Homemade Halloween Part II: Ladybug Body

Social commentary aside, I have decided to make my daughter’s Halloween costume this year. For her first Halloween, she’ll be a ladybug.

That being said — and announced to the interwebs — I was stuck. How the bloody hell was I going to accomplish this?! I don’t even own a sewing machine for chrissakes.

I decided to wing it. And you know what? It actually worked.

I quickly decided to treat the body of the costume like a vest or jacket. Underneath this, she will wear a plain black onesie (purchased at Buy Buy Baby for $3.50!) and a pair of black leggings (Circo brand, puchased at Target for $2.50 — I had a coupon). Both items will get a lot of use in other capacities, so they’re solid purchases in my view.

Part III of this series will be the hat, which I haven’t made yet.

But on to the tutorial! (This size is for a 6 month old)

Also, I apologize for the picture quality — my phone sucks.

For the ladybug body (only) you will need:

  • 1/4 yard of Red Felt (I bought 1 yard to allow for oodles of mistakes. Now I’m not sure what to do with it all);
  • Red thread;
  • Black thread;
  • 1 bag of buttons of varying sizes
  • Paper (preferably thin tracing paper, but I used binder paper and it worked just fine);
  • Tape (if using binder paper);
  • Black felt pen;
  • Pencil;
  • A large, round, serving platter;
  • A current sweater and/or shirt to use as a model;
  • Pins; and
  • Scissors.

The black fabric is for the hat.

Step 1: Draw out your ideas
This is actually the hardest part. I made several sketches of the body, but couldn’t figure out how to make them work with the back, which is kind of like a cape. For my daughter, ties or strings = choking hazard, so those were out. Another idea was to have the shoulder strap button onto the onesie, but I didn’t think that flimsy onesie flap could take the weight of the fabric and buttons.

In the end, I looked through some of my daughter’s clothes and this sweater caught my eye. One button holds it together. It was perfect.

Imagine it without sleeves.

Now that I had figured out the front, I dug through some more clothes to find examples for shoulder straps. I decided to use a tank-top style, because of the wide straps, which I figured would be more comfortable in case the cape got heavy.

Shoulder & arm size model.

Step 2: Make A Pattern
Don’t be intimidated. I simply traced the outline of the onesie above onto a piece of paper with a pencil. The end of the skirt = the end of the cape in back. All told, this took 6 pieces of binder paper to trace. (I taped them together. ) Although if I had planned it better, I probably could have used only 4 pieces.

Then take your large platter/serving tray and line it up with the shoulders. Trace around it with the pencil.

Red, baby.

Once that’s done, go over your pencil lines with your black felt-tip marker. In the picture below, you see the dip for the arm area — ignore that. The red circle is what I ended up going over in black.

The back takes shape.

For the front/vest, I traced the shoulder and front of the sweater onto a piece of paper, leaving the arms off. (I forgot to take a picture.)

Cut out your patterns, leaving 1/2 an inch extra along the sides.

Step 3: Pin & Cut The Pattern
When you get your fabric from the store, its folded in half. Keep it that way. On the floor, lay the fabric flat. Place the body (the big one) with the shoulders closest to the fold in the fabric. Pin the pattern down as flat as possible. (The little triangles are to help line things up.) Pin the vest part below that. This will take up exactly 1/4 of a yard, with enough extra to pin another front piece if you need it.

Try not to prick yourself.

Now cut them out. This will be a rough-edge costume, so you won’t be sewing the edges. Go back and check everything to make sure your cuts are at least smooth.

Notice the shoulder straps.

We have basically made 2 backs at this point. I did this on purpose, in case I royally messed up on one I wanted to have a spare without the extra effort.

Two other options:

  1. Leave the shoulder straps as-is, and sew the sides — giving you a sandwich-board type costume. (This would work well for a turtle if you used a different color.)
  2. Leave the shoulder straps as-is, and put a thin piece of cardboard (think clothes gift box) between the two pieces. Cut the cardboard so its about 1/4 inch from the outer edge and sew the pieces together. This will give you a flat, yet quasi-flexible back.

If you’re following my pattern, snip the shoulder straps at the fold in the fabric. Pull out all the pins and put one of the back pieces to the side.

Step 4: Pin Everything Together
Pin the vest front to the shoulder straps, giving it a bit of wiggle room — maybe 1/4 inch. Pin the sides to together. Make sure the front edges — where it will be held with a button — overlap.

Almost there.

Here’s a closer view:

Make sure the front edges overlap.

Step 5: Sew It
Remember, I don’t have a sewing machine. So I had to hand-stitch everything together with the red thread. Make sure you reinforce the beginning and ends. (I actually sewed over everything twice for strength.) Remove the pins and flip the garment inside-out. You’re so close!

Step 6: Vest Button

Pick a button for the front of the vest (not too big!), and using your scissors, cut a hole for it on one side. Sew the button on the opposite side with black thread. Make sure to reinforce it really well. Sew around the button hole with red thread, making sure to reinforce the area closest to the edge of the fabric.

Close up of front button. Apologies for the angle.

Step 7: Sew Back Buttons
I don’t know about you, but I thought that cutting out perfect circles in varying sizes out of black fabric and then sewing said circles onto the back of this outfit would be tortuous. So I bought a variety pack of black and white buttons from the fabric store for $2.50. Lay your extra back down and use it to figure out your spot pattern. Once that’s done, sew the buttons on with black thread, being sure to reinforce them well. (We don’t want a choking hazard.)

Finished product!

And the body of the ladybug is done! Try it on your little diva and see how it looks.

Modeling the costume's front.

Close-up of the front.

The back!

Next tutorial: The hat with antenna!


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