Last Halloween found me on the floor of my room wrestling with duct tape, scissors, yellow felt, and two laundry baskets. Why? I had decided to craft my own costume and was attempting to pull these disparate objects into a homemade cheese grater costume. Several duct tape mishaps later, I had a passable costume that was totally unique and a hit at the Halloween party I attended.
I was not alone in my quest to create my own costume—homemade costumes are rising in popularity, as many children and parents prefer them to the synthetic, canned options sold at large retailers. However, it can be hard to pull these costumes together without a few basic crafting skills—especially an understanding of sewing.
Luckily, there are a number of local classes that help equip new sewers with the know-how and tools needed for a DIY Halloween costume. Just Sew Studio in St. Louis Park offers classes from beginner sewing to advanced quilting projects, held over several weeks, to allow students to work on projects between classes.
“The classes attract students of all ages, from teenagers to seniors,” says Debbie Tonkin, who co-manages the store with Jennifer Dynan.
I visited Just Sew for a beginning sewing class, where I was tasked with making a pillowcase. Since my last sewing project was making a beanbag animal in grade school, I was a little rusty. But Tonkin and Just Sew employee Janet Okonek guided me through the process, helping when I needed and praising a clean cut or a straight stitch when that miraculously occurred.
According to Dynan, the recent rise in sewing popularity likely stems from an innate desire people have to craft with their hands.
“About 10 to 15 years ago, everyone was into scrapbooking,” says Dynan. “It’s a tactile hobby, where you’re busy printing pictures and creating pages. Once everything went digital, people stopped printing photos, so that tactile hobby went away. People are looking for something that they can create and show to others.”
Dynan also believes that people want to sew and quilt so they can give back to their communities.
“We’ve seen a growth in people making quilts and projects for charity,” she says. “It’s not just a solitary hobby, it’s very group based. People want to give back because they’ve learned something and want to use it to help others.”
Just Sew Studio is involved in several charity projects, from Bunny Besties (which creates harnesses for therapy rabbits) to Quilts of Valor, which makes quilts for soldiers.
“Sewing helps you develop a sense of identity which you can express through textiles,” says Dynan. “It’s very rewarding to come up with an idea and make it work.”
Get started with some easy DIY costumes:
The True Novice: Toga
1.Take a sheet.
2.Drape over one shoulder and secure around the waist with a belt or tie.
3.Throw on some sandals, and you’re good to go!
The Old Standby: M&M
1.Cut a large piece of colored felt into two identical circles.
2.Sew circles together, but be sure to leave gaps for the head, arms and legs.
3.Trace the “M” logo onto white felt and cut it out.
4.Sew the “M” onto the front circle.
The Sweet Tooth: Gumball Machine
1.Grab an old sweater and a variety of colorful pom pom balls.
2.Glue pom pom balls onto sweater.
3.Wear a red or black skirt or pants to make the machine base.
4.Use gray felt to create a knob and sew onto skirt or pants.
5.Top with a matching beret.
Just Sew Studio offers a variety of sewing and quilting classes to help beginners launch their sewing projects.
Learn to Sew
Includes four sessions where students will create three different projects and learn the skills needed to become a confident sewer. (Fabric and patterns included.) $149
Mini Quilt of the Month Club
Includes four sessions where students create a small quilt and learn the techniques required to make a full sized quilt. (Pattern included). $60
All skill levels and projects are welcome for this open session to create and learn. $15 per session.
Sewing for Others Workshop
Give back to your community and sew for those in need. These workshops are free to attend but require pre-registration.