Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Last Minute Panda Costume

It's become a tradition in the Tsoi household for us to come up with a Halloween costume idea at the very last minute, then have me stay up late the night before Halloween, frantically trying to put the costume together.

It started off with Nathan's ghost costume.

Then, there was Andrew's Phantom of the Opera costume.

This year, it was Caleb's turn. I actually wanted to reuse Nathan's monkey costume from his first Halloween but of course we left that back in Toronto so obviously that wasn't going to happen.

It took me a little while but I finally decided to dress Caleb up as a panda.

Now that I had the idea, I just had to figure out how to make the costume.

This was my thought process:
Black outfit with white tummy -- easy but ugly. Plus it's not realistic; pandas have white bums. No.

Black outfit with white wrapped around mid-section and bum -- also easy but ugly. It has to look like a proper costume, not some poorly dressed kid. No.

Sew a shirt with black arms and white belly, pants with white bum and black legs -- not so easy but ugly. Plus, it would look like a cheap effort. No

So really, that left only one option: a full body suit with the black and white in the right places.

By the time I had this all figured out, it was dinner time, the night before Halloween.

Let me just say I have never made anything wearable before. I have made blankets, tablecloths and pillow cases. These are all things that require sewing only straight lines, and are left at home, never to be seen by the public eye. So starting on this project, I knew one thing: this could either turn out really awesome, or really awful. Either way, it was going to be hard work.

The hat was easy enough to make. I loosely followed this tutorial, replacing the horns with rounded ears and omitting the eyes. I had it mostly completed by the time Caleb finished his shower, so we tried it on for size.

I was so excited that it fit, and that he liked wearing it.

Then, the hard part began.

Since Caleb was now in bed, I had to rely on several pieces of his clothing to guess his size and shape - not that I would've known how to sew something using his measurements anyway.

I traced the outlines of his clothes and left a little space for seam allowance. Looking back, I should have made the costume quite a bit bigger to account for the lack of stretch in the material I used.

Reading through several tutorials taught me how to make a pattern using existing clothing. I felt pretty good drawing my own pattern. I was taking my sewing skills to a whole new level. I still had no idea if this would turn out right, though.

I drew a curve through my t-shirt pattern where the tummy would be and cut it off. I was starting from the top and going down, so the only parts I needed black were the arms and the top part of his torso.

I ended up having to sew the arms on after attaching the top part of the torso to the tummy because on its own, it didn't have enough stability. The only problem now was figuring out how Caleb would actually get into the suit.

At that point, it was around 2am and I was going to call it a night - figure the rest out in the morning. But, I was starving so I had Andrew make me a tea and croissant.

With a bit of food and a bit of determination, I was able to finish off most of the suit before heading to bed. I ended up having to rip open the bottom of the suit (so Caleb would be able to get in) and attaching the legs from there.

In the morning, all that was left to do was attach the snaps inside the legs...

Sew on a cute little tail and let Caleb try the whole thing on for size.

And that, my friends, is how you design and make a panda costume from start to finish in less than 24 hours!


  1. This is so awesome and adorable!!

  2. you machine!!!! i dont know if my brain would work at 2am!!!
    let alone sew in a straight line!!!



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