a little batty


A couple months back, Phoebe and I discussed what she wanted to be for Halloween this year. I was determined that we’d get things worked out well in advance, and that I wouldn’t turn into a costume-crazed working on things last-minute. (Not that anything like that would ever happen. Nope.)

Anyhow, Phoebe said she wanted to be a bat, a plan both John and I heartily endorsed. She also wanted to make her costume, and I figured we could swing it.

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped by a fabric store to get some black cloth. The store also had a selection of costumes, including, as it turned out, a bat costume: a black cape with a zig-zag bottom, and a hood with ears. It beckoned. (It was, after all, a finished costume. Also 60% off, as it was getting close to Halloween.) I was so very tempted. (Last year, Phoebe wanted to design her own witch costume. But when I found a finished witch costume in the second hand store, complete with sparkly, fluffy embellishments, Phoebe was more than happy to give up her own design plans.)

I eyed that finished bat costume, hanging there in all its $5.99-sale-price polyester glory.

And I moved on.

After all, making such a thing from fleece would be a snap. Possibly a stitch or two needed here and there, but no major sewing or engineering.

Come last week, we still hadn’t found a chance to work on it. Our schedule is rather packed what with school, work and after-school activities. But there was a Halloween party coming up on Friday, and a Halloween-themed birthday party on Saturday, so on Thursday night, it was well time to tackle the bat.

I got out the fabric, held it up to Phoebe, and described what I imagined: wings draping down from her arms, much like a cape. Phoebe was not happy. This wasn’t what she imagined. After various rounds of her trying to explain what she wanted, and even a trial version of making a mini bat costume for a doll with some stapled rags, I finally got Phoebe to draw for me how she envisioned the wings. Here’s what she drew:

Not draped. She wanted her arm to go through some straps on a wing shape, which would extend up above the arm.

There was much back and forth that followed, with me saying we couldn’t do it with fleece, at least not without something stiff to hold the shape. She wanted to make something much more complicated than I felt was necessary. (I have no idea where she gets this. No idea.)

Happily, I remembered that I had some bits of upholstery foam left from when I made a spider costume back before Phoebe was born. More remarkably, I was able to find them.

The result was that I managed to make something that was in between our two original visions, with the wings extending up over her arms, and then with the fleece draping down behind.


Wings down.


Wings extended.


The ears are just cat ears, but they worked well enough for a bat. The rest of the costume is just various articles of black clothing she had.


Here is Phoebe swinging at her friend’s party on Saturday. (I don’t know how I managed to get photos with just Phoebe, as it seemed like the swingset was swarming with costumed first-graders.) The foam and fleece combination was flexible enough that she could still easily play in her costume.


This photo shows a bit of the foam peaking through. I had it sandwiched between layers of fleece. If I’d had more time, I probably would have fixed this. But it only showed when her arms were in certain positions.

You can’t see the costume especially well here, but Phoebe is so dang cute. This was during the parade at her school gym Halloween morning. Wow, that was only yestereday. It’s been a crazy stretch.

So, there it is. The bat costume that was going to be simple, but ended up more complicated than expected. (Yes, I should have expected that.)

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4 responses to “a little batty

  1. Love the back/bat story. Phoebe looks so radiant in the image taken in the gym. Great costume. Great Bat. Great Bat creator.

  2. Somehow, none of this is surprising, but at least the bat costume turned out well and everyone was happy!

  3. Phoebe’s drawing of what she wanted is very good. She explained herself quite nicely. I love how you interpreted it and made what I’d call a perfect bat costume for a first grader. Very practical + cute.

  4. It turned out VERY cute!!

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