Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Last Minute Parrot Costume

James (5) was talking about his Halloween costume Months ago. Thankfully for his mommy, he'd decided to be a pirate by sometime in September. Grace (nearly 4) agreed to be a Pirate Princess, and I decided that a Parrot would be a perfect coordinating costume for Lucy (18 months.) The costume turned out to be doubly appropriate as in the last few weeks Lucy has entered wholeheartedly into the parrot phase of language development: she will attempt to say almost anything you ask, with frequently hilarious results!
(Of course, in the mean time Grace has reneged: she wants to be a straight up princess. Oh well!)

Lucy's parrot costume turned out to be nice and easy. I didn't take photos during construction, but if you have just a wee bit of crafting confidence, you can probably figure it out from the photos of the completed costume. I probably spent under three hours on it, mostly working on front of the TV and sewing by hand since my machine is broken.


* Polar Fleece in 2 to 5 colors (see notes)
* 1/4 or 1/2 inch wide elastic
* 1 pipe cleaner
This Free Pattern for the hat from FleeceFun.com
* Butcher paper or a cut open paper grocery sack for pattern making 


* Needle and thread, or a sewing machine. 
* Sharp fabric scissors
* Pins

Materials Notes: 

An 18 month old isn't very big, and I was able to use remnants of fleece left over from other projects.
The width of your largest piece will be your child's "wing span:" wrist to wrist, and the height will be the distance between the nape of her neck and the small of her back. The other pieces will be a little smaller.

If you're looking to save $ on yardage and there's no sale at JoAnn's, take a cruise through Goodwill or the Dollar Tree for solid color fleece blankets. You could also use felt.

I used roughly 2 feet of elastic for the costume; obviously you'll need more for a larger kid.

Step 1: Making Your Pattern

  • You will be drawing a right triangle on your pattern paper. (Or, live on the edge and draw directly on the fleece!)  
    • Measure from your child's wrist to the center of her back.  This is the long side of the triangle. 
    • Measure from the nape of your child's neck to the small of her back. This is the short side of the triangle. Draw these on your pattern paper. 
    • Lightly draw in the hypotenuse of the triangle. 
  • Depending on how precise you want to be, you can either draw in scallop shapes for the "feathers," or you can just eye-ball them when you cut the fabric. I only did about 3-4 scallops. 
  • Again depending on how exact you like to be, draw in the other two layers at this time. I am pretty sure that I eyeballed them, but if I was working on a larger child's costume I probably would have drawn them first. 

Step 2: Cutting Out the Cape

  • Fold your base piece of fleece in half lengthwise and pin the pattern to it. (If desired, cut out the pattern first. I didn't!) 
  • Cut through both layers of the fabric.
  • Repeat for the other layers of the cape. If you drew them in on the base pattern piece, you can just follow the lines. Otherwise, be brave and eyeball it! 

Step 3: Cutting out the Feathers 

  • If you're an exacting type of person, make a pattern piece for a feather about 5-6 inches long and cut three of them. Once again, I eyeballed it. (Are you seeing a theme here?!) 
  • The crest feathers will be threaded onto a pipe cleaner, so you will need to cut an identical front and back piece for each. I made two crest feathers. 

Step 4: Sewing the cape 

I have seen instructions for this type of project calling for hot glue, or hot fabric glue. Personally, I hate glue, and was more than willing to do this little amount of hand sewing. 

  • Using thread that matches or is slightly *lighter* than your second layer, arrange layer two on top of layer one and sew either by hand or on your machine. 
  • Repeat for layer three. 

Step 5: Sewing on the Straps

  • At this point you need to go chase down your child and do a little fitting. 
  • Hold the cape up to her back and mark a spot an inch or so to the left and right of her neck. 
  • Attach the straps here, perhaps 1/2 an inch below the top of the fabric. 
  • You might find it easiest to pin (safety pin?) before sewing, because now you need to find the bottom of the strap. Each strap will cross the body and attach an inch or so under the opposite arm pit. 
  • Either mark this spot or pin the strap. 
  • Now sew, using the method of your choice. Note that the stitching will show at the bottom of the strap so use a coordinating thread. 
  • Finally, sew a small loop of elastic to the very tip of each "wing" to hold the cape to your child's wrists. 

Step 6: Sewing on the Tail Feathers 

  • Arrange the feathers in a bunch at the bottom of the cape and pin. Sew in place. 

Step 7: Sewing the Hat

First, sew the feathers.
  • Loosely baste a tube into each of the crest feathers, sewing front and back together. You will thread this tube onto a pipe cleaner. You could also use glue, or you could hand-sew your pipe cleaner directly to the feather if it is a coordinating color. 
  • Fold a pipe cleaner in half, and insert one end into each of the feathers. 
Next, the hat
  • Print the hat base pattern pieces from the pattern linked to above and cut them out of your fleece. 
  • Sew the hat according to the instructions. 
    • While you're looking at the hat instructions anyway, take note of the way the dinosaur "horns" attach. You're going to use a similar placement for the crest feathers. 
  • Before sewing up the "V" in hat, place your feathers into the crown of hat. Leave about 1-2 inches of the pipe cleaner on the inside of the hat to stabilize the feathers against your child's head when the hat is on. 
  • Remember you're sewing it inside out, so they will be "inside" the hat when you place them, with the remnant of the pipe cleaner sticking "out." You're going to want to do this sewing by hand since I doubt your sewing machine needle will like running over a pipe cleaner. 
  • Finish sewing the hat according to pattern directions. 

That's it. You're done! Easy peasy and cute as all get out!

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