Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to make a pirate costume and a ballerina dress in a night.

Last term, Zach and his other pre-primary friends had an excursion to the Shipwreck Galleries down in Fremantle. Everyone who joined in the day had to dress up as pirates, teachers and parents included and the kids, especially.

I thought to myself when it was first mentioned at the start of year: This is it, the start of an era of making costumes for the kids.

Having not made any real costumes before, I thought I'd better start simple. My criteria were: easy, quick and not too over the top. (Oh and no swords or hooks allowed. Teacher's rules).

So, this is what I created in a night.

The only things I made from scratch was the brown vest, the belt and the scarf. the others were simply modifications to readily available pieces of clothing.

For the brown vest, I took measurements from a shirt of his and simply left out the sleeves and changed the collar. I used felt because it meant I didn't need to finish the hems. The belt was a simple rectangular "tube" I made from pirate-y cotton (it had very cute whales on it) and the scarf, a large square with finished hems of the same cotton material and print.

Now what about the rest? Well, the pants were just your run of the mill "trackie dags" (track pants) that were a size bigger so that I could fold and tack the legs outwards in an attempt to mimic boots. The white shirt was a long sleeve t-shirt on which I added cotton lacing to create that billowing white shirt look. The trick here is to gather the cotton lace to make the ruffles. You do this by following four simple steps:

1. Run the unfinished edge of the lace under the sewing machine in long stitches.
2. Tie the threads together at one end to make sure it doesn't all unravel.
3. At the untied ends of the threads, hold one of the threads whilst tugging at the fabric in the opposite direction. This will create the gathers. Be sure to distribute the gathers evenly as you move along the fabric so that you get even ruffles.
4. Tie the threads together so that it holds the gathers in place. You should end up with one really long piece of thread. You can snip the excess off once you have tied the threads together.

I hand tacked the gathered cotton lace loosely on the sleeves and the front of the t-shirt. Remember to tack in loose stitches. This is important to remember as the t-shirt material will stretch. Also, remember to ensure that the hand can pass through the cotton lacing on the sleeve as the lace doesn't stretch.

For the hat, I bought a black wide rim hat. I folded the rim to form the tricorn hat and simply hand tacked the rim to the top of the hat. Make sure these stitches are strong because the rim can be quite tough and would want to spring back into its original shape.

The entire costume took me about two hours from start to finish. So, it could be your weekend project or if you are like me (with kids and full time employment), a project fit for a night or two. Your little one could be off on his or her adventures within two hours!


Now...I simply couldn't make a costume for Zach and not make something for Amelia. So that same night, I made her this:


Here's how you do it:

1. Take a long sleeve shirt. I chose a pink and white striped one befitting the ballerina look.
2. Take a meter worth of tulle. Cut it into four equal widths length wise so that you end up with four one meter long tulle. Cut one of the lengths into half length wise again. You should end up with three equal widths and two of a smaller width. All lengths of tulle are a meter long. Once again, pink was the choice of colour. A trick to cutting tulle in long even lengths is to roll the tulle up into a tight "tube" and then chomp it with your scissors! Done with only one snip. Easy peasy.
3. Gather the five lengths of tulle as per instructions earlier on how to gather using a sewing machine. Make sure that you don't gather the tulle so much that there is not enough material to encircle the t-shirt.
4. Take the two smaller width tulle and sew it to the end of the t-shirt. I added an underskirt as tulle can be quite irritating to the skin.
5. Take the other three lengths of gathered tulle and sew it to approximately where your little ballerina's waist is on the t-shirt.
6. Finish it off with a pretty ribbon. This doubles as a feature as well as to hide the tulle end at the waist.

Ta-da! A ballerina dress in under an hour.

There are things that I don't like about the finished product: I didn't have a wide ribbon laying around the house and managed only to find the one in the picture. Ideally, the ribbon should be a wide one to accent the waist. I don't like how visible the strips were still under the tulle skirt. I'll be sewing an underskirt at the waist when and if I make another one. The pink of the tulle and the pink of the t-shirt didn't really go well together. Add the pink of the ribbon in the picture and it makes a really terrible combination.

What I don't like about the dress doesn't matter, Amelia loves the dress so.

1 comment:

  1. where do you get the fabric from? I want to have Pirate Costume and Ive been to several halloween stores and craft shops, and no one had any idea what I was looking for.. :s HELP, HALLOWEEN IS SOOOOON !

    ReplyDelete

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