Thursday, October 11, 2012

Homemade Turtle Costume

I have NO problem purchasing Halloween costumes for my kids (as opposed to making them).  I do have a problem paying an arm and a leg for a costume if I think I can make it for less money than the purchase price.  This year I found a fantastic costume for Nolan (much cooler than anything I could make) for $20.  Sold.  But I couldn't find what the other two kids wanted for cheap enough so I had to get creative. 

Nora likes a lot of girly things.  Disney Princesses, Doc McStuffins, even Dora.  But when we were choosing Halloween costumes, we were pretty sure what Nora would like to be.

For about five or six months now, she has been crawling to me saying, "I'm the baby turtle and you're the mommy turtle and I need my turtle food."  To be accurate, you have to read that in the highest pitch voice possible.

So it was settled:  Nora was ecstatic to be a baby turtle for Halloween.  She asked to be a pink turtle, but I convinced her to be a regular green turtle with a pink bow in her hair.

I searched the internet for turtle costumes, but the few I found were seriously overpriced.  So I decided to make it up.  I bought a green shirt from Walmart and green pants at Kmart.  The pants were free because I had $6 in Shop Your Way Rewards and the pants cost $5.99!

I went to Hobby Lobby and bought 1 yard of green felt (although I would have been fine with 1/2 yard), 1.5 yards of green webbing (used for straps), and Polyfil stuffing.  I found lighter green felt sheets at JoAnn Fabrics (I bought four).

I started with an empty diaper box.


I opened it up.


I sketched an oval on the cardboard.  It was very difficult for a perfectionist like me to simply draw an oval.  I desperately wanted to print one, but I needed it to be bigger than printer paper.


I cut out the oval, traced it onto another part of the box, and cut out a second cardboard oval.


I traced the oval onto the green felt and cut it out.


Then I traced the oval again onto the felt.  I drew dots 3 inches away from the original oval line.  Then I cut out the larger oval on the dotted line.


I machine basted around the edge of the larger oval (with the stitch length as long as possible).


I pulled on one of the threads carefully to gather the edge of the oval.


I crammed as much stuffing in that shell as I possibly could.  I placed the doubled-up cardboard ovals over the stuffing and began hot gluing the felt to the cardboard.  When I had about 3/4 of the felt glued to the cardboard, I shoved more stuffing in and tried to distribute it all to make it look like a dome.


Here's a side view at this point:


Next I cut the webbing to the appropriate length for the straps (using Nora to help me get them right) and hot glued the straps onto the cardboard.


Then I glued the original green felt oval over the cardboard.  I had to cut slits in the felt oval to help it go over the straps.



Then I couldn't get to it for a few days, and Nora started wearing it around the house.  About every five minutes she would ask me, "Mom, when will you be done with my costume?" 


I struggled with some paralyzing perfectionism when it came to adding the details on the shell.  I looked at lots of Google images of turtle shells.  I just couldn't push through and start cutting out felt shapes for the shell.

Finally, I used printer paper to cut approximate shapes of what I had seen on turtle shell images. 



I laid them out on the felt shell and figured they were about right.  Then I cut the shapes out of lighter green felt.  I wished that the felt wasn't quite so light/bright, but I chose to use what I had.

I adhered the light green shapes to the shell using fabric glue.  My fabric glue is old and very thick, so I squeezed some onto a paper plate and used a toothpick to apply it to the backs of my shapes.  I only put glue around the edges.

Once the main pieces were all adhered, I trimmed the edges to be 1.5 inches from the edge of the shell.  (I had not glued down the shape edges nearest the shell edge...did that even make sense?)

I cut up the leftover light green felt into one-inch squares.


I glued the felt squares around the edge of the shell.  Once the glue was dry, the costume was finished!


I really don't like the squares.  I had a major mental battle over those when the shell was complete.  It went a little something like this:
Perfectionist Me:  Those squares look like tiles.
Rational Me:  Yeah, I guess I should have done those differently.
Perfectionist Me:  No seriously.  Those look stupid.
Rational Me:  What can I do about it now?  They're all glued on.
Perfectionist Me:  You can't let Nora wear that shell with those weird tile felt squares.  And you certainly shouldn't tell the whole internet that you made that.
Rational Me:  Nora is 2.  She doesn't care what the shell looks like.  She is happy to have a baby turtle shell.  I'm calling this a success since I saved money and made my daughter happy.
I'm sure you didn't necessarily want that window into my crazy mind.  Just thought you should know that I know the green squares look weird.  Since I made the whole thing up and only one part went wrong, I'm pretty happy.

Nora was quite happy to model the finished turtle shell for me.  She came up with the poses all on her own.









 
Now just imagine her with all green clothes.  And, of course, a pink bow.  Every baby turtle needs a pink bow.

Jessica

36 comments:

  1. That looks awesome!! The green squares don't bother me at all, I think the whole thing is amazing. Good job Mama! I can't wait to see the cute baby turtle with her pink bow.

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  2. I have this feeling that being as wonderfully gifted as you are, you may sometimes forget the actual level of amazingness you have. No, I'm serious! I am still wearing (at this moment) a pair of pocketed jeans that are flapping around because I can't/won't/? sew the two little buttons back on. That's a true story. This costume is ADORABLE. (unfortunately for the costume it is being worn by the prettiest little thing that takes the MOST adorable award, but it is close behind). How you juggle this, amongst the rest of life, and then blogging it, still blows. my. mind. Jessica Mae, thanks for sharing your creativity with the world! Love, Leslie

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  3. This is exactly what I was looking for! I am going to be a turtle for the Polar Plunge this weekend to benefit the Special Olympics. I also don't think the green squares look bad. I had to giggle at the look inside your head. You sound like me. Thanks for posting!

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  4. Thanks for your post. I made a Franklin the turtle costume for character day at school. Here is how it turned out...

    http://copycrafting.blogspot.com/2013/02/hey-its-franklin.html

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  5. Thank you so much for posting the turtle costume.
    My daughter had a play in her class and she had to become a turtle and I was so worried where will I get, when I saw your posting I followed your steps and add a tail, it looks adorable.

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing this costume. I had to make two turtle costumes for a kindergarten play and went to google for help. Your site was the first one that popped up and was exactly what I needed. Your directions were great! Thanks again!

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  7. Oh, I just love hearing that other people have found this tutorial useful! I really had to just figure it out as I went, so I hope it's useful for all of you trying to make a turtle costume for different purposes. Happy crafting, friends!

    Jessica

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  8. That looks great! I think the only problem with the light green squares is that there's a few too many. Looking at real turtle shells, I think you need longer pieces, but less of them. I'm scaling this up and copying it for myself and a few friends to dress up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  9. Thank you for posting such a wonderful tutorial! I used it as a guide to create a turtle shell backpack for my 3 year old. This post was very helpful! Gave credit to your sight. You can see here, if you'd like: http://renewedprojects.blogspot.com/2013/07/turtle-shell-backpack.html

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  10. Ah! I absolutely love it!!! I have been looking for a diy ninja turtle shell for my sons 4th Birthday party/ Halloween costume, since his bday is October 29. I saw this and I had to start making it today! Sadly I did not have the materials you used but I used a green fleece blanket we do not use and diaper boxes and started right away! I still need to add the top squares, but my son is already wearing his ninja costume! he loves it! Thanks so much for the tutorial! Love it!

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  11. This is pretty awesome, thanks for sharing. I'm going to try to make an adult sized shell, but don't have a sawing machine =/

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  12. Oh, you guys know how to make a girl happy! Thank you so much for your comments letting me know that you found the tutorial useful. I am thrilled to know that I could help you complete your own turtle projects!

    Jessica

    P.S. @Otessor: I really think you can do this without a sewing machine. Instead of using a basting stitch to gather the shell around the stuffing and cardboard, simply hot glue the shell in sections to the cardboard. I would start by gluing one spot on each side (left, right, top, bottom) and then gather and glue in between those initial glue spots. I hope it works out for you!

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    1. The glue gun worked perfectly! I used a slightly different method from yours but I pretty much followed your step by step and made an adult-sized shell. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  13. Thank you so much for this. I have just finished making a blue version to be Yertle the Turtle. It was so much easier with such a great guide. :)

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  14. This is Awesome. My 2.5 year old is going this year as Franklin the Turtle. I couldn't find any turtle costumes. Now I'm going to make this.

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  15. I think this is awesome! I'm gonna do something along these lines that you did. But maybe not make it as puffy
    But I'm gonna be a ninja turttle and I don't want to pay for the costume! This is by far the best tutorial I have found also!

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  16. Hi Jessica, this is awesome! I was very much worried for my 3 yr old daughter's costume for fancy dress competition, but now I am relaxed.. thanks for sharing it!
    -Smita

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  17. Made this for my son's fairy tale olympics day at school this week. Turned out great, thanks!

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  18. Wow! You're so great! I can't imagine that making a turtle costume can seem so easy. Thanks for the tutorial.

    I also feature some DIY halloween costumes. Feel free to check out my post featuring homemade halloween costumes too for more ideas and costume options. I hope they may help :)

    Happy Halloween!
    Barbara
    Homemade Halloween Costumes

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  19. The steps presented here on how to make a turtle Halloween Costumes is a very helpful one. It helps me make the costume very easy by just following the steps. Thanks for this, a lot!

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  20. My five year loves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! so of course thats what he choose for Halloween! thanks it turned out perfect!

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  21. Such a simple construction - thank you for sharing! I will be using it myself for a costume 5K fundraiser this weekend. Just add a comical sign saying "Slow and steady... " and I'm all set for the run!!

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    1. Hahaha! My sign would have to read "slow and out of breath!" What a cute idea for a 5K costume. I hope your race went well!

      Jessica

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  22. What a great idea! (And I love all the pics). I thought your idea was so good and accessible that I included a link to it in my Parade article, Better Halloween Costumes for Boys http://www.parade.com/217931/jenniferlwfink/4-better-halloween-costumes-for-boys/

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    1. Oh my word, I'm so excited that you included a link to my tutorial in your article! Thank you so much. I hope your readers find it useful!

      Jessica

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  23. I just want to thank you so much for taking the time to write this! When my girl said she wanted to be a turtle back in September I hadn't the faintest idea how to do it. I finally came across this and it is exactly what I was looking for! Here's my homemade turtle costume:

    http://www.reddog-studio.com/2013/10/halloween-2013-turtle-costumes/

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    1. Thank you for your comment and for the link to your site. I sure enjoyed reading your post and seeing your fantastic handiwork. Your idea to sew in elastic rather than baste was GENIUS! I'm sure there are lots of other people who would rather use elastic than baste and pull a thread. You can also use a gathering foot on your sewing machine if you have one of those fancy things, but I do not.

      Thanks for sharing my tutorial with your readers and for introducing me to your great blog!

      Jessica

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  24. I was browsing about Halloween costume ideas and I found your blog which is quite interesting!!! I do hope it's okay with you if I pin them on my Pinterest board. Thanks for sharing and you are very awesome on that turtle shell!:)

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    1. Absolutely--Pin away! Thanks for the compliment and feel free to share with anyone who might find it useful!

      Jessica

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  25. FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you!

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  26. Thank you for sharing this! My daughter has been begging to be a turtle for two Halloweens, but there are no costumes commercially available, so I finally took the plunge and made one for her, following your instructions step-by-step. It turned out great, in spite of my lack of crafting abilities, and I have one happy girl!

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  27. Excellent post! I like this...Thanks for sharing!

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  28. I am going to try this one. my son has a creepy crawly creatures party coming Friday as part of the topic reptiles. that gives me about a week to attempt this . .but you've made it seem so easy .. so I am gonna give it a try! thanks a ton! p.s. why did you not include a picture of her final get up . .the idea of a turtle with a pink bow was so wow! wanna see ...

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  29. Hi Jessica!
    First off, I just love this pattern/project. It is so cute and creative! I'm amazed. Anyways, I am the editor over at AllFreeSewing.com and would love to feature this project on our site with one photo and a link back to you, if that would be alright? Additionally, I am currently putting together a Halloween eBook for our site and would love to possibly feature this project. For more details, please send me an email at kpope@primecp.com.
    Thanks so much!
    Kaylee, editor, AllFreeSewing.com

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  30. I googled Turtle costume and found this. (Yes, I'm already thinking about Halloween). I am not a perfectionist or crafty, but don't want to spend a ton of money on Halloween. Thanks for all the details. I think I can do this.

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