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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Halloween 2013 : Baby Bird DIY

(Mom fail: I didn't realize I didn't finish this post until this month. You know, almost three months later.)

This year was a tough year for Halloween - Carys had a vague concept of what it meant to dress up as a character and also had definite likes and preferences, so I wanted to incorporate something she liked into her costume. However, her likes changed daily - hourly - and because of that it was hard to come to a decision. In the weeks leading up to Halloween, she was into Toy Story, so I was trying to steer her into Jessie (or even Woody) for simplicity's sake, but she really wanted to be Buzz Lightyear.  I started researching other DIY costumes on the internet, and oh em gee were they complicated. At least the good ones, and I didn't want to half-ass it. I had started collecting ideas for Buzz, but hadn't purchased anything, when she suddenly started to pretend to be a baby bird and would ask us to build her a nest out of pillows and blankets, every day for a week straight. So I switched up the plans and decided to go with baby bird (with her blessing...kind of...since she still didn't REALLY understand what Halloween meant). SO MUCH EASIER. Of course, if I'd started more than a week in advance, it probably would have been even easier, but I'm a slacker with a capital S. Also a capital LACKER. 

I sewed the costume together, but since I just used felt it could have easily been glued together. 

I started with a basic sweatshirt that I got a couple sizes too large, because I wanted it to go down to her knees.  It was a little over $10 online (source).

I then got a couple yards of soft felt in red and pink, which were the feather colors that she'd picked out (I got a yard of each but had tons left over, so probably could have cut that down by at least half a yard).  I also got large pieces of stiff felt in red for the wing bases and yellow for the beak and feet. I picked up a bag full of red feathers for the top of the "head" as well.  All of those items (along with coordinating thread) were picked up at Hancock fabric. The felt was on sale for $3 a yard and the stiff felt sheets were $1 each, so I spent under $10 for the fabric.   We had the yellow leggings for the bird legs already.  I think the only other thing I used for the costume was elastic, which I had on hand at home. Oh, and large safety pins. 

I cut a pair of wings out of the stiff felt using the sweatshirt arms as a guide to the length. Hint: don't use the sweatshirt arms as a guide. Use your kid's arms. Otherwise, once it's all assembled, you'll have to go back and cut it all down. 

I had a pretty straightforward idea of how to do the feathers on the wings, so I thought I'd start with them and see how it went and then try to translate that idea to the rest of the costume if it worked well.  I created a "feather" template from cardboard which was about a foot long, straight on top, and feather-shaped on the bottom. I used that template to trace strips of feathers onto the soft felt. 

I sewed them in place, but you could just as easily hot glue or fabric glue it.

I alternated pink and red strips, and tried to line them up so the feathers alternated position from row to row.

I then worked on the body of the bird suit, which was by far the hardest part and which I didn't take any pictures of (funny how that works). It was a similar but more complicated process, using much longer strips of feathers, trying to hide the seams, and working around the arms and the neck. For the top row of feathers around the neckline, I cut a single piece to fit over the hood so I didn't have to worry about seams at the shoulders - so the top row of front and back feathers are all one piece and it went over the hood/neck hole and then draped over the shoulders like smock (here's what the piece looked like laid flat):
I tacked it down in a few places so it didn't fly up, using pink thread so it wouldn't be noticeable. 
The last step on the body was to cut the round "belly" piece. It took a few tries to get the size and proportions right on it, but I just pinned it to the body of the outfit, stepped back, and cut it down as needed. 
I sewed some real feathers to the top of the sweatshirt hood where it comes to a point, and sewed a yellow beak on there made from stiff felt as well. I used two layers of the stiff felt and sandwhiched the edge of the hood between them to it really stood out instead of drooping. Finally, I cut two feet shape from the yellow stiff felt and sewed yellow ribbon to the very top of it. In retrospect, I should have done something a little different for the feet because they kept sliding off the top of her shoes and falling to the side. I tried a couple pieces of double-sided sticky tape but it didn't work too well. Maybe elastic to go around the bottom of the shoes or something?
I left the wings detached from the sweatshirt for the sake of practicality, since I knew we'd be driving a few places and that I wouldn't be able to get her in her carseat with the wings attached. I sewed a strip of elastic to the bottom of each wing on the underside for her wrists to slip through, and used a large safety pin at the top, hidden under the top row of feathers, to attach it to the shoulders of the body. Once safety-pinned to the shoulders, she could let the wings hang free or slip her hands into the elastic to control the wings. 
wings attached to her wrists

wings detached at the wrist

back view

in action on Halloween night!

Overall, it turned out well (though a little large on her, whoops!) and she enjoyed her time as a baby bird. It wasn't as mind-boggling-ly cute as the Oompa Loompa from last year - though it was WAY harder to make - but since I was like 34 weeks pregnant with the energy of a worm at the time I was making it, I'm overall happy with it. And she liked it a lot, and that's really the most important part. My sweet baby bird. 


  1. I don't think you can say "mom fail" anywhere in this post when you MADE THE MOST INCREDIBLE BIRD COSTUME FOR YOUR CHILD. It doesn't matter when you posted about it. :)

  2. I think this is amazing. And since she love it...you didn't come close to failing.

  3. There were also some pretty cool halloween costume ideas for the older kids. The kids had a super time online shopping for their halloween costume ideas. The youngest two children decided on a big dinosaur and the hero Superman. 4th July party

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