Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

costume workshop sew-along: preparing your pattern

Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

Last week we messed around with hats and ears and whiskers, that sort of thing. This week, we are talking about our basic pattern, and cutting our fabrics. I will be working with faux fur today, and if you are working with it as well you may want to check out my post from a few years back.

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Looking at the back of a pattern – or the front, for that matter – it might look like there are a lot of pieces, a lot of moving parts. It took me a couple years – and a whole lot of sewing! – to start getting really comfortable with the basic parts of a pattern. For the basic body of the pattern – not including a hood, as I am using a hat – there are only 


And before we move on, let’s talk about hoods versus hats a bit. The client I spoke with last Friday had a really great question. She wanted to make up a version of Simplicity 1032:Simplicity 1032

Problem is, she knew the child she was making it for would not keep the hood up. We talked about an option of a hat with removable chin strap (I am a big fan of little indie shop fleece hats – like this one from the Tie Dye Diva – and of course there are freebies to be found). We came up with a sketch (including a strap snap in the lining, that does not show on the outside):

Unicorn hat sketch

But this still leaves the question of the neckline for the original costume. In general, a hooded garment will have a larger neck opening than one without a hood. I recommended she cut her costume pieces, extending her neckline at least 1″. You can always trim the neck larger later, but you don’t want a gaping neckline that slides of the shoulder – especially given young children often have delicate, narrow shoulders.

So leaving aside the hood/hat issue for now, let’s take a look at all the pieces to one of these costume patterns:

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Preparing Your Pattern

This pattern is a raglan sleeve pattern – meaning the sleeves extend up to the neckline. This pattern is a little unusual in that the raglan sleeve is split into two pieces – pieces 2 and 4. As near as I can tell, this is to allow for a slimmer shaping through the shoulder and upper arm, than a raglan sleeve cut in the flat. 

But I digress. The truth is, for both the shell and the lining you are only going to be working with pieces 1, 2, 3, and 4! If you need a tail, or scales, or horns or anything like that – now is the time to draft those pieces too!

Nels, AKA A Dragon(my son’s costume a couple years ago – note I hadn’t re-applied the sequins to the seam allowances yet!)

For the costume I’m demonstrating over the next few posts, I am going to be using faux fur. This means that will not draft sleeve and leg hem facings – but I usually draft those for lighter-weight fabrics. These help the garment fall nicely, and both hide and protect the lining (shown below, a slipper satin):

Max From Where The Wild Things Are (Upgrayedd)

In the case of faux fur, creating a facing here would add a lot of bulk!

Suffice to say, the lining (a 100% organic cotton brown knit) will be cut out and marked identically to the shell. I have a special way of hemming faux fur that we’ll get to in a couple posts. For now, mark at a 5/8″ seam allowance with chalk on the wrong side of the shell fabric sleeve hems and leg hems, and the right side of the lining fabric’s sleeve and leg hems.

All that’s needed, is to draft a pocket template. We will be cutting out four pocket pieces from the lining fabric – you can also use a satin, or a peekaboo colorful print, which is something kids love!

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Preparing Your Pattern

Ohmygosh! Here is something I love about faux fur. No chalk, no thread tacks. Just write stuff, bold as brass, on the backing!

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Preparing Your Pattern

…  these marks include my pocket positions, and the length of my closure (you want to mark this on the lining as well – I chose a point a couple inches below the notch on the pattern). See those measurements – 1 1/2″ by 15 1/4″ fin?
Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Preparing Your Pattern

So, this is about the closure of the costume. I am keeping the closure in the front – but I am using a hidden underlap (like I did in this sasquatch costume a while back):


This means a sturdy underlap will host the male snap, and the interfaced lining, and the shell, will host the female snap. This is a near-invisible way to fasten a faux fur costume – fur hooks aren’t great for costumes, and buttons aren’t as fast to install as snaps!

Note I said, “interfaced lining”? Well – we will get to that! For now, you’ll want all your pattern pieces drafted, your lining and shell fabrics cut – and I recommend you re-tidy your sewing space for our next installment.

In a couple days, we’ll be sewing! If you have any questions at all – comment here, email, or find me on Facebook!

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