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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Homemade Faux-Vest Vampire Costume

Costume Week Continues!

We are going back to Halloween Classics for costumes this year.  My boys wanted to be a Vampire, a Mummy, and a Ghost.  How fun!  And shockingly, I realized in the seven years that I've been a mom I have not once actually made my boys' costumes myself.  How did that happen??  Well, this year I decided to do it!

My oldest is the Vampire.  I made his costume out of a pair of old pj pants from Hubby's giveaway pile (free), a plain white, long-sleeved shirt ($6 from fruit of the loom), a fat quarter of red cotton fabric ($1.50?) and an adult size reversible vampire cape ($9).  I'll say that I had planned to make the cape out of round tablecloths, but it was cheaper to just buy the one from the costume section than it was to buy materials to make it myself.

First, I took a pair of comfy pull-on pants from my 7yr old's dresser and laid them out on top of Hubby's old pj bottoms, matching up the crotch area.  Then I just cut around, leaving some extra at the bottom for a double-turned hem, extra at the top for a new elastic casing, and a little on the sides for seam allowance.  I seam-ripped the old elastic out and reused it, and saved the rest of the scraps for another project (you'll see that next week!)  I also let my 7yr old sew the new side seams so he could be a part of the process.

The inseam was kept in tact, so all that needed to be done was sew new side seams, hem the cuffs, and make a casing at the waist to thread the elastic through.

For the top, I made a fake vest to sew to the front of the plain t-shirt.  I taped two pieces of printer paper together to go the length of the front of the shirt, lined this up with the center of the shirt, and traced along the neck and sleeve seams.
Then I chose a point farther down and drew a new straight line for the V neck of the vest front.
I made the bottom of the vest piece also come down to a point in the center.
Then just cut this out and you have a paper pattern piece.  I laid it on top of the red fabric in this pic so you could see the shape of it better.  I cut two of these out of the fat quarter, but had to trim the bottom off the front and make it two pieces in order to fit them all on the fat quarter - don't know if that makes sense or not.  I didn't have enough room to lay it full out and cut two on a folded fat quarter, so I had to cut each piece separately and split them into two in order to get them all on there.  There were just tiny scraps of the fat quarter leftover, but one strip was enough for some final details to the front of the vest.


You can see in this pic where I had to create two sections to complete the front piece.  The seam to connect them ended up making a nice addition to the look of the front.

**If you are using a fabric that has a definite right and wrong side, make sure you flip the pattern piece over before cutting the second one, otherwise you will end up with two left fronts or two right fronts.

**Also, add an extra 1/4" or so as you cut the pattern, to allow for seam allowance as you sew.

First I sewed the two sections together to create a full left and right front piece.

I had shortened the adult-size cape by about a foot, and used the cut off strip to cut two more vest pieces as lining.  I used the red part of the cape for this.  I sewed them right sides together, leaving a 3" opening, then flipped, pressed, and top-stitched very close to the edges.  So the red cotton fat quarter is the front side, and the slippery fabric from the reversible cape is the inside, a completely closed piece.
I took that little scrap of fat quarter leftover to make two fake pocket flaps on the front of the vest.  I folded two rectangle pieces in half and sewed the ends, then flipped them, ironed them, and sewed them on the front of the vest, raw edges toward the bottom of the vest.  Once attached, fold down and press, then top stitch very close to the seam.
My first thought was to leave the shoulder and side seams of these vest pieces open, use my seam ripper to open the seams of the t-shirt, insert the vest front into the shoulder and side of the shirt, and re-sew the seams.  However, there were no side seams in this t-shirt.  doh.  Then I realized that having that extra fabric in the side and shoulder seams would surely drive my sensory kid nuts, make him grumpy, and ultimately cause the whole project to fail.  SO, I chose to just top stitch the vest pieces onto the outside of the shirt.  The sides will be covered by the cape in the end anyway, and this way the INside of the shirt is only altered with a thin line of stitches.  What he feels will feel like a regular ol' t-shirt.

Getting the side seams in the right spot was a bit tricky, and the front dips at a slight angle, but it got the thumbs up from my 7yr old ; )  I was planning to make actual button holes on the front of this, but ended up just faking all the way and sewing the pieces together in the middle.  shhh!  I added three buttons, but just for looks.  They are a bit on the small side, but it was what I had on hand.

I then used the black part of the trimmed-off cape and made a ruffly thing at the neck.  Two layers of gathered fabric and another part tied around the top right at the neckline.  I sewed the ruffles on with the machine and then tacked a few stitches here and there by hand to get it all looking right.  I left the edges raw and rumpled them up to look frayed.
Here is the finished ensemble - We need to add the Halloween make-up and fake teeth, of course (and some shoes), but my Vampire was happy and comfortable in his costume.  He definitely has the pose down ; )  He requested that I go back and add velcro tabs to attach the cape to the shirt, instead of using the tie at the neck. 
**I went back later and made some improvements to this (at least, I think they are improvements).  I swapped out the little buttons for larger ones.  Different color, but it ended up working, because I also added a brassy-colored medallion.  All Vampires wear a medallion, obviously ; )  At least, it is a common accessory in storebought costumes. 

I found an old soccer medal that had lost its ribbon.  My boys had been using it as treasure for the imaginext pirate ship, ha!  I strung it on some thin, black binding tape and hand stitched the point of the V so that the backside of the medal would lay flat, facing out.
On the blank side (that was the reverse of the medal), I copied the look of other costume medallions with a shiny gold star sticker, a red holly berry sticker, and a fine point sharpie marker.
The black binding tape goes up and is sewn around the neckline of the t-shirt.
I also added velcro tabs to attach the cape, as my 7yr old requested, so that the tie would not be bothering his neck. 
I'm anxious to see my son wear this with full make-up and fang teeth.  I think these few little adjustments helped me get past the Magician-Look.  *phew*  Done!

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