‘Cactus’ Makes Perfect: A Low-Key Costume DIY

Who here has hosted a full-blown Halloween dinner party? *raises hand*

While my annual All Hallow’s Eve spread has traditionally turned out frightfully far from what my inspiration board would have me imagine, one win I have always managed to pull off is actually dressing up. And, if you’ve ever tried cooking for 12 in a costume, well, you know how that ends: with steam-smudged makeup and sauce-dipped sleeves. It ain’t pretty.

That’s why, this year, I DIY’d a playful-meets-practical topper to act as my costume while I feed friends from my cauldron! Read on, quirky cooks—I have a feeling you’ll ‘spike’ this one.

What You’ll Need: 
A green beret (mine is vintage)
Three sheets of felt (I chose pink, orange, and white inspired by an image of a cactus blossom I found online)
White embroidery thread
Embroidery needle (which is a little larger and less treacherous than your classic needle)
A marker or pen

Steps One and Two
Fold your orange and pink felt sheets in half. Using a marker, freehand a flower on each. I decided to make my pink flower (not pictured) a little larger than the orange one just to keep things exciting. Then, with the felt still folded in half, cut ’em out. You’ll end up with four flowers in the end.

Step Three
Cut out a block of white felt and snip it into fringe. I just eyeballed how large to make my white block, and it ended up measuring approximately 6 x 2 inches, which worked great. For me, half the fun of a DIY project is winging it, so I encourage you to do the same—just be prepared to laugh off a potential Pinterest fail if things don’t go as planned!

Step Four
Stack your four flowers on top of each other so that they stagger a bit and each’s petals peek out. Using your thread and needle, pop a few stitches through the stack so they stay together.

Steps Five and Six
Roll up your fringy white piece of felt and tack it together with a stitch. Then, nestle this rolled white bit into the center of the orange and pink flowers and, you guessed it, stitch it into place! This is in no way a fine science, so have fun with it and experiment until you’re happy with how your flower looks.

Step Seven
Sew your completed blossom to the beret. To determine where I wanted mine, I positioned the beret on my head and hovered the flower over a few spots in front of the mirror. Ultimately, I decided it would look cute no matter where it ended up, so I tossed it in kind of a random spot.

*Note: You could complete steps 4-6 with a hot glue gun instead of a needle and thread. I figured I’d keep the mess to a minimum while I already had my needle and thread out ‘n’ in use, but do what feels right for you!

Now it’s time to add your prickles! I closely observed some photos and noticed that actual cacti have little nubs from which their spikes extend out. So, I decided to add a French knot at the base of each spike. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an embroidery expert to figure this knot out—I hadn’t even heard of a French knot prior to digging into this DIY; I discovered it by searching “embroidery knots” on the internet. Steps 8-12 will show you how to make one.

Step Eight
Tie a knot at the end of your thread and poke the needle through your beret, from the back to the front, where you want a spike to be. Pull it all the way through and do your best to keep the thread taut.

Step Nine
Using your other hand, and continuing to keep the thread as taut as possible, wrap the thread around the needle 3-4 times. As you can see below, I held the needle in my right hand and wrapped with my left hand.

Step Ten
While holding the thread in its wrapped-around-the-needle position with your left hand, turn the needle down toward the beret and pass it back through, from front to back, as close to your original starting point as possible without putting it back through the same hole. If your needle ends up going through the hole from whence it came, it’ll undo all the work you just did! So, it won’t ruin your spike, but you’ll have to start that one over.

Step Eleven
This step is where we stray from a traditional French knot for the sake of creating a cactus spike! One more time, pass the needle back up through the beret from back to front, poking it right through the French knot you just made. Again, try to avoid the exact same hole you used before so that you don’t undo your last stitch.

Step Twelve
Snip your thread about a half-inch above the French knot. You’ve just made your first spike!

Step Thirteen
Repeat steps 8-12 until you’ve covered your beret with spikes. The spike-covering process took me about an hour, and the entire project took me about an hour and a half.

Step Fourteen
Style your beret, pour yourself a drink, and pull out your bookmarked recipes. It’s time to start cookin’ for your festive friends!

+What last-minute Halloween DIY do you plan on whipping up this year? 

About Christen

Christen is a smile collector, outdoors enthusiast, and avid appreciator of soggy French fries. She finds inspiration in the veins of leaves, the subtle squeaks of guitar strings against their player's fingertips, the train-whistle soundtrack of city life, and the sweet quiet that can be found at farmers' markets.

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