People decide to have children for many reasons. A special bonus for us geeks, is putting those children in a costume. Even if costuming and cosplay are not for you, you may have a kid born with a thimble on their thumb, or need to learn basic costume skills for your child (school plays, Halloween). The four main items to consider when creating a costume is time, cost, usage, and skill level in terms of sewing.
The most important consideration is time. Is this something you have months to plan? Or your child say on Monday she wanted to be DracuLaura from Monster High for Halloween-which happens 6 days from then? The more time you have to plan and prepare, the more you will be able to hunt and gather items at thrift stores, Goodwill, and Ebay. The less time you have the more likely you're going to need to go to a one stop place like Party City. Time will determine many other parts in the planning of your costume.
Next to consider is usage. Will the costume only be used once? Or will your child wear it over and over again (either because she wants to be a princess every day, or to Cons throughout the year)? If it is a one-time use, factors like how well it fits, how historically accurate it is, what material it's made out of, or if it needs accessories will not hold as much weight.
If the costume will be worn more than once, then more time is needed to adjust the fit. You want your child to be comfortable if she is wearing it for many hours at a time. You also want to use breathable fabrics, like cotton or linen, so your child won’t faint in the Southern heat. You may want to create or find accessories like a bag or hat that matches the feel, time period, etc. You may decide to research the costume to get a more accurate pattern and match details. You can find a pattern through Google, and/or find groups to pose questions about fabric, patterns, notions, and trim. Usage plays a large part in the washing of the costume. How well does the material in the garment hold up and/or need to be dry-cleaned? If it is only used once, you may not wash it at all. If it is going to be worn frequently, it may be washed many times throughout the year.
The third factor is money. If you are trying to pinch pennies, but have months to plan and create the costume, it will allow you to look for items that will work for you. Some places to look for things are consignment sales for a used Halloween costume, look and bid on EBay for items, and, of course, thrift stores. But time is needed to scour stores for items. If your child got that part in the fall play and needs a pilgrim costume next week, you now have less time and will likely need to spend more money to rent a costume, or to buy an all ready-made costume from Party City. Money is also a concern when considering how often the costume needs to be washed or dry cleaned, and repaired from wear. For example, a costume that the child stands on stage in will get less wear and tear than one that they love, play and get dirty in on a regular basis.
The final thing to consider is your sewing skills. Time, money and usage can all play a part in this. Maybe you have never threaded a needle or don't own a sewing machine. If you have the time to learn these things, you can borrow a sewing machine or buy one, find a simple pattern from Jo-Ann and redo steps a couple of times as you learn and mess up. You have time to learn how to make that awesome costume. Or go the opposite route. If you have the money and/or time to do a type of exchange, you can have someone else sew the costume for you or help you in the process.
Sewing skill will play a part in how long it will take you to make the costume. If your child needs a medieval costume suddenly next week and you have already made several t-tunics, making another one will not take you much time. However, if the costume needed is more complicated than what you have made before, then you will need more time to plan. You may be pressed for time and not able to learn a new skill. Finding a simpler pattern, altering clothes from Goodwill, renting a costume, or buying a costume are all options. A costume that will be worn frequently will require extra sewing steps. Finishing edges takes more time and you may need to learn how to do it, if it is not already in your skill-set.
Lastly, is the child old enough to contribute? With their help, it might take less money or maybe you have the time to teach them basic sewing skills like sewing on buttons or reading a pattern. Hopefully, this is helpful and I'll see many kids and teens in costumes at Cons and other places. For tutorials and ideas, check out our Pinterest Board.