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My costume challenge recap + what I learned

I’ve done it. I finished what I set out to do. 
The 2019 year of my costume project is done. Complete. 12 costumes, 12 months, loads of new materials and lots of learning and trying and making and today I am wrapping up ALLLLLLL of my thoughts on this project!

WHY? Over the course of these past 12 months I got this question a lot. Or some form of it at least. Why costumes? Why 12? Why a whole year? 
And the simple answer is WHY NOT? 

I believe as creatives we have to challenge ourselves or put things in front of us that will help us stay out of ruts. Help us avoid burnout or overwhelm. That is what I wanted this project to be. Costumes are near and dear to my heart (you can read more HERE about why) so I thought, why not give myself this monthly challenge. To come up with new designs, to try new materials, to test out ways or techniques of how to “adhere” it to my body, to give myself the creative freedom to do WHATEVER the heck I wanted to, to re-make one of my Mom’s trademark costume, to make something that would make me giggle…..the list goes on and on. 

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I think, far too often, I make things because I already think I know what the outcome is going to be. Maybe because I’m envisioning it in my head or maybe because I have made a different version of the end product. And these costumes I didn’t. Sure, I thought about each month, grabbed my supplies and formulated a plan, but I didn’t have a complete 12 month plan when I began last January. Each month was fluid, each month I thought about ideas and each month the process looked a little different. And that’s what I loved about this project. And this project progressed, I stopped every so often and jotted down my frustrations, my mis-steps, my thoughts and my successes….and here are some of my notes!

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  1. Sometimes first ideas are terrible or don’t work out. AT ALL!
    When I set out to make the Caboodle costume in March, I first decided to do it out of foam insulation board (like the pink stuff you get a Home Depot). I wanted to use a hot knife and play around with that idea. WELP! I cut the pieces, glued them together, refined the shape and keep carving the hot knife. As you can suspect, it didn’t work. I used “foam coat” to try and coat the foam (because if you paint it directly, the foam will melt) and that was a sanding disaster. I quickly realized I made the foam coat too thick and sanding would take no less than 900 hours……So I adjusted my course, and used that very mold as my paper mâché mold. Creativity is about stretching muscles and moving from one thing to the next and I’m super happy that I gave up on that foam because hindsight, the foam would have been far too heavy to use as a costume, so paper mâché was the way to go
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2. KEEP GOING! Especially when you are stuck. Maybe walk away, for a short time….but come back!
If I admitted how large my work-in-progress pile is you’d laugh at me (please tell me I’m not alone in this?!). I tend to start something and then get stuck and then put it down with INTENTIONS to come back to it…but I never really do! (Remember, I jump from thing to thing SO easily??)
Having an “end date” to get things done by has taught me to push…keep going…..even when I was stuck and you didn’t love the outcome so far. Just FINISH. Emily Ley (or someone really important) always says “done is better than perfect” and I have to agree in this instance. 

If I’m being honest, my April Hunter boot costume didn’t turn out as expected. But I kept refining and trying and pushing and walking away and coming back and walking away and coming back. I got it done. Was it perfect, NO? Did I love it, ehhhhh? But did I learn things and try out a new technique that was in my head for awhile, YES? I say: mission accomplished!

3. Creativity is a muscle. The more you work it, the better it becomes. 
Let me say that again: THE MORE YOU WORK IT, THE BETTER YOU BECOME! This means practice and patience and making things that stink sometimes.
I had some faves and some not-so-faves in this challenge but I see the value that each of them brings to the overall finished product of this project. When I step away from each month and each idea and each specific set of materials, I see the big picture. I see that each month I used my creative muscle and thought about how I could turn my idea into a costume. And in the end, I started seeing things thought a lens that ANYYYTHING and EVERYTHING can become a costume! 🙂 

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4. New materials are inspiring.
Simply put. Give any creative time in a craft store and they will come out looking like the emoji with heart eyes! Inspired. Excited. Driven. 

In May, I wanted to make a peony costume; one of my fave smelling flowers EVER! Up until this point each costume had been a bit time consuming or at least more “involved”. After thinking about it fora bit, I decided to work with tissue to make the peony. I had seen big tissue flowers before and looked up a few tutorials and went to town. Turns out that an hour with tissue paper can turn out a COMPLETE costume. It’s like my energy changed with I decided to work with something so delicate and simple; nothing I had used in the past for something larger than wrapping gifts. New materials are inspiring!

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5. I work best when I balance planning with experimenting.
And this project proved it to be *SO TRUE* for me!
What I mean by this is that I need to think through the idea, shape, size or color in my head in order to have a starting point. But I LOVE when I get going and make adjustments as I go (based on materials or what is or isn’t working)! 

When I was making my friendship bracelet costume, I had the thought in my head as to how it would all go: how the knots would knot, the colors would lay and the material would respond. Well, I got going and realized very quickly that I needed to adjust. And so I did. And it turned out. Better that expected. I had the rough idea in my head, I had the materials handy and I just went with it. Because of the end result, I had to figure out how to best make it “wearable” because my first idea wasn’t going to work anymore…but again, experimenting and stretching these creative muscles was one of my initial goals! 🙂 

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6. Sometimes the most simple ideas turn out the most rewarding 
It’s no contest that December is one of the most wildly busy months of the year (EVERY YEAR I am surprised by this fact, you’d think I would catch on). And I had already tossed around countless ideas of the December costume in my head. Nothing came to fruition nor excite me a ton. With a mess of boxes, tissue and paper all around the living room floor, after Zeke and Esther had finished opening gifts, I thought about the idea of using those huge boxes to make a giant gingerbread house. I thought about making candy and making it ultra colorful. And then I remembered an older Scandinavian gingerbread house I had stumbled upon on the internet one time that was GORGEOUS. Simple white icing on brown gingerbread. TAAA DAA! 
A few hours later, and the December gingerbread costume was born. And now it’s STILL being used as Esther confiscated it for a Toy Story/Paw Patrol play house. 

7. Finishing something is WORTH it.
I’m an enneagram 7…..and if you know anything about an enneagram 7, then you know that I EASILY jump from thing to thing. Which is sometimes a good thing (like when I’m stuck in a rut or need a change of direction). However, when it comes to finishing…..ahem…..it poses a problem. 
This idea of finishing is so easy for some people, but I have never been one to finish things that don’t come easy to me. 
Finishing cooking dinner, yes.
Finishing baking cookies, yes. 
Finishing putting my kids to bed, yes. 
But finishing something big and uncharted from start to finish over 12 months is a BIG DEAL to me. I am proud I did. I am proud I stuck with it even when life got busy and I realized I didn’t have a project completed on the last few days of the month. I am proud to say that all 12 costumes got done ON TIME before the calendar month changed.

**Don’t worry, I celebrated with a huge bowl of ice cream when I was done with the Gingerbread costume on New Years Eve! 🙂 

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  1. Lots of nice costumes. You have been a busy girl. Keep up the good work. What is your theme this year. Hope it is not the flu bug.

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