Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

costume workshop sew-along: joining the shell

Costume Workshop Sew-Along BadgeOur first week we messed around with hats and ears and whiskers, that sort of thing. Last week we prepared our pattern and cut and marked our fabrics. Today we will be joining our shell (including pockets), to prepare for lining insertion.

A reminder: I am working with faux fur here, and if you are working with it as well you may want to check out my post from a few years back. 

Ready? OK!


First – some feedback from sew-along participants!

Jill, who is working on a skeleton costume for a three-year old, emailed me to ask:

When do you use lining fabric and when don’t you? I picked out two-way stretch knit cotton (97%-ish cotton, with 3% spandex, I think), but I don’t know if lining fabric would be bad or good for it. I love the idea of having the peek of fun fabric at the cuffs, but I am just too inexperienced to know when lining is good.

This is a really great question!
So, I usually line things because in general, lining improves the garment. A lined garment usually feels better, performs better, and lasts longer! It also hides seam finishes and any detail that you may not want exposed (for instance, imagine my latest Max hat, with wire and glue gun, and all those details exposed on the inside)! A lining has so many benefits, I rarely sew without them.
But – you can line something with an unsuitable lining. A few years ago I made my son a NYAN CAT costume:
I lined the grey faux fur shell with hot pink fleece. But as it turns out, that fur was very very warm. Coupled with the fleece, my son got a little bit hot!  It didn’t become unbearable for him to wear, but it would have if been we had been partying indoors or trick-or-treating in, say, southern California.
So in general, it’s better to line a little light, than a little heavy! Your client can always wear some long underwear under the costume if they need more warmth!
In other news, Rachelle finished up the costume we talked about in our last installment (a version of Simplicity 1032) – a unicorn with detachable hat! She did a wonderful job, obviously:
Rachelle's Costume 2016

A Halloween costume done – before October started! Nothing like being prepared.

So today!

We are sewing the shell of our costume. If you remember, my pattern choice has a pieced raglan sleeve, a front, and a back. By the end of today’s installment, our entire shell will be joined, with an opening right at our front placket mark.

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Preparing Your Pattern

Before we start sewing our shell together – a little cheater-tip. For many faux fur applications, you are going to want to shave or trim the seam allowances before joining. But in my experience, as long as your pile is relatively long, you can simply pin, push the fur into the body of the pieces, and stitch with a relatively wide, long zig-zag. After joining pieces, you can patiently comb the faux pile out of the seams. This is a faster way to join, and for costume sewing, it works just fine!

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Joining The Shell

Now – let’s install our pockets!

For this, we take the the kidney-shaped pieces we drafted, line up the straight edge with our markings on the outseams of front and back, right-sides together, and stitch:

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Joining The Shell

We can now join our sleeve pieces, along the mid-seam (obviously you omit this step if your sleeve has only one pattern piece). In general I sew in the direction of the pile – neckline to cuff:

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Joining The Shell

After your pockets are pieces to the fronts and backs, and your four sleeve pieces have been joined – you can join the center back seam (from neckline to crotch curve), then join the raglan seams at fronts and backs. Again, sew in the direction the pile lays:

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Joining The Shell


Make sure to firmly backstitch at these seam ends:Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Joining The Shell


Now, you have an open neckline:Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Joining The Shell

We are now going to sew our fronts from crotch (at left, in photo) up to the marked location for our placket. Make sure to backstitch firmly at the beginning and end of this seam:

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Joining The Shell

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Joining The Shell

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Joining The Shell

Time to sew our side seams!

Since I like to sew along the direction of the pile, this means I’ll be sewing one direction from the armpit down – and the other direction from the armpit to the sleeve hem! I pin firmly, and reverse my pins to the correct size of the work:

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Joining The Shell

Make sure to really spread the faux pile out of the pocket pieces. You’ll be sewing down the body, pivoting one seam allowance into the pocket pieces, and stitching around the pockets:

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Joining The Shell

And finally, we turn the suit inside-out, and pin the legs to one another. Really pin at that crotch intersection, although if it doesn’t line up perfectly, fur will obscure any mistakes! I also like to reinforce the crotch as this seam endures a lot of strain, with body movement.

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Joining The Shell

Your shell is assembled! Next installment, we will prep and join our lining!

So – how are your costumes going? If you have any questions at all – comment here, email, or find me on Facebook!

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