Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Our Made At Home Turtle Costume

This year we made 2 out of 4 kid costumes.  Since my littlest guy is too small to trick or treat it didn't really make sense to spend a lot of time on a costume no one would see, and my oldest is now entering "too old to go out" territory, so instead we focused on the middle two. And the best part was they were both able to help make the costumes.  Last week I shared our DIY Refrigerator Costume and today I've got our Made at Home Turtle!  

Living in Michigan, Halloween is usually pretty cold.  Some years this is snow, and almost always chilly wind.  Costumes have to be able to handle a lot of clothing layers underneath, so it usually limits our options.  My 9yr came up with the idea of being a turtle, which was perfect.  

It was pretty inexpensive too since the main materials were just fleece & foam.  Besides a cuddly fleece suit for her turtle body, she's got an amazing turtle shell:

The front & back are nice and lightweight and since they're made from foam, help keep her warm, but still feel fairly soft:

- Fleece fabric
- Floor mat foam
- Craft foam
- Acrylic paint
- 1/4 inch wide elastic
- Zipper
- Shoelace (for hood drawstring)
- Nylon webbing
- Velcro
- Hot glue, rubber cement & heat gun
- Simplicity 1731 fleece jumpsuit pattern

To make a nice turtle shell I turned to my husband to use his foam-smithing skills.  He's been expanding his talents in that department since last year when he did a Viking helmet & shield

and Darkwing Duck costume parts for our big boys.  

He used basic foam floor mats to make the entire turtle shell!  He looked at actual turtle photos and made a paper pattern with the right details so it would be realistic.  He cut the front part (which is called the plastron btw) and then etched the grooves into the foam and sanded the edges so they'd be rounded.  He painted it with tan acrylic paint, but did black in the grooves: 

For the top part of the shell (which is the carapace), he worked some serious magic.  He cut an oval out of foam for the main part and made a cut line several inches in at the top and bottom so he could glue the cut ends together with rubber cement and use heat gun to help bend it into a curve.  A bit of heat makes the foam pretty shapeable.  He cut a groove pattern of hexagons for detail and cut a long strip with ridges for the outer edge and gave that a slight bend upward and glued it to the oval.  

He painted the whole thing brown and then went over it in green with an air brush to give it a realistic mottled coloring.

He hot glued some webbing for the shoulder and side straps 
and stitched on some velcro to the side straps.

He did a grid pattern with the glue so it would hold pretty tight:

And attached the other ends of the shoulder straps to the front half of the shell so it would be easy to get on and off.

For the turtle suit I used a pattern I'd bought in a dollar sale last year: Simplicity 1731. Usually I'm just so-so on Big 4 patterns, but this one is AWESOME.

It's an easy sew, so good for beginners and fast for more experience sewers.  There are just a few pieces to cut, but it has great features like a hood drawstring, elastic cuffs on the sleeves and legs and a long front zipper.  It does run a bit big, so for normal use sizing down is a good idea.  I was happy with the looseness though, since we needed to be able to get a jacket and jeans underneath it.  Added bonus is the pattern has sizing for a toddler 4 up to XL adult (there's even a dog version included!), so the whole family can use it.  I'm definitely going to make more of these as winter comes our way.  

My 9 yr old helped make our turtle claws to round out the outfit:

We cut some 2 inch triangle from sheets of craft foam for the claws:

I traced my daughter's hands and cut out two pairs of rounded mitten shapes from our fleece scraps:

We sewed one side together for each pair and then opened them up.  We measure across the wrist area and then cut out 2 pieces of 1/4 inch wide elastic that were 2 inches shorter and stitched them onto the wrong side of the fabric, about 2 inches from the opening end, stretching them across.  Elastic is optional, but it helps keep the mittens from slipping off.

We put the claws on top of the right side of the fabric and basted them into place on two of the mitten halves:

With right sides together she stitched around the remaining top & side and then we trimmed the raw edges and turned them right side out.

Now we had some turtle claws that would keep her hands warm too:

My daughter loves her costume and has been thrilled to have multiple opportunities to wear it.  She was proud to be able to say she helped make it as well.  It's great she can put it on and take it all off by herself too (which is a rare feat for most costumes!).  Dad definitely deserves a few pieces of candy for all his efforts this year!

Happy Halloween!


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