InFocus: Halloween gives creative students, faculty chance to express themselves


By Mackenzie Clark

To avoid the frenzy of trying to find pre-packaged costumes in your size and the local raiding that is costume shopping, many students and faculty who have a creative flair choose to make their own Halloween costumes each year.

Joy Rhodes, associate professor of Fashion Design and Merchandising, makes costumes for her kids every year. Her daughter Samantha, 9, and son Jackson, 10, have kept her busy over the years.

“They were both aliens one year; they matched,” Rhodes said. “We did a Dr. Seuss thing one time; they were Thing 1 and Thing 2. I made [my son] Peter Pan one year, and my daughter was Tinkerbell.”

Rhodes said she usually starts planning in late September and executes in October.

“Last year we did a cancan costume, which was awesome,” she said. “I actually made the pattern for that one by myself. Took a lot of time on that one.”

Teresa Ceballos, fashion design student, has taken her interest in costumes to the next level. She is passionate about sewing and plans to open her own business when she’s done with school.

“I started sewing when I was a little kid…I used to take my Barbies and I would lay them down on a piece of fabric and kind of trace the outline of a dress, and then I’d hand sew it together,” Ceballos said.

Her interest in costuming grew when she took sewing classes in high school. She decided she didn’t want to make “a normal blouse, or something boring like that.” Instead she made a kimono.

Ceballos finds inspiration for her costumes in many different sources, including video games, anime conventions and the Renaissance Festival.

“I participate in just about everything that has to do with costumes, and Halloween is my favorite time of year,” she said. “I will go to the Renaissance Festival. I’ve been going for about six years and each year I make a new costume.”

Meredith Gardner, assistant adjunct professor of Fashion Design, emphasizes creativity in her costumes. One of them was the “Highway to Hell.”

“I had a black dress that I made and then I drew the outline of a road all the way around it going up to the shoulder, and then did a yellow dotted line down the middle,” Gardner said. “I bought matchbox cars and sewed those onto the garment, and then wore little devil ears.”

She has also been a speed bump: she put black paint on the tires of her car and ran over a yellow tube dress, let it dry, and washed it.

“I’m constantly brainstorming things, and since I do sew… I’m excited for Halloween this year,” Gardner said. “It’s an excuse to dress up and to use what I went to school for and what I teach.”

Rhodes, Ceballos and Gardner all offered tips for saving money if you choose to make your own costume. The number one piece of advice: use found objects.

This year Rhodes is using a dress she wore to a wedding when she was pregnant to make her daughter’s Elizabethan princess costume.

“If you were to put a price tag on my time it probably wouldn’t be saving money, but the actual materials, this year I will save lots of money,” Rhodes said.

Some cheap and easy tools of the trade include metallic spray paint, colored duct tape, glitter glue, pipe cleaners, wire, hot glue guns and balloons. It’s all a matter of creativity.

Contact Mackenzie Clark at


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