Ok parents, what really pops into your head when you hear the word Halloween? For me it’s two things: Way too much candy for little tummies for starters followed closely by the dreaded inevitable costume dilemma. I am not talking about that red, fake ‘blood’ that you absolutely cannot get out of their clothes on Nov 1st no matter how much you Shout. It out. I’m talking about how often they change their minds as to what they want to “be” for Halloween, aka the old costume switcharoo. “Mom, I wanna be a ghost.” OK, easy enough, trip to thrift store, pick up cheapo white sheet, cut a couple holes. Not too bad. Then a week later, “Mom, I wanna be that ghoulie zombie dude from the costume store. Jimmy got one there and it’s wicked cool. And besides, ghosts are soooo lame.” Then inevitably that requisite little discussion with Junior must follow: “Ok Junior, are you SURE you want to be a ghoulie zombie dude this year? Are you positive? You’re not going to change your mind again, RIGHT?” Ok fine, trip to the pop-up costume store, dish out fifty bucks (ouch) for the sole purpose two hours of acquiring way too much candy for one little tummy. Double Ouch. Every year is a repeat of some version of the above: Too much candy and the dreaded costume switcharoo dilemma. If you get to stop at two costumes you’re lucky. If your first costume came from the thrift store, you are very lucky. If all your costumes came from the thrift store, you oughtta go play the lottery.
For me last year, it was “Mom, I want to be the Kool-Aid Man for Halloween.” Upon finding out that there are no Kool-Aid Man costumes at the costume store and none even available online for a gazillion dollars, I realized that I would have to make this one by hand and it didn’t look easy. Being aware of the inevitable Halloween costume dilemma known as the switcharoo I aimed to convince him there was a better costume out there. Luckily I was successful last year at swaying my 9 year old into ‘be’ing a zombie. Phew, that was easy.
For me this year it was “Mom, I want to be the Kool-Aid Man for Halloween.” Ok, so I had skirted the handmade tricky costume last year but, dang, apparently this kid really wants to “be” the Kool Aid Man. I have to give him credit, it’s pretty original. I have no idea why he wants to ‘be’ the Kool Aid Man. I have never even bought a packet of Kool Aid. To my knowledge he has never tasted Kool Aid. For all I know they don’t even make that stuff anymore. But after two years of requesting it I knew he had his heart set on it and it was so original I really didn’t want to sway him into an old standby ghoulie thing again. Plus, for some reason, I felt up to the challenge of designing it this year. I got some hints from Pinterest but here is my overall version. Junior is pleased with the way it came out but it was a little tricky so I figured I’d do others a favor in case anyone else is hearing, ‘Mom, I want to be the Kool-Aid Man for Halloween” and so I have put my directions online here for you:
These are the supplies I used. For the amounts, this is what I bought for my average height, thin 10 year old kid but I had plenty of leftovers. Still I would buy these amounts again because the Kool Aid Man’s round shape, for me, means needing a little extra materials to account for human error. Yes I tried valiantly, though unsuccessfully, to convince him to be a nice, easy rectangular ‘packet’ of Kool Aid. Apparently there is no god. Anyway I got plenty of material as the fabric was cheap enough on sale that I didn’t want to regret being short a quarter of a freakin yard. You could get away with less but to me it wasn’t worth the aggravation of running out.
Here’s what I got:
~11 pieces hollow PVC from Lowe’s plumbing dept- it was the thinnest they had in that section- each is about 6 feet long and a little thicker than a pencil. Less than $2 ea (Lowe’s item # 308057)
3 yards of red felt-double width, from Jo-ann. I paid ~$3/yd but it was either on sale or I had a coupon, can’t remember. ( Jo-Ann item #400004064051)
1/3 yard of black felt for face, from Jo-ann.
5 yards Shiny tulle in white for the ‘glass’, from Jo-ann. I paid $1.19/yd but I think that was a sale. (Jo-Ann item # 717371410511)
Plenty of Duct tape to secure the frame.
Hot glue gun and loads of glue sticks to secure the fabric to the frame
3 yards of thick foam carpet padding, about 50 inches wide- get remnant from carpet store for about $5/yd. Mine looks multicolored and melded together. Any type of foam material to soften the edges of the frame will work, maybe even a thick blanket from a thrift store would do the trick.
Wire to form handle- my husband had something from his tool stuff that I used but any fairly thick yet bendable wire will work. You need to be able to shape it into a handle and have it keep the shape after you have wrapped it in foam padding.
Baggy sweat pants, red- I got at Walmart
Sweat shirt, red
Suspenders, red, from Walmart for $6.50
*8 or so bouncy balls- I used these to top the pvc that sticks up a little too close to the kid’s face, just to prevent any injuries. You could use anything that will make the tips more blunt.
A clear plastic pitcher, similar in shape to the Man himself- we used this to collect the candy loot! It seemed approprirate since the Kool-Aid Man always seems to have one in his hand. We also brought a pillowcase( aka Mom Carried it) to put the candy into each time the plastic pitcher filled up.
Directions: read through first:
Make the frame using the PVC. Start with circles: Top and bottom circles should be same size with the largest circle in the middle. Make the top and bottom circles big enough to easily slide the costume over the kid and wide enough for their little legs to dash from door to door at lightning speed, in pursuit of the absolute most candy any one child can obtain in the allotted two hours. Basically just eyeball it for the size of your kid. My top and bottom circles were about 18-20 inches in diameter and my middle circle was about 90 inches in circumference. I don’t think you want to go any smaller than 90 inches around the middle. You will need to cut some off the pvc for the smaller circles and you will need to add some together to make the bigger circle. Tape the pvc to make each circle, overlapping it a little. Duct tape it securel. Then gently bend the other PVC pieces that will run vertically to connect the circles from the inside. The vertical pieces will need to be bent into a rounded shape before you secure them to the circles since they go from thinner circle to fatter circle back to thinner circle. See pic. This is where his overall shape is formed so make sure he’s nice and round here. Refer to a picture of the Man online or on a packet, if they even make the stuff anymore. Duct tape the pvc frame into place. Note I say to use duct tape but you can see in this picture I used packing tape. I had to redo it all with duct tape because the packing tape was not strong enough. Be sure to leave a few or so inches of pvc sticking up at the top and bent slightly outward (see pic and my *note above about protecting the kid’s face from the pointy pvc). You need this pvc sticking up at the top to glue the tulle on at the top to look like glass.
Measure the outside of your frame from the top circle over his ‘belly’ and down to the bottom circle, plus figure wrapping allowance to get the correct height of the padding and felt. ( FYI- Mine had a ‘length” from top circle, over middle circle down to bottom circle of 30 inches, not counting seam allowance for wrapping over pvc and inside. His girth at widest circle was 90 inches). Cut carpet padding the correct length to go around his big belly plus plenty, plenty, plenty enough ‘seam allowance’ to wrap the foam around the pvc and glue in place. You can always trim it back once you have the foam all around him. Don’t worry about the height of the foam yet yet. I laid the carpet pad on the floor and tipped my frame on its side. I started with one straight side of padding at the bottom circle and glued as I went, rolling the frame over the padding and gluing along the way. You want to foam to wrap around the frame and into the inside at the top and bottom circles. Plan your starting/ending point so that you have a seam (aka- minor overlap of padding that gets glued together) on his back or side and you’ll never notice it. Cut the excess padding after all is glued in place. It will be buckling in places so you’ll have to ease it into place as best you can. This is just a matter of trying to keep at least one side of your Kool Aid Man fairly wrinkle free for his face. No one will look at the back anyway. The back will probably not be as smooth as the front due to the round shape. I tried cutting notches to accommodate the roundness like you would do to sew something like an arm hole but there were too many notches and it was compromising the structural integrity of the foam plus making it look even wrinklier. Just do your best to come out with one ‘front’ side of your Kool Aid Man fairly wrinkle-free. Attach to frame with hot glue. I cut off the extra padding in the end, as it does move on the diagonal so if you measure and cut to begin with you will battle with not having enough at the end since it slides on the diagonal a bit.
Do the same with your red felt, just cover the foam padding, leaving plenty of seam allowance to wrap around as it seemed to be moving diagonally; you can always trim that back from inside later on. With this round shape, it’s better to have too much fabric and trim later, as it starts to sort of move sideways on the frame (for you seamstresses it reminded me a little of a rolled hem). Plan your starting/ending point so that you have a seam (aka- minor overlap of fabric that gets glued together) on his back or side and you’ll never notice it. Cut the excess fabric after all is glued in place.
You now have a red blob, with one wrinkle free face place and with pvc sticking up at the top. Take about three yards of tulle and gather and wrap it loosely around the top pulling a little extra over and down on one side to make the ‘spout’. See pic for general spout shape. Hot glue it to the pvc that is sticking up a little. The spout just sort of hangs there since I didn’t have a piece of pvc bent way down right on his side, it’s fine. For the record the spout should be on the other side than mine shows but for me this is how it turned out due to the way the tulle fell into place and the wrinkle-free side of the felt. Don’t tell my kid!
Now just look online at a picture of the Kool Aid Man, check out his face, make a template with paper- just eyeball it, it’s not hard. Hold your paper up to your felt ‘face’ area to be sure you have the relative dimensions pretty good. Once you’re happy with it, then cut your black felt out in the shape and hot glue it on the wrinkle free face side of your red felt.
Take your handle wire and wrap it very loosely with the carpet padding in the shape of the spout. I made a hollow ‘pipe’ of the carpet padding using hot glue to hold the ‘seam’ together. It’s abpout 3 or so inches inside diameter. Thread the wire through your hollow handle padding and shape it to look like a handle. The wire needs to be about 1 or two feet longer than the handle so that it can go inside and attach to the frame. Now remember that old white sheet you got at the thrift store last year for the lame Ghost costume? Loosely wrap a piece of that old white thrift store sheet and hot glue it onto the foam padding handle but not onto the exposed wire at the ends. Now loosely wrap the tulle around the handle, but not around the wire part. Secure it with hot glue. Figure out where in the frame you want to attach the handle- aka opposite the spout- and simply cut a very, very small hole in the fabric and poke the wire through the foam to the inside. Wrap the wire around the frame inside just to hold it in place. Trim any excess wire and wrap with duct tape so it doesn’t scratch Junior. Do that at the top circle and then partly down, wherever looks about right to you. Secure both ends of the wire handle part to the pvc frame. I threw some extra hot glue in around the handle wire to keep it from swinging so that it would just stick straight out opposite the spout.
Attach suspenders to the inside of the frame. Just stick your kid in it and eyeball where the suspender straps should go. My Walmart suspender clips fit right around the PVC, though they are a tight fit. Once you have the fit correct, figure out where your kid’s arms are and where they will come out of the costume. I cut a small “X” in the felt and gradually made it just large enough for his arm. I cut the foam out of the way, as it was itchy. Do the same for the other arm.
Lastly I covered the pvc that sticks up near his face with little bouncy balls, just drill a hole part way through the bouncy ball a little smaller than the pvc and squeeze it onto the pvc. I put a little hot glue in the hole before I put it on the pvc. Stick your kid in the red sweats (it was too hot for the shirt, but you get the idea) and then into the Man he goes: Tada! Kool Aid Man.
PS- My son’s friend saw our Kool Aid Man Costume and pulled the old costume switcharoo on his mom,something along the lines of: “ Mom I want to be the Kool Aid Man for Halloween. Matt’s mom made one and it’s wicked cool. And besides, zombies are soooo lame.” He decided to be a blue Kool-Aid Man. His mom followed my directions and did pretty well with it though I did get a couple frantic texts and had to pop over to help her out a little. So let me say this may not be a great first diy for anyone but if this isn’t your first diy rodeo you will do just fine. Another friend of my son’s followed suit and decided to ‘be’ the orange Kool-Aid Man. His dad did pretty well with following these directions but had a little help from a step mother pretty skilled at diy. I did not get a single text or call and it came out pretty well.
Just keep the big picture in mind- get the overall shape right with the pvc frame- that part is critical. If you don’t get the shape right with the frame, it will not look like the rotund Kool Aid man when you finish. Then just do what you gotta do to cover it, first with carpet padding or foam, then with felt, copy the face from online pics and stick a handle on him. It ain’t exactly rocket science so enjoy the process! When in doubt, you can always just pour yourself a Kool-Aid (they do still amake it!) and add a little vodka to make yours “electric Kool-Aid” – that helped me get through the tricky parts :)
The smile, big kiss and “thanks mom!” that you get in the end will be worth it, not to mention the candy you sneak from the kid’s loot once he goes to bed. OH YEAH!!!