The Art of Darkness

This Year’s Costumes

October 29th, 2017 by Cobwebs

Link and SkullkidIt’s time for the annual costume recap! Every year I spend entirely too much time making costumes for Shadowboy and a friend’s niece, then have professional photos taken. Sometimes I’m lucky and can talk them into matching costumes, and since this year she decided that she wanted to be Link from Legend of Zelda, getting my video game-obsessed son on board was a fairly easy task. After considerable thought, he decided that he wanted to be Skull Kid, one of the characters from “Majora’s Mask.”

I will pause here to ask my readers that if you ever hear me breathe one word about making a costume that includes a mask, please slap me until I promise not to.


Link’s costume was reasonably straightforward; I originally got Simplicity 8199 let’s-not-tempt-copyright-lawyers “Gaming Warrior” pattern in hopes of getting most of the pieces that I needed, but it was really quite a strange pattern: The hat attached to the corset, and it didn’t actually include trousers. I used it for just the turtleneck (and you could use pretty much any turtleneck pattern) and gauntlets. I made the trousers using Simplicity 4923, the tunic was a cut-off version of Simplicity 4213, and the hat was done freehand using the instructions found here. I did a little bit of detailing on the tunic sleeves, using green ribbon to replicate the stitching seen in images like this one. The belt was a leather belt I happened to have lying around. I freehanded a baldric out of the same microsuede I used for the gauntlets, just cutting a long strip, sewing it into a tube, and joining the ends.

Skull Kid was…somewhat more involved. His tunic was also from Simplicity 4213, and his shorts were Simplicity 2542 “elf pants” (which I happened to have on hand; you could use pajama pants or any simple shorts pattern). I originally tried making his gloves by combining views G and I from the Yaya Han Accessories pattern, but his hands are gigantic; I wound up using the cuff from view I and freehanding the glove part by sewing together two rectangles slightly larger than his hand and leaving holes in the seam to put his fingers through.

His shoes were similarly make-it-up-as-I-go-along; I took an old pair of his sneakers and built “genie toes” out of cardboard and duct tape. I sewed two long tubes of fabric big enough to fit over the shoes and go up his ankle, then hand-stitched them to be pointier at the toe and have a gather at the front of the ankle.

For the hat I used a plain straw hat as a base. I dyed corn husks (the kind used for tamales) in diluted fabric dye, dried them thoroughly (important, lest they mildew), then hot-glued them all over the hat. Since the hat sits pretty far back on his head to accommodate the pointy bits of the mask, I also had to glue husks to the underside of the brim. (Dye more than you think you’ll need, since you’ll have to do quite a bit of overlapping to fully cover the straw.) The topknot was made with a few husks duct-taped together and stuck through a hole in the hat. (I duct-taped a little bit of fabric padding to the inside of the hat to keep the ends from poking Shadowboy in the head.) Since the hat sits at a gravity-defying angle, I stuck a couple of paper clips through the underside of the brim and used them to anchor some elastic to go under his chin.

The hatband, shoe detail, and belt were all made from wooden rings tied together with natural twine.

The mask was…quite the chore. I lucked out by finding a paper-mache heart of the appropriate size for the mask base, and used paper-mache cones slightly cut down and then cut in half for the spikes. After much trial and error, I wound up attaching the spikes by poking holes in the mask base, sticking partially-straightened paper clips through the holes, and then hot-gluing the living hell out of both ends to anchor them securely (hot glue featured prominently in this costume). The bulgy eyes were made from two halves of a fillable Christmas ornament, hot-glued to the front.

I filled in the edges where the cones met the mask base with Model Magic and let it dry overnight. I used sandpaper to roughen the surface of the plastic eyes, then sprayed the whole mask with a couple of coats of white primer paint. The mask detail was all painted with acrylic paint, which sounds easy until you realize that I don’t just have no artistic ability, I have negative artistic ability; my painting and drawing skills are so bad that they degrade the skills of everybody else in the vicinity. I could make a living going to artists’ colonies and refusing to leave until paid. I painted and repainted and swore and tried using stencils made from masking tape and swore some more and then finally, after spending a solid week on the mask and being only half done, I decided that I was completely out of fucks to give, grabbed a fine-point brush, and freehanded the rest of the mask in 20 minutes. It looked better than the results I’d been getting from the stencils. I’d like to say that I learned something and will remember this next time I’m in a similar situation, but I’m quite sure that I’ll follow the same trajectory.

Anyway! Even though all I can see are the mistakes, Shadowboy adored it and thought it was perfect and that’s the kind of reaction that makes this all worthwhile. (Incidentally, you may notice that there are no eye holes in the mask. I toyed with cutting a strip underneath the mask eyes, covering it with fine mesh, then painting the mesh to match the rest of the mask. However, Shadowboy self-selected out of trick-or-treating this year. He was only going to wear the mask for my annual Halloween photos and to make a brief entrance at a party, and he wanted to hang the mask on his wall afterwards. He requested that we not cut holes in the mask to make it a better decoration, so we just led him around like a blind person during the short time he actually wore it.)

The mask was held onto his head with a big X of elastic: I stuck short nails facing outward through the mask base behind the top and bottom spikes and impaled two strips of elastic on them. The elastic pieces were duct-taped in the middle to hold them in place.

With all of that said, here are the results of our annual Halloween photo shoot:

Skull Kid

Skull Kid 2

Skull Kid 3 (without the mask, where he looks like the world’s tallest scarecrow)


Link 2 (looking intrepid af)

Link 3

Here’s the hat (which didn’t really show up in the professional photos), and a closeup of the mask.

(Also, just as a side note: Shadowboy and his friend are only six months apart in age. The size differential is mildly hilarious.)

Posted in Whatever | 5 Comments »

5 Responses

  1. Pixel Pixie Says:

    Nicely done! That mask is amazing.

    I’m currently taking a break from sewing really expensive satin into an elaborate dress for a three year old that she will probably only wear for an hour or two. But my set of costumes isn’t complete without her!

  2. Empress Pam Says:

    She came home from pictures and put her costume back on to go pick up her brother from a Halloween party. This is definitely going to be one of the costumes she wears all the time. “Go get dressed, we’re going to the grocery store” **comes down dressed as Link. “Get dressed, time for your dental appointment” **comes down dressed as Link. Thank you so much for another incredible costume :)

  3. Empress Pam Says:

    Update: Girl Scouts Halloween Peeps Diorama contest and surprise costume party…Shelby still ruled over all the other costumes!

  4. Mim (@crinolinerobot) Says:

    Those are fantastic! Your costumes are always fab.

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