Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mona the Griffin

Mona's costume this year was an interesting challenge in a couple of ways.  She wanted to be a griffin, and she wanted to make as much of it as possible by herself.

The first step was to make sure we were on the same page, since we were talking about an imaginary animal and I needed to get a sense of what she had in mind.  I asked Mona to draw me a griffin, and she quickly sketched out this:
Makes that iguana costume look easy, doesn't it?

I don't know if a griffin costume is the best place to begin learning to use a sewing machine, and I'm not the most qualified teacher, but I was impressed with Mona's ambition and really proud of how much she did.  Mona cut and sewed (with minimal guidance) the entire body suit, half the zipper, the tail, the ears, and a wing.  I did a little sewing in the crotch area, the other half of the zipper, and the other wing.  I hand sewed on the feathers she cut out for the body, and attached the tail, ears, and hood she made.  She made the mask herself.  I put on the furry chest piece so that it closes with Velcro to cover the zipper in front.
Dog being ever helpful offering up a toy

lots of feathers to cut

chest flap covers the zipper!

Our biggest stumbling block was the wings, and I'm still not convinced they are tough enough to last the week, but we'll see.  She wanted them to stand up off her back, and I told her they'd have to be detachable to do that or she wouldn't be able to get in and out of the car otherwise.

Mona fully intended to do the wings herself, and then I was going to help add straps so she could wear them, but the design kind of got away from her and I had to jump in for a bit.  Unfortunately I jumped in at a point past where I would have done some basic construction differently, so I'm concerned about stability.  There is a lot of cardboard, duct tape, skewers, and hardware bits involved that probably could have been avoided if we'd built a more solid framework to begin with, but that's okay.  If she wants to wear the costume again in the future we can certainly start fresh with new and improved wings then.
Dog being helpful again by lying on the fabric Mona's using.

In the meantime she's happy with her wings, and that's all I really care about.

Check out my daughter the griffin:

I really loved watching Mona sew.  She's fearless with a glue gun and works wonders with duct tape and sticks and puff balls, so adding sewing machine skills to her crafting arsenal I think is valuable for her at this point.  I'm glad we had enough time for us to do her costume together.

The biggest challenge was not about anything technical, but just communicating artistic vision.  I had to keep asking questions because my solutions to how to make her a griffin were going to be different from what she had in her mind.  We're too much alike in some ways, my little Mona and I, so when she would get emotional about seemingly innocuous queries I understood it.

Not that it made the tears any easier to work with when all I wanted was for her to explain how she imagined her tail.  I was just going to make a regular droopy tail, but she wanted a wire inside so it could hold a shape.  When I presented her with what I would do it somehow made her feel trapped rather than free to make suggestions.  After much prodding and emotional back and forth she eventually was able to articulate what she had in mind, and I told her that was fine, of course we could do it that way.  Other things she had to compromise about (like the necessity of being able to remove her wings), and some she came around to my ideas about once she saw examples of what I meant (cutting the feathers out of fleece and layering them on the costume was not what she originally pictured, but once she saw it she liked it).  For the most part it's what she envisioned.

Can't wait to see what she wants to do next year!  And we'll see if she even needs my help at all by then.


  1. I am weeks behind on my blog reading but I logged on today just to find out what your kids were dressing up as for Halloween. Love the griffin. I once decided to be a giant brown monster with polka dots and my mom dutifully made me that. I looked like a bear with a weird pox, but it was my most memorable Halloween.

    1. Bear with pox! I keep telling my kids if they really want to be the scariest things walking into the Halloween dance at the school they should be lice.

  2. Wow, Mona, amazing griffon costume! That took a lot of time, patience, and hard work.

    1. Didn't she do a good job? Imagine where she'll go from here.

  3. That is so impressive and the wings look great! Good teamwork!!

  4. Wow! William and Mary's new mascot is a Griffin. I know love it even more! Absolutely amazing costume!!