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How to Train Your Dragon (to bring you fun sized Snickers bars)

Halloween is pretty much my favorite of all the holidays. I love the candy, the decorations, the costumes… (when I was a freshman in college, I outfitted about a half dozen friends on the spur of the moment with just what I had in my closet). I love love love making costumes for Lilian.

Her first Halloween, I was too exhausted to get all that creative. So she wore a hand-me-down Lobster costume and I tried to not eat her.

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Next year, I got to have a little more fun! She was a winged monkey from the Wizard of Oz. I loved how the little fez came out (it was a mini Ben and Jerry’s carton that I covered in red felt).

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Last year, she was Sulley from Monsters Inc. It was a fairly easy pattern to sew, but fake fur is no joke! I think I broke about 17 needles while I was working on it. At the last minute, she almost didn’t wear it, which would have just about broken my heart. In the end, she got very excited about going “rawr!” and people giving her candy.

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This year, she was Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon. We thought we’d be all smart and spend the end of September/beginning of October getting her excited for her costume. Which was a great idea… until the power in our attic went kablooey and I had to start sewing with the help of an extension cord from the bathroom. Not a lot of light up there these days. I almost wished that I’d just bought her an Anna dress and called it a day. (Almost).

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I did one thing right, which was to get started early. I did some research (aka, spent an evening on Pinterest), gathered up most of my supplies, and started sewing with plenty of time to spare.

For those of you who are interested in these sorts of things, I got most of my inspiration from this post. I started with her basic process and then went from there. The little skulls and spikes are all model magic. I painted mine using some glittery acrylic paint, which ended up being the biggest pain in the ass. Model magic isn’t porous at all, so I had to dab the paint on with a foam brush. It took forever and got all over my hands. After it was all done and dried, I read this post about how you can color model magic with markers. I soooooo wish I had done that instead. Lilian loved the sparkles, but I have a sparkly marker set that probably would have worked just fine.

The skirt I pretty much improvised on. I measured Lilian’s waist, divided by 10, and then used that number to cut out a template for the maroon flaps. The leather under-skirt and headband I made using a bag of leather scraps that I got on Amazon (these are all affiliate links). If anyone is desperately trying to figure out how to make one of these things, feel free to leave a comment, but I pretty much made it up as I went along. It was pretty gratifying to know that I have enough sewing technique in me to put it all together without a tutorial.

The “armor”, I’m pretty proud of. It’s just regular quilting fabric from Joanns, but I sewed interfacing into it to make it nice and stiff. This one I also did without a pattern, but I can say that it’s three rectangles, each one about an inch shorter from the last. I sewed it directly to the shirt, and it held up really well. I folded it in half and then ironed it to give it some of its shape.

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The shirt I ended up sewing from scratch. Partially because I didn’t have much luck finding a ready-made one with the right kind of stripes, and partially because Lilian fell in love with the fabric when she saw it at the store. It’s not really the right colors, but like I said, Lilian loved it. And isn’t that what really matters? It’s also super soft. I might have to make her a non-viking version. The pattern is this one. I didn’t bother with any of the ribbing/hemming. Partially because I wanted a little bit of a rough viking look, partially because I was under a time crunch at that point (I ended up having to travel for work and lost a few sewing days the week of Halloween).

My sister Melissa recommended epoxy to glue all of the skulls and spikes on, and I should have listened to her! We didn’t have any epoxy, so I used hot glue instead. I figured I’d see how they held up during a trial run, and if they didn’t stay on I’d get some epoxy. We took Lilian to visit Beans at work the afternoon of Halloween, and everything stayed on just fine. Of course, when it came time to get dressed for trick or treating, everything started falling off. I ended up pulling off anything that felt loose, scoring the backs with my fingernails, and then re-gluing everything. Luckily, hot glue dries super fast and we only lost one spike after that.

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Lilian wanted me to dress up as Astrid as well. But that would have been a) weird and 2) way too much work. So, I bought this dragon hoodie instead. “I’m going to ride you mama!” was Lilian’s response. Eeks.

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Gracie was a dinosaur with a little caveman riding on her back. Dinosaur/dragon, caveman/viking, potato/potawto. Pepper made her own dragon costume and joined us for pictures and trick or treating.

I got Lilian a little axe and shield to go with her costume. Which was probably  a terrible mistake, but was also a lot of fun for all of us. She was surprisingly good about not whacking us all with the business end of the axe. She mostly just banged it on her shield to make her mama dragon go to sleep (she remembered that from the movie). She’s starting to push her limits with the axe now, but is good about settling down when I remind her that she’s not allowed to hit anyone (or anything but her shield) with it.

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Trick or treating was a lot of fun. It seemed like there were a lot of neighbors (even more than last year) that just turned all of their lights off, but the ones who were participating put up a lot of decorations and got all into it. One woman had a super detailed Ghostbusters costume (including backpack, gun, etc). We also saw a lot of parents in costume, which made me feel like a little less of a weirdo in my dragon hoody. Lilian was really good about saying “trick or treat” and “thank you,” although she did yell “let’s go get some morrrre cannnnddyyyyyy!” as we left most of the houses. Anytime she got to pick, she either went for the M&Ms or Whoppers. Whoppers?!? I have no idea where she got that one from. I gave her a pack to eat, just in case she was just grabbing them because she liked the color of the wrapper. At least I won’t be tempted to eat all of them while she’s asleep.

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Pepper loved the shadow that her costume made. It was pretty sweet.

We did about three blocks, which took us a couple of hours. We had a great time chatting with all of our neighbors, and showing off Lilian’s costume. Nobody had any idea who she was, but they all thought that she looked adorable. She very proudly told everyone, “I’m Astrid!” I like the idea of her seeing herself as a strong viking who doesn’t take any guff.

Next year, I will probably get no say in Lilian’s costume. Hopefully, she will pick something fun!

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