Amazing The Book of Life La Muerte Costume
Each year I search for inspiration for a costume that will allow me to express my creativity, innovation, and spirit of Halloween. My 5-year-old son had recently been watching The Book of Life again.
I had seen it before but something specifically caught my attention this time.
The last line in the movie spoken by La Muerte: “Anyone can die. These kids, they will have the courage to live.” That was a very powerful message for me and really a breakthrough in my own healing.
My second son was born in February 2016. After the whirlwind of delivery and those first few days I was home, in pain from a c-section, and facing a serious hormone crash. It started with the overwhelming love for my sons, and then thinking of the others I love in my life, and steadily my mind raced. I had severe postpartum anxiety. I developed an inability to deal with the most powerful emotions in life, love and fear.
Thankfully with a great support system and wonderful healthcare, I was able to function again.
So my first thought was how in the heck am I going to create the illusion of floating candles? Then I wondered how I would get that big of a hat made. I studied a few other images of others who had done this costume. I appreciated many of them but I was trying to figure out ways to do things better.
I bought red velour costume fabric. I am not a pattern maker or a seamstress. I sew basically once a year on my Halloween costume while I listen to Monster Mash and evil laugh when I hear the “I was working in my lab late one night…” line.
So I watched YouTube videos on how to create a pattern for a mermaid style belly dance skirt. After much studying and measuring I created a pattern using wrapping paper. I used that pattern to cut five panels, sewed them together, and installed a zipper and drawstring.
For the shirt, I simply used another shirt as my pattern to create the cut-outs, installed a zipper and used some lace to create the cuffs on the sleeves. I then used many yellow fabric flowers and several sticks of hot glue to strategically place the flowers on the skirt and shirt.
For the challenging candle dilemma, I stumbled onto the perfect solution. I purchased the largest Wreath Ring Pat Catan’s sold. It was 36 inches. I also purchased 12 tall battery operated flickering candles. I was able to place the wreath ring high enough underneath the skirt to hold the floor of the skirt out tight.
Because of the multiple rings, the candles just fit beautifully wedged down between them thus holding the ring up without much attaching needed. I found the cutest little gray skulls to place randomly on the base of the dress.
On to the hat. I first found an awesome red felt type hat with a bit of a brim. Trying to determine the material for the larger brim was a challenge. I went to Office Depot looking for foam board. They did not sell anything the size I needed. As I was walking along the back wall I spotted a large stack of huge poster board. At least 4×5 foot. When I asked about it, they told me that is what they use to do some of the print job orders for signs and stuff. I was able to convince them to sell it to me.
So I cut a 36″ diameter circle, cut enough of a hole in the middle for my hat. I used Elmer’s spray adhesive to adhere the foam board to the top of the hat’s brim. I then used remaining velour fabric and the spray adhesive to cover the new brim, tucking it under neatly on the edges. I then poked holes through the top of the plastic skulls I got, used thick red ribbon/string, tied a knot in the end and pushed it down into the skulls, and doing the same with the other end pushing it through a poked hole in the hat, then securing with hot glue. I used shorter battery operated candles to hot glue to the top of the hat. I hot glued directly to the hat but struggled once the fabric broke away from the adhesive on the foam board, so I made a small cut in the fabric and squeezed hot glue into that layer as well.
I hot glued the yellow flowers, fern leaves and pink feathers to the top of the hat. I used smaller yellow flowers to make the bracelets and I found a charm resembling her necklace and made that too. I took a couple of the bigger yellow flowers and hot glued them to a couple of hair clips to clip by my ears.
I ordered a pony-tail wig online. It had a couple of combs attached to hold it in place and an elastic draw-string to tighten around the bun of my own hair.
My makeup changed each time I wore it. Trust me… just free hand it! That worked the best. Plus I love Mehron white makeup! It’s amazing. I glittered it up and I was off!
I put my top on with some leggings and comfortable shoes. I had to put the skirt and hat carefully in the back of my SUV. When I would arrive somewhere, we would get the skirt and hat out and screw in the candles to turn them on. Then I would put them on in the parking lot. The costume turned out amazing. The candles looked beautiful at night and many commented that it looked like I was gliding. I can certainly say I was so happy I felt like I was!
I won four local contests which included $32, a blue ribbon, 2 certificates, free McDonald’s fries, a bag of candy, an all event pass to a local venue for a year, and the cutest 5 inch tall ‘Best in Show’ trophy.
It was humbling and an honor. I made the newspaper two weekends in a row. Haha.
My favorite part is people wanting a picture and appreciating MY art… MY creation. It made it all worthwhile.
All in all the costume probably cost me somewhere between $100-150 and I worked for at least 6 weeks on it. I know a couple of Saturdays I spent around 6 hours on and off working on it. It’s not work if it’s something you enjoy and it was a small price to pay for the joy it brought me and so many others.
“Anyone can die. These kids, they will have the courage to live.” La Muerte and her message will now always hold a special place in my heart. I used it to help me piece myself back together and give me the courage to live this beautiful life I lead.