We’ve reached the time where we can carve our pumpkins!
Jack-O- Lanterns, those delightful things that pumpkins become at Halloween, originated with an old Irish folktale about a fellow named Jack who was doomed to wander the earth – having been too much of a stingy drunk to be let into heaven, and after having once played a trick on the devil, considered too mischievous and thus barred from hell. He carried with him a lantern carved from a turnip and  lit with an ember from satan’s vast personal supply to light his way as he roamed thither and yon until Judgement Day.
When this tale traveled with Irish immigrants to North America, it was found that pumpkins were more common and easier to carve than turnips. So it was a no-brainer that they won out and became the traditional jack-0-lantern that we use today. Personally, I think it would be much too hard to carve a turnip and I would end up throwing it out the window.


Most of us have carved a pumpkin or two in our lives and we all have our own methods that prove infallible each year. I personally find a keyhole saw most useful in cutting through that thick, orange rind. This year I decided to go a slightly different route, using a serrated knife from the kitchen and purchasing my first commercially manufactured pumpkin carving utensil for $2 at the drug store. After using the little pumpkin knife,  I  would recommend this orange plastic utensil for any fine pumpkin carving work that needs to be done. I’m no pumpkin artist, but I find carving the classic face works nicely for my Halloween needs.

Nothing says Halloween like a carved pumpkin, hauntingly lit by a flickering candle. All the rest of the world is in darkness but a jack-o- lantern will guide you to the haunts, the horrors, or the candy.


Halloween Sewing

Halloween Sewing

My mother comes from a family of sew-ers. If you wanted a new dress, shorts, top etc. You made it. You got the pattern and the fabric and whipped it up, no muss, no fuss. That’s just how it went.
My Mother and Aunt were taught to sew as tweens and eventually made their own wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses. As a result I was treated to amazing Halloween costumes, my personal favourite sewing purpose of all time. If I could dream it, it seemed Mom could make it. From mummies to flies to a giant fried egg (downright terrifying to someone with high cholesterol). These were the things I looked forward to every year. I needed to be “real”, people had to actually think I was this creature and be terrified, and she made those costumes as authentic as possible. How she was able to pull off what she did, I have no idea. The magic of mothers I suppose. To me, they were perfect and the neighbours were always excited to see what I would be each year. img_0020_2

To make some of these costumes, she would use a wonderful base pattern that is all but in shreds from so much use. Butterick 3372.

From there she would adjust and add and create. Unique touches, that took a costume to a “real” outfit that real witches would wear, that real mummies would look like if they were walking around.                                      img_0003_2

As I got older the game changed, not so much trick or treating, therefore less costumes and I had to fend for myself for at least part of the time, putting together some face paint and a wig and usually ending up hanging around the house as a corpse. But she really outdid herself on several occasions such as this beautiful doozy that she somehow made out of pure skill and Halloween magic. This is what a dark fairy is supposed to look like and though the picture does not do it justice, you can see the iridescence of the layers on the dress and the layers on the corset portion, complete with sparkly sheer sleeves and large collar neck-piece. All greens and purples and blacks like insect eyes, meshed together to create a work of art.


After having all of these beautiful costumes made for me throughout the years I decided to try it out myself, a few years ago. There is a certain satisfaction in making a child’s costume, in that you get to create it and that it doesn’t take much sizing since it seems, children are “children sized”. No worrying about bust and hip measurements and the adjustments therein. Just simple shapes for a simple shape, at least in my limited experience it was.



My nieces were my guinea pigs for a couple of Halloweens. First making a black cat costume out of the indispensable base pattern that both my Mom and my Aunt had used decades before. Then, using components of the same pattern and making adjustments and additions to create a witch and a ghost.

Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Halloween is a magical time with pumpkins and ghosts and goblins galore, not only can delightful holiday treats be made in the kitchen but they can also be made at the sewing machine, where imagination becomes reality if only for one night, and memories are made.