Making Maddie into Madeline: A Madeline Costume Tutorial!

It took me a minute this year to come up with a meaningful Halloween costume idea. As she is already an opinionated three year old, this year will likely be the last that I am able to choose what Maddie dresses up as. I knew I needed to make it count. When the idea to make Madeline (Mad-uh-lynn) into Madeline (Mad-uh-line) from the storybooks came to me, I flew to Amazon and started searching for a costume. Turns out there is NOTHING out there. The closest I came was a very pricey cape on Etsy. I took a deep breath and started searching Pinterest for Madeline costumes, figuring there would be a tutorial among them. Pinterest never disappoints. I found an amazing step-by-step plan for making a little girl’s cape, which I knew would be the perfect statement piece for her outfit. (For the actual instructions, I encourage you to visit Project Run and Play’s Audrey Cape Tutorial).

After a quick romp in Joann’s, I was armed with blue fleece, black lining fabric, black and red ribbons and was ready to sew.

Madeline Costume Tutorial - Pinning

Fleece folded, measured and marked with pins. I made a modified version of her “Little Girl Cape” with my neck hole measuring out two inches and the length measuring out 15.

Madeline Costume Tutorial - Cutting

Cut out and ready to unfold.

Madeline Costume Tutorial - Lining

Liner folded, measured and marked with pins.

Madeline Costume Tutorial - Cape

Fleece unfolded.

Madeline Costume Tutorial - Bib Collar

Canvas bib collar cut-out and laid out, ready to be sewn.

Madeline Costume Tutorial - Pinned Collar

Collar pinned in place. You can never use too many pins in my oPINion. See what I did there?

Madeline Costume Tutorial - Lined Cape

Lining pinned into place, right sides together, collar in the middle.

Madeline Costume Tutorial - Sewing Cape

And then I sewed my little heart out. I worked around the collar first, knowing it would take the most nerve and patience. Once I had successfully navigated that, the rest was gravy.

Madeline Costume Tutorial - Finished Cape

I even went so far as to top-stitch for a very polished look. I sewed a button and elastic fastener in place in the gap at the collar. And finally I tied a removable, red satin ribbon in the front, underneath the collar.

With the cape finished, I decided, “If I can do that in one day, SURELY I can make a dress.” It would be my first dress (and maybe my last). I didn’t use a pattern, deciding to just wing it (always a solid idea). I laid one of Madeline’s jumpers on top of scrap fabric, traced the shape and cut out a template. After I cut it out, I folded the template in half and trimmed a bit to make sure things were symmetrical. Then I laid it on top of my leftover fleece and cut the dress. I trimmed the collar on the front of a dress a little bit lower than the back, for aesthetics. Then I turned the fabric right side in (which doesn’t seem to matter with fleece) and sewed. **DON’T be silly like me and sew the arm holes shut. I knew to leave the collar open, but for some reason I just zipped those arms right up like a potato sack and had to seam rip after realizing my mistake.** (Insert a broken sewing machine, a friend over to try to fix it and ultimately a trip to the sew shop to have it looked at, plus a new bobbin case installation here…because it can’t ever just be easy. In my best Tim Gunn voice: Make it work!) I top stitched the collar and arm holes to make it look more finished, but left the bottom straight, since fleece won’t fray and it was easier.

I taped black satin ribbon onto Madeline’s old Easter bonnet and tied it in the back, letting the tails hang, for that fearless Madeline topper.

After coming up short on Amazon (they only sell her size in packs of 12), I searched 10 different stores in the mall for white knee socks. Payless was the ONLY store that carried them, but they didn’t have her size (they do online). So ultimately we settled on white cable knit tights from H&M — more practical in her wardrobe for reuse anyway. And she’ll wear her black Mary Janes to complete the look.

Madeline Halloween Costume
Madeline Halloween Costume Back

Time to get our tricks and treats on!

PS- Benjamin’s costume, while not homemade, is also literary and fantastically adorable. Can’t wait to show you!

DIY: Hair Bow & Headband Holder

After scouring Etsy for the perfect hair bow and headband holder for Madeline’s growing collection, all I came up with were a bunch of handmade wall hangers selling for upwards of $30. “I can make that for next to nothing!” I kept thinking. So a week before her birthday, I finally did it, using things I already had around the house- an old diploma frame, some spray paint, leftover ribbon bits and screw hooks. So if you’re like me, and you’re looking for a super chic, mess-less way to store and display hair accessories for your little princess, this simple one and done DIY project is the way to go!

DIY- Hair Bow and Headband Holder

1-3 hours (depending on if you paint or not)

What You Need:

  • 8 1/2 x 11 wooden frame (glass and backing removed)
  • Spray paint- primer, color and finish
  • (6) 8-10 inch long ribbons (differing widths)
  • (1) 20 inch long ribbon (for hanging)
  • Box of thumbtacks
  • Hammer
  • (8) Screw hooks
  • (1) Nail or small Command Hook (for mounting)

What You Need To Do:

DIY Hair Bow and Headband Holder

  • Prime and paint frame desired color (I chose white)- 2-3 coats should do it. Finish with a sealant (I used a clear matte finish). Note: This takes the majority of the time- you’re literally watching paint dry.
  • Once paint has completely dried, lay frame backside up on your work surface. Set ribbons face down on the frame. Using 2-4 tacks (dependent on the width of the ribbon), hammer down each ribbon onto the frame.
  • Back of Hair Bow Holder

  • Tie a small double knot at each end of your hanging ribbon. Then, still working on the backside of frame, one inch down from the top on the left and right sides, tack down your hanging ribbon at the knots.
  • Flip frame over. Along bottom lip of frame, evenly space and screw in hooks- these will hold your headbands. (Pro-tip: I recommend pre-drilling holes for your screws so that you stand less of a chance of splitting the wood. Also, wear a gardening or dish glove while screwing in the hooks to avoid major pain.)
  • Headband Hooks

  • Finally, using either a nail or a Command Hook, mount your new hair bow and headband holder onto the wall. Clip on bows and hang up headbands. Step back and admire your adorable accessories solution!

Hair Bow and Headband Holder
*Don’t forget to make this project your own! Personalize, embellish, bejewel and bedazzle. With stickers or some hot glue, you could take this piece from simple to smashing in no time!*

Check out some of my other DIY success stories here!


Sping Themed First BirthdayThe following is a guest post from my multi-talented, crafty (contrary to her belief) sister, Lauren McCullough. She puts 1st birthdays to shame. This is me leading the slow-clap. Enjoy!

My fabulous sister Allison set the bar high with Maddie’s patriotic-themed 1st birthday party. Perfect DIY elegance with clever and delicious touches. I’m far from what you’d call “crafty,” but thanks to the Internet (specifically Pinterest), we were able to create our perfect party. I’m sharing our party-planning adventure, in case it helps you plan your own.

Preparations began in January, about two months ahead of the mid-March party. After some quick back-of-the-napkin guest list math, my husband Matt and I opted to host the party at a restaurant instead of cramming everyone into our house. (Note for the future: Summer babies = outdoor birthday parties.)

Working with the broad theme of “Spring,” we devoted much of our weekends to planning the details and working on the decor. Definitely a long time to obsess about prep for a party, but it was great to have so much time to be thoughtful and deliberate.

1. Fabric scrap bunting

Fabric Scrap BuntingDuring the research phase, I saw lots of awesome examples of fabric scrap bunting and I knew it was something I could manage. I ordered gorgeous fabric from Etsy and also used some extra white curtain fabric and followed this tutorial. It was tedious to hand-cut all the fabric strips and my white-collar hands ached from tying all the knots. But the end result was exactly what we hoped for, and we’re now using the bunting as decoration in our playroom. I also made a mini version to adorn Amelia’s highchair.

2. “Happy Birthday” bunting

Happy Birthday BuntingI enlisted my mother-in-law, Pat, to make a true “Happy Birthday” bunting. She’s beyond talented and we were so happy with the results. This will be Amelia’s special birthday banner for years to come.

3. Decorative wooden letters

Decorative Wooden LettersI got the idea of using big wooden letters on the feature table while scrolling through Pinterest. I bought the letters ONE and ACMS (Amelia’s initials) from Michaels and painted several coats of gold paint.

4. Tissue-paper flowers

Tissue-paper flowersYou can buy tissue paper pom-poms, but they’re beyond easy to make. I made two giant flowers and two garlands with smaller flowers, using this tutorial. Pro tip: I thought I was a clever penny pincher by buying the pinks from a nearby dollar store. But their paper was really thin and easily ripped as I was pulling out the layers. This gold paper I ordered online was pricey and it was WAY more than I needed, but it was much better to work with.

5. Grass planter centerpieces

Grass Planter CenterpiecesWe went through many ideas before we settled on grass planters for the centerpieces. It was an investment to buy the cedar boxes, but they can easily be repurposed. Plus, the Etsy seller I bought them from was so kind and helpful!

We nixed the Pinterest-popular wheat grass for regular grass seed. We put a folding table in our living room near the window that gets the best daytime sun. And then we set up our LEGAL grass-growing operation. Matt led the charge on this:

Grass CenterpiecesFirst, he lined the boxes with thick garbage bags and thumb-tacked them to the box.

Then, he put down a layer of pebbles we bought from Home Depot. The rock base ensures proper drainage.

Grow Your Own Grass CenterpieceThen, he poured in potting soil and layered the grass seed on top. We made sure to mist the seed every day to keep the soil damp but not flooded.

DIY Grass CenterpiecesIt took about 5 days for the first grass babies to sprout and about 14 days for them to achieve the ideal height.

6. Garden tools as favors

Children's Garden ToolsI ordered these adorable garden tools for the kids and bundled them in garden twine for the feature table.

7. “Put a SPRING in your step!”

Mason Jar Party FavorsFor the adult favors, we wanted something edible. After initially considering chocolate-covered espresso beans, then jelly beans, then gummy flowers, we opted for mini dark chocolate rainbow nonpareils in half-pint mason jars. I already had the brown paper tags and baker’s twine for the label. Child labor is the best!

Baby with Mason Jars

8. Activity table for the kids

Kids Activity TableTo use a much-loved family phrase: The activity table was the “Nestle’s Sweet Move of the Game.” We had 10 kids under 3 coming to the party, and we wanted to make sure they (and their parents) had a good time.

We borrowed a kid-sized table and chairs and covered it with paper. First, they colored. Then, they glued pictures of flowers onto the first letter of their name (idea and supplies thanks to my beautiful Mom!). After a dance break, they put cheerios onto pipe cleaners to make bird feeders. Just kidding — they mostly just ate all the cheerios.

Cheerios Bird Feeders

Bonus: A beyond-awesome cake

The Sweet Peace Spring CakeIt’s not DIY, but you can’t have a party without cake! We were so happy to work with a local bake shop in our village, The Sweet Peace, on the cake. The chef and owner Alison helped us decide on a combination of their signature mini cupcakes with a gorgeous cake-topper with ruffle icing. So girly and SO delicious!

Baby's First BirthdayAfter so many weeks of planning, Amelia’s 1st birthday party flew by. The room felt so warm and cheerful and spring-y, and it was so fun to be surrounded by our family and closest friends. Amelia had a great time, too! Because cupcakes.

Baby's First CupcakeBaby's Second Cupcake

Follow Lauren on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!