Becoming Belle

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ressing up has always been my favorite part of Halloween. Sure, candy is great, but being able to dress up and wander around the neighborhood with my friends will forever be a tradition I treasure. This year’s Halloween costume, though, has got to be the most impressive one I’ve worn yet.

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As many materials as this costume needed, it was still nowhere near as expensive as what online sellers were selling it for. Hence why I took on this challenge!

Thanks to my mom, I’ve always had the luxury of being able to dress up on Halloween. Being the daughter of a seamstress, my mom knew the basics of sewing; if there was something we needed that wasn’t at the closest Party City, she’d make it. Mixed with her creative imagination and crafting skills, each Halloween costume was a hit. Last year, she was worried, though. “This may be the last year you might dress up, you guys,” she told me and my brother. As he was entering middle school and I was starting freshman year, we both knew that neither of us were going to have time to think about costumes, let alone help my mom make them. Since then, Halloween hadn’t even crossed my mind, the thoughts of schoolwork and responsibilities pushing out any costume inspiration.

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I can’t even imagine how many times I pricked the tips of my fingers with these pins…

March of 2017 came, and one of my most highly anticipated movies of the year was released: Beauty and the Beast, starring one of my greatest idols, Emma Watson. As soon as I stepped out of the movie theater, a spark was relit within me. ‘I have to dress up as Belle for Halloween. There’s no way I’m not going to be wearing her dress,’ I thought. That excitement, however, was short-lived. My eighth-grade year was coming to a close, and, once again, the thought of Halloween swiftly disappeared. In the coming months, the countdown to the spooky month got smaller and smaller; suddenly, it was October. I brought up the idea to my mom, specifically mentioning that I was going to sew the costume and not her. I later learned that she genuinely believed that I was going to give up halfway through, and that she’d have to take over. Nevertheless, she told me to go for it, and that it’ll be a great learning experience. And so, I got to work.

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Fun fact: I cut out these pieces backwards, so the lining of my corset has the wrong side of the fabric sewn in!

On the 3rd, I bought the pattern for Belle’s village dress. The 7th and 8th was consumed with basic fabric shopping. Time to start putting it together, right? Not exactly. Unlike my mom, I had little-to-no knowledge of sewing. I could sew straight lines, attach a hood to a jacket, but making an entire costume from scratch? This was going to my biggest project yet. The nights with small workloads were spent taping patterns and cutting fabric. By the third weekend of October, I had gotten a total of…nothing done. Naturally, I freaked out, spending the entirety of Saturday and Sunday at the sewing machine. The last full school-week of October was made up of sewing bits and pieces. An apron on Tuesday, a scarf on Thursday. Then, it was the last weekend. By the last Sunday before Halloween, I had finished the outer skirt, corset, scarf, and apron. While I had finished a majority of the costume, it was nowhere near done. Unsurprisingly, my Monday night was an all-nighter; I was sewing from 5 P.M. to 5 A.M. By some miracle (and the help of my loving mother), I finished just as my wake-up alarm started ringing.

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Halfway done!

Looking at myself in the mirror after trying it on, I had never been prouder of myself. I had made almost every single thing I was wearing, and it looked incredible. Throughout the process of sewing, I learned that sweating the small stuff didn’t even matter in the end. If a certain part wasn’t exactly perfect, that was okay. What made this costume special was that it was handcrafted by me, not produced cookie-cutter style in some factory. I chose how to sew it, what fabric to use, how I was going to wear each piece; every aspect of this costume was a decision made by me. In my opinion, that’s the beauty of it. When you’ve done something that was completely of your own effort, it’s a part of you. I’m amazed at the fact that this costume holds every aspect of me: my confidence in the front ribbons, my cautiousness in the seams of the hem, my pride in the corset’s accents. To me, that’s irreplaceable: this dress is purely me.photo-4

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