Turn my child into a book for Halloween
October 12, 2011 3:39 PM   Subscribe

How can I turn my son into a book for Halloween? I have the idea, but the mechanics of creating a book costume for my little boy are eluding me.

My 7-y.-o. loves the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books, and I would love to costume him as one of the book covers (or a parody, such as "Diary of a 'Weeny Kid," and use an orange/black/purple color scheme). In my fevered imaginings, I see a cut-out for his face (while the rest of his body would appear in the style of the "Wimpy Kid" cover).

What I can't quite work out is how he would wear such a thing--or rather, how I can make sure a flat surface stays on an energetic, wriggly 4-foot trick-or-treater. How would I attach it to him? Straps? Bungee cords? Duct tape? What would the back of this costume look like? He likes the looks of the costumes I come up with but complains that he can't walk up steps easily, so mobility is an issue, as are portability (it has to fit in the car and be worn in motion for two hours) and weight. He will have to manage the costume, as well as his own candy bag, as I will be busy with his little sister, the cheetah.

Images, construction hints and your own experiences are all welcome.
posted by MonkeyToes to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
white clothing, with thick black yarn taped/sewed on for the line drawing? You could also have a mask for him to hold up of the wimpy kid's hair.
posted by titanium_geek at 3:46 PM on October 12, 2011

*face* including hair.

On his back you could stick the cover of the book, which would help explain who he is and since he's a drawing, he's 'flat'.

sorry for over eager 'post answer' clicking.
posted by titanium_geek at 3:48 PM on October 12, 2011

I would probably make a square foam book square dress (like soft-ish but stiff fabric or foam and painted? With stuffing in the shoulders to make it squarer), I guess, but if you want it to be really book-like, you could make a sandwich board type book with straps over the shoulders and then glue fabric on each side for the spine and the pages with armholes cut through. White on his left side with vertical lines painted on like pages, colored fabric on the right with the title painted on.

The advantage of the sandwich board costume would be that it'd be more like a book, but you'd have to be careful to make it short enough for him to walk. If it's cardboard, it'd be light enough to walk around, but not bendy. It might rip. It would have to be fatter at the bottom than at the top.

The fabric one would be bendy and more comfortable, but harder to make look like a book.

But my ideas don't have his face sticking through. It'd have to be a really tall costume to have his face stick out where the character's face is. Look at cockeyed.com's costumes. He makes backpack harnesses to make tall costumes that attach to his shoulders. My kids wouldn't wear all that, though.
posted by artychoke at 3:54 PM on October 12, 2011

I like the sandwich board style of costumes (I've gone as a book and a piece of toast in these styles of costume). I have never made one that goes up over a face, but would likely do something like this:

1. Get two pieces of cardboard, one for the front (longer, should go from his head to mid-thigh) and one for the back (shorter, length of his shoulders to his mid-thigh). Make sure they are narrow enough that he can get through a doorway walking forward (I learned from experience).
2. Hold the front one up on his body and mark where the face hole goes, then cut it.
3. Have someone else hold the cardboard against your son so the face hole lines up and the back piece is in the right place, mark where his shoulders hit, and add 2 straps of scrap fabric there connecting the front and back pieces of cardboard so they'll hang on his shoulders (I seriously just used some old ties one year and old shoelaces another, duct tape turned so the sticky bits are together would likely work too).
4. Draw/paint the cover
5. I would add blurbs on the back ("'Wimpy Kid is awesome!' says NY Review of Books") but that's just my idea.

The advantage is you can wear whatever you want underneath (school clothes for indoor, coat for outdoor), you can take it off for a car ride (stick it in the trunk or set it next to you), your arms and hands are free for CANDY, and it's not too heavy.
posted by holyrood at 3:55 PM on October 12, 2011

Back when I worked at a bookstore dealing in rare books, my boss, who had a small child,was talking about going to a Halloween party, and he wondered what he could dress the kid up as. I suggested that he get the boy a little suit coat and then write his name on the child. That way the boy could be "a first edition, slightly smudged, in jacket."
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:30 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Go to your local music store, and see if they have a cardboard shipping from a guitar or large keyboard. Head hole, arm holes, cut to length, decorate.
posted by timsteil at 5:25 PM on October 12, 2011

Best answer: This is a cute modification on the book idea - perhaps modify it so that 1) he can walk (I like this but fear we can't see the child's legs) and that he's the Wimpy Kid instead of a bookworm. White shirt, black pants, maybe incorporating it so that he's 'leaping' out of the top cover?

Regardless, I like the idea of using foam core as the covers, and then perhaps regular craft foam for the rounded spines. My fear is for the true scale of a book cover/rectangle, if you go over his head, you're also going to make it hard to walk, and be really wide (the above mentioned door issue).

Brainstorming - a few years ago we had a Spongebob come to our house that was top half - cardboard box covered in sponges, bottom half a huge pair of boxers stapled on. The genius of that was he could walk... so I'm wondering even the potential of putting a 'fold' in the cover so that he could sit/walk. Or the bottom half of the book being something like matching colored felt/fleece.
posted by librarianamy at 5:46 PM on October 12, 2011

You could do what this Mom did for her son, but modified for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid version, of course.
posted by misha at 7:05 PM on October 12, 2011

Get a tall, wide, narrow box (these dimensions will depend mostly on your child. The box should be a couple of inches wider than he is wide, a couple of inches taller than his shoulder to hip measurement, a couple of inches deeper than his front to back depth.

Cut a hole in the top for his head, a hole on each side for his arms and cut off the flaps on the bottom. Reinforce the side seams of the box (if any) and use foamcore around each hole for rigidity. The box alone will probably rest securely enough on his shoulders but you may want to rig a harness (a la Rob Cockerham's costumes) so your son isn't so restricted by the box and he has squirm room.

Use foamcore for the front & back covers and the spine. You can then glue on a created or copied version of the Wimpy cover.

For the edges of the pages, you could save all your newspapers, cut off the blank edges and carefully glue stuff in place. Your local newspaper used to be a good source of paper products like this but with recycling, most of them don't want to bother giving the stuff away.

So - get some extra foamcore and make yourself some tea. Let it seep for a while as you very carefully cut long shallow lines into the foamcore with a sharp utility knife. Try to cut straight but don't go crazy about it. Once your tea is seeped and cool, soak the edge of a paper towel in the liquid and use it to dye your foamcore a light cream color.

The tea and foamcore might work - I may or may know someone who carefully cut the paper edges off of every volume from an old set of encyclopedia (to make a dollhouse library) but that was a heck of a lot of work.

(if your kid is going to be around strangers/on the street, please don't dress him in something that will restrict his vision like a 'face in the book' costume would. Especially don't do this you're going to have another child with you to worry about.)
posted by jaimystery at 7:47 PM on October 12, 2011

I'd recommend browsing Instructables, although the only similar one I could find after a quick look was based on the Evil Dead's "Necronomicon Ex Mortis". Obviously, the cover for your costume would be a lot simpler, and it'd be cool if yours also opened up too (if only to a particular page from the book), but that'd just be a bonus.

As for the back/front cover images, I'm sure it'd be more fun to have your kid just draw them out, but if I were him I'd probably be a stickler for detail and insist that you or another grown-up do it, or just print out a scan, which might be costly. And I'm not quite sure how you'd draw all the yellow-on-black text on the back, but I'm sure there's another solution that hasn't struck me.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:31 PM on October 12, 2011

Response by poster: librarianamy, thanks for the idea that reframed the way I was thinking about this costume. Greg Heffley, the wimpy kid, carries a backpack. AHA! Instant harness to support a sheet of cardboard/foamcore. Once I saw a kid popping out of a book, this answer presented itself. Thank you. Now to work...
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:50 AM on October 15, 2011

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