How A DIY Squid Costume Helped Me Bond With My Tween Son

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Tweens come up with some crazy ideas, don’t they? My son’s school was doing themed dress-up days to celebrate Red Ribbon Week/Homecoming and one of the days was “Animal Day.” Last year, he went as a “tweenicus, I’mtoocoolforthaticus.” This year, he announced he wanted to go as a Kraken! A Kraken is a giant squid. Strangely enough, that squid costume helped me bond with my son.

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Hey Mom? I Want to be a Kraken For Animal Day!

“You want to be a Kraken?! Where does this kid come up with these things?” I thought to myself. How in the world am I supposed to make that in 4 days? I asked him how he planned to do it, and he rattled off a few ideas, none of which I thought would work. I told him “ok, but you take care of that.”

A few days went by and I kept thinking about how to make a squid costume. He had not taken any action on any of his plans or asked for supplies, so I started re-thinking my response. A squid costume is not something that you can just go to the store and buy. There probably are squid costumes that you can order, but with 2 days left, I did not have time for 2-day shipping from Amazon.

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Just Because You are a Grown-Up, Does not Mean that You Have to be a Stick-In-The-Mud

I started thinking about what I wanted to teach him. How did I want him to remember me? Last year when he did not dress up at all part of my momma heart was slightly disappointed in the grown-up reaction of my son. I also decided that I wanted to encourage his creativity. A giant squid costume is probably not what everyone is walking around in for animal day.

I never really thought of myself as a creative person, but sometimes kids have a way of bringing out hidden talents you didn’t know you had. As a mother, I have learned that things do not have to be Pinterest perfect in order to be valid. You can get a Mom win out of a Pinterest fail. When I stopped trying to do everything perfectly and focused on enjoying the process, I started being less afraid of failing. Oddly enough, I’ve had more successes that way too.

If you look at something and think “I want to do that, but I can’t.” try anyway. Your results might surprise you. You only have about 18 summers with each of your kids. They go by faster than you think they will. My son is 11 now. That means I have 7 left. When I look at it that way, yes, by all means, let’s make a squid costume!

OK, We have 2 Days to Make This Happen. You Have to Help Me!

With 2 days left, I ran to several stores, not knowing what I needed other than a pool noodle. They are out of season, so I ended up using an old one that we already had. I searched the costume section first. Surprise, surprise, there was no squid costume. Looks like I am making this after all. What I purchased was: 2 yards of red costume satin, a black piece of felt, a white piece of felt, a basic plain red t-shirt, and white fabric paint. Total cost was less than $20. (I will detail the process later, at the end of this post, in case you also want to make a squid costume. )

When my son returned home, I had the pool noodle cut and I was testing ways to make tentacles. It didn’t look like much of anything at that point. At 11, he is often too “cool” to show much excitement about things. He was NOT excited at all when he had left for school. In fact, he looked quite miserable. It made my heart soar when he walked through the door saw the red fabric laying on the kitchen floor and said: “Is that my Kraken costume?!”

“Yes,” I replied, “But we only have 2 days to make this happen, so I’m going to need your help.” He was excited again and enthusiastically agreed to help me.

It Doesn’t Matter What You Do if You are Doing it Together

After we had snack and homework was done, I was sitting at the sewing machine still making tentacles, while he was putting the pool noodles in the sleeves. Then, I was sewing and he was working on the eyeball. We were talking as we worked, and I realized how nice this was. He must have realized it too because he said: “You know Mom, I like working on stuff like this with you.” Talk about heart melting! Right then and there I realized that I didn’t care how many hours I had to put into working on this thing, it was getting done! I realized how much my gesture meant to him. He noticed, and he was enjoying spending time with me, just as I was with him.

I realized what I would have missed out on had I not decided to throw this together. Moments like that are priceless. It’s so easy to get “too busy.” It’s easy to be a stick-in-the-mud and to lose your whole sense of fun as a parent and grown up. I want to encourage you today to embrace the play. Embrace the fun. In doing so, you will also be embracing the joy and will create precious memories with your own kids. I never would have known how much that squid costume meant to him had I not decided to jump in and do it.

Make time to make memories with your kids.

Quality time is never wasted.

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How to Make a Squid Costume

A squid costume is a unique DIY costume idea. It’s also a cheap kid’s costume idea. I like both to those! I was surprised at how little time it took to put it together. You can easily put this squid costume together in an afternoon. I got all my supplies from Wal-Mart, since, as I mentioned above, I did not have time for 2-day shipping. (Which is free with Amazon Prime.) For your convenience, I will link to comparable products from Amazon. (Since you probably have more than 2 days to put yours together.) The sewing skills required are very basic. Don’t sweat it if you don’t know how to do fancy stuff – I don’t either. 🙂

If you cannot find pool noodles and don’t have an old one laying around, you could probably use pipe insulation from any home improvement store. I would cut each in half and use it to shape the tentacles in the place of a 1/8th of a pool noodle. Don’t worry if your noodle is old and has a permanent curve to it. That just makes it better. ?

Also, remember that it’s a kids costume and kids will not be concerned if everything is perfect. I did not formally measure anything, aside from “Come here and let me see how much fabric I need to wrap around your waist for a belt.” Your child will be thrilled that you are making this unique Halloween costume for them, and they will more than likely be delighted to participate in the process. If you are making this for a boy, the phrase “Release the Kraken!!” apparently makes it more fun as well.

Supplies

Equipment

Instructions for DIY Squid Costume

Tentacles

  • Cut the pool noodle into 8 pieces, so that you have long tentacle-like pieces. If you are using foam pipe insulation, I recommend cutting it in half, or thirds, depending on the height of your child. The tentacles will hang from a belt that we will make, so make the tentacles short enough that your child will not trip on them.
  • Lay your fabric out on the floor and line the pool noodle pieces up on top of your fabric. I did not measure the first one. I just cut a “sleeve” that would hold the noodle piece. Try cutting the first one, sewing it up, and testing it to make sure you have a good fit.

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  • Sew the first sleeve together on 3 sides, leaving the 4th side (top) open so that you can insert the pool noodle. Sew with the wrong sides together and a straight stitch. Turn right side out, insert the noodle piece. Make adjustments as necessary.

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  • Use the first sleeve as a pattern to cut your other 7 sleeves out. Sew each sleeve together as above, turn right side out, and insert pool noodles. This will work for an octopus costume or a squid costume. Octopi have 8 tentacles, Squids have 10. For mine, I cut 8 tentacles and told him that his arms were the other 2.

Belt

  • Using the fabric, roughly measure your child’s waist. I fixed mine so that the belt went around his waist, instead of his hips. This gave the tentacles a bit more clearance from the ground. I just took the fabric and wrapped it around him to get a rough measurement. You want some overlap so that they can fasten the belt, just not so much that it wraps around them twice. 😛 The belt will Velcro in place,
  • Sew the belt the same way as you did for the tentacle sleeves. Ours was a rectangular piece of fabric sewn with a straight seam, wrong sides together. Then turn right side out and fold down the rough edge and sew together on the outside. You should now have a long belt-like rectangle sewn together.
  • Next, sew the Velcro on each end of the belt. I used one strip of Velcro on top and one on the bottom. I made them fairly long (6 inches maybe?) since I wanted them to be strong enough to hold the tentacles up without sagging. Just use a straight stitch for the Velcro and go all the way around each piece.

Putting the Tentacles on the Belt

I tried to pin the tentacles on the belt at first but it did not work very well when I tried to sew them on. Instead, lay them all out so that you can see how they will fit on the belt. I tried to leave the area on the belt where the Velcro was free of tentacles. My son wore this costume for a school dress up day and I wanted him to be able to sit freely without having to sit on a tentacle. (That just sounds uncomfortable!) I also came up with the tentacle on the belt design so that he could take it off if he needed to run at recess or PE without tentacles getting in the way, or for easy removal when he had to visit the restroom.

  • Lay the tentacles on the belt, but do not pin them. (It’s hard to sew if they are all pinned on – learned that the hard way.) I had to stagger them on top and bottom to get all mine to fit. Leave a space where the Velcro is free of tentacles for the reasons outlined above.
  • Tuck in the raw edges and sew the tentacles on the belt alternating top and bottom. I finished with 4 tentacles on top, and 4 on the bottom.

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Congratulations, you have finished the hardest part of the costume. It’s all downhill from here!

Shirt

This was one of the parts that I delegated to my son. I was informed that Krakens (giant squid) only have 1 eyeball, so his squid costume features a giant eyeball on his shirt. We used the shirt and the felt pieces for this. If you want to do an octopus or 2 eyes, feel free to modify! I did have my son try on the shirt to make sure we got the eyeball placed in the correct spot.

  • Cut a large oval out of the white felt piece and fasten it to the shirt. You can either use fabric glue or you can stitch it. We stitched ours with a zig-zag stitch to make our squid’s eyes look a little bloodshot. I thought it made it look scarier, my son thought it was funny and declared that his squid costume looked sleepy.
  • Cut a smaller circle out of the black felt for the pupil. Attach with fabric adhesive.

Finishing Touches

These are all optional. Your squid costume should be ready to wear at this point after the adhesive dries on the eyeball. However, there were a few extra finishing touches that we decided to make. Squids and octopi have suckers for grip on the bottoms of their tentacles, and my son decided that the costume was not complete without them.

  • Use fabric paint to make circles for the suckers on the inside part of the tentacles. Let dry completely.
  • Use a beanie hat of matching color to complete the costume.

Conclusion

I would love to see your results and hear your feedback! Comment below, find me on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, or send me an email at jennifer@contentmentquesting.com! Whether you DIY a squid costume (aka Kraken costume), an octopus costume, or something entirely different, remember the reason that you are doing it in the first place. Cherish those times with your kids. Involve them in the process. Working on a project is a great way to spend quality time with your child and to bond with your child. Love them, and cherish them, even when they start being “too cool” for some things. Each child is unique and has gifts that are unique to them. (You do too!) Listen to them. Encourage them and most of all love them. Be mindful of the time that you spend together.

Just because you are a grown-up does not mean that you can no longer have some good clean fun. Who knows… you might just enjoy it. 😛 Or you might find yourself making an adult version of this DIY squid costume to go trick-or-treating with them. If you do… I REALLY want to see those pictures! You will both be sure to get lots of attention. It’s ok to look silly sometimes, especially if you are enjoying time with your kids. If you are worried about what people will think, just look into the eyes of your child. In them, you will find light, fun and admiration. They see the truth…. You are amazing!

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