Crafty (& Handy) Holidays Parenting

Self-Induced Crafty Mama Pressure

Is it hard to sew fake fur? Because Eleanor is really excited about being The Gruffalo’s Child for Halloween. Which is, you know, less than two weeks away. With no Gruffalo costume available for purchase, of course.

August will be the mouse, and I think I can make that out of fleece. Two weeks to sew two costumes… and I’m not very good at sewing. It can be done though (I keep telling myself)! After all, I did a good job on E’s Katamari costume before, and that was all from scratch. I should have suggested something easier, like last year’s Olivia costume (minimal sewing involved), but no.

Do you put self-induced pressure on yourself to make costumes? These furry monsters would have been a perfectly cute option, with no need to enter crazy-crafty-mama-Halloween-town. But I’m not the only one that does this, right?

The kids will be so cute. Assuming I can pull this off.

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  • Jill Browning
    October 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    My 2 year old will be Little Orphan Annie for halloween, and I decided to make the wig myself out of a sock cap and some curling gift wrap ribbon. It will be cute, but I’m only 1/8 done, and I’ve already got several hours invested. Not sure when I’m going to find the time to finish it…!!

    • Making it Lovely
      October 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      I inadvertently bought a Little Orphan Annie dress for Eleanor last month! Maybe it’s still available?

      • Jill Browning
        October 18, 2011 at 8:32 pm

        I totally forgot you posted that. I ended up finding a red dress on ebay with tags still on for $10. Thanks, though!!

  • Pati N
    October 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Wow Nicole you have quite the job ahead of you:) When my kids were young, I kept it very simple. Kept the bar low really so when they got older it wasn’t more intense..haa
    I never really had to do full face costumes like that. Maybe some face painting, hair dying and a mask or two. Maybe Eleanor’s could just be furry ears…with her face painted?
    I’m sure whatever you do will be awesome! Have fun!

  • Laura @ Abstract Grace
    October 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    You’re not the only one!!!

    I made Elle’s Owl costume this year:

    And last year she was a Ebi Nigiri Sushi Roll:

    Looking forward to seeing what you come up with. You can do it!

  • Katie
    October 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Such a cute idea! I sew with fake fur everyday (I sell furry monster laptop sleeves at and I can tell you it does have a bit of a learning curve. It will really depend on the fur you can find. The thinner, the better. There are a lot of faux furs that are really thick and will jam up your machine. Use sharp scissors to cut and be prepared for a lot of fluff to fall from the cut edge! It’s a messy undertaking! I recommend using a new needle when you start the project and putting a new one in halfway through because it is very tough on the needle. Go slow and practice on some test scraps. And, most importantly, clean your machine afterwards because the fur will create a massive amount of lint in your bobbin case!

    • Making it Lovely
      October 18, 2011 at 12:48 pm

      Thanks for the tips! I don’t even know if I’ve ever changed the needle on my machine, other than after breaking it in half a whole bunch of times when I first got it.

  • Giulia
    October 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    This made me laugh. I’ve passed the making your own costume phase because time slips by and it ends up being a lot more expensive than a bought one…
    I do feel the pressure – my hubby calls it the Martha Stewart pressure. I made my daughter a teepee because I didn’t want to spend the money – the time I spent on it, the tears etc. were probably not worth it, especially as she would have played with either…
    Good luck!

  • Andrea Howe
    October 18, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    When I learned to sew 2 years ago I promised myself I would NOT sew the kids Halloween costumes, and I’m pretty crafty. There’s just something about the pressure of a Halloween costume that I don’t need. So far we’ve been happy with our target costumes ;) Good luck though mama!

  • Annie
    October 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I made a wolf costume a few years ago and it wasn’t too difficult. I used a trick of my mom’s and used leggins and a long sleeve shirt as the base of the costume and then sewed the fake fur directly on to them, which made the construction much simpler. It also made the costume less scratchy since the underside of the fake fur can be a little rough.

    I will agree with Katie, that the thickness of the fur can jam a basic sewing machine. For me it ended up being easier/less stressful to affix the pieces using a mix of stitch witch and hand sewing rather than continuing to mess with unjamming the machine.

    • Making it Lovely
      October 18, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      That’s brilliant, using clothing as a base! Plus then I don’t have to worry so much about getting the fit right.

  • Southern Exposure
    October 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    My little girl, Riley, was Olivia the pig last year too!

    I also made her costume and it was pretty easy. I like your ears better though :) Good luck with this years choice!


  • Heather
    October 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    My 5 year old wants to be an eyeball. More specifically, she wants to be a 2-dimensional eyeball, which we can easily make out of cardboard and paint and strap around her. so why am I trying to talk her into a spherical eyeball? One that I would sew out of felt? One that would need arm hole cuffs and a neck?

    I will cave to her request. But why can’t I cave easily?

    • Making it Lovely
      October 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      Sounds like something I’d do too. Why not make things a million times harder in the name of making it perfect, right?

  • Megan H
    October 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    As a child, not one Halloween or Holiday program or pageant went by without the sounds of my mother sewing late into the night, or early into the morning, right before the costume was needed. Every year. Every event. I am sort of proud to carry on that tradition with my daughter. Things just seem to work so much better at the last minute in my home. I do admit that this year I wussed out and bought her Halloween costume. We just moved and all of my sewing or crafting things are still boxed. Oh well. I have very good intentions for next year. Good luck!

  • Angela
    October 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Of course we put too much pressure on! I made my oldest a peacock costume for this year and was in a twit over the fact that I couldn’t find (chose not to look very hard either) a teal leotard and orange tights. Instead she will be a black peacock with brown legs. My best friend summed it up the best! She said “of course it won’t be authentic, she’s a little blonde girl dressed as a peacock” It made me laugh and realize I was doing my best and in the end she’ll be happy…. even if her costume is not truly realistic! Best of luck sewing, you’ll do a great job and I can’t wait to see the photos!

  • Emilee
    October 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    You could try furry fleece instead of faux fur. It’s a little more like fleece to sew with and a little less scratchy on the inside. It will also be be less shaggy and monster-like, of course, but the trade-off might be worth it.
    The McCall pattern 4618 is awesome for animal-type costumes because it’s a full bodysuit with attached hood, so kids are much less likely to get out of it and there is only one piece to the costume. I’ve made a lamb, a lion, a jaguar, and four birds from it, and it’s my favorite yet. ( If you made that outfit from furry fleece with big ears and the right tail, you’d be set.

  • Eileen
    October 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I’ve made many the kid halloween costume (Polar Bear, Panda, Fox) and I look for “cheats.” Basically I buy a kids sweatsuit (sweatshirts with hoods are great for affixing ears) in the appropriate size and color (based on animal in my case) then I hot glue features to make the animal come alive. A lot of times the features include thick fur (I buy at Jo-Ann Fabrics) which I find aheres well with glue and takes so much less time then sewing. I’ve tried sewing it before and it doesn’t look right, I can never hide my stitches in the fur. Not sure this helps you seem much more in tune with making things as accurate as possible- lucky for your kids!!!

  • iris
    October 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Sewing fake fur’s not too tricky. You just use a looser tension and longer stitch. Make sure you pull longer fur out of the seams, to cover ’em up.

    I’m part way through making a ‘slutty yeti’ costume (for an adult, duh), so me and the faux fur have become best friends…

    • Mandi
      October 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      I have been laughing at ‘slutty’ yeti’ for 10 minutes.

  • Carla
    October 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Two words: Hot Glue.

  • Emily Stearley
    October 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I can’t wait to have kids so I can craft them Halloween costumes. My dog has suffered long enough. :)

  • Amanda
    October 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Ohh. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. The Katamari costume you made was so adorable. And her a Olivia last year was so cute. Too bad she wouldn’t be that again. haha

  • AnnW
    October 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Aunt made a cat costume out of fleece that was shaggy enough. Look her up, she just moved to Evanston and applied for your makeover. You could use Stitch Witchery on a lot of the pieces. Just leave yourself lots of time. When you are under pressure and things don’t go well, it is terrifying. I remember trying to make my first gingerbread house while the kids were watching. The dough was hard as a rock. All I could think of was adding boiling water and more sugar. Eventually it softened up enough to roll out, but it became a two day project.
    Someone should have a website for kids’ costumes. Ann

  • Erika
    October 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Yep, I’m right there with ya this Halloween. My son is super blond with blue eyes, so I was thinking maybe Dennis the Menace or Richie Rich. Something that would consist of just finding or tweaking off the rack clothing. Then he got on a Thomas The Tank Engine kick and won’t let it go! I don’t really care for the costumes that are available, so there I was yesterday Googling Thomas and oooing and awwing at all the cardboard box costumes. Ugh….here I come…just call me, “crazy-crafty-Halloween-Mama!

  • Allison
    October 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    You could also try converting a pre-made costume (e.g. a bear) as it might be easier to start with the basic structure already there.

    • Allison
      October 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm

      ps. Also, kids are often less discerning than adults and happy to embellish their costumes with imagination. So even if you’re not satisfied with your rendition, I bet E will be pleased!

  • Danielle
    October 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I saw some fake fur fabric at Hancock Fabrics on Cermak and Harlem today (the place is a zoo right now due to Halloween) but they do have it! I decided to take on an adult Obi Wan Kenobi costume for my husband and a Princess Leigh Dress for me…yikes! My friend and I are teaching a sewing workshop this Friday Oct 21st at Parenthesis if you need any sewing support! Good luck, will look out for you at the parade!

  • Katie
    October 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    My girls are Mary and her little lamb this year, but the dresses I’m making can be worn next spring. “Mary” is getting a peter-pan collar dress made out of a floral fabric and “little lamb” is getting a crocheted dress with a lamb hat and booties to match. SO even though I’m putting a lot of time into their costumes, it’s not just for one week of wearing.

  • Loren
    October 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Someone may have already mentioned this, I’ve only sewn with fake fur like twice. But if you ‘part’ the fur with a comb it will make the fabric MUCH easier to cut. There is much less shedding during the cutting process. Overall she’s tiny so it won’t be a LOT of sewing, but I love sitting in front of the sewing machine for hours. Just don’t put to much pressure on yourself.
    Good luck!

  • Tara Jane
    October 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I think of it as a yearly challenge. And heck you have 2 whole weeks! I am making my little ones into a rocket ship and an orange lady bug (I know the orange ones are the invasive stinky bugs, but that is what HE insists on, so, I will sew). I love that they get to be creative and and imaginative in the process. It is always nerve racking and always satisfying to pull off.

  • Vicki Jane
    October 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I make costumes for a living so I work with Fake fur alot!

    Work on the reverse side. Draw your pattern on to the flat back then cut it out using a box cutter. This way you dont cut the fur strands and then dont end up with a pile of chopped fur. all you are cutting is the fabric. Then just sew like usual. I always cut a size bigger as it makes it more comfy to wear. when you turn to the furry side you can just get a needle or a knitting needle to fluff out the seam.
    Good luck. Its actually easy to sew as it is very forgiving!

  • Jackie
    October 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    You can totally do it! I put myself under the same crazy pressure. Last year it was a furry spider:
    I have also done a skunk with long fur. The fur is not hard to sew at all…just thick.

    Fur is quite messy to cut though! Run your finished costume or even the pattern pieces through one cycle on the dryer to remove the stray hairs!

  • tiffany smith
    October 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    my mom still makes my costumes every year and now she does the same for my 17 month old daughter. I have every one she has made me and I really appreciate/treasure that she does this for me.

  • emma
    October 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    you’ll do GREAT! fake fur is very forgiving! lol Nope you’re not the only one! I know that I personally have too high expectations, wear myself out and then crash for a couple of days only to feel guilty for needing a break.

  • Emma
    October 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    OMG I am litterally rolling around laughing, I haven’t seen Eleanor’s Katamari costume before – I’m not sure I’ve EVER seen anything sooooo cute!!! I am so looking forward to seeing the results of your Gruffalo gang now :o)

  • DazzLynn
    October 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    I think fake fur is easy. Use a boxy sweatshirt or sweater and pajama pants as the pattern on the reverse side. Cut it big with extra seam allowance. Use a box cutter as noted above. Use a big needle, like an 18 and you’ll be fine. Since the costume isn’t fitted and the fur covers your seams, I bet it turns out great!

  • Emmmylizzzy
    October 18, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    You can do it! The awesome thing about fake fur is that it hides mistakes really well :)
    But I’m the same way – I force myself to make my daughter’s costumes because I just refuse to bring myself to purchase one of those cheap, gaudy, wrapped in plastic costumes that they sell at the store!

  • Erin P.
    October 18, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    My little guy loves the gruffalo and I can’t sew so I knew that wasn’t going to happen, so I found a plush gruffalo costume on ebay… i’m going to make him a mouse pail with felt, and i’m making a no-sew owl hoodie costume for my little girl.

  • Darah
    October 18, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Oh thank goodness there are a bunch of us! Think of me tomorrow as I tackle 5 (5? Really? For a 4 year old) yards of purple to make rapunzel. Ugh. And my husband so helpfully said- you know you could have just bought that for cheaper and you would already be done. Dude, so not the point!

    I love the grufflo idea! So awesome!

    To many late nights over the next 2 weeks, in solidarity!

  • Bianca
    October 19, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Fake Fur is actually not that hard to sew. The best thing to do is to just use an overlocker. The great part is that the fur itself will hide any mistakes.
    Good luck!

  • Lizzie
    October 19, 2011 at 3:28 am

    I thought I was the only one pulling my hair out, slaving away at my sewing machine until the wee hours of the night. My 16 month daughters handmade chicken costume is finally finished and guess what? She refuses to wear the hood of her costume! I say Make it Work!!

  • Dee's small home
    October 19, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Well there’s nothing like a challenge. The pictures you used for this post cracks me up!

    We are selling our big house on Halloween and I’ll be on a plane to Florida that evening so I’ll miss seeing the cute little munchkins trick or treating.

    We are downsizing.. Hurray! ..but a fun thing I’ll miss about the big house on Halloween is this:

    The house ran from one block to the next so the front door faced one street and the back door another. It was so much fun to have the trick-or-treaters go to one door and fifteen minutes later be at the other. You could see the puzzled look on their faces as they saw us a second time and couldn’t quite figure out what was going on.

    It was pretty cute.. Dee :)

  • christina
    October 19, 2011 at 6:25 am

    omg, I can top that, as far as pressure goes. My 8 year old son wants to be baby bender from Futurama. We’re going shopping this weekend. I hope I find a mini plastic trash can for his head. *Sigh*

    Hopefully the fur won’t be as horrible as you think, but I’ve not sewn it before.

  • Alissa
    October 19, 2011 at 8:47 am

    No experience with fake fur, but I love the costume idea! My almost two-year-old girl is a huge Gruffalo fan, we read both books all the time and she’ll fill in the lines here and there. Hearing her say “my favorite food!” cracks me up everytime. As an offshoot of the books, I’m making her an owl costume this year – though I’m making note of the gruffalo/mouse pairing for once we have #2!

    Also, have you seen the Gruffalo movie? It’s absolutely fantastic – the animation is great, and wonderful voices too (including Hagrid as the Gruffalo!).

  • Bobby
    October 19, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Like they’re all saying, do it! Apparently it’s not that hard…

  • Emma
    October 19, 2011 at 10:47 am

    i feel for ya – i decided my kid had to be a mogwai last year and made a furry suit from scratch (without the aid of a sewing machine) – it was labor-intensive as hell but totally worth it (tho i am going for a simpler costume this year!!) here are the pics!

  • Kelly in DC
    October 19, 2011 at 11:30 am

    You can do it! When I was little my mom made my sister and me Chip and Dale costumes. She sewed the tails with fake fur and I think used bent coat hangers or something to arch them up like squirrel tails. The pictures are sooo cute. We wore jeans, red polo shirts, ball caps with the “c” and “d” and the wax lips with the buck teeth. We must have been 4 and 5 or so, maybe younger. I’ll see if I can get a hold of the pics and send you one.

    Anyway, I found a pdf of a gruffalo mask. Maybe not for Eleanor’s costume, but good for playtime. It’s perfect to print and color yourself.

  • Making it Lovely
    October 19, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I'm not feeling super confident about my ability to pull this off.

    The fake fur that you see a lot of in the photo would have been awesome, but it was too expensive (would have been $50 in fabric). I just got a little bit for the end of the tail. The pseudo faux-fur at the bottom will be the main fabric for E’s costume.

    Also, the fabric store was pretty picked over! I waited too long to go.

  • Susan
    October 19, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    My son was the Gruffalo for Halloween last year. I have no sewing skills so I bought a dog costume and modified it. I bought a Viking helmet and covered it with a Davy Crockett hat. I also bought a Devil mask, cut the horns off and glued purple tissue paper on them, and then glued them on the dog costume. Finally I bought fake nails at the dollar store and glued them on the hands and feet as claws. He loved his costume and still wears the helmet for dress up. This year he is Franklin the Turtle, which I am making from a modified Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume!

  • joy
    October 20, 2011 at 1:31 am

    How are you doing on the costumes? I finally got to work on the very hungry caterpillar and beautiful butterfly costumes. I am now feeling optimistic about my children having something to wear for Halloween, hooray!

  • Ruth
    October 20, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I don’t have tips, especially, except to say that I was essentially a non-sewer when my kids were born and I learned to sew by making them faux-fur Halloween costumes — there’s a red dog with black spots, a cheetah, and something I can’t remember that had especially long fur, with mitts AND things that went over their shoes. Here’s what I figure, and what I want to tell you: even if the seams don’t match up perfectly (mine never, ever do, and faux fur hides it anyway), what they’ll remember is the magic of having an idea and mom making it real. Anything’s possible. Mine are older now (12 and 9) so I’m not sewing critters anymore, but they have grown up believing that — that anything they imagine can turn into reality. Go for it! Have fun! (and see if your fabric store has a clearance area for faux fur — the only stuff I’ve ever bought).

    • Ruth
      October 20, 2011 at 8:37 pm

      My daughter reminds me that the long-haired costume was feet, hands, and ears only (sweats were the rest) and that she was a squirrel. Very popular — a friend borrowed it for some hilarious calendar pictures for her 85 yo mom!

  • Tonya
    October 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    You still have time…I had the same project two years ago. My son wanted to be a ‘Green Monster’ so not having a ‘pattern’ was both good and bad…I basically made my own pattern with newspaper. I managed to whip it out in one night and one very long night/morning (the morning of his school party of course!). Luckily, you can’t see crooked stitching in 1.5 inches of green fur!
    Good luck!

  • Adrienne Finlayson
    October 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I was a mouse for Halloween when I was 4. I wore a pair of grey tights and matching leotard (with long arms). My mom made felt ears which ere attached to a headband and a felt tail. Pretty easy. Good luck with the Gruffalo…

  • Nicoletta
    October 22, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Glad i’m not the only one who takes on projects like this! I could have bought a dinosaur costume, but insisted on making my own! haha Turned out pretty good… made out of my husband’s old fleece sweater.

    next task is making one for me too!

  • Felicia
    October 22, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I always am totally nuts at Halloween time because I LOVE handmade costumes for my kids. I made my son’s first 4 costumes totally from scratch. Then he started wanting to be characters from GI Joe and such and I gave up. LOL This year he wants to be my brother (a Navy sailor) so my mom ended up buying him the new uniform sailors wear, a weird blue camo thing. He’s thrilled. My daughter, August, is going to be Olivia. So I was coming to check out how you did your costume last year. I need to get it done because it’s starting to make me crazy! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  • Happy Halloween from the Gruffalo's Child and the Big Bad Mouse | Making it Lovely
    November 1, 2011 at 12:23 am

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