Thursday, October 28, 2010

Buddy the T-Rex Halloween Costume

Courtesy of PBS/Jim Henson

I have little boys, currently ages 5 and 3.  Both like dinosaurs and both like trains.  In point of fact, my youngest has a train obsession.  We have 20 hours of steam train documentaries on DVD and they are among his favorite videos. So when PBS and Jim Henson create a television show called Dinosaur Train, you know its going to be a winner at our house. 

I was expecting my littlest guy to ask for a Thomas the Tank Engine costume for Halloween this year but he surprised me several months ago when he began asking for a Buddy the T-Rex costume.  Buddy is one of the main characters in Dinosaur Train.  Asking me to make a costume in July is like asking me to juggle flaming torches, it isn't going to happen any time soon.  However, he has persisted in his request and PBS has a free pattern available on their website.  (Way to go PBS!!!!) Thus, the Monkadoodle gets to be Buddy this year.  (Note:  For those who wish to avoid sewing there are also no-sew instructions to make this costume.)

The boys and I went to the fabric store after school one afternoon a couple of weeks ago to get the fleece to make the costume.  The moment we entered the store, Monkadoodle announced in a loud voice for all to hear, "We came to get the fleece to make my Buddy costume.  I am going to wear it and say 'roar' to scare away all the ghosts!"  Then he made a bee-line to the back of the store where the fleece section is located.  I thought the store clerks were going to die laughing.  Every person we encountered in the store got the same ecstatic declaration.  He was vibrating with excitement.  I loved every minute of it.

Even at home, his excitement continued to the point where I had to do most of the sewing at night after the boys were in bed because Monkadoodle kept 'helping'.  Don't get me wrong, I love that he likes to help.  I love that he is interested in how the sewing machine works and asks literally thousands of questions about the sewing process.  I love that he is so invested in this project.  Most of all, I love every opportunity I have to teach my kids useful life skills and creative crafting.  However, Monkadoodle has been so excited about the project that his helping amounted to situating himself between me and the sewing machine while jumping up and down and pointing at the needle as it worked.  No amount of instruction or attempts to direct his energy were having any effect, and those little fingers kept getting way to close to the working needle for my comfort. 

My deadline to complete the costume was Tuesday, October 26th so that it would be ready for his school's Halloween Parade the next morning.  I finished up Monday night, one day ahead of schedule, and we tried it on Tuesday morning.  It's a bit big on him, which is good.  We use Halloween costumes year round as dress-up clothes at our house.  So Monkadoodle should be able to play Dinosaur Train in his costume for the next 2 years, unless he hits an unusual, above average growth spurt.  He just loves it and went around the house roaring before he decided that a fleece suit and hood worn over jeans and a long sleeve thermal shirt are too hot to wear inside.

I did make a few minor changes to the free PBS pattern.  These are as follows:

1.  I appliqued the blue diamonds that run down the back of the suit so it would look a little more finished and be more durable. 

2.  I put elastic around the ankles of the suit.  I knew it was going to be a little big and, with elastic, the pants legs would stay rolled up better if needed.  Besides, I like how it looks this way. 

3.  I did not attached the mittens to the sleeves of the suit.  While I like this idea, both my boys hate having the gloves or mittens attached to their clothes; so I kept them separate.  Instead, I cut the mittens 1.5 inches longer at the wrist than the the pattern called for and put some 1/4 inch elastic in the wrist edge hem so they would not fall off too easily.  I also added a claw to thumb and the finger section of the mittens to simulate the T-Rex claws on each of their two 'fingers'. 

4. For the hand claws and the toe claws, I made them a little bigger than the pattern called for and stitched as double layers rather than single layers for durability and a more finished look. 

5.  Since Monkadoodle is going to be wearing this costume to go trick or treating (thus, wearing his tennis shoes), I made the feet into spats rather than slippers by leaving the non-slip suede bottoms off the feet and stitching an elastic loop to the bottom hem.  This way he can wear the spats to cover his shoes.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Template for Hemming

Picture by Lil Blue Boo Photography
I love tools and templates that make my life easier and my sewing faster.  I wish I could take credit for this little gem of an idea but I can't.  Ashley at the Lil Blue Boo came up with this dandy idea for a hemming template

I will most likely be making several of these in an assortment of measurements over the course of the next few months.  While Ashley uses poster board or heavy card stock to make her templates, I plan on making mine from the Dritz Quilting Heavy Duty Template Plastic I just happen to have on hand.  It should be quite durable.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October - The Start of Sewing Season

The air is growing crisp at night. Jack Frost has visited our house for the past three nights. The beautiful, mild, early autumn afternoons find my windows open and my children playing in the sand box. I, however, am tucked away in the basement sewing.

My sewing room used to be located in a cheerful,sunny bedroom located in the north west corner of the second floor. I had a closet and dresser in which to store my stash and loads of natural light from two almost complete walls of windows. When our second son came along in 2007, it soon became clear to me that sharing a room with his big brother was not going to work out. The baby was such a light sleeper that every sniffle and rustle that came from his older sibling left him awake and angry. Since was I was nursing him, I was the one who got up with the baby. The decision to shift my older son to his own room was born of sleep deprivation. It was the right choice for that moment. Unfortunately, it meant that my sewing and knitting would have to find another home. I carved a out a corner of the 'family room' in our mostly unfinished basement. My stash is stowed away in plastic bins which are shoe-horned under my hubby's camo/winter gear, just behind the love seat, and next to my sewing table. There isn't much in the way of natural light, but Hubby loves well-light spaces and installed additional overhead lighting in the basement when we first moved in. It's working out.

Every since we had our first child, October has been a sewing month for me. If nothing else I am making Halloween costumes. In 2005, it was an infant-sized panda costume. In 2007, it was a Green Giant costume (for Hubby) and a Sprout costume (for my son). In 2009, it was Hubby and son Tiger costumes. In 2006 and 2008, my oldest chose store bought costumes, so I had a reprieve from fur and felt and worked on curtains instead. Our Halloween costumes are part of year round dress-up play so we get our money's worth, regardless. In 2009, I followed up the costumes with a new pair of flannel PJ's for my oldest. So October has become a traditionally busy sewing month and the start of a busy sewing season which doesn't taper off until after Christmas.

Now it's October again. My oldest boy is going with a store bought costume this year but my youngest wants to be Buddy the T-Rex from Dinosaur Train, which no one sells so far as I know. Good thing PBS has a free pattern out there. I printed off the 51 pages of pattern last Sunday so I can start putting this thing together. Add to that the Thomas flannel that my little guy latched onto at Hobby Lobby the other day as he begged for new PJ's. He did need new PJ's and the flannel was on sale. So the PJ's are just about finished, the Buddy costume pattern pieces are being assembled, and I am thinking about an adult panda costume this year to use up the black and white faux fur in my stash. Yep, its October. Good thing too. I needed a bit of a break from my knitting needles.