress worn by Kiera Knightly in the movie King Arthur.  She approved the design and we headed out to the fabric store.  I guided her to the kinds of fabric that would work and she picked out the color.  We chose an olive green cotton drill. It was heavier than what was used in the pattern and movie costume, but I wanted something solid and a bit more hard-wearing.

The making of the dress was ridiculously easy.  While drapey tunics use a lot of fabric, I love them for the ease of construction and customization.  The belt was made from ribbon I had on hand, with a snap fastener as a closure.  That day at the faire she had a great time swanning around, shooting arrows and eating turkey legs.  She’s outgrown the dress now and I have it packed up.  Perhaps one day there will be another child eager to use it for dress up.

The Family at the Faire
See what I mean about loving bows? Stephan decided to dress up as well.

Ben’s costume story is more recent.  Last year he decided a week before Halloween that he wanted to be Purple Link.  On such a short deadline I ended up buying parts of the costume and sewing the rest.

The leggings and shirt came from the girl’s section at Target.  I used a Simplicity “Indian” costume pattern that I had inherited for the tunic.  Both tunic and hat were made from purple broadcloth I bought.  The belt was made of brown cotton drill from my stash as well as yellow and brown felt I had on hand.  I used hot glue to tack the Velcro fastener for a closure.  The hat was made from a self-drafted pattern.  The whole costume took a couple of days.

Ben as Purple Link
My little agent of chaos sure does know how to rock some leggings. <3

He was pleased with his costume, even if his classmates didn’t know who he was supposed to be.  And Ben has kept the shirt in his regular clothes rotation, always a plus.  The various costume pieces have been worn since during play and pretend time.

I am certain these won’t be the last costumes I sew for my kids.  We have plans to join a boffer LARP that runs in Colorado once the move is finalized.  That will require costuming for them.  And there are still plenty of Halloweens to be had.  I do hope I’ll have a bit more time for sewing the next time, though.

No Easy Beauty

Charlotte and I pulled into Bolingbrook just before midnight last night. It was the end of a 2,400 mile journey that took us to Wyoming and back again. With the exception of the 2 1/2 hours we sat in traffic due to construction and accidents it was a good trip.  We drove out to Laramie to drop off my husband, son and the cats.

My husband, Stephan, has a new job in Laramie and we’ve signed a lease on a house.  After a day of getting them settled, Charlotte and I loaded back into the Jeep and headed out on the road again.  We swung up through Worland to visit my grandmother.  That added half a day to our trip, but I hadn’t seen Grandma since 2008 and I wasn’t about to skip a chance to see her.

Charlotte and roach in Wyoming
Charlotte and I take a selfie in the Big Horn Basin.

Driving through Wyoming I got to show my daughter all the things I loved about my home state.  I wasn’t trying to convince her to want to move there, I just wanted to give her an insight into where her mother came from.  Charlotte kept pointing out places where we could set the castle I plan to build one day.

The drive also gave me a lot of time to process what’s been going on.  Where I grew up is not an easy place to love.  You have to look for its beauty and if you can’t find it, the land doesn’t care.  I watched the landscape roll past us, desolate but dotted with life determined to thrive.  I thought about how I had been raised to know that life isn’t easy and won’t hand anything to you.  With that in mind, I was taught, I was supposed to be grateful for anything life gave me and not complain.  Never ask for anything more, was the prevailing wisdom.  It took thirty plus years for me to unlearn that second lesson.  Life might not be easy, but that doesn’t mean I can’t fight for what I want.

Grandma, Grandaughter & Great Grandaughter
Grandma, Grandaughter & Great Grandaughter

I’ve got two more weeks before I get an idea of whether or not my relocation petition will be granted.  I’ve spent almost six thousand dollars on this fight, and I will spend thousands more to finish it.  I am not trying to take Charlotte from her dad, I’ve been adamant from the beginning of this legal battle.  I’ve stated that I would work with him to make sure they have time together.  But I can’t let him have full custody of her.

My ex-husband is a homophobe who has not supported our daughter since she came out as a lesbian last year.  He hasn’t taken her mental health issues seriously, ignoring and denying her repeated requests for help for months until I intervened and got her into therapy and on medication.  In the past he preyed on an underage girl, chatting with her about masturbation and being “friends with benefits”.  The list of reasons why he can’t have her full time goes on and on and on.  Charlotte needs to have a relationship with her father.  She also needs to be protected from him.

Life isn’t easy.  Neither are the decisions I have to make.  If the relocation isn’t approved I will remain in Illinois.  I’ll get a studio apartment for me and Charlotte.  My husband will remain in Laramie.  His new job pays more than his previous one.  There are opportunities for advancement there and he will be enrolling in the Masters program for Health and Kinesiology at the University of Wyoming.  My friends and family in Laramie have already set to making my guys feel welcome and loved.

Charlotte and Ben scrambling over rocks. My kids are part goat, apparently.
Charlotte and Ben scrambling over rocks. My kids are part goat, apparently.

This will be an extreme hardship on all of us.  I’m going to suffer financially.  Charlotte will still have to deal with a move as we won’t be able to stay in the surrounding area.  My son will not have his mother.  My husband will have to be a single father.  My daughter is worth fighting for, though.  She is worth suffering for.  I’ll be beside her, looking for the beauty in the bleak scenery for as long as she needs me.