Peacock Butterfly Costume

November 3, 2015

   
 
We made this costume recently for the ‘Ugly Bug Ball’ at school. 

After deciding she wanted to be a Peacock Butterfly (of course!) my original low effort costume idea was to buy a butterfly kite and attach the wings to a long sleeve t shirt. But my thriftiness got the better of me so decided to paint the wing pattern onto white lining fabric instead. 

  
We drew the pattern onto half the fabric (1m length of 150cm wide) with a sharpie/permanent marker. Then painted in each colour with ready mixed poster paint. I traced the outline into the second wing through the thin fabric.

Unfortunately the left wing got a bit crumpled while it was still wet, so if I was making this again I’d leave it to dry flat before moving it. 

I cut out each wing and stitched it onto the back of a black long sleeve t shirt. I attached elastic loops to the ends of the wings to go onto her fingers, this meant she could take these off so the wings could fold up behind her for travelling in the car/sitting at school. 

She wore the wing t shirt with black leggings and antenna made from pipe cleaners and an Alice band. 

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Elsa from Frozen Costume

August 26, 2014

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For her birthday Alice was given tickets for ‘sing a long a frozen’, at the Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square and as the audience is encouraged to wear appropriate dress up, we had a sudden demand for a Frozen dress for her to wear. Her sister had her Anna Coronation Dress I made for her (posted previously).

I bought 2 ladies camisole vests size 8 in sky blue from Primark, to make the base of the dress. I cut across one from armpit to armpit and sewed this to the bottom of the other vest to make it dress length. These vests had adjustable bra type straps so I was able to reduce the length to fit Alice (and leave growing room). I bought a sparkly, sequinned net curtain from a bargain homeshop (can’t remember the name of it) for £6.99, this became the cape part of the dress. I used the whole width of the curtain and gathered it to fit the vest dress from front strap to front strap around the back and then sewed it on. I had the bits of light blue sparkly fabrics left over from a mermaid costume (I still haven’t posted about!). The sequinned one was part of a dress bought from eBay and the metallic fabric came from a top bought in a charity shop. I didn’t have enough of either to use just that so ‘patchworked’ the two fabrics onto the vest dress as appliqué. I tried sewing this on with my sewing machine, but it really didn’t like the sequins so after replacing the needle twice I resorted to hand sewing the pieces on and adding a few iridescent sequins that came in a mixed bag from Poundland.
I was undecided about the need for the sleeves, as we were going to the sing along in August, but at the last minute took a pair of white sparkly tights from H&M size 13-14, and cut one leg off and removed the toe part to create a long tube, then cut a long slash half way along so Alice could put her arms into the two sleeves and have a piece of the tights fabric across her shoulders and back, which I think was quite successful.
At the last minute I added two elastic loops to the corners of the cape, to go on her fingers so she was able to hold it up, so it wouldn’t snag on the escalators for the tube.
She looked amazing and was very pleased with her Elsa dress, and we got lots of lovely comments on both the girls dresses, both on our way there and at the event, which was lots of fun and a great 5 year olds birthday treat.

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It’s been a while, but am returning to posting with this costume made for my now 7 year old (how has that happened?). Her best friend is having a Frozen themed party next week and it seems this current Disney Frozen kiddy craze means there are no costumes to buy anywhere! And as the best friends have been Anna and Elsa every playtime since Christmas I felt I should get the sewing machine out!
I am in the middle of a house overhaul and in a recent cull of my collection of vintage fabrics found this 60s Regency Stripe fabric in dark olive green and cream, perfect for Anna’s skirt as worn to her sister Elsa’s coronation in the film. Before I found this I did have a plan to use a solid green dress lining I have and sew a contrast colour satin ribbon in stripes which I still think would work pretty well.
To make the skirt I sewed box pleats in 6″ lengths at the waist of the skirt, hiding the cream stripes inside, my fabric was only about 36″ wide so I used double width and sewed two seams to join the front to the back. I sewed a generous hem in the top and elasticated the waist gathering the pleated fabric to the size of Martha’s waist. Then cut and hemmed the bottom.
The corset top of Anna’s dress is a black spaghetti strap ladies vest from H&M in XS (£3.99). I had to shorten the straps by about 6″ unpicking them from the back cutting them shorter and reattaching. I then cut the hem of the vest into a point at the front and straight at the back a little lower than Martha’s waist so it would hide the waistband of the skirt. Then I edged the top and bottom with gold ribbon, I didn’t bother to hem the vest.
For the little capped sleeves I cut two squashed semi circles out of doubled over emerald green satin fabric. (The fold is the straight edge) and sewed them together right sides in leaving a gap in the middle of the curved edge to pull them right sides out. Then I attached the gold braid with bobbles on around the curved edge with a zigzag stitch also sealing up the gap. These were attached by hand sewing the end points to the vest top where the straps are joined to the body of the vest.
I know Anna’s sleeves in the film are edged with green lace, but I didn’t have any, however I found the gold bobble trim in another box of collected vintage sewing stuff and they reminded me of the bobble trim on Anna’s travelling cloak! (Yes I have done my homework!) I also had a plan to embellish the front of the corset with blue and pink fabric paint, but Martha is happy with it as it is and I am slightly afraid of spoiling what I think is a pretty decent job!
If necessity means that any readers out there are driven to trying out this make for their own Frozen costume, I would recommend looking for a similar curtain/upholstery fabric on eBay or Etsy, useful search terms would be regency/brocade/jacquard stripe. Or try the ribbon stripe effect. Please let me know how your projects turn out?

Red Riding Hood

March 12, 2013

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It was ‘World Book Day’ last week. Martha has been planning her costume since last year, and all the characters she has wanted to ‘be’ have all been a bit tricky. I suggested Red Riding Hood, as really there is only one important piece of costume (the red hooded cape). I used a pattern from ‘Oliver + S Little Things to Sew’ book by Liesl Gibson. (I used her pattern for the tutus I made the girls for their birthday outfits) Its a beautiful and very clever book, this was the first time I have used the patterns provided in the back of the book which you have to trace onto paper to cut the fabric. The red fabric is (of course) a single flat sheet from ASDA, Liesl’s pattern uses a very cute print as a lining but I lined this one in the same red sheet fabric. It came together really easily. Martha picked the button from a small selection of vintage buttons as the local charity shop.

She wore a pretty blue floral pattern dress underneath (eBay) with cream tights and blue ballet flat shoes (Tesco). Her props were a bunch of flowers for Grandma (Poundland) and a basket with pink gingham cloth (left over from the patchwork quilts) with a box of gingerbread men for all her classmates. We bought the gingerbread men from tesco but mixed up some water icing and decorated them with leftover cake decorations.

Alice went to Nursery in her Max from ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ outfit I made her for Halloween but I added the oversize cream buttons to the front of it. In the illustations of the book Max seems to have 5 buttons but the haberdashers only had 3 left of these.

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As promised, here is Martha’s Wednesday Addams costume prop, Pubert Addams. The freaky, moustachioed baby brother of Wednesday, who saves the day in ‘Addams Family Values’ the second Addams Family film.
I took a normal baby doll from the charity shop, he had blue eyes originally but I coloured these in with a brown sharpie, gave him a greyish skin tone, by lightly spraying him with a car spray primer, I painted on his hair with black acrylic paint and drew on his eyebrows and ‘tache, with a black sharpie. I added some eyelashes and a pinkish pva glaze to his mouth after a google image search of Pubert revealed a much prettier baby then I had remembered!
I made him a baby gro, out of a grey tshirt, I roughly drew round the dolls body, drew a spider on it and stitched it together on the doll.

Halloween Costumes

October 23, 2012

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I was going to call this post ‘Wednesday and the Wild Thing’ as I think it would make a great title for a kids book, but Halloween costumes is what they are.
I have wanted to make a Max from the Wild Things outfit for one of my kids ever since I can remember, the wild things was my favourite book when I was little, and fortunately Alice agreed to be a Wild Thing for Halloween this year. I used a butterick kids costume pattern, (I had used for Martha’s Halloween Pink Cat costume a few years ago). I started with the jumpsuit with a fluffy wolf tail made from cheap furry leg warmers from eBay. The fabric I used was brushed cotton or winciette in off white /cream, to give it more of a vintage feel. I made the hood part plain (no ears) and made and stuffed two triangles which I hand stitched into place.
Martha decided she wanted to be Wednesday Addams this year, from the Addams Family films she has recently become obsessed with. So watched it a few times to get a good idea of Wednesday’s outfits. I decided on the classic dark grey floral shirt dress with bright white collar. I managed to find a man’s shirt in the charity shop with a suitable size floral pattern and then dyed it black with a Dylon black hand dye, just dipping it quickly (not for the full 20 mins) before rinsing it out. When it was dry, I cut the collar and the sides of the shirt and sleeves down to the width of a 5 year old, and cut 2 new sleeves out of the old sleeves, then sewed up the sides, attached the sleeves and hemed them. I cut the white collar off and old one of my husband’s and sewed it onto the dress. Easy Peasy!
I am painting a charity shop bought baby doll as the moustached baby Pubert Addams, from Addams Family Values, as a prop for Martha and might make Alice a big fork, from the illustration where Max is chasing the Westie Dog.
Trick or Treat?

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I have no idea when ‘World Book Day’ is as every school seems to be doing something different every day all through March! But Martha’s School had a dressing up day on Friday. I was reluctant to let her dress up as a disney princess for this one, as they are from films, not books. We settled on the classic ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’  by Judith Kerr, whose beautiful illustrations bring the (slightly surreal) story to life. For Sophie’s costume we needed a blue long sleeve tshirt, a Purple A-line pinafore dress, a big Blue Bow for her hair, paintent black shoes and those pink, blue and white harlequin tights. We had the long sleeve blue tshirt, and paintent black school shoes and I made the purple dress out of a pair of purple ladies vests (size 12) from tesco (£2 each in the clothes sale!), – I detached and sewed the two back panels together, as the front panels had a very low neckline for a 5 year old. She had a pair of white tights and a trip to the local haberdashery supplied the big blue ribbon for her hair and a blue and pink pots of dylon fabric paint. I made two forms for the tights by cutting two pieces of card into long ‘leg’ shapes, about 10cms by 60cms with rounded ends at the ‘feet’, I divided the forms up into squares and drew these on with marker pen. Then stretched the tights over them and spent some time painting in each of the squares with the blue and pink fabric paint. I was trying to be a bit thrifty with the paint and so painted them with as little colour as possible, the bonus of this was that they looked more like the rough colouring in Judith’s original illustrations.

Then as luck would have it the local oxfam had a soft tiger toy in their sale bin for 50p! He even growl’s when you squeeze his tummy. He is obviously much smaller than the huge, greedy tiger from the story but a good prop nevertheless!