Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Lucky's Lion Hoodie

I wanted to make Lucky's costume this year (since it gave me an excuse to finally buy my sewing machine) and when I found the Make Your Own Lion Hoodie tutorial I knew that I had a winning project.  At least I hoped that I did!  Lions ("yaya") are one of Lucky's favorite animals so I knew he would love being able to dress up like one.  I also wanted a costume that incorporated a hoodie but would still be clear when Lucky decided he was done having the hood up after 5 minutes.

For this costume, I purchased a sweat suit (size 2T) from Kohl's, a brown cotton fat quarter, brown thread (Coats and Clark 100% polyester Color 8960 Chona Brown), some brown and yellow felt and Red Heart Super Saver yarn in 3 colors (Carrot, Gold, Cafe Latte).  I am not a big acrylic fan, but I wanted something that would be machine washable so this costume could (hopefully) last for more than one child.  I selected these colors because they complemented, but didn't match, the sweatshirt.  Since each ball of yarn had almost 200 g, I made Indy's coordinating puppy lion costume first.  There is no way I will use the almost 150 g remaining of each color in this project.

The Lion's Mane Hood

I started by prewashing the cotton fabric and sweat suit.  I'm a novice sewer, but if I am ever going to successfully wash this garment I don't want the woven cotton I'm adding to shrink differently than the knit fabric of the hoodie.  After the wash (machine warm/warm) I pressed out the fabric and prepared to cut it.

The fat quarter measures 18"x21" (pre washing).  This is not quite long enough to match the entire length of the hoodie so I will have to add a seam in the middle.  This shouldn't be so hard, right?  The fat quarter was only $2.50, so while I cut have cut the starting pieces shorter I wanted to give myself plenty of room to work with since I'm not sure how many rows of fringe I'll end up adding.

There are some aspects of the sewing tutorial that I could follow/skip if I wanted to get this done fast, but I want to try to do it properly.  I am going to hem the fabric A) for practice and B) so there aren't unfinished ends unraveling in my Halloween Pictures.

When I went to start cutting I realized that the fat quarter isn't square, so I had to trim off the edges. The hood edge is about 10" long from zipper to tip so I will need at least 23" of fabric.  Since there isn't enough width I'm adding a seam down the middle.  I cut two 6" x 18" strips.  This should be enough fabric for my hoodie.

I was too confident when cutting and butchered it.  (I promise I won't take pictures of cutting in progress every time I have a sewing project, but this is my first time using a rotary cutter.  I love it SO MUCH MORE than just scissors, but there is a learning curve.)

I started by sewing the center seam, since this would need pressing before I hemmed the sides.  I also knew that I would have to make another cut in the fabric so I wanted to wait to do this until after I had sewn my seam.  I'm not yet confident that I'll be able to make perfect 1/4" seems everywhere.

Not a bad 1/2" seam, is it?  

Oh my goodness this looks straight!  I even went back and forth over the edge at the end to finish it off.  Look at me go!  I'm really sewing!  I couldn't tell the difference between the right sides and wrong sides of this fabric, so I just did the best I could and hoped for the best.  You won't really be seeing much of this brown cotton cloth anyway.  

I cut the cloth 12" past the center seam and then pressed it open.  I folded down square corners from each edge and pressed.  This was the hardest part, because there was no measurement involved with the pressing, but I think it is okay in the end.  I am going to leave the back hem open for now until I decide how much fringe I'm going to add.

I can't believe I'm doing this without consulting my book, but I remember from reading it many times how this worked.  Now I just have to stitch these seams down.  (The book would have me fold and press again but I don't think that is necessary for this particular project.)

These first seams of mine aren't particularly straight or prefect, but I am super proud of this so far!!  Now it is going to be time to start adding the fringe.  Yikes!  

The first round of fringe went surprisingly fast.  I'm feeling very proud that I was able to do this so easily, even if I might have to give the fringe a bit of a trim.

I decided to add at least a second row of fringe to make the mane fuller.  Since I still had plenty of yarn and fabric, I decided to add a third row of fringe.  But that is it, Rebecca.  No more sewing fringe!

I sort of like the loop look.  I can't decide if I'm going to cut it to be cohesive with Indy's costume or not.  Maybe I'll baste it on to the sweatshirt and then try it onto Lucky to figure that out.

You can see that the spacing of my rows is not perfectly even, but they still aren't bad considering the amount of (to quote Tim Gunn) flotsum and jetsum that I've been adding to this piece of fabric.  I know at this point that I am going to have to 100% hand sew this onto the jacket hood, but I"m okay with that. The real question is how I'm going to hem the back portion.  I cannot press it closed because the yarn is acrylic and would melt with the heat of an iron.  Pins!  This is where I need pins! I"'m going to pin the raw edge to the second row of fringe and then do a 3/8" seam.  The two ends of the fabric are still approximately the same width, so I think I"ve got a winner here!   I sewed with the RS up so I could keep the fringe out from under the needle easier.

Wrong side of the fringe piece

I probably could have folded over the fabric more, but I'm happy with my strip of fringe.  Now to pin and sew it onto the hoodie!  I did a back stitch to attach the fringe strip to the hoodie.  This was hand work, but it went much faster than I expected.

In one evening I EASILY finished the fringe strip for the hoodie.  I now need to pin it onto the hoodie itself and sew it onto the hood.  Next, I'll try it on Lucky and decide whether to keep the fringe loopy or to snip them into pieces like Indy's.

I may have needed to bribe Lucky to keep the hood up, but it is still 90 degrees outside every day so even in our air conditioned home he was not thrilled by the idea of more layers.  Lucky has also recently figured out zippers so it is possible that he will figure out entirely how to take this costume off himself.  

The hoodie looks amazing with the hood up, but with some facepaint Lucky will also look very much like a lion with the hood down.

Wrists and Ankles

I have one 7"x17" big piece of brown fabric left.  I cut four 1.5" strips and then pressed down approximate 3/8" hems on three sides.  Each of these pieces are going to be like a ribbon I'll sew some yarn onto.  Each ribbon is about 5/8" wide. These are all much longer than I'll need but I can cut and hem the end when I get to where I need to go.  I see some of this as an exercise in sewing on my machine.

I should have folded down the ends before pressing the sides.  Now if I press down an end it looks a little wonky.  Thankfully these will be mostly covered with yarn!

After I went through the trouble to make these thin ribbons, I realized that I wanted to see if I could make a true fringe ribbon by sewing the yarn only to itself and not using any fabric to help.  I think it would be easier (and cleaner) if I were able to just sew the yarn fringe directly onto the cuffs of the costume.

It's working!  The yarn is going through the machine and I"m getting a garland that is just stitched to itself.  Wahoo!  Now I can take this long yarn garland/ribbon thing I'm making and directly stitch that to the cuffs of Luckys' costume.  This is going to be so much cleaner than if I had attached the yarn to the fabric itself.

While making the garland I realized that I hsould have measured the cuffs first to know how much I needed, but I was having fun watching project runway anyway so I just kept going and kept going.  I have plenty of yarn, after all, and what else am I going to do with all of this acrylic?

I pinned one layer of the fringe edging of each cuff and the tail and then hand stitched them with a backstitch to the cuffs.  Looking at how the fringe hands I was happy with one layer.

See how the fringe hangs?  


I cut out four pieces from brown felt and two pieces of yellow for the ears out of felt.  for the tail, I cut two 1.25 inch strips along the long end of the piece of felt.

I top stitched the inner ear onto one piece of brown felt and then top stitched the two pieces of brown felt together with RS out.  I think that I'd like the visible border and the felt will have enough stiffness that the ears probably won't need any stuffing to stay upright. I sewed on the slowest setting, this is my first time sewing around curves with this machine and I didn't want to have to rip anything out.

Attaching the ears was harder than I had expected.  Maybe it is because the felt is so stiff or there is just so much mane.  I was able to attach them in the blank space between the first and second row of fringe.

The mane is so exuberant that you can barely see the ears, but we'll see how it looks on the toddler.  It was super cute without ears to begin with, so I'm not that worried.  I should have made them larger, but I don't feel like going back now.  (Well, I could go back and recut them, but I don't want to!)


I didn't want to sew the tail perminantly onto the sweatshirt because I was concerned that it would freak Lucky out.  I had some sew on velcro in my stash (7/8", 2.2 cm) and I machine stiched the rough edge to end of one of the tail strips.  I'll hand stitch the soft velcro piece to the inside of the back sweatshirt hem.

Next, I top stitched the two pieces of felt together on all 4 sides

Finally, I hand sewed one rows of the yarn fringe to the bottom of the tail.  I thought about adding more fringe but once I saw it hang I loved the tiny little puff of fringe.

I stitched the soft velcro piece to the back top of the inside hem in the center back of the sweat shirt.  I didn't stitch through both layers so you wouldn't see any stitches on the right side of the shirt.

Lucky in his costume!

Finally the costume is completed!

Indy's free puppy lion snood knitting pattern was designed by ChemKnits!

I don't have any face paint yet, but don't Lucky and Indy make a fantastic pair?

When attempting to get some photos I got a lot of lion snuggles.

This costume was a success!  Now we just have to hope that I can convince Lucky to keep it on at Halloween.  I'm not worried about the hood coming off, that was part of the design.  Lucky is now obsessed with zippers and I'm sure he can figure out how to take the jacket completely off.

Making my own Halloween costumes isn't so expensive when you look at the materials that went into the costume, but if you incorporate the cost of the sewing machine then it starts being less economical.  Thankfully I really wanted my Janome 8077 anyway, this was just the excuse to bite the bullet.  I can't wait to try something a little more involved next year!

Project started 9.4.2015