Kids and cowboys–it’s always a winning combination. Many children see a rodeo or western on television, and for days, they are ropin’ and ridin’ and getting’ the bad guys. Come Halloween, they want to be a cowboy. Unlike many costumes, making a cowboy outfit is not difficult, and may often be made mostly of clothing items the child already owns.
Cowboys and cowgirls wear blue jeans, so the basis for most cowboy costumes is a pair of jeans. Little girls may want a denim skirt, and mom can make a simple skirt in an A-line pattern from blue chambray (much easier to sew!) and add a ruffle at the bottom. All she needs to do is measure from the child’s waist to where she wants the skirt to fall, sans ruffle, and draw a line that length onto newsprint.
Then, she can draw another line the same length, to make an “A” shape, far enough apart to accommodate the child’s waist. A gently curved line will close the bottom. Now, she simply cuts out the pattern, puts the edge of the pattern to a fold of the chambray, and cuts out the two pieces of the skirt. She sews a straight seam up both sides, folds down a 2-inch section at the waist, puts in elastic to fit, sews on an eyelet ruffle at the skirt’s hem, and presto! Cowgirl skirt.
Once the jeans or skirt have been acquired, the next thing is a shirt. Mom can go fancy and sew a blue, black or red fringe across the back yoke of a shirt, and across the pocket, or she can just have the child wear a plaid flannel shirt.
Another essential item in any cowboy’s wardrobe is a bandanna. These actually did (and still do!) serve a practical purpose on the range, so they should be included in the costume. Tie the red or blue bandanna around the child’s shirt collar, in any fashion, usually with the triangle facing forward for boys, in more of a shawl fashion for girls–but how it is worn is optional.
A vest always makes for a good cowboy look, and these can be made of most any material. The cheap costume satin will delight the heart of any 5-year-old girl, and boys and girls alike will wear the pseudo suede in brown, black, blue, or the popular black and white “cow” print. Patterns for children’s vests are available everywhere, and are not difficult to make.
A star denoting “Marshal” or “Sheriff” is always fun, but not strictly necessary. These can be purchased or made of paper, cardboard and aluminum foil, with a safety pin taped to the back to pin it on.
You’ve gotta have boots, and if the child doesn’t own a pair, acceptable “boot tops” can be made from vinyl in the upholstery section. Choose a color like black or brown, cut it in the style of a cowboy boot top (both sides), put it around the child’s leg, and fasten with velcro in the back. Five-year-olds will be as pleased, whether the boots are real or just look like it.
Cowboy hats in plastic or felt are available everywhere and every cowpoke needs one. A brace of pistols is up to the parents’ individual feelings about these issues, but any cowboy looks at home with a length of rope coiled into a circle and hung at his belt, for lassoin’ the odd wild mustang. Little girls can have a lasso hung from a concho belt made of the kind found at craft stores and bought by the yard.
Since so many children are fascinated with the “cowboy way,” there’s no reason not to indulge the little galoots and dress ’em up like a real cowboy. Yee-haw!Since so many children