Halloween, behind the scenes with Martha

Story highlights

  • Over the years, Martha Stewart has worn spooky and delightful Halloween costumes
  • This year, for Halloween, Martha Stewart is a "Fairy GodMartha"
  • You can make and wear the same costume: See the instructions, below

I love getting dressed up in fantastical costumes for Halloween—and luckily for me, most years I get to do it not once but twice.

In addition to whatever I wear on October 31, I also undergo a complete transformation for our Halloween special issue (on newsstands now). In order to have this edition available in time for the holiday, we create costumes, carve pumpkins, bake treats, and make all manner of scary and unusual and bewitching decorations months in advance.

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I thought you might like to go "behind the scenes" to find out a little about how we dream up these costumes. The notion of a "Fairy GrandMartha" first came about in March, when our special-projects group was planning the Halloween issue. I met with crafts director Marcie McGoldrick and told her that, this year, I wanted my costume to be something sweet and nice. (Some years I want it to be dark and mysterious.)

The editors had already been planning a story inspired by classic fairy tales, so a fairygodmother character came to us naturally. I suggested a costume made of tulle, because it is so readily available and economical yet lends itself to beautiful and ethereal effects.

Marcie began sketching ideas for a "low-sew" gown, requiring little stitching, and we discussed all the details: whether it should have a hood or a collar (we went with a dramatic collar), how my makeup should look (very sparkly), and how to wear my hair (up, with ringlets and tendrils).

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On the day of the photo shoot, in June, I was very pleased to see the wooded wonderland the team had created in our studio—complete with moss and tree stumps from my farm. It took two and a half hours for me to get into full costume; I took a break about halfway through and walked the halls of our offices and test kitchens with my Fairy GrandMartha makeup on and my hair in curlers.

(Funnily enough, colleagues were not too surprised to see me that way!)

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After all that, the photographs, shot by the very talented Fadil Berisha, took 25 minutes.

I hope you try this costume—or maybe the Rapunzel or the Red Riding Hood or the Ogre in the special issue is more your style, or perhaps your kids would like to be elves or sprites—and enjoy the process of transformation as much as I did.

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The Fairy GrandMartha gown

Make this elegant gown from soft fine-gauge tulle— the same whisper-weight fabric used in wedding veils. (Thicker, coarser tulle might feel scratchy.)

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15 yards pink tulle, full (108-inch) width Sewing machine and sewing supplies 4 yards pink gros-grain ribbon, 2-inch width Safety pin

1. Make ruffles for neck: Cut 6 layers of 5-inch-by-108-inch tulle. Sew to-gether layers along one long edge. gently pull thread at end to gather layers into a ruffle (this one is approximately 16 inches wide). Repeat with six 7-inch-long lay-ers of tulle. Hand-stitch ruffles together length-wise, near gathers.

2. Stack 6 layers of tulle that are as long as your desired gown. Sew them at one 108-inch end in same manner as ruffles, pulling thread to gather to the same width.

3. Hand-stitch neck ruffles to gown. Sew a 12-inch piece of grosgrain ribbon to end of stitching on each side.

4. To wear, tie ribbon behind neck. Leave top 3 layers of tulle loose in front of body, and pull other layers around waist, forming a skirt shape. Pin them together in back; tie ribbon around waist as a sash.

Wear the gown over a pink unitard. Tulle won't unravel when cut—no hemming required.

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