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DIY Halloween crafts and costumes

Tuesday - 10/22/2013, 3:24pm  ET

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Halloween doesn't have to be a drain on your bank account. A local crafter has some inexpensive and easy ideas when it comes time to decorating your home and your trick-or-treaters. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)

Easy and inexpensive Halloween crafts

WTOP's Rachel Nania reports.

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DIY Halloween costume ideas

WTOP's Rachel Nania reports.

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WASHINGTON - Between candy, spooky decorations and superhero costumes, the cost of Halloween can add up … and quickly.

But Jessica Blaszczak, founder of This Little Piggy and a member of the DC Craft Mafia, says Halloween doesn't have to be a drain on your bank account. She has some inexpensive and easy ideas when it comes time to decorating your home and your trick-or-treaters.

And the best part? The kids can help, so you aren't stuck with all the work.

The Decoupage Pumpkin

Tools:

  • A pumpkin (real or fake)
  • Black construction paper
  • Mod Podge
  • Scissors -- If you are enlisting the help of little ones, opt for kid-friendly scissors, which are less sharp and more suitable for small hands

Decorating a pumpkin is a quintessential fall activity, but is one that can be very dangerous, especially for young Halloween enthusiasts.

Blaszczak has a solution that takes the knife out of the equation. She uses paper.

"Instead of carving, I thought it would be a good idea to do a decoupage pumpkin," says Blaszczak, an Arlington resident who works with decoupage for her products at This Little Piggy.

"Decoupage is a French word, but I think it's just a fancy way of saying gluing."

Blaszczak creates her jack-o'-lantern on a fake pumpkin so she can reuse it each year, but says it is totally possible to use a real pumpkin, as well.

She traces the shape she wants her jack-o'-lantern to "wear" on to a piece of black construction paper and cuts out the design. Her most recent creation is a "vampire" pumpkin.

Paste the back of the construction paper on the pumpkin with the Mod Podge and then apply the Mod Podge to the front of the paper.

Let the pumpkin dry and enjoy!

"If you look at it from a distance, it actually looks like it's been carved," says Blaszczak, who says the only real cost of the project is the pumpkin and the Mod Podge, if you don't already have it.

The Glow-in-the-Dark Jar

Tools:

  • A glass jar (you can buy a mason jar, or just head to your recycle bin)
  • Black construction paper
  • Glow-in-the-dark spray paint
  • Scissors -- If you are enlisting the help of little ones, opt for kid-friendly scissors, which are less sharp and more suitable for small hands

Having kids light candles for Halloween can present a bit of a hazard, but Blaszczak has an idea that will spark their interest and keep the house intact.

She spray paints mason jars -- or recycled jam or salsa jars -- with glow-in-the- dark paint and decorates them with paper decorations.

While the glowing jars don't provide the same light and warmth of candles, they certainly earn the "cool" factor.

"It glows enough for a little kid to be like, ‘wow,'" which is the exact response Blaszczak received from her 2-year-old son. "It's cool for the little kids to do and it's so easy," she says.

Blaszczak says to spray the jar with the paint (which can be found at most craft stores), allow it to dry slightly and then spray it with a second coat.

When working with little kids, adults should do the spraying -- and take caution to protect the eyes of any bystanders.

After the paint is completely dry, you can cut out shapes with construction paper and adhere the shapes to the jars with Mod Podge.

Then just hold the jars up to a bright light, turn out the lights and watch the jars glow.

A Super-Saving Superhero

Tools:

  • A T-shirt
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors -- If you are enlisting the help of little ones, opt for kid-friendly scissors, which are less sharp and more suitable for small hands

Most kids go through a superhero phase, or at least get the urge to wear a cape and parade throughout the house. And there is a very easy way to make that superhero dream a reality. All it takes is an old shirt and a pair of scissors.

To make a cape from a T-shirt, Blaszczak says to leave the back of the shirt and the crew neck intact. Everything else gets cut.

First, cut the sleeves off and the front of the shirt off. Then, from the armpit area, cut the back of the shirt at an angle, making the bottom wider than the top for that "cape effect."

If the cape is for an especially young superhero, Blaszczak says to cut the crew neck in half and place velcro there so it can easily be attached and detached.

"That way if they get caught, they can easily break out," says Blaszczak, who purchased two t-shirts for $6 at Michaels.

When it comes time to decorating, Blaszczak says it all depends on what you have and what you want to do with your cape. For her, duct tape is the obvious choice.

"It's fantastic. You can do anything with duct tape," she says, adding you can also use a bleach pen, spray paint or an iron-on pattern to create a design on your cape.

On Halloween night, all you need is a turtleneck and pants under the cape, and a mask or face paint to elevate the costume.

The Princess and the Bead

Tools:

  • A headband
  • Ribbon
  • Beads, 20-24 in variety, 6-10 millimeters in size
  • Craft wire, 24 gauge -- just make sure the size will fit through your beads
  • Fabric glue
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers or jewelry pliers
  • Scissors

Do you have a princess this Halloween season? Local crafter and owner of Brighter Day Beads Carolyn Raich has a project for you. Adding a simple tiara to a royal outfit is a great way to save on the crowns sold at costume stores.

This crown is made with a headband, ribbon, gold wiring and beads.

Directions:

  • Find the center of your headband. This should be the highest point of your tiara.
  • Measure and cut 24 inches of craft wire.
  • Measure about four pinky finger widths out from the center on one side of the headband. This is where you will start. Wrap one end of wire tightly around the headband about three times. Make sure the wire is snug together and snug on the headband.
  • Make sure the wire is pointing up from the headband, and thread two beads on the wire. Then thread the wire back down through the bottom bead only. (The top bead should have the wire on the outside of the bead.) Make sure the wire is pulled through snug so the two beads look as if they are like a tiny tower on top of the band.
  • Wrap the wire snugly around the band about two times so that it is about one pinky finger apart from the first set of beads and closer to the center.
  • Repeat the process in steps four and five, but use three beads instead of two. Repeat this step.
  • Now you should be at the center of your tiara. Repeat step six, but make the center a little taller or use a special bead.
  • You are more than half way there. Now you want to finish the rest of the tiara to look like the first side.
  • To finish, wrap the wire snugly three times around the headband and trim with wire cutters. Use your pliers to gently press flat both ends of the wire.
  • Take your ribbon and start wrapping it around the headband to cover any exposed craft wire. Glue both ends of the ribbon to the headband to finish.
An older child can definitely help on this craft, but it will take guidance and supervision. Bead inspired!

Get Yourself in the Spirit

Tools:

  • A T-shirt
  • Paint
  • A stencil

With a busy life and an adventurous toddler to keep her hands full, Blaszczak says she rarely has time to focus on her own costume.

"But I still want to partake in Halloween because I love it. It's a great holiday," she says.

So she makes a spirited T-shirt to sport on Halloween night, using stencils and paint.

To make this shirt, Blaszczak purchased a set of stencils from Martha Stewart's line, which she says is "surprisingly edgy."

Put a solid T-shirt on a flat surface and place the stencil where you would like for the design to appear. Then, place newspaper around the stencil so the paint doesn't get on the shirt and paint away.

The key to making the shirt look great is to keep let it dry.

"When we're trick-or-treating, I'm just going to throw this on and I'll feel like I am right there in the mix," Blaszczak says.

If Halloween crafts have you thinking ahead to potential DIY ideas for the upcoming holiday season, Blaszczak says there are several craft shows planned that can inspire your inner crafter.

GRUMP (Give Rad Urban-Made Presents) takes place Dec. 7 at Artisphere in Arlington.

Blaszczak says that show, in particular, will convene some of the area's best alternative artists and artisans.

"We're all over the place … And it's a way of supporting your community," Blaszczak says.

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