Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Character Costume Day

It's book week again at school this week and on Thursday my son will need to dress up as a character from a book that he likes and wear his costume to school. As we have been thinking about who to choose and planning the costume I have been thinking back over all of the outfits I made for his older brothers in the past. They are both at university now but we have lots of good memories of past character costume days and looking back I was quite surprised at the detail in some of the costumes I made for them.

I hope that this blog post will inspire and encourage you to have a go and be adventurous, but there isn't much time left so at the end I have included some of the ideas we had which were easier and didn't involve so much sewing in case you are still looking for inspiration.

The tiger who came to tea
Lots of my patterns have been self drafted but I have relied on two vintage children's patterns as a good starting point. This tiger outfit was made from Butterick 5104. A vintage pattern which my mother used to make a costume for my sister when I was about 6 years old.

I used the pattern again to make a tin man costume the same year,

Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz
Daniel is wearing his heart in his pocket, has a foil covered funnel on his head and I was really pleased to be able to buy a bright red oil can to match.

The following year we were asked to provide our children with victorian costumes to go to a victorian activity day. These are the ones I made

Victorian school days

These costumes were more complicated. Granny lent us the hats, the breeches were cut off trousers which had become a bit short. The long socks were standard football socks. I used old white school shirts and cut of the collars to make granddad shirts and gave each of the boys a scarf from their Dad's collection. The jackets I drafted myself. I used Simplicity 4924 size 6 as a guide for the size and shape of the jacket.

The dress opened down the back and my jackets open at the front so I placed the centre back seam on the fold and added a facing and an overlap for buttons at the front. I ended up with too much fullness in the back of the jacket and that is why there is a short waistband gathering in the extra. I lengthened the dress sleeve pattern to make the jacket sleeves. Each jacket was made out of an old pair of their Dad's trousers. I was able to cut the front and back out of one leg and the sleeves out of another.

The following year both boys were really enjoying reading Harry Potter. I think everyone has a Harry Potter costume at some time. This time I bought a pattern to make the wizard robes. I can't remember which pattern I used and I don't have it any more. I made the robes in crushed velvet each with a different sparkly trim and a contrasting lining. These costumes have been used a lot for playing in and we still have them. The boys loved them too much to part with them although they no longer fit. I made the sorting hat from curtain lining and brown paint, the glasses came from the dressing up box and we used chopsticks as wands.

Harry Potter

Dumbledore looked amazing in his hair and long beard but it was so itchy that it had to come off as soon as he got to school.

I don't know whether you have wondered but my older sons are identical twins. We couldn't resist taking advantage of them begin in the same class, so one year they dressed up as a pantomime horse from the book "Pongwiffy and the Pantomime" by Kaye Umansky. I didn't have a pattern for this costume. I used the jump suit pattern again as a guide for some dungarees and made black frills around the bottom to look like hooves. The horse's head was sized up from a toy horse pattern and the body was just draped over them and cut to size before being attached to the head. The boy in the front looked out through a gauze square. The horse in the book is red with white spots but I ran out of time so my horse was the colour of the original curtain lining with some patchwork squares sewn on.

The last costume I thought you might like to see is Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The trouser pattern was made using a pair of shorts as a guide. They pull on with an elasticated waist so were easy to make and the pockets are patch pockets which blend in because the checks match. The waistcoat and purple tailcoat were drafted using the dress pattern Simplicity 4924 as a guide for the size and this time I took in the back so that it fitted better. The cane is a length of black plastic pipe with a plastic Christmas bauble tied to the end. I made the hat from layers of newspaper covered in black jersey and sewn round and round to hold all of the layers together. This lasted several years in the dressing up box until last year when my youngest son wore this costume again to Character Costume Day. I splashed out on a top hat for him from the local dancing shop. I couldn't face making another one.

This year I am making a costume for Seismic Sid, The boy in the Horrible Geography book about earthquakes. This is a quick fix. He just needs a scientist's white coat made from a cut down shirt and a box of tools. If like me you want an easy project this year then here are some I have tried before:

Harry and the Bucket full of Dinosaurs, by Ian Whybrow
- Jeans and a jumper, spiky jelled hair and a seaside bucket from holiday filled with plastic dinosaurs.

Tom's Midnight Garden, by Phillipa Pearce
- Your pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers

The Saga of Eric the Viking, by Terry Jones
- Track suit bottoms with tape tied round the legs, a large dull coloured T-shirt borrowed from Dad tied with a belt, a fabric rectangle to use as a cloak pinned to the shoulder with a broach and a plastic viking hat and axe from the local museum shop.

The Boy in the Dress, by David Walliams
- You need a very brave boy for this one who has good friends for support, but he only needs his sister's dress to wear.

I have had fun making these costumes over the years and my sons have had fun wearing them. I hope that you feel inspired. I would love to hear your ideas if you make a costume or if you have any ideas for next year. I have been wondering whether Aslan would be possible...