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How ... to make a Star Wars or Doctor Who costume

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Spooky fun and special treats are not the only reasons Janet Wiedemann enjoy: Halloween with her children, Ryan, 1: and Abbie, 12. This Marlton mom look: forward to creating homemade costumes with her daughter.

"It's a lot of fun," says Wiedemann, who has made get-ups including macaroni and cheese, a fortune teller in an arcade booth, and a bubble-gum machine for her daughter over the years. "It is a good bonding experience. This is the first year I am just an adviser because she wants to do it on her own. But by doing it with me for so many years, she knows how to prepare and make the costume."

Movies can be a great source of inspiration for Halloween costumes. Abbie wants to be Darla Sherman from "Finding Nemo" this Halloween. And with the upcoming release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and the popularity of "Doctor Who," it's safe to expect visits from Jedis and the good doctor himself this holiday.

Morgan Robinson, owner of Frugal Thrift and Vintage store in Collingswood, has helped a few of her customers find outfits to loot like "Doctor Who" characters. She says she use: trench coats, blazers, whatever she can find t( help customers achieve the desired look.

"One of the easiest costumes to make is a 'St& Wars' Jedi," says Robinson. "There is no reason to buy a costume for this. Find a cream or whit( long-sleeve T-shirt, an oversize brown shirt that can be cut into a vest and white baseball pants of light-color pants. Find a pair of boots and remove the soles. Wrap cord around the leg and you have your costume."

Robinson has always made Halloween costumes for her three sons, ages 16, 13 and 8.

"I don't think anything is too hard to make,' she says. "If it doesn't work out, OK, but I like t( encourage my kids to make their costumes a home. They realize there is nothing they can't do They aren't limited to store-bought costumes."

Karen Edenfield, inspiration coordinator for Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft stores, says the shop: offer many fabrics, supplies and accessories such as masks and helmets that will complete ; "Doctor Who" or "Star Wars" costume.

"I anticipate that 'Star Wars' costumes will be very popular this Halloween with all the promotion the movie is getting," she says. " 'Star Wars costumed figures have been seen at many public events since the beginning of the promotion it early September, and I think the interest will continue to grow."


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Here's how to get started making a "Star Wars" or "Doctor Who" costume any young science-fiction fan will enjoy:

1. Plan early: "Early

September, I start asking the kids what they would like to be for Halloween and we start getting ideas," says Wiedemann. "It takes some time to develop a plan for a costume and figure out how to execute it, so it helps to start the process early."

Robinson agrees with starting early, and says it can help ensure success.

"Give yourself a couple of weeks," she says. "That way you have time if the plan changes direction or if your child decides to be something different for Halloween."

2. Do research: Eden-field says commercial pattern books are a good source for "Star Wars" and "Doctor Who" costumes. "The commercial pattern books contain a wide array of historic costuming that can be used as a base for 'Doctor Who' costumes," she says. "Start with a commercial pattern for the base of a 'Star Wars' costume, too, such as leggings, leotards, swim suits or exercise clothing for a fitted look. Also look for cape patterns and simple pajama patterns for a looser-fit costume."

Robinson says she takes her children to costume stores so they can see what is available for the season and to inspire ideas. It gets their thinking going," she says. "And by making their costumes, we can personalize them to make them different than what the stores sell."

3. Be creative: Wiedemann says she searches around her home to find items she can use for her daughter's costume. "I have used old curtains, sheets, hula hoops - anything I can find," she says. "Laundry baskets are key. I've used them for three different costumes already."

Robinson says it is wise to visit thrift stores to find clothing. "When looking at clothes, look at the material and how it can be used, not necessarily the item," she says. "And thrift or vintage shops are great to visit, especially for 'Doctor Who' costumes because you just need to look for English clothing to add authenticity to the costume."

4. Add details: "Add detailing on top of the base clothing to give life to the 'Star Wars' or 'Doctor Who' character," says Edenfield. "Vinyl fabric in the home décor department is stiff yet flexible, good for costumes with an armor look. Metallic fabric is very shiny, perfect for detailing. And it does not ravel so it is easy to work with. The performance fabric department has a variety of spandex-based fabric for the tightfitting garments. Check the apparel fabric area for suede cloth, lining fabric and other silky fabric that drapes well for capes and long flowing garments."

Edenfield also suggests adding reflective trim to the costume or using glow-in-the-dark paint so children can be seen while trick-or-treating in the dark.

5. Construction matters: Edenfield says it is important to make a costume that is easy for a child to put on and take off. And by making them durable, a child -- or siblings or friends -- can wear the costume for many years.

"When constructing the costume, use polyester thread and a new sewing-machine needle to make good seams that will hold up with wear," she says. "To speed up the construction time, increase the stitch length and avoid finishing raw edges of the fabric unless the fabric tends to ravel easily. Fabric glue is perfect for no-sew additions for the costume details. Iron-on adhesive is another great product but be sure to use it on fabrics that can be ironed. If you are unsure, test it on a scrap of fabric."

For more information

Frugal Thrift and Vintage store is at 740 Haddon Ave., Collingswood. For more information, call (856) 858-0700 or visit

There are many Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts stores throughout South Jersey. Visit to find locations.

For more "Star Wars" projects visit Wars&prefn1=prod type&prefv1=Project

For "Dr. Who" projects visit

Caption: Morgan Robinson, owner of Frugal in Collingswood, displays a 'Star Wars'-inspired Jedi outfit that she assembled from items in her store. Robinson says Jedi costumes are particularly easy to do yourself.

Caption: Morgan Robinson, owner of Frugal in Collingswood, puts together this 'Doctor Who' Halloween costume. She says TV and film-inspired costumes are particularly fun to assemble yourself, even if you get ideas first at a costume store.

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