By Guest Author, Arin Hailey Reese
Once upon a time, my son’s favorite book was Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. I wanted his Halloween costume to reflect his favorite story, but could find little in the way of commercially produced costumes or inspiration for how to make one (this was two years ago, when the upcoming feature film was hardly more than a whisper and a few leaked stills on the Internet). The references I was able to find portrayed the main character, Max–and that look would have been simple enough to reproduce with white pajamas, a paper crown and wolf’s tail. But I had my heart set on my favorite "wild thing"–a monster with a black mane, white horns, fuzzy striped torso and scaly legs.
With a few store-bought items, a half yard of long black fun fur, and a whole lot of craft felt, I was able to produce a costume that my son happily wore and that everyone easily recognized as a character from the well-loved children’s book.
The top was a problem solved easily with a chunky-knit sweater from The Children’s Place, but really any rugby-striped sweater or long-sleeved tee would work (crewcuts.com currently has one here). Even better would be a fuzzy handknit sweater in the perfect orange-and-yellow color scheme.
I made a rough pattern for the hat by folding the hood on one of my son’s favorite jackets in half and tracing it onto butcher paper. Then I cut two pieces of the shape from curly black faux fur, adding a bit of length to the bottom so that I could sew a channel for a drawstring. Tied loosely around my son’s neck, he could let the hat hang down like a hood when he tired of wearing it, and the effect was still achieved. And with nothing attached to the sweater, he could wear it again after Halloween. For the horns, I roughly sketched long crescent shapes onto ivory felt, cut them and stuffed them with cotton and then hand-stitched them to the top of the hat.
For the pants, I started with a pair of brown cotton bootcut leggings from Target. I then took about a dozen sheets of gray craft felt and cut each into 16 equal triangles. I folded each triangle in half lengthwise and trimmed it into a rounded triangle "scale" shape. I attached the scales using a glue gun, starting at the bottom and working up each pant leg in an upward spiral, slightly overlapping the rows. In retrospect, I wish I’d had the thought and the time to stitch the scales to the pants; in the end, I ended up attaching about 175 scales, and the pants were pretty heavy.
I was thrilled with the final result. My son happily wore the costume, including the hat, to three Halloween parties and a childrens’ parade. Such agreeable wardrobe acceptance is something I have a hard time even imagining now that he’s a three- and-a half-year-old bona fide "wild thing."