As a home sewer, I’ve made plenty of Halloween costumes and it never fails, as I am sewing I dream of the recipient having fun at a party or having to run home to get a second pillowcase for the surplus of candy. How sad it would be if our efforts missed the mark and the costume didn’t work out.
With a little pre-planning and simply switching up your sewing techniques you can ensure your special little one will love and use their custom made costume. When prewashing your fabric be certain to wash it exactly like it will be washed. Autistic Spectrum children often have sensory sensitivities and the smell of a different detergent or fabric softener could be a deterrent to wearing the costume for any length of time. If the fabric cannot be prewashed line or underline the costume with a washable fabric that is Mom and Dad approved. Another option is to upsize and your loved one can wear lightweight clothes underneath the costume.
Consider breaking up the costume into layers. What might be lost in “realism” will be offset by comfort. For example, instead of making a bear jumpsuit, break it up into a bear top, pants and booties. Make the tail removable. If a layer must come off, your little one could go trick or treating as a bear in jeans or a dancing bear in a skirt. Layers always help with temperature changes and potty breaks.
Pay special attention to seam allowances. Using an overcast stitch or serging the fabric edges can irritate sensitive people. Stitch your seam allowances down either with a machine straight stitch, hand tack, or use bits of fusible web. Use soft elastic for waistbands. Stitch the elastic vertically at equal points around the waistband to avoid twisting.
Design alternate head gear for costumes. Not all children (on the Autistic Spectrum or not) enjoy masks on their faces or anything on their heads. If the costume requires animal ears for instance, make fabric ears and attach them to a head band, and also attach ears to a knit cap (store bought or handmade) so the child (and parents) have choices. If you make a mask, draw a design on paper for parents to use as a face painting guide. Having options is usually helpful.
Finish the costume in time for the child to test it out. They may like to run around in parts of it to get used to it. The more comfortable children can be in their costumes, the more they will be able to process the chaos of Halloween and the more they will be able to participate.