History Day Costumes - SLO Classical Academy
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Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

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History Day Costumes

Reminder: Be sure to check last Thursday’s post about Gratitude and leave a comment for a chance to win a gift certificate to the school store!

Our Early American Recitation Bee and Fair is next Friday! Our history events are always the highlight of the school year, but sometimes pulling together a costume (or two, or three, or more if the whole family is getting into the spirit…) can be a daunting task. 

Today on Down Home, we’re going to hear some wonderful tips from a few SLOCA parents, on creating inexpensive historical costumes. We hope to hear from more of you as well – we know there are many resourceful parents out there! Please join in the discussion after reading:

– When checking a thrift store, don’t limit yourself to the costume area. There are some great finds in with the normal clothing: a long skirt, pants that can be cut off to make britches, a vest, a peasant blouse, etc.

– Many parents have had success by finding a few key pieces at a thrift store, and modifying them to create the look they wanted. For example, a lace long sleeve dress with a strapless bridesmaid dress layered over it, pinned to cinch in the waist. Or a black ladies slip, cut up the back, for a cape, with a shoe string hot glued to it to tie around the neck. Think in terms of colors and types of fabric, not what the clothing is intended for!

– Embellish if necessary: glitter glue is a wonderful tool for adding flair to a dress, coat, or accessory. Ribbons, beads, and other items found at the dollar store are also useful.

– Accessories such as hats, belts, boots, and costume jewelry can often be found at thrift stores as well.

– Basic white shirts are great for many types of costumes, and are convenient to have on hand! One parent looks for white shirts of different styles whenever she’s in a thrift store, such as button-up shirts, shirts with large collars, peasant blouses, shirts with ruffles in the front, etc. Great idea!

– If you are going to sew a costume, look for old sheets, curtains, or brocade tablecloths at thrift stores – they are a great option over buying yards of fabric. Sometimes you can even find fur, yarn, ribbon, lace, wigs and more! It takes a bit of looking, but you can get some great items for just a few dollars. 

– A ruffled bed skirt can be turned into a girls skirt with a ruffled bottom with very little sewing.

– Fake leather, suede and or snake skin make for great wrap-around belts or boots.

– Use safety pins or hem tape (pictured below) to “hem” a skirt or take in a waist. It’s faster and easier than sewing and less permanent. 
– Buy the little things. There are stores, such as Pismo Beach Party and Costume (on Grand Ave. in Grover Beach), that sell all kinds of accessories and finishing touches, such as a pirate eye patch or colonial bonnet, if you’re willing to spend a little bit to finish off a costume. 

– Here’s a photo example and explanation from Carol Dichmann, track A mom to Michael (Upper Middle School) and Abby (Lower Middle School):

For this costume, which is very appropriate for what we’re studying now, I found a black large sweat shirt, cut it open and pinned the “new” lapels down.  With lots of glitter glue, I copied the pattern from the costume example.  The under shirt is a red t-shirt and again I copied the design with glitter glue.  This was a few years ago.  I did spend some money on the hat and added gold ribbon.  But I knew we would use that hat often, so it was a bit of an investment.  SLOCA has seen this hat many times over the years. FYI, all that glitter glue needs time to dry, so this needs to be done at least 24 hours in advance.  A blow dryer will help speed up the drying process, but it’s certainly not a “day of” project.

Final words of advice: Look at google images of the character, check the thrift stores (or your closets), and generously make use of scissors, hot glue, and safety pins, and glitter glue!

Thank you Joy Erb, Jaime, Mickey, and Carol Dichmann for contributing your helpful ideas to this article. We look forward to seeing all the fun costumes next Friday! 

Do you have some additional tips for costume construction? We would all love to hear them! Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.
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