Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Halloween~Bed Bug Costume for a Wheelchair Tutorial

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite!
I wrote a post earlier in the week on, “Creating Halloween Costumes for Special Needs Kids in Wheelchairs” and thought I should follow up with a little tutorial on how to create a costume. It has been a lot of fun this past week thinking about and creating this costume. Half the joy of it was telling Dear Son about it and talking about how much fun it would be. Dear Son’s eyes would light up and he would smile as I would talk about the project. Part of it is that he loves it when I do things for him. He also loves a party and getting dressed up. View of the entire "Bed Bug Costume".

I originally saw this costume on the Ellen Show however they had a child with a bed hanging around his neck. Attached to the bed was an actual comforter and dust ruffle and the child was not in a wheelchair. I thought it would make a great costume for a wheelchair. I also knew that I could make a cooler bed. For this tutorial, I included a little more detail so you could better understand the creative process involved in the costume. That way, it might make it easier for you to get some other ideas as to what you may want to do for your child. Here are the steps:

1. Sketch it out. Once I’ve decided on a costume, I’ll typically sketch it out. That gives me time to think about the costume a bit and how it might play out. I sketched a box and then thought about how I’d make a quilt. I decided on a patchwork quilt to give it a pop of color. Remember, you want to keep it simple. If you are unsure how to do something, look at a children’s book-they keep the images very simple. So in this case, I did a simple patchwork quilt. I knew Dear Son would be the “bug” part of the costume. Since he’s a teenager and not a young child, I wanted to make his clothes/costume more age appropriate. I decided on a black top, some black leather gloves for his hands and then some antennas (I know those aren’t age appropriate but let’s follow along, lol.) Since he’s a bed bug in a bed, I decided on pajamas for him. Since he’s older, I chose a black, waffle shirt, which looks similar to a long underwear shirt. I used some soft, black and grey plaid flannel pajama pants. It’s soft and casual and normally only something he’d wear around the house, but he’ll wear it for the costume. You could do black sweatpants, but I like the whole bed theme. Next, I thought about what might make the costume better or what would look good with a quilt. I decided to make a top sheet, folded back and then have a message written on it kind of like a sheet that is embroidered. The message on the sheet would be, “Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!” That way, people understand the costume and it’s fun. Also, it gives more color to the costume.

2) Measure the wheelchair for the box. Next, I measured the wheelchair for the box. You’ll want to use the tray for the wheelchair so you can attach your box to it. Be sure to attach the tray to the wheelchair, while the child is in it, then measure for your box. You’ll measure the actual width of the tray and then add another inch on each side so the box will be able to slide over it easily. Next, you want to add the length of the box. This will be the area from the center of the tray, near the child’s abdomen and measure it out past the end of the tray so that the box will cover the child’s knees easily. Finally, you want the height of the box. You’ll measure from the top of the tray down to where you want the box to end. In this case, I wanted a box that measured: 32 W x 36L x 12” D. You can be flexible with all of the measurements except the width. If it’s too big, it will fall off the wheelchair tray and if it’s too small it won’t fit. The length and the depth are more forgiving. Finding the right size box is the hardest part of the project and the most time consuming. Start early. I tried in the past to buy a box at a mailing store (Fed Ex) however at that time, they didn’t have the size I needed. In this case, I couldn’t locate the exact size but a friend was able to locate two boxes and I assumed I would tape them together. You’ll see what I chose below.

3) Figure out the supplies you’ll need. In this case, I’ll need a box, paint, some foam pieces, poster board, markers, a drapery panel and then the usual: scissors, glue, tape measure and ruler. I knew I had some paint on hand, along with the markers and drapery panel. I needed a box, the foam pieces, the antennas and a black shirt. The official list for this project is at the end of the tutorial.

4) Be open to new ideas. For this project, I knew I would get the box, tape it, paint it the background color for the quilt and then paint the top sheet part white. I stopped at Michael’s, the craft store and saw a display cardboard piece that would typically be used for science type projects and decided it would be perfect for my project. The measurements were great as well since it was: 36 W x 48 L x 12 D. In addition, I wouldn’t have to tape the boxes together, paint over the tape which would save me a lot of time. The price was $4.99. (*Note: I should tell you that since this box is intended as a display piece, it folds with the colored part inside; you’ll need to fold it the other way so it sits on the wheelchair like a bed. Not a big deal, but since it’s intended to bend the other way, they have additional cardboard so it’s tough to turn the other way.)
These are the foam pieces I used.

I looked at the foam pieces next and really liked the green and turquoise but nixed the idea. I fell in love with the green and purple but it wasn’t very masculine so I decided to go with Chicago Bears football colors of blue and orange. I selected the blue display board and picked up some foam pieces.
While I was looking, I noticed these foam sports balls (see above photo) so I picked up a package to use for the quilt. Since I wasn’t going to paint the box, I decided to pick up a piece of poster board to use for the sheet. If you had a girl, you could select different colors and some different foam pieces. If your child wasn’t into sports, you could choose some different foam accent pieces.
Photo of black, fuzzy sticks.
Now that I had the basics, I looked for the antennas. I went to a few places but couldn’t find what I was looking for so I decided to make them. I used a black headband and then purchased some black fuzzy sticks (these were known as “pipe cleaners” when I was growing up, lol) for antennas. Originally, I thought I would attached some black felt balls to the end (made with black felt and stuffed with cotton) however when I attached the fuzzy sticks, I realized I didn’t need them. I just took 6 fuzzy sticks, twisted them around the headband and then bent the edges to look like bug antennas. Don’t overanalyze the costume. Just keep it simple.

So in summary, when I went to the store, I nixed the original box along with the idea to paint the box, and nixed the store bought antennas. I added the foam sports balls accent pieces. These changes were key. So the new (official) supply list would look like this:

*Display box from Michael’s.
*1 white poster board.
*3 foam pieces
*1 package foam attachments (I used a sports theme with baseballs, footballs, soccer balls and basketballs.)
*1 drapery panel
*Package of fuzzy sticks.
*The craft supplies include: marker to match colors in quilt, scissors, glue sticks, tape measure, ruler, duct tape, chalk.

5) Cut the box to fit over the wheelchair tray. I had Dad help me with this since it the box was so large. I also had him get Dear Son a black shirt for the costume.

6) Cut the poster board to fit the box. The white poster board will be the top sheet on the bed portion of the costumer. The goal is to make it look like the top sheet is folded back over the quilt, like it would in a real bed. Since I didn’t want a seam in the center of the box, I decided to cut the poster board in three parts: one large center piece and two side panels. I made the center piece larger so I could cover up the areas of the arm rests. I made the center panel of the sheet 6 inches tall and 28 inches wide. Each side panel was 6 inches tall and 10 inches wide for a total of 48 inches (28 + 10 + 10=48). At this point, just cut the poster board but don’t glue it to the bed yet.

7) Cut the foam pieces. Lay the foam out and then lay the sport pieces on them. The foam measured 18 inches across so I cut the foam pieces in 6 x 6 inch squares. Cut all the foam and lay out the foam squares on the board. Don’t glue anything yet and don’t cut the bottom pieces of foam.

8) Lay out the foam sports pieces on the board. I tried to make it look random yet I didn’t want any duplicates meaning I didn’t want two baseballs next to each other. You could also customize it more by writing the child’s name on the football.
9) Write the message on the poster board. In this case, I am going to write the phrase, “Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!” on the white poster board. This is supposed to look like it’s embroidery on the sheet. You could have used those squirt type paints (don’t have a clue as to what these are called) and write with the paint. I am not a crafter so just walking into a craft store drives me crazy so I am sure there are plenty of better ideas on how you might do this part but you’ll need to ask a crafter. I used a ruler on the bottom to guide my letters a bit. The poster board was 28 inches across and I had six words in the phrase so I knew each word should take up no more than 4 inches (28 inches /6 words = 4.66 inches per word). If I kept each word at approximately four inches with some space in between, I’d have enough room for the phrase to fit across the top of the sheet. You could also embellish it a bit more and add some rickrack to the sheet, draw rickrack on the sheet or even use the paint to make a border on the sheet.

10) Glue the poster board to the box. Now that you have positioned the white poster board piece to the box, you can use glue it to the box with a glue stick.

11) Glue the foam pieces and then the sports pieces to the board.

12) Measure the foam pieces to the bottom of the box to make the end pieces of the quilt then glue them. I didn’t want to leave the bottom of the quilt empty, so I cut small pieces to fit the end of the quilt.
13) Drapery panel bedskirt. Take a white drapery panel and fold it in half lengthwise. I folded it in half so it would cover his legs and not be so sheer; if you didn’t fold it in half, it would just be sheer and you could see the child’s legs through it. Tape the folded edge to the back of the cardboard with duct tape (see photo above). Next, measure 13 inches from the top of the drapery panel (make sure it’s from the top of the drapery panel and not the top of the duct tape) and make a cut with the scissors. Tear it the rest of the way down (or you can use a scissors and cut the fabric. It’s just easier to tear it. I marked 13 inches all the way across with chalk and then made sure when I tore it, that it tore it along the chalk line, and stayed even.) I tried to make it even with the sides of the box. 14) Antennas-Take 6 fuzzy sticks and twist them around the headband. Then bend the edges. The goal is to make it bug like. You can take a black eye pencil and draw on a nose, moustache and some lines above the eyebrows-anything to make it a little bug like.

The costume is now done. Total cost was: $ 8.87. I am sure Michael’s probably has some fuzzy sticks but I went to another big box store looking for some antennas and when I didn’t find them, I had to go with Plan B and found the fuzzy sticks. My costs were as follows:

1 qty. blue display board-Michael’s……. $4.99
1 qty. white poster board-Michael’s …….$ .59
3 qty. orange foam pieces-Michael’s…….$2.52
1 pkg. black fuzzy sticks-Big Box Store…….$. 77

Making this costume was a lot of fun. Dear Son loves it when we talk about his Halloween costume and seeing it when it’s done. He loves dressing up. Our cat Wiggles also got involved and sat near the supplies and got into the fuzzy sticks, which the cat loves. Dear Son loved the cat getting into trouble (He loves it when anyone gets into trouble-it makes him laugh.) so all in all, it was a great time. It’s also a one of a kind costume for less than $10. Had I taken the time to paint the other boxes, my cost would have been $3.87 since the boxes were free and I had the paint however I decided I liked the paint color of the blue display box so I decided to purchase it and then I didn’t have to put the time and effort into painting the box. For the bed, you could also glue little bugs on the quilt to make it scarier but I was fine with the quilt as is. If you wanted to add the bugs, you could do it several different ways: you could draw them on, glue on black spiders, make bugs out of black felt to glue on, etc. I also saw some clear, plastic balls with spiders inside that would have looked cool glued on the bed, but I decided to keep it simple and skip that. According to pictures on the internet, the actual bed bugs aren’t black but I didn’t feel the need to make this costume “accurate” per se; I just tried to keep it simple and fun. Depending on your child’s abilities and/or developmental skills, this would also be good therapy for them-the cutting skills for occupational therapy, the measuring skills, etc. You could do a little bit every day and have a whole week of fun.

Overall, I think the project turned out great. I hoped you enjoyed our little tutorial. You can find more projects over at Just a Girl Blog for Show and Share Friday.

Happy Halloween!


Anonymous said...

oh my gravy, that is so darn clever... I *LOVE* it! how do you come up with such creative stuff?

Happy Halloween!

Sarabeth said...


Anonymous said...

That is just SO cute! And Dear Son - what a great smile he has on - I love the twinkle in his eyes!

Another great Halloween costume! You are so amazing! :)

Daisy said...

That is the best costume, ever!

Km said...

Seriously amazing!!!

Gloria (The Little Red House with the White Porch) said...

I just wrote in your previous post's comments how creative you are, but MAN, this costume is fantastic! You are just so creative, Dear Mom, and the best is that I can see the happiness on your dear boy's face! I especially loved when you wrote that he was happy when you were talking to him, telling him what was what with his costume! Man, what a lot of work, BUT it is work done with LOVE, and SO worth it. As I mentioned, I only WISH that I had your creative mind. This is just amazing and great!

Dream Mom said...

Thanks, everyone! We had a lot of fun. Dear Son had a great day at his school party and everyone loved his costume. It feels great to bring him so much joy and to have fun in the process.

Bill said...

I loved your tutorial and enjoyed descriptions of the evolution of the project. Sharing those is a great reminder that various approaches can be taken (depending on available materials, skill level, time constraints, etc.).

You write with such enthusiasm and positive energy that readers sense your satisfaction in bringing joy to your son through the sharing of your creative gifts.

Perhaps you could add a button at the top of your blog sometime that would include tutorials such as this one and allow quick access to your "top ten" guidelines for interacting with medical professionals, etc.

You're providing a great service for families of special needs kids, while helping everyone else develop a better understanding of things we often fail to appreciate.

Warmest regards,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Blog Archive