pillow(case) talk, a mystery number & Miyagi-san’s spirit

It begins with a trip to the Goodwill thrift store.

And a simple white jacket.

My Hallow’s Eve affair at the grand ol’ historic Elks Theater doesn’t require costumes. Still, this being my favorite holiday, I’m definitely in the spirit! So to speak.

This Halloween girl’s also a girl on a budget. Plus I’ve always preferred creating my own costumes. In fact, my mother told me that when my sister and I were little, she’d offer to take us shopping for costumes but we always insisted on making our own. Some things never change!

I’ve created some damn fine costumes through the years if I do say so myself. And always on the cheap.

I’m not feeling called to any particular theme or character, which is quite rare. So to the Goodwill I go in search of inspiration in the multitudes of costumes cramming the racks and with three conditions in mind:

1. Comfort. If I’m gonna wear a costume for an entire evening or two, it’s gotta be comfortable.

That’s my first “c” word in clothing. Comfort. It’s no different come Halloween!

My fashions guru (not!) is Neil Young, just to give a glimpse about (a) how much I care about fashion and (b) my commitment to comfort

So there shan’t be any parading around in high heels or clingy slinky gowns of polyester, no matter how cool or fun they appear.

My other “c” word: cotton.

2. Price. I shop thrift stores for a reason. Unemployment is a motivator.

3. Returns on wearability. That is, whatever my costume, it’s gotta be something in part or totality that I’ll wear again and again in my normal life.

If I’m gonna spend money on a costume, it’s not gonna be a one-day deal. That’s equivalent to throwing money away for a day’s affair. It’s a luxury I can ill afford. Not even for glorious Halloween.

So I’m patiently sifting through the Halloween rack costume by costume. No. No. No. Hmmm, maybe on the baseball uniform. Never mind. It’s 100% polyester.

Who am I this season? Who do I want to be? Who am I not? Whom does my inner muse wish to express? What “Other Self” do I wish to channel?

Then I land on this:

coat coat-back


It’s affordable and comfy and 100% cotton. Definitely a jacket I’d wear normally. It’s my self-described inner Asian trapped in a Western body.  Karate Kid here I come!

The rack’s void of baggy white pants so I scour the racks in the regular women’s pants section.



All cotton, über baggy, brand new and – yikes – pretty pricey at $6.99! I spin the wheel of chance and nervously leave ’em behind hoping they’ll still be there in four days when I can get ’em at 25% off with a senior discount.

Score! Still there on the return visit a half week later!

Let me iterate: Creative costuming on the cheap.

I already own a white shirt, white socks and black sandals.

All that remain are the all-important black belt and headband with the Okinawa flower. I’m actually strolling through the Goodwill with the garb of the Karate Kid — aka Daniel-san — on my phone as if it’s a honing device toward Halloween!

Creative costuming on the cheap. Because it bears repeating.

No way am I gonna find a Karate Kid headband. Doesn’t matter. Where there’s a creative will, there’s a way. Not to mention the eternal and effervescent inner Ms. McGyver!

The headband begins with this:


Your basic white pillowcase. Some are pale eggshell. Nyet. Need white as the driven snow.Plus it’s green-tagged = 50% off. So for 50 cents, I get the future headband.

The black belt. Gotta have the black belt. Again, the linens section holds the answer. A black pillowcase. Full price of 99 cents.


I’ve no modern sewing machine.

However, I do have the primitive version: two hands. Along with needles and spools of black and white thread. Plus a worn out pair of scissors that have cut everything from paper to thick cardboard to meaty weedy flower stems to hair to fabrics.

I get to work on the headband. By cutting meticulously along the 4-inch-wide hem at the opening and preserving the natural fold and stitching, I can save myself beaucoup time and sewing.

That accomplished, I hop online for uber-detailed inspection of the headband of Mr. Ralph Macchio, aka Daniel-san. Precise images of the Okinawa flower and the bordering lines and exactly how many dots on the band’s width (6) and do they run the headband’s full length (yes).


Medium-tipped black felt pen from the dollar store to my rescue!

Check out my headband!

from a pillowcase is born a belt!

from a pillowcase is born a belt!


Lest I forget, in a corner of the the original pillowcase is penned 306 in black ink. From a hotel or assisted living facility, I reckon. Or the great starting point for a freakin’ scary Stephen King story. See the pair of 306? What dooooooess it mean???? Bwaaaaaahahahahahahha.



Then on to the belt.

How wide is a black belt? Google tells all! Two inches. And the length on Mr. Macchio? About to mid-thigh.

I create accordingly.



Bye-bye black pillowcase, hello black belt!

With no natural hems that could be preserved, this element takes crafting time. With a towel on the carpet (no ironing board), my little travel iron and a spray water bottle, I cut and fold hems and hand-stitch the entire belt. All 7 feet of it. Yes, 7!


And from a black pillowcase is born a belt!

stitching up close

stitching up close

Sorry, no photo of the whole finished costume. Maybe tomorrow. I’m pretty sure the spirit of Miyagi-san would give it a thumb’s up.

The entire ensemble (with the new jacket at $5.99 being the priciest element): about $10.

I get to be Ralphette for a coupla nights.

In the words of the wise Miyagi-san: Wax on. Wax off.  Heretofore wherever ye be this Halloween night, be certain to peer through the thin veil and howl at the moon. It’s waxing, you know.

And whatever you do this night, do not, do NOT enter any room marked 306! {bwwwwwwaaaaaaaaahahhhhahhhhhhhhhhh}


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