Saturday, October 31, 2009

James Madison Costume

This year my son was James Madison for Halloween. I had so much fun making his costume. This would be a great costume for George Washington or any other founding father.

Here's the list of things you'll need to buy:
  • Simplicity Pattern number 2561
  • 1.5 yards of black craft flannel (72 inches wide) If you prefer blue, brown or gray, go for it
  • Two packages of 3/32" wide metallic soutache braid (by the bias tape)
  • A 'sample' of incredibly ugly gold fabric
  • 20 eyelets
  • Eyelet setter
  • Gold chain (by the buttons)
  • 6 star buttons
  • 1 doily
  • White tights
  • 1.5 yards of 1 inch pregathered lace

Things you may already have:
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Velcro (about 3 inches)
  • Cotton balls
  • 1/2 inch wide elastic to fit the waist of the breeches
I'll run you though each item and explain what to do.

The belt. This is not a mandatory part of the costume but it adds a little extra. Cut a two inch wide strip of your craft felt as long as your kid's waist plus 3 inches. Fabric stores are often willing to give you a sample of fabrics so you can take them home and make sure that is what you need. This ugly gold fabric was $18 per yard. I certainly didn't even want 1/8 of a yard because I have no idea what I would do with it. So, I got a sample for free. It makes a perfect belt buckle. Just cut a 2 x 3 inch rectangle. Cut a square out of the center and sew in on to one end of the belt. Sew a 1.5 inch Velcro strip on the back side of the buckle and the other part of the Velcro on the other end of the belt so it will stay on. Easy peasy.
The bag. Cut a 15 x 30 inch rectangle. Fold it in half and round one end. This will be the bottom. Add the gold soutache braid to the top of the bag. Sew the edges of the bag together with the soutache braid sides in. Since you're working with felt you don't have to worry about fraying, so you don't have to fold under edges and sew them. To make the handle cut a 2 inch wide strip that measures 20 inches long. Make two more 'belt buckles' for either side of the bag out of the sample of really ugly gold fabric. Each store is different as far as how much fabric they give as a free sample. If you don't have enough and you don't want to go in multiple times to get what you need, you can skip this step.
The jacket. Oh I love this jacket. Basically you make it exactly like the pattern. The pattern is actually a pirate pattern but the jacket works perfectly for James Madison. My son is 12 months and wears 12 month clothes. I made size 1 of the pants and jacket.

When sewing the sleeves remember to sew on the lace to the cuff before adding them to the jacket. Add the soutache braid around all the edges. Sew the doily and gold chain to the neck. Add 1.5 inches of Velcro to the neck to keep the jacket closed. Add three star buttons to each sleeve. Presto.
Since I was working with felt I didn't use interfacing at all. It certainly made the costume come together faster.

The breeches. These are so easy. Just use the pattern but instead of making pants, cut them off into shorts. I actually made the full pants and folded them up. I'm hoping it might fit him next year as well and if that is the case I can just lower them hem. After you have your basic breeches, add the soutache braid to the sides.
The shoes. To make these I used a pair of shoes my son wears as a pattern. I traced around the sole and added 1/2 inch all the way around. For the top I made a square the same length as the sole and about 1/5 times the width. Round the toe. For the foot opening you'll need to cut a horseshoe shape out of the opposite end of your square. You should leave about 2 inches on each end and cut out the middle into a rounded shape. If you need images just google baby shoe pattern and you'll see what I mean. Sew the top and bottom together. As a closing system I used copper eyelets around the top of the shoe with soutache braid laced through them. I would have preferred gold eyelets but I didn't have them and didn't want to buy them.
The wig. This was much easier than I thought it would be. I measured my son's head and added 1/4 inch seam allowance. Make a 4 inch wide strip as long as your head measurement. Cut a circle with the diameter being 1/2 of your head measurement. So if your head measures 30 inches the circle should be 15 inches in diameter. Sew the strip around the circle. Now to get the length right it is best to put your hat on your kid's head and measure how long it needs to be and how much room should be left for the face. You'll need to do a bit on your own here but it's pretty hard to mess up. Mine is about 8 inches long. Now you'll need to add the cotton balls. I tried gluing them with tacky glue but they didn't stick. I don't have a glue gun so I'm not sure if that would work. I sewed mine on. it didn't take very long and I know those puppies are stuck for good.


Sabra said...


I absolutley love this. Clicked over after seeing the costume on Made By Rae's round up thing.

Seriously. Love it. All of it.

Bethany said...

I got here the same way Sabra did. I Love it too!!! Great job!!!!


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