Book Week makes me I wish I could sew…

Book Week costumes
Posted on August 18, 2011

As a non-sewing, non-crafty, non-gifted-in-most-areas mother, there are certain times of the year that I dread. Book Week is one of those times. Others include Easter (Bonnet Parade, anyone?), Christmas (I can make a mean Shepherd’s head-dress out of a towel, but that’s the extent of my talents) and, indeed, any time of the year that might conjure up the need for a, gulp, costume.

Tonight my focus is on Book Week. Because it’s next week. It could be worse, I guess. It could be tomorrow.

Mr7’s Book Week aspirations have suffered some downgrading since he first arrived home last week declaring that he would be Robin Hood. I thought fast. If I could find some facsimile of an elfy-green shirt and a bow and arrow, we might pull it off.

Spirits were high as we hit the shops last Friday.

Spirits were low as we trudged home again.

No bow, no arrows (though he fixed this problem by making them himself from straight sticks and feathers and flinging them at his brother), specifically, and tragically, no green pointy hat.

The next morning he awoke, full of inspiration. “I won’t be Robin Hood, I’ll be Sherlock Holmes,” he said. Great, I thought, how hard can that be?

Er, hard. Apparently only a long coat will do and we have, as yet, been unable to turn up a child-sized Sherlock coat. Or a pipe, for that matter. We have a tweed cap, a magnifying glass and a notebook, however, so I feel like I’ve put some points on the board there.

As the days have drifted on and I’ve not shown enough enthusiasm for spending every afternoon unearthing the perfect costume, he has downgraded once more.

“I suppose I could go as Harry Potter,” he said, glumly. I leapt on that suggestion. We have a robe, a wand, some glasses… and there’s been so much ‘Accio this’ and ‘Leviosa that’ going on over the past year that he’s a shoe-in.

“Why so glum about that idea?” I asked.

Turns out there are at least three other boys in his class alone going as the Great Potter. I tried to bring him out of his slump by entertaining him with ideas for the collective noun for a group of Potters (see, I really am the most Fun Mum ever…).

“A flight of Potters?” I ventured. “A spell of Potters? A Hogwart of Potters? A Dumbledore of Potters?” It wasn’t until I got to A Quidditch of Potters that he even managed to raise a grin.

I confess that I spent tonight googling Sherlock Holmes accessories. I have been to op shops looking for coats. I even contemplated making a boat hat out of green paper and sticking a feather on it. This is what we non-sewing, non-crafting, non-gifted-in-most-areas mums are reduced to at times like these.

I am wondering if I can put him in a black turtleneck, black trousers, black shoes and a woebegone expression and sending him as a starving writer? That would work for Book Week, right?

A. L. Tait Online Literature Festival Brisbane Writers' Festival | allisontait.comAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries (you’ll find book #1 THE FIRE STAR here).

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.


  1. Sarah

    I am an admirer rather than a do-er of all things crafty. This week I fear my number is up. My daughter is required to dress as a jungle dancer for this week at Bookweek, er, day on friday and I have been unable to source a suitable costume from anywhere. So tomorrow with head bowed I will be making the journey to Spotlight to buy fabric and hopefully acquire a hot glue gun. Pray for me.

  2. Cath

    I can sew, but that will not make it any easier I’m sure… Like honestly, who feels like throwing together a Robin Hood suit on a whim and a prayer – the time, finding the materials, getting it the way a certain munchkin would find “appropriate”.

    I shall delay the day as long as possible! (And don’t tell any of the other mums I can sew, OK?)

  3. Maxabella

    I bet the other members of the Quidditch won’t have a Harry Potter spell hat…

    I am not going to comment on the interesting moment of playing ‘name the collective noun with a seven year old. No, I won’t comment on that. x

  4. River

    Is there a Toys’r’Us near you? Go to the dress-ups section and stock up on assorted costumes in assorted sizes to see you right through primary school. With mix and matching plus accessories, you can come up with just about anything as long as you have something to start with. Alfoil helps make great robots.

  5. asampler

    My older daughters had a combined come as your favourite book character party. My eldest was going thru’ a Narnia phase & wanted to be Susan, which required a crown and horn. I spent hours lovingly moulding from clay a hunting horn & it broke almost straight away. My middle daughter went as Wilbur the pig & had a huge tantrum when someone laughed at her curly tail. Not a great success.
    Be very grateful you have boys who are not dancers – OMG the costumes!
    How about a Brew of Potters? I liked a Quidditch too.

  6. Vanessa

    Post your kids requests sooner! My ten year old has a Robin Hood costume from her pantomime last year and I could have posted it. Will overnight mail reach you in time?
    Advantage of having dancing kids, lots of costumes to choose from. Although I pay others to make them, or purchase online because my sewing machine has only ever been used on scrapbook paper.

  7. Jodi @ The Scribble Den

    I am totally the same Al. I am dreading next week. I have been skirting around the issue with Miss 5. I think I am going to be very cheeky and suggest she go as the Toothfairy from one of her favourite books. We have so many old ballet costumes from the older girls that she could use and a wand and then whuh-luh! Easy peasy! Hope she goes for it.

  8. allison tait

    Hmm. Sorry. I am technically incapable of answering that question. Can you use the open ID/URL option? Anyone got any other suggestions?

  9. Anonymous

    how do I sign in here with my wordpress ID. Would like to add photo, too

  10. Anonymous

    luckily I am a crafty mum, but it’s still annoying. Book week was posters for us – finished the last one this morning. Our school decided to do a maths week and guess what, they have to dress up: Mr. 10 wants a light bulb on his head that lights up when he has an ingenious idea. Really, a 10 year old should know his limitation.
    Luckily the first (of three) has started High School and they do proper learning and parents are not involved. He is the one who got, when I was still young and enthusiastic a Raeuber Hotzenplotz costume with seven knifes and one gun made out of architects model foam. He was the envy of all his friends… but the other two are just not that lucky

  11. Gemma @ My Big Nutshell

    I’m really dirty at my daughters school. I swear I don’t know what those librarians do but they seem to be incredibly disorganised!

    I got a note this monday about book week themes for the different years for next monday. one week is not enough! I am really annoyed because I wanted to get excited about it with my daughter, not just get over the line.

    The kindy theme is nursery rhymes which I thought they were a bit beyond.

    anyway I am going to see what I can pull out of what we have at home, because frankly I am highly irritated and have already got enough to do!

    What about Neville Longbottom, he is great!

  12. A Farmer's Wife

    I don’t sew. Can’t, won’t, don’t.

    Could you use a taupey shirt that is too large and then belt it and it could be a trench coat for Sherlock Holmes. Hard Yakka do a lovely range of taupe…

    Take care.

  13. therhythmmethod

    You could easily make an green hat out of paper. It’s almost the same as making a paper boat, which is super easy.
    I like making things. I am an inpatient, crappy sewer but enjoy all other forms of sticking stuff to other stuff.

  14. House of Dust and Fur

    Oh Lucky you! You get a choice of costume! I’m desperately trying to come up with an outfit for my daughter. Her class are all dressing as Pippi Longstocking! With orange sticky-up plaits, odd socks and a dress covered in patches, I just keep telling myself it’s better than last years Three Billy Goats Gruff… Only 11 more years of school and Book Week to go….

  15. MultipleMum

    I confess that Nugget went as Harry. It was too easy. Indeed he was one the puffle of Potters at our school (but by far the best!) x

  16. Rhonda

    A Passel (Passle?) of Potters.

    Try some Halloween Costume stores online, they might have some stuff you can use.

  17. Megan Blandford

    I dread it and it’s years away for me (hopefully!).

  18. B

    I have never heard of book week (I live in Hawaii, so that might be why) but it sounds outstanding!

    I am one of those parents who goes ga ga for costumes. I get giddy just thinking about it! I taught myself to sew a few years ago and now I have a mean straight stitch, but that’s about it.

    I view costumes like a puzzle that I have to figure out. With Halloween coming up I start to get really bummed that I only have my 3 boys to make costumes for and at least one will be so easy that it doesn’t even count. At that point I usually start begging friends and family to let me help with their costumes but no one takes me up on it other than just picking my brain a bit.
    I think you should stick with Robin Hood, green shirt and green stretch pants from the girls department and a green pointed paper hat with a feather in it. Add a leather belt (you can mangle an adult one so that it fits a child) and you’re set. the shoes would be hard but we often skip the shoes thing.
    Sherlock Holmes is tough, well anything requiring a long coat for a child is tough actually. Sometimes adult shirts can become decent child long coats if you roll up or alter the sleeves. Womens cuts are smaller so they can fit a child better.

    I’m not really into Harry Potter so I have no good quips for what to call a group of Harry Potters. It would be fun if they went around saying a spell that duplicates them though…

    good luck!

  19. J. A. Bennett

    I feel your pain!! The only costume I managed to finagle up was a pirate one for my little boy, I found some stripped pants at a thrift store, cut the bottoms into zig-zags ironed on a few patches and threw a bandana on his head. A great non-sewing solution. If only I could be that creative all the time.

    I think as long as he was dressed in green and had some kind of hat, Peter pan would be perfect, but again, when resources are limited, hum…

  20. InkPaperPen

    My mum once covered a huge cardboard box with red gift wrap, cut two arm holes and a hole for my head and I went to school dressed as a Present. I think my boys may be stuck with the same costume in years to come. Surely, a cardboard box could fit in with Book Week if you get really desperate…

    A Sorting Hat of Potters?? Hmmmm


  21. Diminishing Lucy

    Al, at the risk of sounding like a cheat, is there no fancy dress shop in Fibrotown??


  22. Mrs BC

    I am about to attempt to sew a Wheres Wally outfit, so I feel for you.

    I like a friendship of potters, because he really is a pretty good friend, huh?


  23. Cate

    We had a dressup recently where they had to come as something starting with ‘C’. Ms9 thought she would go as a chocolate bar, until I pointed out that she had to make her own costume. So she went as a celebrity!
    Sherlock Holmes sounds hard…but if you do talk him into HP I have the worlds easiest pattern that only needs two seams.

    How about a cauldron of potters??


  24. allison tait

    PS: I won’t really make the winner whip up a costume. No matter how tempting that might be…

  25. Life In A Pink Fibro

    I have tried in the past @GreenMama – six months in year 8. Just ask Maxabella about the skirt she received for Christmas that year. I think Multiple Mum may have scored herself a gingham pillowcase. It was gently suggested to me at the point that maybe sewing wasn’t my thing…

  26. ClaireyHewitt

    I am a sew -er wannabe.

    I have the machine.

    Just not the skills.

    My girls can dress up as fairies, fairies or fairies. That is all I’ve got.

    How about a Pot of Potters?

  27. Lady Estrogen

    I’ve never NOT wanted to win something more in my life. HAHAHA.

    I like a Gaggle of Potters, myself.

    Why don’t they get ginger wigs and they can just go as The Weasleys – no collective noun needed 🙂

  28. Green Mama

    I just finished making my older cherub a navy twirly skirt ala Madeline, and as she’s 4 the only book week celebrating we’ll be doing will be in the back yard. I started sewing a year ago, as one of my things to do before turning 30 (I’m now 38) and it’s insanely easy. I can’t believe it took me so long, and I love it. Have a crack, Allison!

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