When my son was younger, this was the time of year that he and I most looked forward to. He would have a costume in mind and I would get to figure out which components we were going to make, and which we need to buy.
Bumblebee costume easy DIY = black+yellow pajamas + antenna + wings | Photo: Heather FlettOnce, I made this clown costume from scratch, having bought the material at Stonemountain & Daughter, but purchased the clown wig and snazaroo face paint at the Halloween Spirit Store (locations below).
Another year, we bought the whole Santa outfit, but I assembled a crafty undershirt strategy that contained a jolly-sized belly. (Hard to see in this photo, so you'll have to believe me.)
Here's where to buy costumes and materials to make them yourself in the East Bay.
Second-hand clothing stores. In October, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other thrift stores sell used, but originally store-bought kids' costumes. but they also have the makings for tons of homemade costumes. An old prom dress can become a princess or fairy. If you have low-level sewing skills, it's easier to start with a manufactured garment and leverage the existing hems or zipper closures.
Kids used clothing stores start putting their costumes out during the first week of October. I stopped by Grove Street Kids and they are already ready for you. Check out the following used clothing stores for baby, toddler and preschooler sizes.
East Bay Costume Swaps
Swings and Wings (2307 Blanding Ave Suite E. Alameda)
Costume Swap: Sat., Oct. 5 from 5:30 to 7 pm: Bring your costumes from last year and trade it for admission to play.
Elmhurst Branch, Oakland Public Library (1427 88th Ave., Oakland)
Drop off: Oct. 1 – 31 during library open hours
Swap: Choose one costume during library open hours from Oct. 21 – 31.
Melrose Branch, Oakland Public Library (4805 Foothill Blvd. Oakland)
Drop off: Oct. 1 – 26 during library open hours
Swap: Saturday, Oct. 26th | noon to 2:30 pm
Dimond Branch, Oakland Public Library (3565 Fruitvale Ave. Oakland)
Drop off: Saturday, Oct. 19th | 10am – 10:45 am. Swap begins at 10:45am.
West End Branch, Alameda Free Library (788 Santa Clara Ave. Alameda)
Drop off: Oct. 1 – 18 during library open hours
Costume swap: Saturday, Oct. 19th | 10am – 1pm
Concord Library (2900 Salvio Street. Concord)
Drop off: Sep. 28 – Oct. 15
Costume swap: Wednesday, Oct. 16th | 4pm.
If you donate a costume to the Concord Library you will receive a fun prize and you will also be entered in a drawing to win a Halloween pumpkin. Concord Library is also hosting Batty Halloween Wing Ding Costume Party. RSVP here >
Seasonal Costume Stores
Seasonal Halloween Spirit Superstores. These pop-up shops enable landlords to earn some rent while occupying a vacant retail space. This year you'll find a warehouse-style Halloween store, packed with costumes, accessories, and house decorations in these locations:
Berkeley, 1101 University at San Pablo; 2450 Shattuck Ave, across from Dollar Tree
Emeryville, 5699 Bay Street Across near Banana Republic (opens 10/4)
Hayward, 24011 Hesperian Blvd near Chuck E. Cheese (opens 9/30)
San Leandro, 699 Lewelling Blvd near 99 Cent Only
Party City (Alameda and Richmond)
I recently extolled the virtues of Party City for Halloween.
For DIY or mostly DIY Costumes
Fabric stores sell patterns for sewers, fabric, yarns and notions. DIYers will find light green furry material for Oscar the Grouch, silver fabric for a knight's cape, or velcro that will be easy to install. Try one of these:
Discount Fabrics (Berkeley at Ashby and San Pablo)
An eclectic assortment of materials, some at great deals.
Jo-Ann's (El Cerrito Plaza and San Leandro)
Make sure to download their app before you go for coupons
Michael's (Emeryville, Alameda, Pinole)
Less fabric, but more poster boards, sticky back felt, and adhesive products.
Stonemountain & Daughters (Berkeley)
Knowledgeable staff who can help you strategize your craft project
Deep discounts can be found at the fabric outlet on San Pablo and Ashby.
East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. This Temescal shop is filled with supplies that have upcycle potential. Yarn, plastic containers, jars, magnets. If you can convince your kid to be a robot, you'll definitely want to get inspired here.