Monday, October 20, 2008

Creating a Chicken Costume

I have finally learned the answer to the age old question . . . "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" Neither -- you start with a long-sleeved white leotard, about 5 feather boas, and a bunch of safety pins! All joking aside, our four year-old has to dress up as a farmer or a farm animal for her school's "Harvest Hoedown" being held on Halloween Day. (They have been working on a farm unit all month.) Which I guess is the politically correct way to do "Halloween" since there are so many children from different cultures and of different nationalities at her school. Anyway, the Princess Jasmine costume we purchased for her just didn't fit the bill.

Now, those of you who know Dee and I, know that we don't do things part-way. We either go all out or we don't do it. A number of years ago, at least 6 or more, I had seen this costume constructed during a Carol Duvall Show on HGTV and immediately knew that one of the kids was going to be a chicken for Halloween. Well, at that point we had one child out of high school and two in high school and I was informed that there was "no way we're going to wear a chicken costume, Mom." Fast forward a couple of years and the amazing Demi enters the scene. She loved the whole chicken idea and thus a costume is born! I love it when an idea comes to fruition!!

The Internet is an amazing thing. You wouldn't believe what comes up when you Google "Chicken Costume!" After sifting thru many sites I finally found instructions for the costume . . . thank you, Martha Stewart!

Start with a white long-sleeved leotard. We couldn't find one for under $25, so we went with a pale pink leotard that only cost us $9 at Wal-Mart -- remember, we've already purchased the Disney "Princess Jasmine" costume and we're on a budget! A large pair of yellow rubber gloves; white tights; Yellow RIT dye; white, red and yellow felt; 4 or 5 white feather boas; fiberfill; two big "googlie" eyes; two black buttons; hot glue gun; and lots of white thread round out the needed supplies. We had almost everything we needed on hand. We also picked up some burlap and jute twine -- just had to one-up Martha, you'll see what I mean in a few minutes.

The online instructions tell you to do a few steps that we eliminated. Basically, you put your child in the leotard and starting at one wrist safety pin the feather boas to the leotard. Around and around and around you go. In theory, this works great. In actuality, you have a squirming 4 year-old screaming "Don't stick me!" I found it much easier to remove Demi from the leotard, un-pin all of the feather boas and just tack them on with a needle and thread, pausing occasionally to have Demi try it on to make sure I wasn't wrapping them too tightly. I eliminated that problem by putting a spray can in the sleeve -- it was about the same circumference as her arm and by using a small round garbage can for the body.

For the chicken feet use the large yellow gloves and stuff fiberfill into the fingers. Slide the shoe into the glove -- palm-side up -- and trim or just wrap the excess around the heel and hot glue the glove to itself, unless you don't plan on using those shoes again! Cut a slit for the child's foot to go thru and use clear packing tape at the top of the slit to keep it from tearing open.

We dyed a pair of Demi's white tights to a lovely shade of "chicken-leg" yellow.

I wish I could tell you that the hat was easy -- but it would be a lie! The instructions call for a white baseball cap. Do you know how hard it is to find a child's white, unadorned baseball cap? Darn near impossible unless you want to spend $12 bucks on it. Again, we're on a budget!

A .97 cent paper painter's hat from the local Home Depot did the trick. We adjusted it down to her size and after some trial and error got the felt cut and sewn to cover the cap. Made our own pattern for the comb -- Martha's instructions say to use a piece of a red boa for the comb. Martha makes millions of dollars a year -- I don't and feather boas run about $7 on sale at JoAnn Fabrics and you only need about 6 or 7 inches of a 6 foot long boa. Red felt or scrap fabric sewn up, stuffed with fiberfill and attached to the hat worked perfectly. Decided at that point the Home Depot hat was superfluous and removed the plastic cap bill from it; covered the bill with yellow-orange felt on both sides, trimmed it and attached it to the cap. Hot glued a couple of small black buttons for the chicken nostrils and a couple of "googlie" eyes and our chicken's head was complete!

The feathers were tickling Demi's neck, so we decided to make a collar with some of the left-over white felt and some ribbon we had on hand. This was Mom's great idea and not only did it tame the neck-tickling feathers, but it added another touch of color to her costume.

Costume complete!!

Then she grabbed her treat bucket . . . it didn't work. An orange jack-o-lantern just didn't say "cluck" to us. Dee stitched up some burlap into a bag, added a jute drawstring, a little black magic marker and a feed sack was born.

Take that, Martha! All in all, not a bad costume to construct -- way easier than the mermaid costume Mom sewed for one of the girls years ago! She still mutters about that shiny green lame' fabric!

Our little chicken competed in a costume contest at O2B Kids 11th Annual Spooktacular on October 18. Out of the 35 children in the 3-5 age group she placed . . . . (drum roll, please) 1st! She was and still is so excited over winning her age group.

Demi will wear the costume again on Halloween morning for her school's Harvest Hoedown and we're still trying to talk her into wearing it to Trick-or-Treat in that evening. She's got her heart set on being "Princess Jasmine" so I don't think we'll be able to convince her!

Happy Halloween!

P.S. Check out the "Chicken Dance" video!


Steph C. said...

Demi is so adorable! She shook those tail feathers, didn't she?!?! LOL What an awesome costume for an awesome little 4 year old! See ya soon Demi :-)

notquitemarthastewart said...

too hillarious a costume, love it