Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Easy Knight's Costume

Life is good: it's almost Halloween!

I have always loved dressing up for Halloween. The haunted houses, bloody stuff, tombstones, and creepy witches... not so much. But the costumes...YES. YES. YES.

My mom always made our Halloween costumes. Not because of budget, but rather, out of love. She made some outstanding pieces of creativity including a Pac Man made out of chicken wire stuffed with, what had to be, a thousand yellow paper napkins and a Superstar Barbie full-length fuschia sequined gown complete with Barbie's gigantic diamond necklace made from a macrame bauble. Yes, she made my costumes even when I was in college.

So of course, when I became a mama, I felt compelled to make my own kiddo's Halloween costume. And I have enjoyed each moment of the process each year and have saved each one in a bin so that they can open them up and look at them when they are adults. (And then throw them away, probably!)

A few days ago, another mama was looking for a way to make a knight costume for her kiddo. Our big kid was a version of "Sir Lancelot" when he was 18 months old and I offered to give her the details.

Let me preface this by saying that I sew with glue. My mom is a magnificent seamstress. You can make a crude drawing on paper and she can turn it into a work of art. She can see an item in the store and know how much fabric she'll need and then with some zips of the sewing machine, voila! It looks just like the store-bought item. However, she did not teach me that skill. And a bad experience with an apron in 8th grade Home Ec. class sealed my fate never to be a seamstress. And it is a regret of mine. And I do want to learn. Someday. Soon. Until then, glue is my friend.

I used to sew with hot glue. In the past couple of years, I have graduated to fabric glue. Hot glue is faster and requires less attention, but it can pull apart. Fabric glue is like white glue, so it is wetter and takes longer to dry, so seams have to be held together, which takes longer, but I think it makes for a better finished product.

Here's my easy-mama-can't-sew-kiddo-was-too-little-to-care princely knight's costume:

And here's how I made our "Princely Sir Lancelot-type knight's tunic":
1. Measure child from shoulders to wherever you want the tunic to end (around the thigh region)
2. Measure child from shoulder to shoulder.
Now add two inches to your shoulder (width) measurement and two inches to your length measurement. This will be the foundation for the tunic.
3. Double that amount of fabric and purchase that amount of gray felt. Felt is super easy to "glue sew" with! (That said, if you have never done something like this before, I would purchase extra felt just in case you make a mistake. The leftover felt can always be used by your kiddo for an art or craft project!)
4. Purchase a small amount of colored felt for the "crest" on the knight's chest. The measurement from shoulder to shoulder is good for width and about half the length will give you enough felt for the crest.
5. Gather together your glue gun and hot glue sticks or two fabric glue bottles, two safety pins, some scissors, and some pinking shears. *

Now you are ready to start!
1. Cut two pieces of gray felt using your width and length measurements. The pieces will look like rectangles.
2. You will need to measure your child's head to know how big of a hole you will need to cut for their head to slide through.
3. Glue one of the "short" sides of the gray felt rectangles.
4. When this is completely dry, turn the fabric so that the glue seam is now on the inside and then cut a half circle (It will end up being a full circle because you are cutting through two pieces) into the glued side of the gray felt. (I cut a v-neck for mine, but I think the circle might be easier.)
5. Slip this gray piece over your kiddo. Be sure to dress your child in whatever you will have them wear under the tunic. I chose striped jammies. I thought it looked cute, would be comfy, and would be easy to get him into bed at the end of Halloween night.
6. Now, pin your safety pins under your child's arms, leaving enough room for them to wiggle around comfortably. This will be the arm opening so you will NOT glue the fabric from the safety pin up to the shoulders.
7. Remove the gray felt from your child and flip the tunic inside out. Glue the two long sides of the rectangle together, leaving the opening from the safety pin up to the top of the fabric.

Once this is completely dry, you have the foundation for your tunic. Make sure it fits well and is roomy enough for your child to have lots of fun moving around!

After reading this far, you may think,"What have I gotten myself into?" I know there are a lot of directions to this, but it is a pretty quick project. I am just trying to be as deliberate and precise as possible. The directions are long but the process goes by pretty quickly. Really!

Now it is time to make the textured "armor" of the knight's tunic.
1. Gather the rest of your gray felt and using your width measurements, cut strips of gray fabric with the pinking shears. I think my strips were about 1 or 1 1/2 inches wide.
2. Glue the "pinked" strips to the tunic beginning at the bottom and overlapping to create texture. If you are using fabric glue, this will take longer because you will want to make sure the glue is pretty dry before adding another strip. (Working in a warm room or using a blow dryer will speed up the process.)
3. Trim the strips where you need to.

I only applied the strips to the front of the tunic, but you can do the entire thing if you want. Allow this to dry overnight.

Now, you can cut out a crest if you like. I freehanded mine. You can look online and find an image of a crest, print it out and use that as a stencil if you don't want to freehand a crest. Here is an example:

Once you have cut out your crest, you can put anything on it that you like. Maybe your child's monogram? This one looks simple, but royal!

Or you could write out your child's entire name OR better yet, add "Sir" to it! Very round table-like!
; )

We added a crown to our knight's tunic to complete the costume. Our kiddo was only 18 months old and we wanted to keep the costume simple and comfy. The crown was a favorite of his at the time, so we went with it even though Sir Lancelot never became king of Camelot. (We improvised the story a little!)

You could add a gray hoodie under the tunic to make a "knight's hood". Or you could make a hood out of gray felt to complete the ensemble. Just cut out two pieces of gray felt into a sort of "D" shape. Glue the rounded part together and then the "bottom of the D" to the tunic. It would be really cute to glue the textured strips onto the hood. Do that before you attach it to the tunic. Use a hoodie you already have as a guide and pattern.

Remember the cartoon of the knight at the top of this post? You could also cut out a piece of gray felt to glue to the bottom of your tunic to mimic the bottom of that knight's tunic (kind of looks like a skirt, but don't tell your son that!). If you want to make a border on it like the illustration, use ric rac. If you don't want to use jammies, gray sweatpants would look like a softer set of armor!

Helpful Hints: If you are using fabric glue, I would plan to make this costume in several increments over several days' time. If you are hot gluing,  I would plan to make the costume in at least two increments: the foundation and then the "armor".

*Please remember that I am not a professional seamstress, so none of these instructions are fool-proof. Remember to measure twice and cut once and always have extra fabric "just in case"!

Happy Halloween!

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