Last year, after spending some time trying to figure out how to make a train costume and then having Calvin fall in love with a Winnie the Pooh costume at the resale shop, I told Calvin that he could be anything he wanted from then on as long as he could make the costume. About the same time I told me that this year he would return to the train idea, and that he wanted his dad and myself to be signals. As long as we can make it, kid...
This year, as the date neared, I found myself wrestling with ideas and plans. There is nobody else out there making a train costume that isn't Thomas, but I found another mom's costume plans posted on her website and adapted them to fit our own needs. I followed her plans for basic box assembly—starting with a paper box (the same box we used over seven years ago to deliver the decorations to our reception site, and again three years ago to move baby items to the new house), a shoe box of matching width, and (thanks to my mom) two hat boxes.
Calvin helped me shop or search the basement for all the necessary items, and then he helped me use the t-square and pencil to mark the boxes for cutting. We used the hot glue gun to attach the boxes initially, then covered the whole thing with black duct tape; Calvin helped hold the pieces in place while I applied hot glue, and he helped press the black tape into place. The duct tape added stability to the whole ensemble and also made it relatively water-proof just in case.
Calvin picked out black paper plates for wheels and silver and gold poster board for accents. He also picked a picture from his historical trains book for me to use as inspiration. He decided on silver for the wheels and gold for the accents. I cut the accents and wheels after he went to bed (since I'd waited until last minute and wanted the costume done before the costume parade in Dexter the next morning—nothing like last minute). There's nothing like scrapbooking materials for a project of this kind—I used my circle cutter on the wheels, the t-square and my circle punch for the side accents, and the Cricut to cut the fours. Engine, engine number four...
The straps are nylon and I stapled and duct taped them to the inside of the box before applying adhesive backed Velcro at the appropriate sizing for Calvin. The final addition, though, was the smoke stack. The original plans called for a tube but Calvin wanted an old steam engine, which would have had a conical smoke stack in front, so we stopped by our downtown hardware store while we were trick or treating on parade (even without the smoke stack he was a hit on the first dry run) where we found the perfect metal funnel. At home Calvin helped me measure for the location, I used a box cutter to make two diagonal cuts, and I adhered it to the front with hot glue.
You'll remember that he also asked us to be signals, so to round out the ensemble on Halloween night I made a RR sign and a railroad crossing sign which two of his loving entourage (including also his Oma, Opa, and Aunt Ann) carried throughout our neighborhood escapades.
My favorite part of this costume was Calvin's involvement. He picked the costume and he helped make it, which means that when person after person asked him if his mom made it he was able to say, truthfully, "we made it together," and then often went on to explain what each part was made of and how it was assembled. Even the remotely curious were treated to his well spoken explanation.