This Halloween my 2 youngest kids are going to be bats. They are still young enough that it’s my choice and I like dressing them up as animals. I really like the idea of crocheting the kids costumes but it’s way too time consuming what with a baby and a toddler running around, so this year they are getting sewn.
I use Fabcycle for a lot of my fabric to keep things cheap. They take unused fabric from the textile industry and resell it making it significantly cheaper. Of course, buying fabric this way meant one of the fabrics I needed I had to improvise a bit. The rest of the fabric was perfect, which was what I based the costumes around. Since I couldn’t get exactly what I wanted for one fabric I went with something white that I could dye and potentially use for many future projects. This fabric was also super affordable, so that’s a plus. I’ve been waiting for my fabric to arrive since it was bought online and now that’s its here, and I’ve prewashed and dried it, it’s time to get started.
There are plenty of sources online for patterns for little kids, but it’s also simple to make one yourself. Drafting a pattern that is this small is so much easier than for an adult.
I decided to do each step for each of the costumes at the same time, to start I made the tights for each of them. First, I used a pair of tight pants for each of them. I took the measurements of all the seams and copied them out onto a simple drawing of the pattern. I knew the basic shape I was looking for but also referenced a couple images online to make sure I was getting all the measurements I needed. I made sure to add in the seam allowance to each of my measurements, as well.
You can use anything you have on hand for pattern paper. I save all the packing paper we get in the mail for this, but you could use anything; old wrapping paper, printer paper taped together, a cut open paper bag, I have even used newspaper.
Drafting the pattern for the tights was the most complicated part, yet its still pretty simple. The shape looks complicated but its pretty much always the same, you just need to add in more space for the back to make it sit properly. This fabric is super stretchy, so the fit tolerances would end up being forgiving.
The pattern for the body suit was really simple. I, again, used a piece of clothing that currently fits, tracing around it leaving room for the seam. I want this part to be super baggy, so I made it much larger around the torso. I also want the legs to come down a bit more, so I added that in. Due to the shape of this part I made the front and back the same, so I only needed one pattern piece. Every other piece of this would be simple rectangles for the cuffs so I didn’t bother making up a pattern for them.
The last pattern piece I needed was the arms which would be made from the same fabric as the tights and wings. For the arms I just traced arms off of their clothes directly onto the fabric with a seam allowance.
For this entire process I used an overlock stitch on my sewing machine, if I had a serger I would have used that instead. I tried a zigzag stitch at first, but it didn’t create a very nice seam. The overlock stitch takes longer but it looked much nicer.
To assemble the pants, I sewed each pant leg first, pinning the leg together, then sewing the length of the right sides together. Then I turned one leg right side out and placed it inside the other and pinned the crotch seam together. I sewed it together still using the overlock stitch and turned the whole thing right side out.
Next I cut a large rectangle for my waist bands, I measured where the seam would need to be to make it match up with the top of the pants and sewed it together.
Once it was sewn, I folded it in half lengthwise with the seam on the inside then marked where the halfway point would be with a pin.
I turned the waste band upside down and placed it around the top of the pants so all the raw edges were together. I lined the seam up with the back seam and the pin with the front seam then pinned the rest in place. Next, I sewed it all together.
For this project I left the bottoms of the legs without cuffs so they would lay flat, if it were for regular wear, I would sew a hem or cuff.
With the pants finished I just needed to sew the seam of the arms, again leaving them without a cuff. Then I cut out simple triangles for turning into the wings later.
Time to Dye
With all these parts cut and sewn it is time to dye them. I used a dark brown RIT dye and dyed them all in a stainless-steel bowl in my sink. I used hot tap water mixed with half boiling water to get it nice and hot. I used a little more dye than recommended in an attempt to achieve the desired darkness.
I pre-wet the fabric to help it absorb the dye evenly. Then I placed each piece in the dye bath slowly to make sure there were no big folds as it went in.
I slowly placed the pieces into the dye bath trying to avoid trapping bubbles in it as I went. Once everything was in the dye, I used a stick to stir it every couple minutes. If you use your hands, don’t forget to wear gloves. I left it in for a full 60 minutes which is the max the bottle recommends. Unfortunately the result isn’t very dark, I think because of the fabric I am using; it is a synthetic fabric. I am going to dye it again and if I can’t get it darker it will still work, it’s just not perfect.
While I wait to re-dye these pieces, I am going to start to assemble the body. The body, attaching the arms and painting up the wings will all be in the next post as some projects take a little more time, especially when making two at once.