Thursday, January 26, 2017

One Pair of Pants into Two Costumes: R2D2

My mom made most of my Halloween costumes when I was growing up.  It was always a lot of fun to see what she would create and I even still have some of the items she sewed!  Last year was the first year I made Lucky (and Indy) Halloween costumes.  I designed and knit a puppy lion snood so Indy could have a lion's mane and I embellished a sweat suit with home stitched loopy fringe to turn Lucky in to a Lion, too.  Previously I purchased costumes, even if I did knit Lucky some dinosaur slippers for his second Halloween.

For Halloween 2016, I wanted to create costumes for both Lucky and Rowdy.  Halloween had almost arrived and it was time for me to start creating something.  I wanted to turn the boys into Star Wars Droids, Lucky could be R2D2 and Rowdy could turn into the equally lovable BB8.  I had a large pair of white denim pants that would be perfect as the base for both droids.  I know that there is enough fabric because one leg fits over Lucky.  I just needed to take a deep breath and start cutting.

I prewashed the pants, and then all I had to do is make the bases for the boys.  Simple enough, right?  Unfortunately, I'd never sewn a garment before.  I had appliqued onto an existing garment, but never made a garment from scratch.  I sketched out a "blue print" (yes onto blue paper) of how I was hoping to construct each of the costumes.

From this plan, you can see that I had no excuse but to cut the pants in half and then breathe from there.  Right?

I worked on both projects simultaneously, but I started with Lucky's R2D2.  I took his pant leg and tried it on him to get a sense of how much I needed to take the leg in so he would be able to walk but also give us enough space to have an R2 tunic of sorts.

I saw two main options for the garment.  I could make a shift dress or a tube with two straps that can be adjusted.  I think the tube with the adjustable straps will be easier to get on and off plus I wouldn't have to worry about stretch in the neck region.  I could handle sewing a tube, right?   I didn't think I had enough length to create proper sleeveless-sleeves anyway.  My instinct to do a tube dress with straps was right on target.

I could've pinned the costume on Lucky... but I had a feeling that my 3 year old would not cooperate.  I therefore basted along the outside line drawn with my machine (stitch length 4).  I can always rip out the stitches if it is too tight, or reinforce it if it is perfect.

I cut two straps that are just over 2.25" wide.  I wasn't sure if they'd be long enough so I made Lucky try on the costume - pins and all.  (I had already pressed down the hems) Gulp!

There was plenty of space with the straps on the front and back so I knew that I would be able to adjust this to different heights.  I would need to pick up some more velcro but now I can stitch the body of the costume together and get ready to embellish it.  I sewed a 1/4" seam on each strap and then turned them right side out and pressed them flat.  This was SUCH A PAIN!  It was so hard to get the denim to turn right side out.

Now it is time to start embellishing! Using the linked image as a guide, I cut shapes to create my R2.   I purchased craft felt and planned to cut out most of the shapes and then further decorate with puffy paint.  I started with the blue stripes on the front.  All three blue stripes are the same width.  I cut the two notched pieces together so they would be identical.

I removed some pieces from the back because I didn't have quite enough space for all of the sockets. I thought I'd draw on some of the white rectangles with puffy paint.  I hadn't decided if I was going to try to make some arm guards for Lucky to wear or not, we'll see how the rest of the body comes together before I add an additional accessory to make that he might not even be willing to wear.

I wasn't sure if the gray on gray was too subtle, but once it dried the metallic shimmer was really nice.

I learned an important lesson.  It is HARD to sew over puffy paint.  I really should have sewn down the felt first and then embellished it.  I had to sew on the  machine with the presser foot up to get this to stop sticking.  

I pinned the felt down to to the garment.  I probably over pinned but if I was going to be sewing without the presser foot then I needed to have it secure.

Before I started sewing down the felt, I realized that I should pin the straps to the garment NOW rather than later.  I didn't want to have to sew through my beautiful blue stripe to attach the straps later.  I quickly stitched the straps on in white, crossing my fingers that their placement would be good for Lucky.  I quickly tried the costume on him and it was GREAT!

My brother asked me if I planned to add some wire to it to help it hold its droid shape, but the stiff fabric does a pretty good job, in my opinion.  It looks a bit like a dress but Lucky can move in it and he seems genuinely thrilled to be wearing it.  Now I just have to do the last few finishing details!  (And finish baby brother's costume!)

I love my AIR SOLUBLE FABRIC MARKERS.  I used these and a straight edge to make the white markings I wanted to put on the costume.  I tested the white puffy paint on the background and it showed up as well as the gray on gray did, so I decided to go for the more subtle details.  If I didn't get a chance to finish the back before Saturday as I wait for this to dry it will be okay.  Hopefully I did the paint light enough that it doesn't leak through to the other side because I didn't put anything between the two layers of fabric.

It looked great!  Now I just had to flip it over and do the back.  I was going to wait until the very last minute to install the velcro because I could always tie it on Lucky like a halter top if I need to.  Paint drying takes precedence.

Just in time for Halloween I stitched some velcro onto the straps and back of the costume.  I wanted the straps to be adjustable so it could fit over coats or tshirts, depending on the weather.  

The costume was a hit!  Lucky loved his R2D2 costume and now that we're full on into winter he loves wearing his hat around as a winter hat.  I'm not sure if the costume will still fit him come Purim, but it would be nice to see him use it again this year.  Certainly all of the effort was worth it.  I love that I created this!  (The kid AND the costume!)  

I don't have the energy to make Indy a costume this year, but I do know that we will be able to reprise some of his costumes from the past to take some epic pictures with Lucky and Rowdy.  In the next post I'll share what I did to create Rowdy's BB8 costume.  If you think I'm happy with Lucky's costume, just wait until you see more pictures of the pair of them together.