All Saints' Day Costumes for Our Big Family

With two adult children and six more kiddos all the way down to a toddler, we still have a 100% dress up rate on All Saints’ Day. While that is not something I expect or demand, I admit that it really makes me happy to see it!

We also had participation from a couple additional young adults - who are dating our adult children - and my husband also found a costume this year (“I will invest once and wear this every year until I die.”) Scroll to the end to see that one.

Ever since I accidentally threw out a decade’s worth of handmade costumes (yes, that was painful), I have been mixing it up in the interest of saving time and sanity. Half the fun for me now is finding budget friendly pre-made items that lend themselves to a little homemade tweaking. And I will do one new entirely handmade costume a year if needed.


TODDLER - ST. GEORGE

This is the only photo of him that I managed to take away from the celebration. He absolutely refused to wear his gear at the appropriate times so… we were able to catch him half dressed up through the glass door. He also refused to commit to a saint (“I’m a knight!”) so we just assigned him one and didn’t tell him.

His helmet is from the timeless Full Armor of God playset which has been with us for at least 17 years. His shield is from a dollar bin at Walmart (with lots of pen marks). His heirloom quality leather sword and belt are from Made by Alejandro.

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KINDERGARTENER - ST. LUCY

She wore a toddler version of this a few years ago (link to come) but really wanted to do it again. Since she’s a pretty sensory sensitive kid, I knew that I had to make the costume soft enough for her to actually wear. It was a complete success.

The crown looks scratchy but is actually made with very soft stretch lace as a base with the leaves individually stitched in one layer and a little glue gun action on top of that. The candles are felt with fake metallic flower pieces as flames.

All leaves and flowers were dollar store purchases. I always have flower pieces and leaves around since they are surprisingly useful. We’ve used them to make hair clips, party decor, fairy dolls, packaging, and costumes.

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This dress though! It’s an Amazon purchase after a thorough search between Amazon’s and eBay’s dozens of Chinese distributors. I found it selling for anywhere from $70 to $15. It takes some creative searching and time but I scored the $15 price with a longer ship time. It is thin (layer accordingly) but so feminine and gorgeous. Our plan is to dye it a pastel color for Easter since it is just too pretty to be packed away in a costume box.

You can find the dress at the following link… but keep in mind that the price and shipping times are constantly fluctuating with Amazon. The price at this link is currently $23 including shipping. Use the description to do a search for options. Flutter Sleeve Chiffon Dress

8 YEAR OLD - ST. CHRISTOPHER

He wanted to be St. Christopher and we made it happen using leftover oatmeal linen that we used last year for a St. Claire habit. Super easy stitches at the top and sides with a rough neckline and sleeves. Tied with a belt we just ripped along the grain and a quick traveler’s pouch.

The cape was just a rectangle of heavy fabric we’ve had floating around for years.

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St. Christopher’s flowering staff started with a branch that big brother dried and sanded. They stained and varnished and I taped and hot glued a quick mish mash of paper bag and felt leaves. No glue touched the stick so they removed the tape and have a great walking stick or prop for future projects.

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MIDDLE MOFFET - ST. MAGDALENE OF NAGASAKI

This was my frugal victory of the year. Obviously, FREE is the best kind of frugal win but I am really happy with this $13 project. I was originally looking at $30 Japanese kimono costumes for children and it struck me that they all looked like satin kimono bathrobes. So I looked on Amazon and found a bunch of inexpensive robes AND a coupon. You can currently still find it here with the 20% off coupon below the price: Women’s Kimono Robe

They were one-size-fits-all and looked small-ish so I figured I needed the perfect age to make it work. I removed the pockets with my seam ripper and added snaps to the robe so that it would stay closed where we wanted it to.

By the way, my Snap Setter is one of the best craft purchases I have ever made. Fifteen years of easy costume and garment closures! Highly recommended.

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I used extra pink satin that I have from my boutique baby blanket days on Etsy and I stitched the belt that came with the robe through the middle. More snaps to keep it in place. That left me with two rough tails hanging down the back which I just tucked in the top. It’s not really an authentic costume but if I squint eyes, I think it works.

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We found a skinny wood dowel in a craft box, broke it in half, painted it silver, and… done. Then we dug into our hair flower stash to complete the hair.

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JUNIOR HIGH - ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA

She chose St. Catherine because she was struck by the parallels between what was going on at St. Catherine’s time and what is happening in the Church today. She was moved by the words and actions of the saint and felt that they spoke profoundly to the need of the laity to be bolder in their defense of Jesus Christ and the Church.

I thought she might like to wear a more flowery costume this year but she asked if we could resurrect her St. Claire habit from last year and modify it to be Dominican. How could I say no?

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I confess that it was an extremely last minute undertaking and I was shaking at the thought of having to stand in the pre-Halloween lines at Joann Fabrics. So I didn’t. Instead, I found an old black dress that I haven’t worn in years and I stole the skirt from it (ie chopped it off) to make the veil. A few stitches to hem and a couple snaps at the back of the neck and… we have a Dominican.

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HIGH SCHOOL - ST. OLAF

He invested his own money in this Viking costume several years ago and it is still going strong. A bit smaller than it used to be but no big deal. Sometimes a splurge is worth it. Especially for a mom who doesn’t have to put a single stitch or glue squirt on any of it.

He did upgrade his sword this year and I admit that it was pretty cool and suited to the costume. Find it HERE.

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I’ll just call this pic “Keeping the Saints Culturally Relevant” but I can’t figure out if St. Olaf would love it or hate it. Or maybe he had his own noble version.

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YOUNG ADULT - ST. KATERI

She decided which saint she was going to be in the middle of Salvation Army when she found this suede Winter jacket. Kateri lived in the North and it just makes so much sense. It was $10 and a bit on the pricey side for a used find, but it is quilted and warm. Since I found it oddly appealing, I’ve added it to my own wardrobe which has no fashion rhyme or reason. Instead of mismatched, I’ll just call it “eclectic.”

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She dug up some uncut faux suede fabric from our stash (likely used for a Kateri in years past) and threw together a quick dress layered over a maxi skirt. Then she added hair flowers which just seem so suited to an affectionate remembrance of the Lily of the Mohawks.

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Our oldest two children are both dating practicing Catholics who happily participated in the events. It was truly a joy. I wasn’t able to get a photo of the other two (St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Cecilia) but here is St. Maximillian Kolbe with Kateri.

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THE CHIEF - ST. HUBERT

Years ago, my husband used to dress up as St. Francis. That stopped after I accidentally threw away his costume and he’s just been an observer ever since. But this year he told me that he found a new costume, had purchased it, and that he would wear it every year until he died. So…

Introducing St. Hubert, patron saint of hunters…

He found the sweatshirt at Catholic to the Max and also added a T-shirt (since he runs on the warm side) from a school called St. Hubert (which I can no longer find). While looking for a link to his T-shirt, I found a much cooler version on Amazon: St. Hubert Tee

I did not dress up as anyone but my children pointed out that I could have pulled off a modernized version of a Chinese saint. I can see their point and this Floral Tunic Dress did ship from China so… maybe next year I’ll come better prepared.

Honestly, shopping from Chinese shops on Amazon is super hit or miss (and we only occasionally purchase there) but this dress was actually quality construction with a soft but heavier rayon fabric. I don’t mean the fabric is heavy, just that it’s not too thin and not see through like many overseas products.

My boots are Teva’s Foxy Midcalf Boot in black leather. It’s been a while since I purchased though so I’m only finding them in different colors or bootie options. Still cute with a rugged sole for icy winters.

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Hopefully I can start filling in tutorial links soon. Look for St. Lucy toddler and big girl version to come first!

Miscellany in Pics {Life is Good}

How about a little update inspired by some recent Instagram pics? Our life isn't particularly exciting but we are blessed with the sweet mundane of our domestic church. For example, I'm tapping out this post while sitting next to my toddler. She has pink eye, is holding her stuffed dog (Jehoshaphat), and is eating her probiotic supplement. Exciting stuff. But I wouldn't trade it....

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Professor's first trip home from college seminary. I'll just let this pic tell the whole story. Nothing earth shattering happened during his short visit except that we remembered how much we love him aaand he got to see his baby brother's first tooth. We won't talk about how I broke down into tears as I hugged him goodbye again. 

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Okay, I lied. We have been doing exciting things. Can you think of anything more exciting than a book sale??? Break out the Ergo carrier... mama has some shopping to do!

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Creepy pic, I know. But it's that time of year again in which I pull all nighters prepping for All Saints' Day. That makes it much more fun, right? Because 40-year old mothers of 8 just love all nighters with yarn. If you are looking for a great DIY beard tutorial, check out this one: Dwarven yarn beard. I would have liked to use some fancy yarn to make a super authentic looking beard, but this white stuff? Was FREE. That is what I call easy decision making. 

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My princess cowgirl. Oh, how this girl has stretched my understanding of my motherhood! For all of you parents out there struggling to know how to love your little tigers, I understand. I'm there. Lots of us are. Micaela posted about her struggle today and I've posted about our travel challenge HERE. Surviving and working on thriving. 

But I have to tell you in humility that I've been doing a lot wrong up to now with this one. I am a firm believer in attachment but I am not accustomed to a child with such a high need,  so I was pushing away instead of drawing near. I'm changing that, but with this girl, that means that I don't get much done at all. It means that I don't go out very often with or without the kids. It means moving a mattress onto the floor next to her so that when she wakes up every hour, she knows I'm there and we all actually sleep. It means a different way of life.

When I say yes to that strong need of hers, she is calm and happy. It's a worthwhile investment... for all of us. The picture above is an off day, when all the roses and lavender, and pink in the world can't seem to touch her needs. And it teaches me something... that those things are bandaids... because what she really needs is me. 

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Behind the scenes, these boys are often accidentally lighting things on fire or debating football. It all comes together pretty beautifully though. Thanks be to God.

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Look what we found on a recent trip to a sporting goods store! This boy is content wherever he is. I pray that he is able to sustain that throughout his life.


In other news not pictured...

  • Sign ups for the November group training session with Fit Catholic Mom are ending this weekend. I know you will be blessed. Please consider investing in your health and wellness. Check it out here: W.I.S.E Gals

You don't need to be perfect or in shape already to start... you just have to have the small flame of desire. I had a huge flare up of health symptoms recently and I was still able to hobble through with Rebecca's encouragement. It's not about physical perfection... it's about giving all to God. In gratitude. In joy. I do hope to see you there.

  • There are some tickets left for the 2017 Arise Retreat with Fr. Nathan Cromly. I attended last year and my soul was just blown up. That sounds bad but it was all good. Read about it here. Pray about attending? It is not free but is worth every penny. More info here: Arise 2017

Mother Teresa of Calcutta DIY All Saints' Day Costume

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All Saints' Day will be here soon and we are in full preparation mode!  Since we do not celebrate Halloween, we have some extra time and resources to pour into some really creative costuming. I made this Mother Teresa costume several years and ago and it continues to be one of my favorites. It's simple to put together but does take time so it's best to plan ahead. Or you can just do what I do and pull an all-nighter (every. single. year).

Why don't we celebrate Halloween? The better question is "Why should we?"

It simply isn't clear what the secular holiday is intended to celebrate... and for all the money invested (costuming, candy, dental bills), we don't feel compelled to participate.

The word "Halloween" is a derivative of "All Hallow's Eve" or the "Eve of All Saints". Instead of prioritizing the religious holiday second, we place it first. We don't have the time or interest to do both so Halloween gets the boot.  The kids love our All Saints' Day celebrations and the adults always succumb to the temptation to include plenty of candy! For more of my thoughts on Halloween, see this post: Halloween {A Failed Catechesis on Holy Death}

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Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.
— Mother Teresa of Calcutta

To make the Mother Teresa costume:

Here's a very basic explanation of how I put together the Mother Teresa costume. It was a while ago so I apologize that I don't have more detailed figures. It isn't too complex though and I think worth sharing.

I have no exact measurements to provide because few are needed and the ones that are used are specific to each child. 

First, I examined photos of the habits of Mother Teresa's order (Missionaries of Charity) until I had a basic idea of the design. You should definitely take the time to do this, too...  the sisters are lovely and sign of hope and joy in a suffering world.


Fabric:

I brought my daughter to the fabric store with me and headed to the muslin aisle. I found 33" white muslin for $.99 a yard and wrapped it loosely around her in the style of a sari in order to estimate yardage. 

I found Blue cotton in my stash that resembled the color of the blue stripes on the habits of the order. Not perfect but it was free! I have no idea how much I used but eyeballed it and guessed that I would have enough (sorry...I know that's not incredibly helpful).


Sari Design:

I designed the costume in 3 pieces:

  1. White turtleneck (had one in her drawer)

  2. Veil -The veil of the the Missionaries of Charity drapes down the back, around the front of the body, and across the opposite shoulder. This is one piece of fabric. To measure for size, I took the short end of the fabric length (33" width) and pinned it over her hair (as shown in the photo). I draped it down her back to the desired length, across her opposite shoulder, down her back, and cut it at the desired length. 

  3. Skirt - Basically just a tube with elastic. I wrapped a piece of fabric around her waist to determine fit. I measured her waist and cut elastic to that size (normally I would size the elastic smaller for a better fit but I wanted extra room to tuck in  the turtleneck and to allow the costume to be used the following year!). I rolled the waistband until the skirt was the correct length instead of hemming (hurrah!). That allows for a taller child to wear it as well. I added the stripes to the skirt fabric before sewing the seam or waistband.


Adding the blue stripes:

The habit of the order uses 3 solid blue stripes along the edges of the sari material, One larger stripe and two smaller stripes. I eyeballed the stripe widths and went a little larger to make the stitching easier on myself. I was not going for a replica of the habit but an overall representation of the habit. Would someone know who she was by looking at my design? Yes. Then it's all good. 

I sewed the strips (4" and 1.5") into tubes and pressed them so that the edges would be nicely finished and the extra fabric would add weight and better drape to the lightweight muslin. The finished stripes were 2", 3/4" and 3/4" wide. If you want a more authentic look, reduce the size of the smaller stripes. 

Stripes are applied to the hem of the skirt and to all 4 edges of the veil cloth.

Then I pinned and sewed. Lots of strips onto lots of fabric! But well worth the effort.

You can also color or paint the stripes on if you prefer. That would have driven me mad with this size costume but I've seen it done rather well on a much small version. Remember... it isn't a replica but a representation!

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
— Mother Teresa of Calcutta

To wear:

Put on the turtleneck and skirt first. Start the veil at the head. Pin it in place at the nape of the neck (we used a safety pin).  Let it fall down to desired length in back, drape it across the waist at the right side and bring up to and over the left shoulder. We pinned it in place with a religious medal.

Enjoy your celebration! If you email me with a photo of your little saints wearing their Mother Teresa costumes, I will add it to the photo gallery on this post. :)

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How to Make Priest Biretta for All Saints' Day

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After writing about my kids' All Saints' costumes last year, I received multiple requests for a pattern for the boys' birettas. So here you go!

The source pattern is for a real biretta so I have to warn you that I used extensive creative license with the it and produced great costume pieces -- not real birettas. 

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Our All Saints' costumes from last year were a great success, mostly because the teenagers gave full participation. And wouldn't you if your mom stayed up until the wee hours crafting an awesome biretta for your priestly garb? Of course you would. And now you want to know how to share this excellence with your kids... so I will give you the link to the instructions and a few (very important and necessary) words about my crafting adventure.

First, the link to the PDF pattern: 
How to Make a Collapsible Biretta


UPDATE: Lena at Joyfilled Family now has a picture tutorial that walks you through the steps. Check it out HERE.


Now, a few words:

I did not make collapsible birettas. My birettas only collapse if you sit on them. I used the pattern provided, fused fabric to the pattern pieces, and glued the pieces until I was reasonably sure they would not collapse under normal stresses. It was a hack job but perfect for costume purposes.

All materials for this project were things I already had on hand:

  • Poster board

  • Heat n Bond to fuse the fabric to the poster board.

  • Black fabric. I used a wool/cashmere blend fabric because it was the only black fabric I had on hand. (My sons had the warmest birettas ever made.) This would have been easier with a lighter fabric but the heavy stuff did lend the finished product a bit of weight and it stuck to their hair well.

  • Satin fabric. Because I tend towards crafty perfectionism even at 3am. And because glue guns are awesome. And because I had scraps of satin fabric... I lined the inside of the hats. I wanted red but gold was a fine alternative.

  • Red Piping Bias Tape on Professor's Fulton Sheen biretta. (I left a gap at the top of the poster board when I glued it so that I could hot glue the piping in later.)

  • Red Yarn for the pom pom and a plastic pom pom maker. But you can use these instructions if you don't have one.


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This is the 2-year old's biretta. Because I didn't have enough piping bias, I used hot glue to strengthen the attaching pieces. And because the hot glue was ugly, I decided to paint it with a black paint pen. And because the black paint pen was "glossy" the seams are shiny. I wasn't thrilled. You can also see here how the lining is far from perfect -- just folded and glued in place -- but also how a kid would think it is cooler than plain black.


Measuring...

The other thing I want to tell you is that I found the measurements tricky. I was not particularly careful and was rushing.  I measured once (hastily) for the Professor (15 years old at the time) and ended up with a hat that fit a two-year old. Fortunately, I had a two-year old on hand, but you should probably take more time to measure than I did. And then... I made the second one too small as well but it was much closer and wearable. I'm not making a third one, son.

The rest of the costume:

  • Altar server cassock that fits (like Professor's) or even one that is several sizes too large held together with thread and safety pins (like Cub's). Or... DIY if you are totally awesome.

  • Red or black sash. Lend your kid one of your inexpensive pashmina scarfs that he can poke a hole through with a dull safety pin. Let it go. It's for a good cause.

  • Roman Collar. You could probably come up with something better but I picked out two lengths of wide white satin ribbon (wide enough to cover the notch and extend a bit above the collar), measured necks, and stiffened it with Heat n Bond. Then I used sticky Velcro dots to hold the collar together and in place on the cassock. The other option was to sew something in but I didn't want to alter the cassocks too much.

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Are you going to try your hand at making a biretta for All Saints's Day? 

Please link your pics back here in the comments (or email them to me) if you do. I would love to see your creations and I'll add your link to the post.