Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dorothy's (Grandmother's) Search for the Ruby Slippers

I've been raising children since 1978.  This means I've been responsible for children's Halloween finery for the past 34 years.  I honestly don't remember ever making a costume completely from scratch.  It seems you're never too old to try something new.

My youngest granddaughter (Chatty Cathy) wanted to dress as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz this Halloween.  Or so she said several weeks prior.  Knowing how kids are inclined to change their minds right up until dinner on Halloween night, I didn't rush to buy the supplies necessary to complete this costume.  I even went out of state for a couple of weeks with the realization that I would probably get home with just days left to pull together the final costume, whatever that might be.  I was willing to take my chances so as to not waste my time, money, and limited supply of energy.

When I arrived home the weekend before Halloween, I confirmed that yes, Chatty C did still want to be Dorothy.  While impressed with her ability to stick with a decision, I was a little concerned with whether or not I could construct the costume with relatively little time until D(orothy)-day.

I'm convinced there must have been a parade of Dorothys around town this Halloween because there was barely over one yard of Dorothy-worthy gingham left in our local fabric store.  Even though my pattern required 2 1/2 yards, I was sure my (now-dormant) sewing skills would help me stretch that yard into what I needed.  Or maybe I expected Jesus to multiply my fabric much the same as He did with the bread and fishes when faced with a multitude of hungry people.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to fit my pattern pieces onto that tiny piece of fabric, but I finally succeeded.  It was later in the construction process that I realized I had misread the instructions and was actually missing one pattern piece.  But I made it all work somehow.  (Desperation, perhaps?)

Then it was on to finding ruby slippers.  I was certain I could find a pair of shoes around the house that could be repurposed.  After all, I had multi-surface glitter paint and red glitter to sprinkle on top.  How hard could that be?

Turns out it was much more difficult (and time-consuming) than I imagined.  We had nothing on hand even remotely close to what I needed.  I decided to visit my local Goodwill store to look for a pair of size 4 girl's slip-on shoes.  No luck (and I wasn't being picky).  I drove to Walmart.  Surely they had something inexpensive I could use.  Not only didn't they have anything inexpensive (by my standards, at least) they didn't have a single pair of size 4s.  On my drive home I passed another Goodwill, where I found a pair of off-white girl's size 3 1/2 shoes.   I had no idea if they would fit, much less work for what I had planned.  But it was 2 p.m. on October 31st.  I had no choice.

I rushed home and got to work.  The glitter paint didn't provide much coverage, but seemed to work pretty well as a base for the red glitter.  After allowing 30 minutes for the base coat to dry, I coated the shoes with a spray-on adhesive and applied more glitter.  Another 30 minutes and I applied a spray-on fixative with the hope it would minimize the trail of glitter left in my house.

The shoes fit well enough for a couple of hours of community-sanctioned begging trick-or-treating, and the trail of loose glitter was quickly absorbed by the cracks and crevices of my home that hold the rest of the dirt and grime.  I thought Chatty C looked adorable.  And she was quite pleased with her costume.  All was well in my world.  And it only took 34 years to get here.


  1. She looks so cute! You did a great job. The shoes are so perfect!

  2. How adorable!! Way to improvise! Everything looks great -- head to toe! I especially like her beaming smile. Hopefully she appreciates what Nana did for her. I love reading about your adventures! (And yes, Jesus is still in the business of miracles.)