I’m all about open-ended toys that spur your kid’s imagination. Like dress up costumes. Monkey doesn’t have any, so I decided that he needed some for Christmas. I found this set on Amazon, for the not so low price of $67.50. Yikes. I like it and all, but I think I can do better. First on the list is the fireman costume. Here’s what the finished product looks like. And the good news is, you can make one just like it for about $15.
You will need:
- Small black (or red) women’s long sleeve shirt. T-shirts won’t work, it needs to be a button down. I used a size 2 Gap cotton shirt that I found at Goodwill for $3.99.
The shirt before I hacked it up.
- 5/8″ satin ribbon in silver
- 7/8″ grosgrain ribbon in bright yellow
- Steam-A-Seam Sticky Back Fusible Web (comes in sheets)
- Steam-A-Seam Double Stick Fusible Web Tape, in 1/4 inch width
- yellow thread that matches your ribbon
- black thread
- velcro – I used 1/2 inch wide that was hanging around in my supplies. By all means, use what you have.
- small appliques of your choice – stars, badges, firetrucks and American flags all work. I went with what my local Joann’s had in stock.
First, remove the buttons from the front placket. Don’t worry about the buttons on the cuffs, you are cutting that part of the shirt off in a minute anyway.
Next, find a long sleeve shirt that fits your kid, and lay it on top of the black shirt.
Cut the shirt down, making both the arms and the bottom edge a few inches longer than the long sleeve shirt – you want it to be a bit baggy, right?
I left the bottom edge significantly longer because I want it to fit more like a long coat.
Now, turn those edges under and stitch with the black thread. If you like to do things the correct way, by all means, fold it under twice for a nice finished edge on the inside. Me – well, not so picky. I folded under about 1/4 inch and stitched. It’s for play, after all. But, if you are going to do a double fold, be sure to account for that extra length getting folded under when you cut down the sleeves and the bottom.
Next, you need to apply the velcro to the shirt placket. I went with two strips of 1/2 inch wide because that is what I had on hand. It should be narrow enough to be hidden within the shirt placket.
Now, we are ready to get down to the fun stuff. A word about ribbon here: I deliberately chose satin ribbon for the grey, because it needs to be reflective, and I knew that I wasn’t going to stitch on it – I attached it with fusible tape. I chose grosgrain for the yellow because I knew I was going to stitch it on, and satin ribbon is a be-yatch to stitch.
UPDATE: While roaming around my local Joann store, I found Dritz Iron On Reflective tape in silver and yellow. Just like the stuff I created here, only WAY easier. They weren’t carrying this when I made this costume. I can’t find it online – only the silver and the yellow separately. But, it is worth asking at your fabric store.
Measure out a length of each ribbon to span the bottom of the shirt. Make it a little longer than you think, because nothing sucks like cutting the ribbon too short. Not that I know what that’s like. Plus, in thinking ahead, you are going to want to wrap the edge of the ribbon around to the inside of the shirt for a nice finished edge.
Man, my ironing board cover needs a wash.
Using the directions on the box, I applied a strip of Steam-A-Seam Double Stick Fusible Web Tape, in 1/4 inch width to the back of the silver ribbon. In hindsight, I should have applied two strips, overlapping them, for more durability. My bad.
Next, apply the silver ribbon to the middle of the yellow ribbon, using your iron and the directions for the fusible tape. Ta-da! Now it magically looks like the reflective tape on a firefighter’s uniform.
Then, pin and stitch the yellow/grey ribbon combo to the bottom of the shirt, a few inches from the bottom. Use your yellow thread.
Repeat with the ribbon until you have another strip under the arms, and one on each sleeve, thusly:
You are almost done! Can you believe this used to be a woman’s shirt? Next, use the Steam-A-Seam Sticky Back Fusible Web (comes in sheets) to attach your appliques where they seem most appropriate. I had a firetruck and a flag, and thought that they looked best on the sleeves.
Total cost: $15.00. Admittedly, I have a lot of sewing notions on hand. If you needed to purchase everything for this your cost would be a bit higher.
- Shirt – $3.99
- 5/8″ satin ribbon in silver $1.99
- 7/8″ grosgrain ribbon in bright yellow $1.99
- yellow thread – $2.00
- 2 small appliques – $1.99 each
- firefighter’s hat – $1 at a local thrift store
This is the first costume in the “kit” that I am making him for Christmas. More to come…