It’s no secret that I love World Book Day. I know it’s (totally understandably) some parents idea of a nightmare/chore whereas I relish an opportunity to make a costume, but for me it’s about more than that. Watching children talk about books with such enthusiasm and the fact that with a bit of imagination you can come up with at least 4 ideas which don’t involve making or buying anything is all part of the appeal, but what clinched it for me is coming across parents I didn’t know taking their child into school this morning. They were putting an elaborate Mad Hatter’s top hat on their child, made of cardboard and covered with great little details and crepe paper hair. I made a comment about the beautiful hat and the dad looked up at me beaming with pride and said “it’s homemade”. If I could bottle that joy I would, instead I’ll have to stick to remembering it, that and the boy in H’s class rocking a football kit with a dress on top.
For H and I a costume is an excuse to sit down together, draw designs, argue about what is or isn’t ostentatious and come up with an idea. As usual H’s love of a classic costume trumped my enthusiasm for some flamboyant idea with modern twist and Little Red Riding Hood was the character of choice.
Our inspiration came from vintage book illustrations and was designed to be made in separate parts as that way it can be reused and re-imagined into lots of other role play games at home.
First a petticoat dress, with gathered skirt (more than 3 metres of fabric at the bottom of the skirt), ruffle collar and puffed sleeves. The dress is actually made from odds and ends of white cotton. I didn’t have enough of any one fabric but couldn’t bring myself to buy more with so many scraps in the cupboard so pieced together 4 different types of fabric to create the dress. The pattern was made up along the way using a basic bodice and sleeve block for reference. The waist and sleeves are elasticated and the neck closes with a snap at the back.
The second piece is an overskirt made in black and white checked polycotton. The construction was a very simple large rectangle shape gathered into a waistband that is elasticated at the back.
The waistcoat was drafted from a bodice block into a double breasted design. It is made from black velvet (left over from the bat wings at Halloween) and lined with the overskirt material.
Of course the last piece had to be a red cloak with oversized hood. There appear to be hundreds of free cloak tutorials available but in the end I used the method suggested in this 1950’s diagram, skipping the openings a buttons and adding a single toggle closure instead.
H was so excited about the costume she struggled to go to sleep last night and after putting it on seems to have lost the ability to walk. Apparently Little Red Riding Hood must skip, everywhere. With an outfit that twirls like that, who can blame her.