Thursday, October 1, 2009

Homemade Care Bear Costume

After seeing the CUTEST Grumpy Bear ever, I was inspired to make a Care Bear costume for Goose. However, Halloween isn't too big of a deal to our family - there are only a few places we'll visit, and I'm not anticipating Goose will be all that crazy about her costume (though she could prove me wrong!), so I didn't really want to sink much money - or time - into a costume. Here's how I did it:

My first stop was the local thrift shop. I looked around for anything in fleece, specifically Care Bear colors - it helps to be a bit familiar with them! - I checked sleepers as well as bigger separate pieces. I kind of wish I had measured Goose and taken a tape measure - I ended up with a sleeper that was in the 3T box that said "Medium" and it just fits her.

It is yellow, so I went with "Funshine Bear" or "Sunshine Tummy Bear" as Goose calls it. I'll tell you the steps in the order I would suggest . . . not the order that I did them in. You're welcome. :>)

First thing I would do is cut off the feet. If you think it's going to be too long, you can trim taking that into account. If you think it's going to be short or close, you can use a seam ripper to take the feet seams apart then trim so the legs are as long as possible. Next, I'd remove the elastic from the ankles. Again, I used a seam ripper, but be careful around the seams - I ended up with some holes I had to stitch shut.

I ironed the area where I removed the elastic to make it look better - I used a fairly damp kitchen towel to protect the fleece, as I wanted the iron hot enough to *do* something but I was afraid it would be too hot for the synthetic fabric. It worked well in getting rid of the elastic marks. The drawback is that it flattened out the fleece! Our sleeper also had a patch on the top left, which I removed. I think I would have done well to have washed it at this stage, but I already had some of the other stuff done and was afraid that washing would damage it.

At this point, I tried it on Goose and noted that the legs seemed a bit short. I used some yellow felt that I had (same stuff that I used on the sun's face) and made cuffs, then stitched them on to make it longer. They were among the items attached by the time I ironed the legs, and I didn't think they'd wash well.

I then took to the internet to get some pictures of what the sun looked like. To make the "sunshine tummy", I used the biggest bowl I had as a pattern for some white fleece from my stash. I did some math and measuring and figured out the ratio of sun to tummy (my sun ended up 5" in diameter compared to a 10" circle). I used orange embroidery thread to stitch the eyes and smile, then used a zig-zag machine stitch to attach the yellow felt to the white fleece. Finally I went back to the orange embroidery thread to make the rays, though after I got about 3/4 of the way through, I realized I could have used the zig zag stitch on my machine! Ah, well, it didn't take all that long as it was.

This is where you could go a couple of different ways. I used my machine to stitch down the white fleece on the left side (as you're wearing it) of the tummy with a regular straight stitch around the edge, then realized that if I sewed the velcro on the fleece to hold down the right side, the stitches would show through the right side. So I went back and cut another half circle of fleece and machine sewed the velcro to that, then machine sewed that half circle to the full circle.

The worst part of that step was figuring out just where to place the bottom velcro. At that point, I turned to my mother-in-law, who wondered why I didn't just glue the velcro onto the main circle and be done with it. :>) The short answer is that I don't have fabric glue and didn't think about it. :>) She advised me not to worry about exact placement of the velcro, to stick the two pieces of velcro together and lay the circle out flat on the sleeper. Then gently pick up the edge of the fleece, trying to leave the velcro in place but peeling away the top piece, and pinning the bottom piece down. I'd kind of been trying to do that and it didn't seem to work very well for me. (More experienced seamstresses, please feel free to leave a comment with suggestions!)

What I ended up doing was beginning as she instructed - putting the loose velcro onto its mate and flattening out the sleeper and circle. I then took a disappearing ink pen (the link takes you to to show the brand I have, but I got mine at Hobby Lobby) and drew lines along the outside edge of the velcro, trying to take care to start and end exactly. The picture shows you what it looked like after I lifted the fleece up. I then took the pieces of velcro and pinned them (taking care to only pin through the top layer of the sleeper!) along the lines, then I used a straight stitch on my machine to sew them down.

*A note about sewing through velcro* - the "soft" side, the one with the loops, is easy to sew through. But when you sew through the hard/crunchy/pokey side, the one with the hooks, it is difficult to avoid breaking your thread. I have better luck when I sew sloo-ooo-ooow-ly, but believe me, I broke plenty of thread.

To make the hood, I totally winged it. :>) I have been inspired by Dana, though - she uses items that she already has and loves as patterns. You can see how she does it here with a little girl swimsuit and here with little boy pants.

So, I took one of Goose's jackets and traced around it to make a hood. It didn't turn out perfectly, but I'm not expecting Goose to keep the hood up for long! I made the ears half-circles, using a bear for approximate size and a small bowl as a pattern, and stuffed them with poly-fill. I pinched them into a bit of a C shape (with the open part of the C facing forward) and stitched them by hand onto the hood. I also gave the hood fabric underneath the ears a bit of a pinch to help them stand up better, but that meant that the hood kind of lumped up. I messed with it a bit, taking a seam a bit, but finally declared it good enough.

The final step was to cut a heart from red fleece and stitch it to Goose's "bunner" region. I first tried a zig-zag machine stitch but was having trouble rounding the curves, so I took that out and just stitched it on by hand.

I've debated adding eyes and a nose to the hood like the "real" Care Bear costumes, and so far, I'm leaning toward no. I also bought a package of yellow dye for the cuffs and hood but I didn't get that done right away so I just left them as they were.

A side note, part of the reason I was able to do this so cheaply and easily was that I already had yellow felt, red and cream fleece and yellow flannel on hand, as well as orange embroidery floss and all the colors of thread I needed. I've made it a habit to check out the clearance fabrics at Hobby Lobby and Wal-Mart and if something looks like it has promise, I pick it up. I also buy grab bags of sewing notions and whatnot at Goodwill and the local thrift store if I think there are several things in there that I'll actually use. It's kind of like stockpiling in your pantry, but in your craft supplies instead. :>)

For more frugal ideas, visit Life As Mom!


Angela said...

Ha! I need to work on talking her into wearing it, the subject hasn't been brought up around here lately. :) We're not into Halloween either, but our local nursing home has kids come trick or treating there, it's pretty fun. Other than that, we just take her to our two neighbors' houses.

You did an AWESOME job with that costume!! It looks great, I LOVE the sun and the heart, cute little girl modeling it too! :)

Lori said...

Absolutely too cute!! :) You did a really great job on that!

AmberRay said...

That is the cutest costume. Great job!

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

ADORABLE!!!! I love it! What a great job you did. Way to go!

Jessica said...

Oh! That is sooo cute...and she is so proud! :) She can parade around in that for pretend play as well as for Halloween! Great Job!!!

I'm having my first giveaway and it is some adorable frugal halloween magnets!

You should check it out!


dana said...

Oh my gosh, I LOVED your comment on MADE. Thank you so much for sharing that with me!
And what a GREAT costume idea!! Seriously, you did a totally fabulous job. I love the heart on the butt. So perfect. It looks like you have the creative eye for refashioning. I'm sure you're going to love it.
Thanks again for sharing!
- dana

Christy said...

This is the cutest! You did an amazing job. Thanks for sharing.