Fiber Craft · How-To

The Eleventh Hour is My Domain

Hello, my name is Jacquelyn and I am an Olympic level procrastinator. And of all the holidays, Halloween is the jewel in my procrastination crown – which is how I got myself into the position of making my 4 year old daughter’s Halloween costume in less than 48 hours.

About three weeks ago, after determining she wanted to be a “sparkly, rainbow unicorn,” her Auntie found a great tutorial on how to make a rainbow unicorn costume out of a white hooded sweater and fleece. It was perfect! I bought the fabric, various notions, and the hoodie + pants combo the very next week. I was on a roll! I was going to get this done EARLY!

Look Ma, I even got the guest bedroom back into sewing mode!

Fast forward to 8pm, Friday, October 25. Now, it’s still a week until Halloween, so I think I’m doing fine. AND THEN I REMEMBER. Grandma is taking my daughter to a Halloween party on SUNDAY. AT 10AM.


I unearth the fabric and supplies from whatever rug I’ve shoved them under. I find everything except for the green fleece, which I swear I bought, but my memory is about as trustworthy as a cat in a canary cage. I methodically cut strips of fleece with my rotary cutter and arrange them in some semblance of an order as instructed by the tutorial. After an hour of work, a glass of wine, and a once-tidy carpet covered in fleece bits, I have assembled this:

Um. No.

I text this photo to the aforementioned Auntie and another best friend. True friendship is replying at 9:30 on a Friday night that the project needs some …help. After a quick text discussion, The Crafty Council suggests that I pool the colors and do a ROYGBV order. Because I am frazzled, it takes me a second to figure out how (they spelled it out for me, bless them) and once more I lament the missing green. But! The result is an improvement by a long score.

So. Much. BETTER.

So what you can’t see in the prior picture is the fact that there is GREEN FLEECE hiding behind the table. It’s okay, I didn’t see it either until I heard kittens playing with something and went to investigate. Blessing and a curse, those kittens.

Oh thank the heavens. And kittens.

Green was added to its rightful place between blue and yellow. World order was once more restored and I could continue without qualms on my ability to make a decent rainbow.

Now, it is COMPLETE! Muahaha!

Mane down, tail to go. Since the tail is going to hang freely, I make a little mock-up and send it to The Crafty Council for their verdict, because I recognize my judgment is questionable at the moment. The verdict: make it longer; two of each color, please. They instruct, I obey (it helps that they are right pretty much every time).

Too short. NEEDS MOAR MINERA- oh wait.

Phew! Mane pieces laid out in order and pinned. Tail pieces laid out in order and pinned. Fabric to make the horn located. Wine glass almost finished. We are ready to SEW …tomorrow. It’s 11:30 by this point and I’m exhausted and need sleep.

Wine optional but recommended.

Jokes on me though – the next day is a solo parent day with two littles! Since I also major in masochism in addition to procrastination, I decide to hand-sew the pieces together instead of using a machine, since it fits my ready-to-run-after-the-baby-at-any-moment lifestyle. I use some super sharp sashiko needles and sashiko thread. They work great! You know what they also are great at? Putting holes in one’s fingers. I highly recommend using these magical inventions called thimbles.

Stab, stab, pull. Repeat.

Ballet lesson? No problem, I can sew while the big one “shitters like a mouse” in class (the 4 yo’s words, not mine) and the baby tries to knock over every garbage can in the waiting area. Birthday party in the park? Score! Big kid goes on the slides and the baby seems to be content to throw mulch into the stroller. Everyone got fed, no one got hurt, and I finished a single row on the mane and three rows on the tail. #winning

Tail finished while the baby redistributes mulch.

We get home, and the baby loses HIS BABY MIND. Nonstop screaming. Will NOT be consoled. Will NOT be soothed. The 4 yo shows a sense of self preservation and makes herself scarce, and I call in reinforcements, aka Grandma. I have about 18 hours before this costume needs to be finished, and all of my previous certainty (*ahem* hubris) about doing so is very abruptly drowned out by piercing pterodactyl screeches.

Grandma arrives (with dinner, because Grandma is a professional) and we tag team the kids through dinner and bedtime. Sometime around 8:30p I get back to the costume, this time without wine. Because I mean BUSINESS.

I start by attaching the now-sewn-together mane to the sweater, starting at the top of the hood and working my way down the center seam and down the center back. I use my trusty sashiko needle and thread, and they don’t fail me.

Wear thimbles, people.

Once the mane is attached, I need to make the unicorn horn. I cut it out using the pattern piece and because it’s weird, stretchy stuff, I use the sewing machine for its one seam. I am ready to stuff it, but of course my bag of Poly-Fil decided to disappear from this plane of existence, so I make do with some of the scrap fleece. Also, a chopstick makes a fantastic stuffing tool. Who knew? Probably a lot of people, but whatever.

Ta dahhh!

Oh man oh man. This thing is actually starting to come together! I sew on the horn with not a small amount of swearing and proceed to start cutting the mane and tail fleece pieces into smaller strips, up to about a 1/4″ from the stitched lines. This step takes a millennia to finish because I find out my Gingher shears are badly in need of oiling. And sharpening.

*hands crying*

I persevere, and promise my hands some love when we are done. I finish around 11pm and am somewhat delirious but proud of my handiwork. I still have to attach the tail and make the ears, but that’s what mornings are for, amirite?

It’s …a thing!

The next morning, Sunday morning, I leave the whole “making breakfast and feeding our children” thing to my partner, since I have a costume to finish. He is unfazed, thankfully.

I get to work on the tail first. I snare the 4 yo and put the hoodie on her to get the right placement, since I know she wears her tutu lower on her hips and I don’t want this tail to be in the wrong place. She’s rejected things for less. I then negotiate with the future attorney about getting it off of her so I can finish her costume. Once I have successfully removed the sweater from her person, I get to tacking the tail on with gusto. I fold over the fleece at the top AND use some fleece inside to “sandwich” the sweater material as a defense against any ripping when my daughter inevitably gets her tail caught in something. Or not, because she’s never met a door she could close without being reminded. Regardless, I’m not risking it.

Outside on left, inside on right. Mama’s not messin’ around.

I assemble the ears out of some pink fleece and white felt. Before I sew them onto the hood, I whip-stitch the bottom closed because I like doing extra work.

Not pictured: my badass thimble to go with that needle-spear

It is now 9:30am. The tutorial calls for threading some elastic through the hood edge, but Mama ain’t got time for that. Grandma is going to be here any minute. But I can sew a mean button, and fast too, plus I have about eleventy billion white buttons. Then I find some 1/8″ elastic and make a loop and VOILAAAAA.

So much faster. Sew much faster? I crack myself up.

OMG I FINISHED IT. *walks around holding the sweater up like a WWE belt in victory*

Grandma shows up and we get the unicorn dressed: hoodie with the works, white leggings, a tutu I most definitely did not make because tulle, and pink sparkly shoes because my child. Grandma and kiddo head out.

After they leave, I sit down and take a breath. I did it. I made a costume in less than 48 hours. With two small children and without the aid of Hermione’s time-turner. I ROCK.

Hm, I should probably start on my daughter’s dress for December’s Dickens Fair soon… Nah. I still have plenty of time. *wink*

Finished product in all of its rainbow glory

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