Back with a bite!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


How are you all doing? Sorry for loving you then leaving you but “things” just got in the way.

Let me show you one of these “things” (sorry, photo heavy post).

Pretty sharp huh? (Did’ya miss my puns?).  MC Senior was involved in a mega stage production at school which involved lots of costumes.

Lots, and lots, and lots of costumes. So I volunteered to help out and was assigned the task of making shark and mermaid outfits.

First I trawled the net (boom, tish!) and found a post at Ahsnola with fantastic instructions for making a shark costume from scratch. Plus it came with a great message (don’t eat sharks!). However, I had time constraints and a budget to consider, so needed to find a way to keep both of these down.

Luckily,  we found a stash of plain coloured T-shirts from a previous year’s production tucked away backstage. Score!

 Just in case you haven’t planned your Halloween outfit yet, I’ll talk you through the steps involved in this shark costume. Treat this post as a starting point though because I cannot provide any measurements. If you’re familiar with my cooking style, then it won’t surprise you to learn that I mostly winged it and worked things out as I went along.

First, measure your child’s arm length from shoulder to finger tips. This will come in handy later. It’s also helpful to get their head circumference as we’ll be making a hood. My super lazy trick was to get the kids to lie down on a large sheet of brown paper and I traced around them. Then I wrote their arm measurements and names directly on the paper. This way, I had a rough guide of each child’s size.

Prepare (wash, dry, press if so inclined) two gray T-shirts. One T-shirt (let’s call this T-shirt A)  should fit the child but be slightly bigger than his/her usual fit (eg. if the child usually wears an M, go for an L instead). The other T-shirt (T-shirt B) can be any size, but since we will be cutting fabric out of this, go for the largest size possible.

 The first step is to make a hood to attach to the neck of T-shirt A. Here’s a post at Once upon a sewing machine explaining how to make one. I used  some black fabric (leftover cotton drill) to cut the hood’s inner layer, which was designed to fit quite snugly on the child’s head. If I remember correctly, I used the actual head height from nape of neck to crown, and for the width I divided the child’s head circumference by 4, then added a couple of centimetres to this number. For the outer layer of the hood, I cut a slightly larger piece from T-shirt B. The finished height should be as tall as you want the shark head to be. Bear in mind, the larger this is, then more stuffing is needed, and it will also be heavier to wear.

With right sides together, stitch sides of the hood together from neckline to halfway up towards the front. Do not stitch all the way up the side.

Turn the hood right side out, then pin and stitch the neck side of the hood onto T-shirt A. Fold the raw edges inside before stitching.

Test for fit.  Then lay T-shirt A onto a large piece of felt, arrange the hood so that it sits flat on the felt.

Pin top of hood and inner lining in place then stitch all around this (see photo), leaving a small gap for stuffing.

What the front should look like when the top of the hood and the lining has been stitched onto the felt.

 Stuff the hood (this is the shark head) then stitch closed. Trim the felt away from the hood and down the front. You should get a shark shaped hooded T_shirt (see finished pic). Check for fit again, then cut out a small hole so the child’s face can peer out. We’ll cover this with felt teeth later, so don’t cut too large a hole.

Next, the arm measurements come in handy (see what I did there?). Using these measurements as a guide, cut two pieces of fabric for each arm. The fabric should be in the shape of a long triangle, with enough room for the arm and hand, but tapering to a point. Measure the sleeve of T-shirt A to determine how wide the bases of the triangles need to be.

 With right sides together, stitch the sides of the triangles together, then turn right way out. Place the entire triangular arm piece within the corresponding sleeve on T-shirt A. Stitch edges together.

(I use a zig zag stitch for more "give")

Because these shark outfit were used onstage, I covered the hands completely. If making as a Halloween costume, don’t stitch all the way down the pointy hand end so the child can slip their hands out to hold the candy bucket (very important!)

Fashion a “fin” out of leftover gray material and stuffing, and stitch onto back of shirt.

Cut out mouth, eyes and teeth from felt and hand stitch into place (see picture for guide).

If needed, some wire can be inserted into the top of the head piece to keep it pointy. I found that with enough stuffing, it didn’t need the wire.

If the hood is slightly too large or moves around too much, fashion a headband out of elastic, making sure it fits really well on the child’s head. Then stitch the elastic band in place at intervals on the inside of the hood (I stitched at the top of the ears, at the front and back of the head).

Hope that didn’t sound too complicated, because it really wasn’t. Just for fun, mix it up by making a hammerhead hood instead of a pointy shark head.

Happy trick or treating! I'm all FIN-ished now. ;)