Maddy in Wonderland | Custom Toddler Halloween Costume

Maddy's Alice in Wonderland costume

Prepare yourself for some serious cuteness. A high school friend asked us if we could make a dress for her daughter’s first birthday party. That’s a fun project to begin with, but it gets better – Maddy turned one right before Halloween, and had an Alice in Wonderland themed costume party – starring her as Alice, of course!

This project was a little bit tricky, since Maddy and her parents don’t live in Chicago. (Ordinarily, we say no to out-of-state projects in order to get the fit right, but little girls don’t have the curves that cause so many issues for adults.) So – we started with a mockup, as we do with all of our projects, and then mailed it off to her.

Mockup of Maddy's Alice in Wonderland costume

Trial fitting with a sleepy little lady. You can see the long sleeve and too-big apron.

With some notes from mom and visual assistance from these pictures, we decided that the waist should be a little lower, the sleeves a little shorter, and the apron was clearly too big around the neck. We set about making the changes to the pattern, cutting the final pieces, and putting the whole thing together.

Here is how it turned out:

Maddy in her finished Alice in Wonderland costume

Love that little smirk, too. Happy First Birthday, Maddy!

So, let’s talk pros and cons of a custom-made vs. store-bought costume. The obvious pro of a ready-made costume is price; you can probably pick up a similar ensemble for less than $20 around Halloween. Some cons are: it’s going to be made from a very lightweight synthetic fabric (polyester), which can be uncomfortable to wear. It will be made in a non-American factory that probably doesn’t have great working conditions. The quality of the construction may be mediocre. Obviously, it won’t be made to fit your child exactly, so it will likely have some fit issues. And, you’ll probably see six other kids wearing the exact same costume. All that said, if your child is just going to wear it once, and you don’t care too much what it feels like or how it fits, you will definitely save money this way.

What about a hand made costume? Well, again, the obvious con is price. With the cost of materials and a fair hourly wage for the person making it (us), this is clearly a pricier option. The other potential drawback is that you can’t just decide at 6pm on October 30th – the process does take a few weeks. So, why bother then? We’d argue that the main reason is quality. Unlike most store-bought costumes, ours is made from 100% cotton – so it’s comfortable and breathable, but you can still throw it right through the washer and dryer on your usual settings. You can rest assured that the workmanship is good – buttons won’t be popping off willy nilly, seams stay closed, you won’t be constantly clipping threads as they start to come loose. In other words, the costume will last until the next year and/or the next child. Of course, it’s going to fit your child perfectly. And because you have input into the design, you may be able to wrangle some non-Halloween wear out of it too – for example, Maddy can wear the apron to help Mom in the kitchen, or rock a bright blue dress at the next family party. With a sash or a sweater, she’ll have a whole new look the she can wear all year long. Finally, and most importantly for some, you get to support a small business and know that you are helping someone earn a decent living doing.

So – we are right back in that same old argument – price vs. value. Sometimes, you’re going to choose price; other times value; with luck or a really good sale, you may end up with both.

And since we went off on such a long tangent, here’s another cute picture of the birthday girl:

Maddy in her Alice in Wonderland costume

Birthday Girl, (almost) walking around with her grandma.

Seriously adorable. And it was a delightful project to work on, too. Perhaps we have a future in toddler couture.

Photos in this post were taken by Maddy’s family, and are protected by copyright. You may not use or repost these photos.