Make: Crazy Owl Costume

by Cat on October 26, 2010

Hooray!  I am over the moon to welcome all of you to our new creative space, “Mom Inc Daily…home of Designing Moms!”  If you were a reader of our former blog, Designing Moms, than you’ll see that the content still remains but with a few new and exciting features.  Many of our reader emails have consisted of questions about our lives as designers so I’m adding a “daily” that will share this.  And for those of you mamas out there hoping to (or in the throes of) start a creative business while balancing motherhood, we will be sharing biz-how-to’s and features on great Designing Moms to get you inspired and organized.  Please write in and tell me what you think and what articles or posts you’d love to see featured!

So without further delay, let me just jump into our first post here at Mom Inc Daily which has become somewhat of a tradition.  I credit friend and fellow Designing Mom Shinmin for shaming me into creating my baby’s first Halloween costume (a nutty squirrel) last year.  Yes, my knuckles got scorched by a glue gun but I am so thankful she got me me off my butt to create something with my hands.  This year I couldn’t wait to text her and ask her what she was going to make as I was still in amazement by her octopus costume. Before we knew it, the glue guns and sewing needles were rip roaring through the night.  Two years young, but I think we’ve started a tradition.  I’ll post my ‘Zilla costume tomorrow.  I’m not afraid to say it pales in comparison to the masterpiece that you’re about to see…  It’s beyond magical.  Shinmin, you rock!

by Designing Mom Shinmin

I believe that I started a tradition last year of hand making a costume for Mila for each Halloween (a tradition I may regret later).

This year, as Cat and I were discussing costume ideas I was disappointed at my complete shortage of creativity.  I had no idea, no inspiration, and no motivation.  I had too many things on my plate (while not being a very good juggler).  Perhaps many of you know this feeling?

I thought of things that I like…… a hamburger, a donut… a cake… a big wedge of cheese.  I passed these ideas by my husband and his response made a lot of sense.  He said, “Why make Mila into something she won’t understand?  Make something that she will recognize at once, like an animal.”  Ugh, I hate when he’s right.

So I thought about the animals that she knew by name.  A cow… hmmm… that’s going to be difficult.  A dog… too common.  A cat… not crazy enough for this mother.  AN OWL!!!  She loves owls.  She knows its name in both Chinese and English and she says, “hoo hoo” every time she sees one.  That big head, those big eyes, the layers of feathers!  I was immediately excited, “obsessed” is a more accurate word.  I researched owl images all night and sent so many of them to poor Cat in the middle of the night.

I began by thinking about the costume structure.  If I make a feathery body and an owl head as a hat, Mila would just yank the hat off and she would end up trick-or-treating as a headless owl.

I had to think about a headpiece that would stay on, well at least a few minutes before I would have to beg her to put it back on again.  So I came up with the cape solution.

Mila received this great poncho from a friend in Japan.  It fits perfectly, so I used it to create a general pattern.  I drew an outline of the poncho shape onto a large paper bag.

Then I used the pattern pieces as templates for cutting my fabrics.  I didn’t want a literal owl translation with accurate colours, so I used a colour palette that I thought was really fun.  Also if people don’t recognize that the costume is of an owl, I can fall back on the excuse that I took artistic license and created an abstract interpretation.

I had this great gray Italian fabric from last year’s Christmas stocking project and used a bright green fabric as the lining.  I also dug into my scrap bin and found complimentary pop colours.

I wish that I can show step-by-step instructions on my costume making process, but it got so complicated I wouldn’t know how to explain myself, as well as hide my embarrassing goof ups.  This is my first time sewing something on a sewing machine.  This owl developed over many nights and many mistakes.  Before this attempt, my sewing experience consisted of mending holes and reattaching buttons.  So I just have to skip to the end results.

Here is the cape/owl head.  I purposely left the seams on the outside because I simply don’t know how to make clean and neat seams.  Also the raw and slightly frayed edges remind me of feathers.

I made a bubble dress and stuffed it lightly with batting.  I used fabric scrap circles to create the feathers on the body.

And this is my Mila monster in the costume.  She started hoo-ing right away when I put the costume on her.  I was so please that she recognized what it is.

Here is a view from the side.

And here is the back.

Mila is such a busy body, I could not get her to stop pulling off the cape (uh-oh) nor stay in one place.  So I turned on the music and asked her to dance, which she loves doing.  So I snapped some more photos.

Next, I’m hoping that I have time to make her a matching trick or treat bag.  Look HOO’s trick or treating.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

candace October 26, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Where do I begin.? Beautiful blog and costume!


Ryan of Tin Parade October 26, 2010 at 7:42 pm

I ABSOLUTLY love this costume. It’s so creative and artistic and beautiful. Wow.! Thank you so much for posting this.


kate fulford October 26, 2010 at 10:21 pm

beyond cute, Shinmin! i LOVE it! your talents seem to be limitless!!


maryanne October 26, 2010 at 11:40 pm

This is nothing short of amazing. Really, I’m in awe.


jackie October 27, 2010 at 3:50 am

oh my, you have found your new calling!!! i love it all. the talent just keeps coming…. xx j


E Owes October 27, 2010 at 4:45 am

so. darn. cute. You should be so proud-My mom and I always made my Halloween costumes together and now I am trying to pass on the tradition. Its a lot of work! But it must be important if it meant that much to me that I am keeping it up with my kids.

Have fun on Halloween!


Nicole Feliciano October 27, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Love the site and the costume. Congrats on the launch.


Shinmin October 27, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Cat, the site looks great. You’re so creative. I’m extremely honored that mila’s costume made the first post of Mom Inc Daily. I’m so excited about this new site and new features. Cheers to Mom Inc Daily!


RookieMom Whitney October 27, 2010 at 4:38 pm

LOVE the owl. It’s a beautiful work of art – even if it wasn’t wearable.

The new site looks great. I’ll add it to my reader!


Elizabeth October 27, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Oh my gosh, that owl costume is so absolutely adorable!


Lisa October 31, 2010 at 8:57 am

Amazing! You are very talented!!!


Corina November 3, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Your owl is YOWZA! I made an owl -Hedwig a few years ago for my oldest. I love the way you constructed your owl , and more power to you for tackling the sewing machine. I wish I coulp post a pic for you but it is on another hard drive. Now that I have three girls to sew for I have to confess that fabric glue is my new secret weapon! It is exhausting but very rewarding to make the costumes each year….but I don’t have a problem buying them sometimes.


PamH April 26, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Oh my this is one of the cutest things I’ve seen in a long time!!


Marleen April 27, 2011 at 8:34 am

OMG, how cute is this little girl in the best kids costume i’ve ever seen !??
Love this !


lia May 3, 2011 at 11:34 pm

it looks adorable!!!


Gana May 7, 2011 at 4:59 am

Waow it’s amazing! I like that!!!!!!


milene micoton June 19, 2011 at 6:28 am

Just perfect !! Thanks for sharing


Crystal October 19, 2011 at 3:47 am

This is fabulous! I just wanted to tell you regardless of goof-ups the rawness of the edges and imperfection is what makes this look amazing! You rock and I hope mine turns out as good as yours!


Kristin September 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm

OMG, I was just looking up ideas for making my daughter an owl costume (she just informed me this morning that the original ladybug idea was no longer going to work and that an owl costume was in order). I wish I had exact instructions…maybe I’ll try something similar and hope for the best!! BEAUTIFUL work, mama 🙂


Britney {Jesse's Girl} October 7, 2012 at 5:05 pm

This is so SO cute!!!!


Peter September 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm

The is a really clever and cute owl costume. Congrats on the uniqueness!!

In case you or any of your readers are interested, there is a creative costume contest over at and there is a $250 grand prize! You many enter multiple times, as long as each entry is unique.

Best of luck,


Cat October 22, 2012 at 2:36 am

bonjour! material used was the mom’s old scraps…cotton and calico prints etc. you can use anything from your old jeans, to scarves or your husband’s shirts to make this :).


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