A Celebration of Pure Imagination


A Celebration of Pure ImaginationWriting this post was clearly inspired by the late Mr. Gene Wilder. My husband and I absolutely adore him in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Young Frankenstein (it’s FrahnkenSTEEN!), and Blazing Saddles. So, when we were trying to decide on family Halloween costumes for this year, we were almost immediately drawn to the idea of Willy Wonka characters. Originally we thought of dressing as some of the golden ticket winners, but then I decided our buddy should be Willy Wonka (because, hello, SUPER CUTE). Then my husband decided we should be oompa loompas since the juxtaposition of age/size would be fun. I thought these would be fairly simple costumes to create (as compared to last year, when I decided to make my 6-month-old buddy a Pikachu costume from scratch)…but, as you can imagine, I thought wrong.

Pikachu, I choose you!
Pikachu, I choose you!

My intention was to write a fun, easy, DIY post about creating simple Willy Wonka costumes. I am an incredibly amateur seamstress, after all, and simple is the name of my game. However, I quickly discovered how inept I am at making anything “simple” in my life, and so it became my intention to document and share what-not-to-do when creating Willy Wonka Halloween costumes. Then I decided that post would be entirely too long. So, finally I realized that I should document my strife (and small successes), but I should also look a little deeper into my insane desire to be a perfectionist. A procrastinating perfectionist, at that. Kind of an oxymoron, dontcha think?

The dress that started it all.
The dress that started it all.

It all started with a beautiful, purple, velvet dress. PERFECT (because the costume MUST be perfect or it’s the END OF THE WORLD) for a transformation into Willy Wonka’s signature coat, and it only cost $2 at Goodwill! I planned to fashion some sort of collar/lapel combination out of the excess skirt fabric, sew it on to the top of the dress easy-peasy, and voilĂ : perfection in the form of a purple, velvet coat! Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. Turns out it’s super hard to create your own “pattern” of a collar/lapel that fits seamlessly around the neckline and front of the coat-that-used-to-be-a-dress. I measured and marked and cut and sewed, but nothing matched up perfectly. I became an expert seam ripper. I stabbed my fingers repeatedly with pins. I bled. I cursed the heavens. I sewed up one side decently well, only to discover I could not imitate my work on the opposite side. Fabric was torn. Thread came loose. A sewing machine was almost destroyed.

The oatmeal-container hat WILL be painted prior to Halloween....that's the plan, anyway.
The oatmeal container hat WILL be painted prior to Halloween…that’s the plan, anyway.

In the end, we have a passable Willy Wonka costume for my son, and we have cheaply made, “simple” oompa loompa costumes (thanks to the Interwebs for some time-saving inspiration). Am I 100% happy with the results? Not really. Are they sufficient? I suppose. This coat would have worked equally as well as the one I slaved and cried over for the past two weeks. Am I an insane person who has exceedingly high expectations of herself with not enough time, energy, money, and talent to accomplish said things which create said expectations? The answer to that is a resounding YES.

My son hard at work on his Willy Wonka stare. And the only way I can get my husband to pose for a picture--if his head is cut off.
My son hard at work on his Willy Wonka stare. And this is the only way I can get my husband to pose for a picture–if his head is cut off.

So, why do I continue to do this to myself? Why do I pile on more than I can handle? Am I failing because the intricacies of our modern world are pitted against me from the start?

I have to live by the ever-ticking clock to meet my son’s needs, my own needs and desires, my relationship needs, my family obligations, my household schedule, my social commitments, my unplanned-but-need-to-take-care-of-ASAP events, and my elaborate-and-excruciatingly-demanding plans. Or am I failing because I place impossible expectations on myself? Maybe it’s a combination of worldly forces. I don’t have the answer, but I can tell you what will keep happening if I don’t change my mindset: I will be a constant stress ball trying to control the tiniest detail of every single thing in my life, because if I don’t my whole world will come crumbling down around me. Or, at least that’s what my mind tells me will happen.

But if I think about things real hard, I know without a doubt my son will never care that his Willy Wonka coat wasn’t perfect, that my friends won’t care if I skip a night out in favor of some me-time, that my family will understand if I forget to mail a birthday card, that my house won’t fall apart if I don’t dust today, that my next craft project might need to be store-bought instead of homemade. You know as well as I do that no one was ever worse off by removing a few things from her overflowing plate. Less is more, and all that. So, I’m going to work on letting go and spending my time embracing those things dearest to me. Everything else is extraneous. Everything else can wait.

There is no life I know

To compare with pure imagination

Living there, you’ll be free

If you truly wish to be.


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