Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Last Minute Kid Costume - A Tutorial

So, M'Lou had a costume day at her daycare and I wasn't ready to unveil her "real" costume.  I love the fact that I made more work for myself (her "real" costume parts were pretty much all done), but this was easy and straightforward.

Orange shirt - I used an Adult Small (M'Lou is about a 3T and I wanted it to poof at the bottom)
3/4" elastic
Green ribbon
Green fat quarter -18" x 22" (I only used about 1/4 of this)
Black fabric/felt scraps for eyes and mouth
Green embroidery floss
Black embroidery floss
Embroidery needles
Sewing machine

Of course I forgot to take pictures when I started, but here we go.
  1. I took the bottom of the shirt and folded it under - I used about a 1.25" seam allowance and a straight stitch.  I left about 4" between start and stop of the sewing to allow me to feed in the 3/4" elastic.   I used the shirt hem stitching as a guide and measured 1.25" from that line and then sewed along that line.
  2. I then cut the elastic - I used one of M'Lou's diaper covers as a gauge for how much elastic to use.  I think I used about 18" plus a bit to overlap the ends.  If I had it to do again I would probably add another inch or two.
  3. Here is the elastic that I used for this project.  Gotta love when you have just what you need in your stash of random craft materials :)
  4. I fed the elastic into the sleeve I made at the bottom of the shirt easing the shirt fabric around as I went.  When I had the elastic fed all the way through I made sure that I hadn't twisted it so it would lie flat once I stitched the ends of the elastic together.
  5. I overlapped the elastic ends and using a ribbing overlock stitch (one of the fancy zig-zag stitches on my machine - see the picture) sewed it forward and then hit my reverse button to go back over it.
  7. Once the elastic was in, I sewed up the opening using a straight stitch.
  8. Here's what the bottom looked like after inserting the elastic and then stitching the opening closed.
  1. I then took a green fat quarter and ripped off about a 1/4 of it using the long edge so I would have enough to go around the neck.  Yes, I said ripped, it seemed like too much work to try to clear off my cutting mat to actually cut it :)  Also, I just eyeballed the amount of length I would need, but you may want to measure to make sure you have enough fabric.
  2. When I tear the fabric, I try to cut all the way through the selvedge on one side to start.
    I then tear the fabric all the way across and clip through the the other side if I can't tear all the way through (which typically I can't).
  3. I folded the resulting strip of fabric accordion-style and like a paper doll and cut off the corners so that it would create leaf-like greenery for the top of the costume.  At this point, you could do a stay stitch around the edges of the fabric to keep it from unraveling, but I kind of like the idea of it looking a bit ragged.
  4. I folded the fabric onto itself until I liked the width that my leaves were going to be.
    This is another eyeball moment.  I just clipped off what I thought would be the right angle for the leaves.  For me, I thought roughing it in would be fine since nature isn't perfect either ;)
  5. I pinned this greenery on to the neck and then sewed it on using the same overlock stitch from before.  I eased it in as I sewed since it's a straight edge being sewn to a circular neck.
  6. I pinned more for reference and so I would know about where the fabric would end up.
    As I went, the fabric moved around further than I thought it would - about 1/2" just to warn you :)
  7. I then snipped at the valley of each leaf (see picture for clarification) to allow it to ease in some more and tacked down the tips of each leaf.
  8. Clip enough of the valley so that the leaves will lay flat on the shirt.  depending on how you cut your leaves, this may be more or less than I cut.
  9. It was then time to start tacking down the ends of the leaves.  I used the full thickness of the embroidery floss, i.e. I didn't use just 3 threads of it.  I liked the thicker look of the full thickness, but I'm sure a half thickness would work as well.
    For all the knots on this costume, I used a basic knot instead of using my regular fancy quilting knot. I thought it would be a smaller knot and therefore make it less noticeable on the back side of the shirt since I wasn't going to do any kind of liner material.
    Once I made my knot, I sewed three stitches in the tip of each leaf to keep the leaves down (sorry about the fuzzy picture). Keep in mind if you haven't done any stay stitching to hold the edges that you will need to allow some extra space so your needle doesn't just fray the edges - not that I did that (cough, cough)
    Now that you've stitched the tip down, how to do you end it? You can do another simple knot (see the info below on how I tied off the stitches for the face) or you could do what I did for these. I ran my needle under the stitches I did and then I tied a knot in the loop I made when I ran the needle under the stitches. I did this twice to make sure the knots and stitches were secure.
    Here you can see how I have gone through the stitches and then tyed a knot.
    Here's what the tack should look like when you are finished. I promise there really are three stitches there, even if you can't see them.
  1. I then used the green ribbon to tie up the sleeves.  If you have a more appropriately sized shirt, you could probably get away without this step.  You can also wait on this step, but I wanted to see how the shirt would bunch before I put the face on the pumpkin.
  2. If you opt to go with the ribbon, I would recommend doing some gluing and/or sewing on the ribbon to keep the bow in place.  I'm just saying that M'Lou came home with only one ribbon.
  3. Using the black fabric scraps, I made the face of the pumpkin and pinned it in place.  Using a running embroidery stitch, I attached them to the front of the shirt.  
  4. I stuck with a traditional face and just cut out triangle eyes and a toothy grin. For all of these, I folded over the fabric so I would have mirror images similar to what we did for the leaves around the neck. I then pinned everything in place to make sure I liked where everything was going. Keep in mind that you are going to poof the bottom so you will want the face to be "high" on the shirt.
    I sewed all the face on using a basic running stitch. I used the simple knot, as mentioned in the section about tacking down the leaves, to start with. I also used the full thickness of the embroidery floss here.
    Here's what the front looked like when I was done.
    Here's what the back looked like when I was done.
    To tie off each section of thread, I tied a regular knot and made sure that it would end up near the shirt fabric. I do this by tying the knot up against the fabric and then using my thumbnail to hold it in place while I pull the thread through and make the knot tight.
Now for the big reveal!  Here is the cutie wearing her new pumpkin costume.

I know I'm a bit biased, but I thought she looked pretty cute in this costume!

I had fun making this costume.  Let me see your versions if you decide to use this tutorial - also if you catch something that I missed or that I should add, let me know!


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