(post one September 15, 2016: hats with whiskers and ears, here)
(Literally waited until the earliest possible seemly date to start my Halloween sew-talk)
So hey. Hey good peeps. You know what?
I love making costumes so so so so much!
And given I’ve made quite a few for kids and adults all over the globe – from California to the Netherlands to Australia! – I wanted to showcase some of the methods I use to make a costume last, and last, and last.
My costumes wear like bespoke clothing. Probably because they are bespoke clothing.
You only have to buy a readymade costume once, and even at high prices it’s obvious worksmanship is slipshod. Nothing is lined, underlined, or interfaced. There are tons of loose threads. There are no pockets. The costumes tear after a couple wearings, or even a wash and dry.
Now, me? I get my inspiration from children. Children don’t want to throw something on now and then. They want to live the part. They want to wear the costume before Halloween, during, and after! They want to wear it until they are bursting out of the seams, and then they are sad if you discard it without their permission! (As they should be!) They don’t want to have to carefully mince around keeping their costume “nice”. They want to climb trees, go out for ice cream, and fall asleep while still clad as a Pink-Furred Dragon sporting a sword and tutu.
In this sew-along, I will instruct you how to take a basic, one-piece jumpsuit pattern and add pockets, lining, and interfacing for a costume that looks and feels spectacular.
We will build our own button or snap closure. I will also showcase a hood (either attached or free from the body) with stand-up ears and whiskers. And as always, I am here to help you. Make the most of it, and bend my ear!
Now, I will be demonstrating working with long-pile faux fur but I am also going to discuss other fabric types and treatments – including lining satin, and knit fabrics. I will make Fridays available for Skype appointments – 12 to 3 PM PST on September 16th, 23rd, and 30th! Skype appointments are first-come, first-served! Trust me, I will do my part to help you succeed! You can reserve an appointment via text (360.500.3287) or by email.
OK? The sew-along starts September 15th. Let’s talk about our supplies!
Costumes are so unique, this supply list is a bit flexible. But in general, you need:
Any jumpsuit-style pattern with a hood – free or attached – will work just beautifully. Here you can see my McCalls 6106 – a raglan-sleeve version with a free hood, and a zipper closure (I’ll be ignoring the zipper, as that doesn’t work well with faux fur):
Don’t get too distracted by details, such as an attached or free hood, or the tails and such. A jumpsuit is a jumpsuit! I have over the years picked up several of these multisize patterns when they go on sale for 99 cents apiece! I have them from size newborn to size very very large grownup. This season, I am also making an adult size costume using one of Bootstrap’s jumpsuit patterns, and an add-on sleeve! Be creative with your “jumpsuit” concept, because really you are looking at a few simple pieces that can be either basic, loose blocks – or fitted. I can help you if you get confused – but my recommendation is, if you are a new or skittish stitcher, to use one of these “Big 4” patterns.
I am using a faux-fur for the costume demonstrated in this sew-along. Faux fur has a nap – a type of one-way aspect to the fabric – common to nearly all faux fur, really. (Speaking of fabric with nap – Facebook has been showcasing these fun two-tone sequin fabrics – an extreme example of a “nap” that makes a visual difference!) If you screw up your nap on pattern layout, it will probably be noticeable enough it might irritate you. So make sure to buy enough fabric to accommodate any layout for nap. A good rule of thumb is 25% less than a no-nap requirement.
Lining needs to be chosen with care. You need to consider what elements you’ll wear the costume in, whether your client runs “hot” or “cold”, and whether layering is an option. The lining should be chosen carefully. A faux fur with long pile, like I’m using here, needs a relatively light lining for the Pacific Northwest. If you’re making a fleece costume, you will likely also want to use a light lining – two layers of fleece for instance, is surprisingly hot!
For many costumes I love a good slipper satin – looks and feels lovely, is a bit heavy for satin, comes in many colors, and is about $3 a yard! In the case of this garment, I am using a knit fabric: an organic brown cotton.
You can use the same fabric as your lining – but it’s also a lot of fun to use a cotton print, to hide something here that children (or grownups!) will love. You can also use either the lining fabric or a cotton print for the snap placket we’re making – as I did for the Ro-Man costume above:
We will interface the snap (or button) placket and both sides of the closure in the garment – and portions of the hood and hat, if you are making a hood or hat. I am a big fan of interfacing – it’s better to have extra on hand, than not enough!
Buttons and/or snaps
I like the little SnapSource purple tool for setting snaps – but I also have a big ol’ KAM press. If you don’t know what those are and don’t want to invest (because snap-setting can be a bit intimidating to some), you can make buttons instead (that lends a delightfully vintage appeal!). You can also, depending on where you live, employ someone else to set snaps (or make buttonholes)! If you are confused – let me know how I can help you.
If you are making a hood or hat with ears, you will need wire (it should bend easily but hold a shape well), and cardboard, buckram, or light plastic (a very clean bleach bottle works well!). If you are making whiskers, you can use pipe cleaners or (my personal favorite) small zip-ties (either black or white or – you can paint them!). You will likely want a glue gun as well – the hot kind, not the cool kind! I use my glue gun often – especially with faux fur.