Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Make It Work!

Yes, I'm still the middle of a deadline but no, for this 7-yr-old dynamo, Halloween can't wait. Nor can the school celebration, which came a day early this year.

Desiring to help bring to life a well-loved children's literary character, I searched high and low for either a grey or black pleated skirt, to no avail. The best I could come up with was navy blue. Her size. On sale. $7.99. I grabbed it.

But her robe is black and her sweater is charcoal grey. Navy just wont do.

We're at the corner drugstore the night before Friday's costume parade and I place a last minute call to my left-LA-for-Portland-so-she-could-raise-her-daughters-in-a-decent-different-town costume designer/stylist friend. My go-to resource for all things fashion.

"Hey, I'm staring at this bottle of black RIT dye and I'm wondering if there's any chance in hell it will work on a navy blue skirt that's 100% polyester. I know it says "not recommended for polyester," but I just need to get it to grey or charcoal. Black will work too. I just need to get the blue out. Will this work?"

"Polyester? Um, well, no. You can try it, but it won't take."

"Even if I use the whole bottle and boil it? What about using vinegar? Salt?"

"You can try it, but polyester has so many chemicals in it, it's a different thing altogether. It probably wont grab the dye."

"OK, but what would you do if you couldn't find the right color skirt for a shoot? I'm sure that's happened to you plenty of times before."

"We'd have to make one."

"Clearly that's not an option. I don't even have a sewing machine, or fabric, plus I still have to hem that darn robe."

"There's always fabric paint. And if you're really in a bind you can staple the hem. Just don't forget to use a black Sharpie to touch up the staples afterward."

How Project Runway of her. I never would have thought!

In the inimitable words of Tim Gunn, it's "make it work" time.

After braiding my daughter's hair in 6 tight rows and getting her off to bed, I simmer a soup pot of water, dump in the whole bottle of black dye plus a cup of salt, and stir the inky cocktail. Meanwhile I'm in the kitchen sink washing the stiff skirt with dish soap to try to break down the fibers a bit. At first, water doesn't even penetrate the fabric. It just beads off. Shit. This isn't going to work, is it. I add more soap, agitate it, and keep scrunching it and dunking it in warm water until it softens and eventually soaks through the fabric. I toss the sopping mess into the pot of dye.

Stirring, I turn the heat to low and watch as this navy blue skirt miraculously, all 100% polyester of it, turns to black in about 18 minutes.

Yes! It worked!

Now, about that hem.

The hell with a stapler. Thank God for Stitch Witchery and an iron. But for some reason, after repeated ironings, it didn't take, so here I am hemming the entire circumference of her robe. By hand.

Then I make book titles on the secret compartment faux book "boxes" she'll collect her candy in, a fantastic discovery I found at the local discount store. With some fancy lettering in glittery gold and black permanent marker, the often-referenced volumes, Hogwarts: A History and A History Of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot, come to life on the covers and spines.

Next day, arriving at her school just before the parade, I help her into her outfit and remove the braids. A little back-teasing and hairspray and brown eye pencil create the infamous "bushy" hair and thick eyebrows.

Grey knee socks and a red striped tie complete her English schoolgirl look. I fasten her robes with the fancy clasp. She grabs her books.

It's more than a costume. It's an authentic character transformation...

Straight from the pages of the Harry Potter septogy (that's trilogy times seven), Miss Hermione Granger Lives!

Happy girl.

Tired Mommy.


Jerri said...

That is SOME fabulous hair. What a great costume. I love that you tried the dye despite the odds against it working.

You are a woman who doesn't accept limitations. That's how/why you get things done.

Lucky girl. Cool Mommy.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Mom of the year! I would have passed the navy skirt off as black. For. Sure.

Deb Shucka said...

I am in awe - both of your determination and of your gorgeous girl with the wild and lovely hair.

kario said...

I love Halloween triumphs! Especially when they have to do with ingenuity (and eschew store-bought costumes).

Congratulations! Now, just remember to honor yourself for all that work. I think a day of relaxing and self-pampering is in order...

riversgrace said...

Wow, LOVE your blog. Look what you've been up to? Amazing. I fantasized about driving down to LA just to see you for a day. Somehow, we must convene! Love and blessings.

Michelle O'Neil said...

Wow! She looked perfect! So great!