Easy Halloween 2017 Costumes

Once again, ‘tis the season of crunchy leaves, haunted hayrides, and overstuffed candy aisles. Amid all the autumnal excitement, time flies by faster than a witch on a speedy broomstick, and some people (read: me, myself, and I) inevitably wind up scouring the internet for easy Halloween costumes they can throw together in the two hours before nightfall on Oct. 31. Then, with the clock’s countdown ticking louder every second, they end up grabbing the same tried-and-true costume hanging in the back of their closet and dashing out the door. Sound familiar?

If you’re tired of showing up to Halloween in the same increasingly-dingy ballerina costume while everyone else’s costumes get more fabulous with every passing year, it doesn’t have to be this way. I guarantee that anyone with a reasonably-sized closet has the materials to make a clever, easy costume right now. It might not be worthy of entrance to Heidi Klum’s famous Halloween bashes, but I’m going to be real here: None of us were going to get invited anyway. (Whatever — it’s Hollywood’s loss.)

But I digress. Getting into the spirit (pun obviously intended) of Halloween doesn’t mean you have to sew your costume by hand in a candlelit room. Some of the wittiest costumes are actually the simplest. Here are 22 simple, easy ways to dress up this Halloween.

Carmen San Diego

Every ’90s kid will swoon over the appearance of the ever-mysterious Carmen Sandiego this Halloween. I suggest organizing a game of hide-and-seek.

Rosie the Riveter

Who wouldn’t want to dress up as a feminist icon for a night?

Dancing Pumpkin Meme

You already know and love the meme. Now it’s your turn to become it.

Wednesday Addams

Goth kids both former and current, your time has come. Put on your best sociopathic face and channel Wednesday Addams all Halloween.

Morticia Addams

If you’re not feeling the schoolgirl look, go for Wednesday’s mother: Morticia Addams. Better yet, grab someone to be your Gomez.

How to make Soy Candles

Remember the whole story about my heartbreak and how it led to me leaving my house in Los Angeles and moving in with Delilah in Orange County and how that led to us founding Patchwork Show? If not, check out my tale of how Patchwork started here. Patchwork Show wasn’t the only good thing that emerged when I moved in with Delilah. We also started another business together, The Family Van. We created soy candles in upcycled thrift store jars and containers.

I’d been making candles for years (see my post here about how I got started pouring soy candles) and Delilah and I are both avid thrift store shoppers, so it seemed like the perfect new side business for both of us. Every few weeks we’d spend the day jetting from thrift store to thrift store hunting down the perfect one-of-a-kind jars. At night we’d turn on the stereo, open a bottle of wine and hangout in the kitchen, melting wax on the stove in a double boiler while scenting and pouring soy candles until the wee hours of the evening.

The name, The Family Van, comes from one of our favorite childhood memories. Delilah’s dad (aka Papa)/my grandfather used to have an old VW bus without any seats in it. Papa would let us sit in the back on the floor while he drove up the hill to my house. The hill was long and there was a speed bump every 15 feet. Delilah and I were tossed around in the back of the van and Papa would say, “How are my Mexican jumping beans doing?” and we’d laugh until our sides ached. I love how the simplest things can be so entertaining and become so memorable to kids.

When Delilah and I were brainstorming a name for our candle business, we wanted something that represented our family connection. We started telling stories about our childhood together and when we landed on the story about Paps’s van, it seemed only natural to name the business after a thing from one of our favorite times in our shared childhood.

Although the candle business is behind us now, I still make candles for personal use and occasionally teach candle workshops in the bay area at Workshop SF (which is the place where I took all the photos below – note the awesome upcycled painted wine corks that the innovative Workshop sf co-founder Kelly Malone created in the photos above). I love making soy candles because soy wax burns slower and cooler than paraffin wax creating a longer burning candle. It also doesn’t release any petrol-carbon soot (you know that nasty black smoky stuff that other candles emit). To top if off, soybeans are a renewable resource! Plus if you’re not the tidiest of crafters (like me) soy wax is way easier to remove from surfaces when you accidentally spill it.

One of my favorite things about making soy candles is that it’s the perfect craft to do with a friends or even in a group. Also, it doesn’t require a ton of technical know-how, so it’s great for a Sunday afternoon brunch/crafting day with mimosas. Hope you enjoy yourself as much as Delilah and I did when we made soy candles. If you want to make your candles super fancy and awesome… check out the post I did on how to fancy up your jars with washi tape and image transfers!

WHAT TO GET:

-Double boiler (pot with a metal bowl on top)
-Candle wick
-Wick clips
-Measuring cup
-Wooden spoon
-Fragrance
-Soy wax
-Glass jars or other containers
-Glue gun with glue sticks or sticky blue goop
-Card stock
-Pen
-Hole punch
-Decorative papers
-Mod Podge or glue stick

WHAT TO DO:

  1. In a double boiler melt wax on stove until it’s totally liquid.
  2. Prepare your container: measure out a length of wick that’s 3-4 inches longer than the height of the container.
  3. Put the end of the wick through the wick clip and have 1/2 inch sticking out bottom of wick clip. Fold this 1/2 inch over and affix the wick clip to middle bottom of container with blue sticky goop or a hot glue gun.
  4. Pour the melted wax into your container leaving 1/4 – 1/2 inch at top.
  5. Add your scent. The amount of scent depends on type of scent ie: fragrance vs. essential oil and size of container. For a 16 ounce candle I use 1 tablespoon of fragrance or 10 drops of essential oil. Start small and add more scent as needed.
  6. Stir well to completely mix the scent.
  7. Make sure the wick is straight and centered and set a piece of card stock on top of the container with a little hole in the center to feed the wick through to keep it in place.
  8. Let the wax cool and the candle set and then decorate.
    *Don’t trim the wick or burn the candle for 24 hours.

The Anatomy of Type by Stephen Coles

Are you one of those people who is fascinated by typefaces? Since the days of desktop publishing, personal computers have come with a variety of fonts, and along with those fonts an interest in typography has become a passion for many.

There are many great websites and blogs devoted to the typographic arts, not least of which are Typographica and FontsInUse, both run by typographer and writer Stephen Coles.

Now Coles has published a new book, a beautiful and useful hardcover from Harper Design, an imprint of Harper Collins.

The Anatomy of Type: A Graphic Guide to 100 Typefaces is a treat for any typophile.

As the press material says,

“Obsessively organized into … group classifications, this unique compendium explores 100 typefaces in loving detail, and contains enough information—from the quirky to the factual—to turn anyone into a font geek.

The full character set from each typeface is shown, and the best letters for identification are enlarged and annotated, revealing key features, anatomical details, and the finer, often overlooked elements of type design.

Containing in-depth information on everything from the designer and foundry, the year of release, and the different weights and styles available, The Anatomy of Type is more than a reference guide to the intricacies of type design.

Ever wonder how Clarendon, Didot, and Centaur came to be? Or why Gil Sans proportionally resembles olds-style serif faces, despite its inconsistent weight stress? Or who “pirated” the first font” The Anatomy of Type provides answers to these questions, and so much more…”
The design of this book, by Tony Seddon, shows the typefaces, divided into 15 categories, beautifully. Throughout the book color, size, typefaces and graphics are used intelligently and with great care on each spread.

The result allows you to simply enjoy the amazing variety of letterforms that are so similar, yet so different.

Each typeface has a paragraph about its history that includes suggested uses. First you get an illustrated primer on the anatomy of type:

Coles then introduces his 15 classifications. For instance, serif faces are divided into Humanist, Transitional, Rational, and Contemporary. Each has historical roots and subtleties you can learn to spot from the excellent illustrations.

Then it’s on to the main body of the book, 100 2-page spreads that show each of the typefaces in detail. It’s great fun to see Coles spell out the details that make one typeface different from other, similar ones, and the book is always clear.

Here’s the spread on Gotham:

What’s not to like?

Any lover of type will appreciate and learn from this book. And it’s a great gift for that type geek in your life.

As a book designer, The Anatomy of Type is appealing but incomplete. Although this is an aesthetically pleasing and informative book, typefaces don’t exist all by themselves, as they are shown here. Each is a member of a family of weights and styles.

I kept wondering what the italics for these typefaces looked like. That’s a critical component of choosing type for books; we need at least a roman and an italic, and you can’t commit to one without the other.

But that’s a small quibble when it comes to a book as useful, fun and informative as this one is.

Note that I’ve warned you it’s very easy to get lost in these beautiful pages, only to find you’ve just spent an hour comparing the shapes of the serifs on all your favorite typefaces.