Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Buzz! An Improvised Sewn Bee Costume with Basic Directions

For Halloween, my younger daughter wanted a scary costume. Since she's "Little and Brave and not scared of anything scary, except Giants, Bees, and Giant Bees," she naturally decided to be a bee.

The finished costume can fit layers underneath in case it snows at Halloween, keeping my little trick-or-treater warm. I have a black cap that can fit under the headband to keep her ears warm too. I am very pleased with the results! I am so happy with how well the stripes matched, how well the wings turned out, how it's pretty much just as I imagined it! This is very exciting, because I didn't have a pattern to work with, so it's immensely gratifying when what I had in my head really did turn out just so.

Rather than look around for the right size of bee costume pattern since I didn't remember ever seeing any before for older kids (just babies and dogs), I looked through the the pattern box. I found an old costume pattern my mom had given me that included a pumpkin costume, and decided I'd work with that.

At the fabric store, the clerk and I agreed that there was no way I'd need the length of polar fleece I had written down, and so I bought less. Just as well, as it turned out the pattern was actually for kids 10-12. I re-sized the basic pattern piece for the length I wanted for my kid. I have lots of fleece leftover, but not quite twice what I needed at least!

So, in case you want to make a bee costume for a five year-old, the piece is 23.5"/60cm long, 15.5"/39.5cm wide at middle, has 1/4"/1cm on top and bottom for neckband and bottom border, at which point the width is 8.5"/22cm. I drew a long freehand curve from the bottom of the border to the middle, and folded my piece of waxed paper I was using so that I could copy it exactly in the other three areas. This makes an oval sort of shape for the body piece.

Holding the pattern piece up to the kid, I decided that instead of five pieces, I needed only three, so I cut:

Thanks to this photo, I knew where to look for my pattern notes!
-three body pieces out of the yellow polar fleece, and three fusible fleece pieces to match.

-six stripes of black polar fleece (4"/11cm x 15.5"/39.5cm) along with fusible webbing to match.

-two stinger shapes (width being 4"/11cm plus seam allowance), and fusible fleece to match.

I fused all the pieces, measuring out the stripes to be 5.5"/14cm below the neck border, and another 5"/13cm below that.

Sewing: Using walking foot (except for the wings). Sewed the two stinger pieces together, clipped curves, turned right-side out, had daughter stuff the thing. Also, sew down the stripes! Not only did it make up for the poor fusing job I'd done with the fleece and backing, but it looked crisper, neater, and nicer after sewing each stripe close to the edge.

Next: Sew the two back pieces together, matching stripes carefully, with the stinger (right sides facing) sandwiched in the lower stripe. Getting the machine to go over the stinger part with the 10 layers of fabric here was not such a treat. It would have been smarter to line up the stripes differently so that there were less layers to work! About eight attempts finally paid off.

The rest was easier: sew front piece to back pieces, again matching stripes (right sides facing, of course), both above and below arm-holes. I left fairly generous spacing for the arms.

Fold back a hem inside the arm-holes for a neater edge (or alternately bind with bias tape) and sew in place.

Form a casing around the neck edge and lower edge with double-fold extra wide bias tape. Insert cord (at least at the top edge. I'm not bothering to do this part with the bottom edge, though it could be cinched up higher this way if desired).

Cut four wing-shapes with the fusible fleece and fuse them into two wings. Draw veins on the wings to look like bee wings. Stitch over these lines with black thread. Remember right after finishing that you have a fabric marker that could have been used for this, but decide that it probably looks better this way instead, and that now you've decided that machine quilting or machine embroidery can be downgraded from Too-frightening-to-contemplate to I-could-probably-try-that.

Sew wings into place using satin-stitch around the middle edges, including about an inch outwards across the top and bottom.

Take photos of very cute bee who is clearly delighted.

1 comment:

  1. She is seriously adorable. Great job on the costume. :) So cute!