Step 1: Gathering the Bits and Pieces
Jacket: The main jacket was bought at Goodwill for $5.99. I made a panel from fabric to resemble a Rocketeer jacket - the fabric was bought from Hobby Lobby for $3.99 and was 1/2 yard folded in half to make it thicker; the “buttons” were made from oversized brads that were sanded and painted a bronze color (with acrylic paint I already had) and also bought at Hobby Lobby for $2.99 for a 12 pack (I needed 14). The panel was attached to the jacket with square pieces of black velcro attached behind each button (with Gorilla wood glue *not recommended!, but my superglue and epoxy had both glued themselves shut so it was all I had).
Gloves: Pre-made Darth Vader gloves bought at the Halloween shop (overpriced!, $12.99).
Pants: Bought at Goodwill for $2.49.
Leg Pads: used baseball catcher’s pads bought for $20, originally navy blue. I used a Dremel to grind down the brand name and even out some deep scratches, sanded the plastic lightly, and then I painted them (the plastic, padding, and the straps) with black acrylic paint (bought a tube of it at Hobby Lobby for $3.99), I also painted the studs and metal buckle pieces with the same bronze-colored acrylic paint used on the brad “buttons” on the jacket.
Shoes: Black dress shoes that we already had (it might look better with lace-up boots).
Broom: We bought a decorative broom at Publix for $7.99 but it had a bamboo stick that looked pretty bad, so we removed the bristles from the bamboo stick and put it on our own large, fairly straight stick we found while on a nature walk. I peeled the bark off the stick, sanded it, and then stained it a dark walnut color with wood stain bought at Wal Mart. After attaching the bristles with the same wire it came with, I used copper refrigerator coil to wrap the broom and make the stirrups/footrests.
Step 2: Final Steps and Assembly
The pants and shoes and goggles were the easy bits.
The jacket- since I don’t sew and wouldn’t have done the project if I couldn’t find a way around sewing- was a little harder to figure out how to do. I made a basic template of the shape of the panel from sketchpad paper (also folded that in half to check to make sure both halves were as equal as possible) and then made sure to give myself about a half an inch extra when I cut it out of the fabric so I could fold the edges in and hope that the heat-adhesive would work to keep it together. That job of ironing over and over to get it to work was a big pain, but eventually I got it to stay. I used a product called “Heat n Bond Ultrahold” iron-on adhesive that came in a roll 10 yards long and 7/8 wide. It has paper on one side, and you have to first iron the adhesive-side down onto the fabric until it stays (which takes forever), then peel off the paper backing, fold the fabric over that and iron again to get it to adhere (this took even longer). I used two strips for each side to hold the fake “hem” in, then another strip to hold the fronts and backs together so the panel didn’t pop open between the two layers.
Next, I had to mostly visually measure out where the buttons would be placed, because I’m not a mathematician either! The buttons across the top were fairly easy to space out, but down the sides was a different story. No matter how much measuring I tried to do, I couldn’t get them evenly spaced, so I just fudged it. I used an Exacto to poke a hole through the fabric of the panel to put each brad “button” through and then spread out the prongs in back to hold it as tight as possible. Once that was done, I attached velcro squares on the back over all of the prongs from the buttons with Gorilla glue (unfortunately, all I had was the wood glue, which I don’t recommend using!). I had to press all the pieces down with heavy items to make sure the velcro would stay put while it dried. Once that was done, I placed the panel over the front of the jacket and lined it up where I wanted it, then marked on the jacket where I wanted all the other pieces of velcro to be, and repeated the process of gluing all of those onto the front of the jacket. When everything was dry, I attached the panel to the jacket to see how it looked. My biggest concern was that in getting in and out of the jacket, my son might rip the velcro right off. I’ll probably have him pull the jacket over his head when he puts it on so we only have to pull it open in a couple of spots just to play it safe.
The broom- something which up to the end had been fairly straightforward became a pain in the backside when I had to wrap it with the refrigerator coil. The coil seemed flexible enough at first, but it turns out that it really doesn’t like to be bent so tightly. To get it to stay in place instead of it sliding itself up the handle with every wrap, I had to “cinch” it a little closer to the middle and then wrap it separately down from that spot and up from that spot. I started by making the longer footrest first and then started wrapping the coil. When the coil wasn’t cooperating, I had to loosen it up and find a spot I could cinch it on either side of (some of the bristle stems had knots that ended up holding the coil in place so it wouldn’t slide up the broom handle), then I could tighten the coil back up and finish wrapping it, then make the smaller footrest and finally cut off the excess with a small pipe cutter. That gave me a workout, and I don’t recommend trying that if there is a risk of hernia (because I almost gave myself one). If I knew of another way of doing that, and it wasn’t the day before trick-or-treating, I might do it differently. I had no idea when I started that it would be so hard to wrap and keep in place.
Please give me some feedback on alternatives for this costume- what kinds of glue would you use? Is there a better way to put this together without hiring a seamstress and prop maker? What are some ways to save even more money, besides lucking out at Goodwill and finding some cheap goodies? Is there an alternative to using refrigerator coil that will weigh less so the poor kid who has to carry it won’t end up making Mom carry it for him? It did end up having some heft to it, a little too much for a nine-year-old to carry.
If anyone makes a leather or faux-leather jacket similar to this (for a kid) please post it and tell us how you made it (and how much it cost). I would have loved to do that, but with no money and difficulty finding used leather jackets in a kid size (and a matching piece of leather or faux leather at the craft store to match it), it just wasn’t an option this year. I also considered putting epaulettes on the shoulders and using one or two braided ropes through an epaulette and under the arm (military style) to designate team colors, but I didn’t know how to attach fake epaulettes in a suitable way without possibly ruining the jacket if I messed it up. How would you show team colors on a jacket like this?