Sunday, 30 October 2016

The Vampire Bat

I never got around to blogging the costumes I made last year, and with Halloween almost upon us again it seems like the perfect time to catch up.

Last Halloween my daughter wanted to be a vampire bat, as you do...

Here she is, pointing backwards at a rose bush (yes, awkward pose but I didn't manage to get many photos before she and her friends were off door knocking):

This costume was heavily improvised.  There was a costume online that my daughter wanted, but it was (a) expensive, (b) trashy and (c) too warm for our climate. Oh and it was shipping from America, so probably wouldn't have got to us in time.

So we discussed the key elements (stretchy black dress, silky wings, furry hood with ears, holey stockings) and I sketched out the costume to check we were on the same page (yes!), then whipped up a very quick long-sleeved t-shirt dress using a t-shirt pattern that I knew fit well, Burda 9439:

This is a short-sleeved t-shirt pattern, but with a couple of length measurements it's very easily turned into a long-sleeved t-shirt dress.  Anyway, the fit was good, but the grey/black jersey I'd used looked vaguely trendy instead of spooky, so we called version 1 a new dress... and dug out a second piece of stash fabric, a remnant of black jersey (not quite enough for the dress, hence the seam at hip level).

This time around I paused after sewing the shoulder seam and attaching the sleeves (in the flat) so I could make some wings to sew into the side seams of the dress.  The only fabric I could find in my stash that looked and felt right for wings was a length of beautiful silk jersey I'd picked up a Tessuti remnant sale a long time ago.  In the interests of reusability (I want that fabric back one day!!) I decided to simply cut it in half, so that each wing is simply a long rectangle, long enough to stretch from skirt hemline to wrist.

I hope the next photo explains that a bit better:

Not hemmed, not ironed but perfectly acceptable for a kid's costume!

This "design" means there is a lot of scope for arm movement and bat-like fluttering - and my daughter can extend her arms above her head without the wings moving the dress up. The luscious wing fabric makes the costume very popular, and the outfit has had a lot of wears over the past year. It went to a Halloween disco on Friday night and is going out again on Monday evening, and now fits a lot better than it did last year, so I guess it's been a successful costume...

Oh I nearly forgot - the hood! I actually love the hood, because it reminds me of the movie version of Where the Wild Things Are - I kind of want a giant furry hoodie for myself :).

For this part of the outfit I started with Butterick 6695, a little kids animal onesie pattern I used years ago for my son (not blogged). I didn't want the hood to come all the way around the neck the way the hood in the animal onesie does, so I studied a couple of Simplicity costumes (5512 and 5840) to confirm the shape for a simpler hoodie.


And none of the standard ear shapes on Butterick 6695 looked particularly bat like, so I drew up my own ear pattern: a smaller inner piece with a fold in the middle, and a larger enfolding outer piece (much easier to do than that probably sounds). Here's the hood in close-up - the ear details get lost in all that fur though:

You can probably see in the above that the fur is just on the outside of the hood - the "lining" is matt black technical fabric left over from a dress I made ages ago. (The fake fur is left over from a mouse costume made for my son when he was in childcare). The hood "lining" is sewn to the neckline of the dress because I thought the weight of the fake fur and ears would make the outer fake fur hang fall nicely over the neckline, but in fact it all tends to tip forwards. Which is not a problem, because it's comfortable on, and my daughter loves it.

Here's a back view of the hood taken last year - this year I'm afraid the fake fur is tipped further forward as it accounts for a bit more growth...

And since I was sewing a costume and playing around with all the black remnants, my son got a "test" hoodie to wear with his costume cape and staff.  This one is a very simple pointy hood, and my recollection is that I made it just by sewing up 2 adjoining sides of a rectangle, then sewing a deep hem around the face.  

This year the vampire bat is being resurrected, but my son is going to be a dead person, complete with fake knife wound - very gory but no sewing is required. 

I'll leave you with one more photo of the vampire bat's fluttering wings:

 And will try to be back soon with more sewing!

See you soon

- Gabrielle xx

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