Sunday, November 4, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Tumeric Dyed Lion Costume


Maria's bedroom has a beautiful westward view.  This was the sunset this evening.

These were our dessert on All Saint's Day--tartes de macaron---jam tarts piled with almond macaron cookies and whipped cream.  We picked them up after Mass in Palaiseau.  Maria held the package on her lap during our rainy walk home, hence their battered appearance.  Despite being roughed up, they were still pretty (and yummy) enough to warrant a picture.


We managed Halloween costumes this year!  We missed it last year.

I give you, a civilized lion (she wears clothing) and a tiger cub.

The celebration of Halloween is rather spotty in France.  Our grocery store had one small shelf dedicated to fake cobwebs and costume accessories, but no jack-o-lantern pumpkins or trick-or-treat-friendly candy.  One town in our area that makes a point of having trick-or-treating, but my understanding is that most don't. You have to make an effort to find Halloween events.  If you go trick-or-treating, you have to expect that many people will be astonished by your appearance on their doorstep.

Last week, I asked Maria what she wanted to be, and she answered that she wanted to be a lion.  I suspected she just said "lion" because she was looking at a picture of a lion at that moment.  To my surprise, she persisted in her choice even after I suggested that she might be a flamingo, fairy, gypsy, princess or Winne the Pooh instead--all costumes that I thought would be easier to manage, given the limited materials we had on hand.

I was going to override her choice, but just before departing on his two week trip to the US, Donnie gave me a mandate: "Make that child a lion costume--spare no expense!"

With no car and no local craft stores, popping out to buy material wasn't an option.  We had some sheets and towels that might be sacrificed, but nothing in tan or yellow.  We didn't even have brown paper bags--one downside of everyone using eco-friendly totes.

But then we had curry for dinner.  Louisa has a habit of worming her left foot up onto her tray (always the left foot), and on this evening, her white sock soaked up some curry.  I rinsed it, but the color remained---Voila!  The perfect shade of tawny gold.

I sacrificed a white towel, and hand sewed a lion hood, tail, and paws.  I dyed them with tumeric.

Here are some great directions for dying cloth with tumeric.  I didn't follow them, because I didn't have enough vinegar on hand, and figured that a one-time-wear Halloween costume wouldn't need to be color fast.  I just simmered the costume in water with about a quarter cup of tumeric powder.

It would have been much better to have planned ahead and bought some vinegar because...


On Halloween morning, the costume was still damp from the dying.   I threw it in the dryer.  Of course, it coated the inside of the dryer with gold pigment.  We share this dryer with our landlord, so I went into panic cleaning mode.  Though the clean up wasn't difficult, we were sufficiently delayed that we didn't make our Halloween meetup

We celebrated Halloween by ourselves, going to the playground in Orsay,  We ate about three quarters of a pound of M&M's during the outing.  A sugar high is one Halloween experience that's easy to export.  The kids wore their costumes today to Skype with Meme and Grandpa.  Maybe we'll pull them out again for Carnival.  Even if though we didn't make the party, I at least got my photos.

round button chicken


  1. Love this, your lion and your tiger! Maria looks like she enjoys her costume; nice work, Mama!

  2. Julia, that turmeric dye is amazing! I was noting the beauty of that soft gold before reading the story- can't believe that you did it with a towel and curry ingredients! You are incredible, and so are the pictures. Also, what a story with the dryer. -kate