Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Confessions of a Wannabe Seamstress: DIY Pirate, Mermaid, Shark tutorial

If you're looking for the free Halloween/Fall printables, click HERE

This is the third year of my DIY costume series. For year 1 click HERE. For Year 2 click HERE

 If you've been following the blog, you might remember that a new little guy joined our family last October. He was only 2 days old last Oct 31, so this year is my first time getting to dress him up into something seriously cute. Also, if you've been following, you know that I have an obsession with making my kids' costumes have a theme. I am not sure how much longer I will be able to continue with this as my older two are starting to get a little more opinionated about their costumes and probably won't always want their costumes to "match". But I will ride this train as long as I can!
 PLEASE NOTE: I am not a professional seamstress. I make many, many mistakes and my goal of these tutorials to help you not make the same mistakes I did and to take those pinterest inspirations (i.e. usually no patterns and sometimes confusing tutorials) and turn them into something that anyone can do. There will probably be things that I do poorly or that you can do better. By all means DO! Improve upon this tutorial and make it your own. Enjoy the journey as you sew and improve. I know I am!

First Up: Baby Shark Costume
  • 1/2 yard of gray fleece (for the body and hat)
  •  1 sheet of gray felt (for the fin)
  •  1 sheet of white felt (for the shark stomach, eyes & teeth)
  • scrap of black felt (for the eyes)
  • scrap of red felt (for the shark gums) 
  • some elastic if you want the shirt to be gathered at the bottom but this is optional.
  •  I was able to find some gray pants and a shirt I already had to use as the costume base
to make the shark body I followed the same guidelines I used last year to make my son's olaf costume. Unfortunately, when I went to find that same tutorial from fabric.com, it was gone so I had to recreate it from memory. The great thing about this tutorial is it can easily be adapted to fit any size.

Fold your fabric in half (wrong sides out). I used an existing shirt to help me with the size I would need for a 6-12 month old.  Giving myself some extra room for seams, I very carefully cut out a rectangle a little larger than the size of the shirt.

When all was said and done, I should have cut the fabric a little bit bigger, but this worked.
 With my two rectangles still lying on top of each other, I pinned where the neck and arm holes would be. Again, give yourself a little extra room.
 When you're read to sew, it will look like two rectangles pinned together. DO NOT sew your neck or arm hole openings closed or you'll be sad!
With your body more or less put together, I decided to make a casing along the bottom of the shirt for some elastic so the shirt would be bunched and give the impression of a fat little shark. I used this super easy tutorial from howtosew.com to help refresh my memory on doing this.

 Okay, the basic body of the shirt is just about done! Now to add the shark details. For this next part, we'll be working with the shirt rightsides out. (i.e. NOT inside out).

For the fin: take your gray felt and make a triangle. Cut off excess. Just eyeball what size triangle looks good on your shirt.
 I cut my triangle "on the fold" so only one side needed sewn. Once sewn, turn your triangle so right sides are out (seams hidden). Leave the bottom of your fin open. You'll probably need to use a pencil or something to poke inside your fin to get the point of your fin sticking up straight again.
 Pin fin onto back of shirt. Now comes the dreaded hand sewing. If you know me, you know I absolutely despise hand sewing, but for this, it was a necessary evil. Put in a good movie and get hand sewing!
 Next, I went to work on the hat. I used this fleece hat tutorial from fleece is fun. I used the basic hat pattern. Later, I went back and and made the pumpkin hat for my Little Mr. too! The site has patterns from size baby to adult, so you can be sure you'll find what you need!

Now you're ready to add the shark-face details. You just need a teeny bit of red felt to make some gums and a strip of white for the teeth.
 No more hand-sewing! I love using the glue gun whenever possible! I traced how I wanted the stomach to look on a white piece of felt and glued it on. I should also note that before I did this, I took my sewing scissors and slightly rounded the neck opening on the front side of the shirt. My baby's head fits through so much better! I hot glued the eyes, teeth, and gums too.

Fleece is great to work with because it really doesn't really fray. I am not worried about hemming the raw edges of the hat or around the arm and neck holes of the shirt.
Next Up: The Pirate
  • half yard of black felt (from the bolt not the little squares) for the pirate vest, hat, and eye patch
  • elastic for the eye patch and the hat
  • scrap of red fabric long enough to tie around the waist as a sash
  • I found a foam pirate sword at Wal-Mart for $1.97
  • I used an existing shirt and pants for the costume base.
For the pirate vest, I used this tutorial from danamadeit.com. Super easy and quick!
  •  Follow the directions for the pattern: for the back piece you'll be cutting on the fold (ie.e your fabric is folded in half)
     For the two side pieces, lay the felt on top of each other (no fold needed). Be sure to also fold down that triangle piece on the pattern
     You'll end up with 3 pieces. Just pin them together. Before I sewed, I took my scissors and cut a zig-zag pattern along the bottom to give it a pirate look.
     Sew your pieces together, and then turn right-side out to hide your seams. Easy-peasy vest!
For the pirate hat and eye patch:
I was originally planning on buying pirate accessories until I realized I had plenty of extra felt left over and no reason not to just make them. I took a piece of white printer paper and just sketched out the basic outline of a hat. I didn't make an actual hat, just the outline and then used elastic. I did cut out two of the hat shapes, sewed the sides (leave an opening on each side for your elastic) and tops together and then flipped it so the seams were hidden.Then, insert elastic on the sides and sew closed.
 Next it was time for the skull and crossbones. I found an image I liked online and printed it out in the size I needed.
 I pinned the image onto a piece of white felt and cut it out.
 Then I cut out the eyes and nose and laid the paper image over the felt one. using a black sharpie, I filled in the eyes and nose and then drew the mouth.
 For the eye patch I traced a circle onto a piece of paper. You'll notice my circle isn't completely round. I made it kind of tear-drop shaped. You'll see why in a minute. I cut out the eye-patch on one piece of felt (so it's not 2-thick)
 I centered the eyepatch over the ends of the elastic. I folded over that extra rectangular piece at the top of the circle so I could sew the felt to the elastic.I just did a circle all the way around the felt and then did an X.
back of eye patch
front of eye patch

 One happy pirate!

Finally: Mermaid Tail
  •  1 yard of green fabric for the tail
  • 1/2 yard of organza fabric for the fins and around the waist
  • elastic for the waist
  • any "under the sea" accessories
  • I used a purple shirt for the costume base, but in the tutorial link there are instructions for using a nude leotard and adding the clam-shell bra detail (my husband would have a heart attack seeing his little girl dressed like that, so we did this instead.)
 For this tutorial I followed two identical tutorials (they link to each other). Even though both tutorials were essentially the same, they both were helpful because I needed lots of pictures to make sure I was doing it right. Hopefully my pictures will help as well. Click HERE for the main tutorial and HERE for the secondary tutorial.

Take your tail fabric and measure out the width and length for your child. Give yourself lots of extra length for putting in the elastic waist. You can always cut off excess later. Keep in mind that you want it straight but not too tight because she'll need to be able to walk and/or wear pants (possibly snow pants) under it for Halloween night. This can be kind of tricky, but my philosophy is its better to have it too big than too small! Sew a seam up the back (wrong sides out). Basically you'll have a long tube.
 From the mid-point at the bottom, cut the tail into a V shape. I tried to get mine as even as possible, but alas it was not to be. Oh well.
 Take your organza fabric for the fins and follow the instructions in the tutorial for sewing them on. To help me think about this, you'll end up with 4 separate fins: two on the front (right and left) and two on the back (right and left) Basically sew the fins on the front side (left and right side) first. To make the fins on the front a little fancier, while pinning, create pleats. Don't forget to have about 2 inches extra hanging off the end toward the toes!
after you've done the front, take your scissors and round off that extra 2 inches. This just gives it a more fin-like appearance. For the back fins, again do each fin (right and left side) individually. The tutorial says not to pleat them so I didn't. Although you definitely could. Again, leave two inches extra on the side toward the toes. After you've sewn both side, round off that extra fabric. My biggest regret for this sewing project was not using green thread! I didn't think the white would be too terrible, but it really stands out. So learn from me, buy green thread!

 Here are a couple pictures showing the back fins for reference.
 Once all your fins are done and you've rounded the ends off with scissors, use a lighter to carefully burn the edges so they don't fray.
Front fins with pleats
Now that your fins are done it's time to finish the waist. Have your little mermaid try on the skirt so you can see if it's too long. You want the V part of skirt at about the ankles. Leave yourself about 1-2 inches of extra for the casing for your elastic waist and then cut off the extra. I did not follow the instructions for sewing the elastic in the waist. I am a big believer in sewing the casing for the elastic first because that it was works for me. The way I did it only differs slightly from the original tutorial.

After you've trimmed the length down, fold down the waist of your tail and sew a casing for your elastic. BUT DON"T PUT IN THE ELASTIC YET!  Then, take your remaining organza piece and wrap it around the unfinished waist (i.e. no elastic yet). Pin it in place. I also overlapped the two end pieces in the back  so there were no gaps in the fabric. Once you're ready, sew the organza to the top of the fabric.

Once the organza is sewn to the top of your fabric, you're ready to add your elastic.
 This is what the inside of my skirt looks like with the elastic in it. It was at this point that I took my lighter and burnt the bottom edge of the organza again. The top edge is sewn so you don't need to worry about it fraying.
 Now you're ready to add some details. Find the middle of the waist and gather the organza fabric by pinching it with your thumb and pointer finger. Gather it at the top of the waist--make sure it's centered--and then hand sew in place. Repeat on back side.
You now can add any other details like some kind of sparkly jewel in the center of the waist where its gathered. I love JoAnne's fabric stores. I got all of my materials there, the jewel for the center, and the sea star for the hair clip. I always shop there with their store coupons in hand. I love that you can use more than one coupon (i.e. 50% off a cut of fabric, 50% off one jewelry item, 50% off one item from the floral department) --this entire outfit was less than $10!

A sea star/ seashell headband, hair clip, or necklace would be cute too. I just happened to have a shell necklace I got as a souvenir from Indonesia.I found a pack of 3 sea stars at Joanne's and hot glued the smallest one to an alligator clip. Then I made a small felt flower (it's supposed to represent seaweed. come on, use your imagination!) and glued it on there too. Then, I also found a sparkly green headband in the clearance bin at JoAnne's for 50 cents! I couldn't pass that up!
And Ta-Da we now have a sparkling mermaid!

Happy Halloween 2015!