umbrella bat costume

Friday, October 30, 2009

Yes, it's October 30th and I just barely finished my daughter's Halloween costume! I knew I needed something quick, so I decided to try Martha Stewart's "no sew" costume made from an umbrella which you can download here. The directions are just for the wings which you wear with a black sweatsuit and your own mask or ears.
I didn't feel too bad cutting up the umbrella since it was broken anyway. (Who doesn't have one of those laying around?)
First, I dismantled the umbrella by untwisting the wires holding the upper spokes to the handle and cutting the lower angled ones made sense. My umbrella must have been a little different than Martha's, though, because the handle was hard to detatch from the fabric at the top- it was fused instead of wired- but I managed with some grunting to pry it apart. Then I slit the umbrella in half through the center of opposite-facing panels as directed, but decided to do some sewing on this "no sew" project and hemmed the raw edge.
Next, I rewired the separate halves through the same holes that held the spokes to the handle before. I was glad I hadn't been hasty and cut them off by mistake! I didn't need to shorten the salvaged wire to do it as the directions suggested. I needed all the wire to make the loops with the excess. It seemed like the directions were instructing me to make 2 loops on each wing half, so that's what I did. In the end, though, I only needed 1 loop on each side to pin the wings to the harness.

Once the spokes were wired back together some fabric was left hanging there at the top. Martha says to catch it with some wire and attach it to the top of the spokes. I just took a needle & thread and looped it though the holes a few times to secure it. I was afraid using wire would rip the fabric.
For the harness, I did some more revising to the directions. I substituted bias tape, doubled & sewn together, for the ribbon. There was no 5/8' black grosgrain to be had within a 50 mile radius of me this close to Halloween. I think it is sturdier this way anyway. I cut it to the 21" specified and looped it ending in a point as described, but again, did away with the "no sew" part and sewed the loose ends down. I also sewed the loop of elastic that holds the two harness pieces together. I really think hot glue and staples wouldn't have held very well. Later, I took it apart and cut the pieces down to 19" because it was too loose on my daughter.
Instead of the suggested ribbon wrist ties, I made loops of 1/4" elastic (about 6") and attached them at the wrist position on the wings so it would be easier to take on & off. After trying it on, it needed elbow loops (about 7") to keep the wings from sagging. I also sewed the wings together at the bottom (center back) so they wouldn't have to be safety pinned. It's looking rather bat-like now, right?
With the harness on, I went to pin the wings on at the underarm point through the loops and decided it to use just 1 loop and 1 pin. And I found it worked better to attach the pins right in the very back near the elastic instead of at the underarm because it was just sagging too low otherwise. I added 2 more pins about 5" further down the spokes to add stability. I'll use black duct tape to conceal the mess. This is the part that you see from the back view. The front view is clean and sleek.
It needed a bat hood to complete the transformation. I had some leftover (only needed about 1/3 yd) black fleece and some felt from a previous project and used McCall's #8953 costume pattern for the hood.
The pattern is made for ears that face forward, but I wanted the bat ears to face to the side. I made a 3" slit on each side of the the front hood pattern to accommodate 2 1/2" wide triangle felt ears. The ears needed to be double-layered and sewn together for stiffness. They were sewn into the slit like sewing up a shallow dart. I didn't bother with lining the hood, just serged the edges with a 3-thread overlock. You could always turn the edges under & hem instead. Done!
Warming up for tomorrow...


Anonymous said...

Great costume!!!! This is a great pic of Emma the Bat, too. - maria

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the pictures and suggestions. I want to make the umbrella bat wings but Martha's instructions were a little confusing.

Anonymous said...

Ditto what anonymous said about the pictures. Martha's was tough to follow without them!

Anonymous said...

Martha's instructions are always hard to follow, she needs to put pictures like your very helpful ones. Good job!

Anonymous said...

Much better explanation, thank you!!!

In case you don't have bolt cutters (because who really does?), you can drill out the rivets that hold the support spokes on. No sharp edges that way either!

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