Homemade owl costume: Success!

 Here she is, the cutest owl in the forest!

 My mom is a fantastic seamstress. I know I’ve mentioned that before, but I wanted to repeat it because as Halloween approaches I always find myself remembering the amazing costumes Mom created for us over the years. Winnie the Pooh, Minnie Mouse, a ballerina, a queen, Peter Pan…all we had to do was tell Mom what we wanted to be, and she made it happen. The most memorable, wonderful costume she made me was my Snow White outfit. No cheap polyester and fake lace for this princess, no way – she replicated Disney’s Snow White perfectly, right down to the red cape with white stand-up collar and velvet red and teal sleeves. When I put on the costume I truly felt transformed into a real princess.

Even before I turned my calendar to September I knew that I wanted Charlotte to be an owl for Halloween (Note: I know many Christians don’t believe in celebrating Halloween. My own family stopped trick-or-treating after we kids were old enough to understand the darker side of the holiday. However, I have such wonderful, magical memories of dressing up and traipsing from door to door around our neighborhood, and I want Charlotte to have similar memories. Our church offers a safe, fun alternative to trick-or-treating called Streetfest, where no scary costumes are allowed, which we plan on attending. Of course this first year it’s mostly about the pictures :)). Anyway, if you’ve been to our house or have seen pictures you know that owls have a prominent place in Charlotte’s nursery, and so it seemed like the natural choice for her first costume. I began by scouring Pinterest for inspiration, and found it here.

Of course my costume needed to be scaled back a bit to fit my six month old, but it gave me an idea of where to start. I planned on working on it throughout this week, but on Sunday I got hit by a crafting frenzy and ended up finishing most of it in one afternoon. Here’s the finished product:

I’m saving pictures of Charlotte actually wearing the costume for Halloween itself…I’m sure you understand :). I promise it looks much cuter on her than spread out on the dining room table. It’s far from perfect, but as you know I’m working on letting that go and focusing on the fact that I did actually sew Charlotte’s first Halloween costume, and that tradition will hopefully continue (though when she asks for the inevitable “Cinderella” or “Belle” gown, I fully plan on calling in my mom for reinforcements :)).

I thought I’d give you a step-by-step look at the project, just in case you too are looking for inspiration :). Once I gave up trying to get it perfect, it really was pretty simple. I did get super frustrated right at the end when my bobbin decided to knot and I ended up with a huge tangle of thread on the underside of the costume…until I realized it’s the back, who cares?  Here’s what I did:

I started with a square of craft paper, then rounded the edges and held it up to Baby Girl to make sure it was a good size. I used that for my pattern. It’s super basic. I decided to use fleece instead of felt for the body of the costume, thinking it would be softer. I used about a quarter of a yard in dark brown. I cut a slit in the middle for her head to go through, so it will fit like a poncho:

Next I cut out a feather pattern, also out of craft paper, (it took me three tries before I made one I was happy with…just trial and error). I used that pattern to cut feathers out of four different colors of felt: cream, gray, tan, and dark pink.   After I cut a few feathers I started to lay out the pattern, again arranging it several different ways until I found a pattern that I liked that looked most like feathers to me. I found that I needed more feathers, so I kept cutting. I cut A LOT of feathers – five sheets of each color of felt, eight feathers per sheet…yeah, you can do the math. Once I had the pattern complete and laid out, I picked up the feathers row by row and then pinned the bottom row in place.

I sewed those feathers down using a simple straight stitch on my sewing machine, but if you don’t want to sew you could hot glue it (although that would take longer I would think). I continued to pin and sew each row of feathers until I’d covered the whole body. I decided to cut an oval for the owl belly, and made “wings” by changing the pattern of the feathers. I don’t know if they will show up when she has it on, but I tried.

I hand stitched an elastic loop under each wing for her wrist to go through, so hopefully it will look like the her arms are actually attached to the wings. We’ll see if it works.

The key to the whole costume is the owl face, since without it she’ll just end up looking like a random bird. My mother-in-law thought I was making a turkey outfit 🙂 My mom knitted an adorable owl hat that I will use for the “official” costume, but I wanted an alternative to the hat in case she got too hot. I decided to make a headpiece I could attach to a headband. I cut circles and triangles out of the felt and glued them to an owl-shaped head that I free-handed on the felt. I found some buttons for the eyes, and made eyelashes and a flower to make sure it looked like a girl owl. It took two tries but I ended up with one I liked. I added a few left-over feathers and glued alligator clips on the back, and ta-daa!

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