Monday, October 28, 2013

The Dynamic Duo Does It Again

When I posted the other day about my friend Bernina and her sidekick Theotherbernina, I mentioned that my friend j-ster thought that it was weird that I was excited to get sewing machines as college graduation presents. I also said that she has benefited greatly from that "unusual" gift over the years.

What I didn't mention is some of the crackpot things we have made with those machines.  She comes up with the idea, we discuss how it might be feasible with my skills and then we make do.  We cut corners, cheat, and do wild things that no professional would dream of doing.  But, I am not a professional seamstress, so I wing it.

I haven't made anything with her in a quite a while, and when she asked if I could help make a Very Hungry Caterpillar costume for her son, I said yes.  She had found a site that gave directions for a costume and when she came to my house, I was relieved that she didn't really like way it was done and had her own ideas.  I didn't like the original either.

It's cold here on Halloween, so she wanted to make it out of fleece.  The thing that bothered both of us about the pattern online was that it was very flat.  Kind of like an empty sack that was gathered in a few places.  We wanted segments, like that caterpillar would actually have.

Between us, we determined that we could cut each segment, doubled, and sew them together so they created channels.

The greens are much better, my camera was acting weird for these first couple of pictures.

Then we stuffed the channels with fiberfill.

We worried the whole time about how we would do the neck.  We didn't have her son with us, which I will say was a downer because it affected a couple of things.  You really need to have access to the kid if you are going to do this.  She wanted to have the segments go up to his underarms and then  make some straps to hold it on.  I didn't like that idea because it seemed like the straps would detract from the whole idea and I thought we would be able to make a smaller segment at the neck and cinch it closed and create armholes.

So, the last two segments were about 1.5 inches narrower than the others so it would gradually get thinner and then the neck was one of the 1.5 inches I had cut from the dark green.

 I was very proud of myself for sticking in a ribbon so that it could be gathered and tied at his neck when t's on.

The one thing we liked about the pattern online was the way the ribbons were sewn into the back to make the colorful bits at the top of the caterpillar.  As I was putting the right sides together to make the back seam, I pinned in the colorful ribbon and was surprised they actually stood up when it was it was assembled.  I would have used thicker ribbon, but this was cheaper and when we doubled it, it gave it some heft.

The next part was dealing with the armholes.  If we had had her son here from the beginning, I would have cut armholes right into the channels before stuffing them and I would have made a nice edge.  In my head, I know exactly how it would have worked.  But, with him not here, we didn't want to guess and then get them in an awkward place.  I figured we would just have to cut them later and sew them closed.

He came by as we were finishing and we did the armholes and I'm really glad we didn't just guess where his arms would be.  I cut into the outside layer, pushed aside the stuffing, cut through the inside layer and then kind of folded the front over the inside with a whipstitch.  It's my least favorite part of this because it's not as nice looking as the rest but it's under his arms so no one should notice.

Her mother crocheted a red hat and then she glued felt or fleece "eyes" on it and put some pipe cleaner antennae.

Don't you just love how it's so puffy?  We didn't really even stuff it that much.  And it's so thick, this could go naked under it and be warm.  And because of that puffiness, it got a lot smaller and just fits him.  We had thought we would have to cut it down and I'm really glad we didn't or it would have been a total waste.

We also thought it would be a perfect way to make a bumble bee costume.

So, without any actual dimensions because each kid is different and because I was too lazy to be specific as we did it, here's what I did.  This isn't my sister's blog where actual geometry and math was done.

You don't come here for precision, anyway!

Cut 2 strips of dark green and 2 of light green (be sure to double them).  Cut one each of light green and dark green that is 1.5 inches smaller than the other 4 (double these too).  Use one of those 1.5 inch strips you cut off for the neck.

Sew a hem on the bottom segment to close it.  Sew each segment (the doubled pieces) to each other and then stuff them so it looks like a raft!

I would have cut the armholes into the segments that are appropriate and sew the curves closed so that it makes a nicer product.  I am not really happy with the way I did the arms, especially the second one because it was bigger than I wanted.

Slip a ribbon into the neck segment but don't let that get sewn up as you sew your spine seam.  I left it open so the ribbon could cinch it closed.

Cut your ribbons that you want for the spine and as you pin the wrong sides of the costume together , slip the ribbons into the seam so you will lock them into place.  We just randomly did the colors.  Sew the seam closed.

Ta-da for my part!  We should take this creativity on the road, I know.

I could have made a fleece hat but wasn't sure how I would do it, so it was great that her mother made the crocheted version.

Linking up here:


  1. This looks awesome. I'm really excited about how it looks with that hat too. It's way better puffy and the colors are just like the book.

  2. You did such a good job! I love it.

  3. It was a big hit on Halloween at all the houses where he trick or treated. He wore a bright green long sleeve shirt underneath and dark(er) green pants and it was perfect. The only improvement would be snaps or velcro in the back instead of pulling it on/off over his head.


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