Totoro Costume Tutorial

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Hello!!  I’m here with a tutorial today that I’m really excited about!  3 years ago, I made a Totoro costume for Yuki and it was a huge hit with Totoro fans around the world.  Since then I’ve been getting regular emails about custom orders for costumes or selling the pattern for it, but I don’t do either.  I figured the least I can do is a tutorial for the costume so people can try their hand at making one themselves!

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

If you’re not familiar, Totoro is a character from the Studio Ghibli movie, My Neighbor Totoro.  It’s an awesome movie about 2 young girls who move into an old house in the country with their dad to be closer to their mother who is the hospital.  The girls discover magical creatures in the nearby forest and together they embark on an adventure.

There are three Totoros in the movie – the main one is the huge gray Totoro, but there is also a chu-Totoro (medium) that is blue and a chibi-Totoro (small) that is white.  I decided to do the blue Totoro this time around just to do something a little different.  It looks similar to the big gray Totoro, but has less details (no whiskers, less arrows on the chest, etc.)

totoro1[image source]

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

The costume is very similar to the original, but I’ve made some adjustments.  I tried to make this tutorial as simple as I could to make it possible for beginners or even adventurous first timers to give it a go.  I walk you through drafting your own pattern and all the steps to put the costume together.  The tutorial is LONG, but there are a ton of pictures to help.  There is a zipper, but that is the trickiest part of the sewing and I have a suggestion for an alternative if you’re REALLY opposed to installing a zipper.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

The costume is two pieces, the body suit and a separate hood.  The original costume had snaps along the inside leg for easy diaper changes, but I omitted that this time around because it just didn’t seem necessary for a costume (and I was lazy).

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Ok, should we get started??

What you’ll need:

  • Knit fabric for the bodysuit and hood (more information below)
  • Scraps of fabric for eyes, nose, etc.
  • Fiberfill or stuffing for the ears and tail (if you don’t want to buy something special for this you can use anything soft to stuff them – scraps of fabric, cotton balls, stuffing from an old pillow, etc)
  • 1/4 inch wide elastic
  • Safety pin
  • Velcro
  • 12″ invisible zipper
  • Thread in the color of the main fabric, white and black
  • Tracing paper (the larger the better!)
  • A one piece pajama and a hooded jacket to use for making the pattern
  • Hand sewing needle

Fabric: I used fleece for both costumes and it is very comfy and very warm.  It’s got a little stretch and I think it’s great for this costume if you live in an area that is chilly around October.  Other options are sweatshirt knit and french terry.

Seam allowance: Since you’re making your own pattern, you can make and use whatever seam allowance you are comfortable with.  I used a 1cm (3/8″) seam allowance throughout, except for the back center seam and anywhere else I specify something different.

And though I will not mention it after each step, press every seam after sewing with a warm iron.

Let’s get started!


Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Find a pair of one piece pajamas and lay it on top of your tracing paper so that the center of the pajamas is lined up with the edge of the paper.  Use pajamas that are well fitting or a little baggy, or you can add extra width to your pattern to make it a little baggier.  If you don’t have pajamas, you can really use any type of clothing, just be sure to add width if you want your bodysuit to be loose as opposed to tight fitting.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Adding seam allowance (I used a 1cm seam allowance), trace around the shoulder, side seam and inseam.  You’ll have to move the pajamas and do a little freehand drawing to get the armhole and neckline.  I made my neckline pretty high in the front so that there wouldn’t be gap between the hood and the bodysuit.  It can easily be lowered later if you think it’s too high during a fitting.  No need to add seam allowance to the neckline.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

I rounded out the shape of my pattern a little around the hips and thighs to try and get a more round shape.  Add 3/4″ to the bottom of the leg for hemming (I didn’t give mine enough length and the legs ended up too short on Kaya)!

This is the front of your body suit and will be cut on the fold along the straight edge.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Now we’ll make the pattern for the back piece.  Place another sheet of tracing paper on top of your front piece, but have the edge extend a 1/2 inch past the edge of the front pattern piece.

Trace the front pattern piece, but raise the neckline in the back to match the sample pajamas.  This is the back of the bodysuit and you’ll cut two of these.  The extra 1/2 inch of fabric that you added to the center seam will be used to install the zipper.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Use your pajamas to trace the sleeve shape adding seam allowance and an extra 3/4″ for hemming.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Lay another piece of tracing paper over your “front” pattern piece and draw a circular shape for the tummy.  This will also be cut on the fold.

Cut out your fabric.  You’ll need one front piece cut on the fold, 2 back pieces, 2 sleeves cut on the fold and 1 tummy circle cut on the fold.  You’ll also need a strip of fabric for finishing the neckline that is 2″ wide and several inches longer than your neckline.  I cut mine over 20″ long and it was pleeeenty long enough.  I’d rather be safe than sorry :)

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Make sure that your fabric it cut so that it stretches when you pull on the short ends of the fabric.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Draw the chest details and cut them out of your main fabric.  The large Totoro has 7 (most of the time) and the medium Totoro has 3.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Pin the arrows on the tummy piece and top stitch as close to the edge as possible.  In the original costume I zig zag stitched everything on, but the edges got wavy.  This is easier and looks much better.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Pin the tummy onto the front piece and top stitch close to the edge.  Set aside.

Now it’s time to attach the invisible zipper.  I won’t go into great details here on how to do this, but you can check out this great tutorial (with video) on how to install an invisible zipper.  Honestly, I skipped some steps since this is just a costume and it’s fleece and I didn’t think it needed to be perfect.  I didn’t iron the zipper and I don’t have an invisible zipper foot, but it still turned out just fine.

If you are looking for a zipper alternative, I’d suggest a velcro/hook and loop closure.  This won’t be nearly as clean of a finish, but if you’re just looking to put together a costume, it will be totally sufficient.  Line up your back pieces, right sides together, and sew along the straight edge about 1/4 of the way up the back.  Finish the neckline as directed below and then sew a few 2″ long strips of velcro to each side evenly spaced out.  You’ll have raw edges exposed, but knit fabric doesn’t fray, so no worries!

Moving forward with the zipper!

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Open up your zipper and place it right sides together along the straight edge of one back piece.  Using a zipper foot, sew as close to the teeth as possible.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Repeat with the other side.  Flip the zipper so you have right sides facing and attach to the other back piece.  I realize these are some pretty sparse instructions, but just head over to the tutorial for plenty of pics and details.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Fold the back along the zipper (I had flipped my back piece around here, so the you’re looking at the leg hole up at the top).  Finish sewing the center seam together with a 1/2″ seam allowance (white line).  Be sure to sew beyond the end of the zipper and on the inside of the zipper.  Reinforce this end by backstitching several times.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Your back is constructed and should look like this!

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Line up the shoulder seams of the front and back pieces with right sides together and pin.  Sew along shoulder seam with a 1cm seam allowance.  At this point, if your model is available, you can throw the bodysuit over their head like a poncho and see if you’re happy with the neckline.  Adjust if necessary.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

(Ignore the fact that the sleeves are already attached in the picture, I was sewing a little out of order :P)

With the edge of your neck binding strip lined up with the zipper tape, pin the strip on with the raw edges lined up, right sides together.  Sew with a 1cm seam allowance and trim off the extra strip to be lined up with the fabric tape.  See close up below . . .

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Fold the edge of the strip over so that the zipper teeth are now along the edge.  Then fold the binding over to the wrong side of the bodysuit so that the neckline is enclosed.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Pin along the neckline and stitch in the ditch to sew the binding down on the inside.  Fleece is too thick to fold the raw edge in on the inside, but it looks and feels just fine.  Trim down the extra fabric on the inside close to the stitch line.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

To attach the sleeves, lay your body suit out with the shoulder seam flat, right side up.  Line up the center of the sleeve with the shoulder seam, right side down and pin.  Then carefully continue to pin the sleeve to the arm hole.  Sew together with a 1cm seam allowance.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

For the tail, cut two pieces in whatever shape you want.  Place them right sides together and sew the curved edges together leaving the flat/top edge open.  Flip it right side out and stuff it.  Close the tail with a zig zag stitch or serger.  Place the tail pointed up on the right side of the back bodysuit piece just below the bottom of the zipper.  Sew along the dotted line to attach the tail and be sure to back stitch a bunch at each end to make sure that sucker doesn’t get pulled off!

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

With the tail flipped up and out of the way, place the front piece on the back piece, right sides together and pin along the bottom of the sleeve, line up the seams at the armpit, along the side seams and the inseam.  Sew together!

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Flip it right side out and you’ll see that it’s really coming together!

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

To finish the arm and leg holes, fold the fabric in towards the wrong side by 3/4″.  Sew close to the raw edge to create a casing and be sure to leave about 1.5″ open to insert the elastic.  If your model is handy, measure around their wrist and ankle to find a comfortable length for the elastic.  You don’t want it to be too tight or too loose.  I just guessed and made both 5″ in length and overlapped them by about 1/2″.  Using a safety pin, thread your elastic through your casing and sew the ends together.  Sew up the rest of the casing to enclose the elastic.  Repeat with all leg and arm holes.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Your bodysuit is done!!


Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

To make the hood pattern, grab a hooded sweatshirt or jacket and place it on top of your tracing paper.  Leave a 1/2″ of space between the edge of the paper and the edge of your hood.  Trace along the curved edge with a 1cm seam allowance.  Draw a straight line 1 cm below the bottom edge of the hood at the front of the jacket.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Cut two hood pieces.  You’ll also need a strip of fabric that is 4 inches wide.  To determine the length, measure the bottom edge of the hood, multiply that by two and then add about 4 inches.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

With right sides together, pin the curved edge of the hood and sew with a 1cm seam allowance.  To finish the front of the hood, fold it in a 1/2″ and sew along the raw edge.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Take your strip and fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together.  Sew along one of the short edges starting a centimeter away from the edge (in the picture, the raw edges are on the top and the folded edge is along the bottom).  Flip it right side out, use a chopstick or something to poke the corner out.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

With your hood right side up and raw edge along the top, line the edge of the strip up with the edge of the hood and pin along the raw edge.  When you attach the band to the hood, be sure you only sew through one layer of the band.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Sew along the edge.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

At the other end, fold the band right sides together and sew from the edge of the hood around the corner of the band.  Clip the corner and then turn right side out.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Pin the rest of the band up on the inside of the hood and on the outside of the hood, stitch in the seam (make sure you’re catching the inside of the band in your stitching.  Trim any excess fabric.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Sew velcro to the hood.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Cut out your eyes and nose out of fleece or felt.  Top stitch everything down as close the edge as possible.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Draw and cut out 4 ear pieces.  Place two, right sides together, and sew along edges, leaving the bottom open.  Flip right side out.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Stuff with stuffing.  A lot of people ask how I get the ears to stand up, so this part is important.  It’s very simple though!  You want to sew the ears on as a circle.  If you try to close the bottom by sewing the two sides together into a straight line, or if you sew the ear on by sandwiching it in a seam, it’ll just flop down.  Figure out your ear placement and pin the ear down in place making sure the bottom of the ear is open and in a circular (or oval) shape.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

With a hand sewing needle, attach the ear to the hood with a quick whip stitch.  Tie the knots on the inside of the hood.

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

And you’re done!!  Unless you want to add whiskers or a leaf to your hood – then head over HERE for those directions!

Now try the costume on your little one and be prepared to swoon.  Cuz c’mon – there are few things in this world cuter than a kid dressed up as Totoro!!

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

Totoro Costume Tutorial by you & mie

I really hope that people out there are able to use this tutorial!  And seriously, you can use this tutorial to make pretty much any animal costume – just change the shape of the tail and ears and add other details and you’ve got a cat, dog, tiger, cow, monkey, whatever!

I LOOOOVE seeing your creations with my tutorials.  I’ve already gotten to see a lot of Totoro costumes inspired by the original one I made and I shared some of them here.  If you use this tutorial please share your photos with me!  You can email me, upload them to the you & mie flickr group, or post them on the you & mie Facebook page!!

Happy Sewing!

**I am not taking any orders/selling this costume.  This is a free tutorial for your personal use.  I mentioned on Instagram that I was going to be selling this particular costume, but I’ve decided to hang on to it for a little longer – I’m sorry for changing my mind!**


About these ads

To kick off October . . .

Hey!  It’s been awhile since I’ve posted over on the Miss Matatabi blog as a Miss Matatabi Maker, but I’m back!  And in honor of it officially being October, I’m sharing quite the Halloween project over there.

Halloween Party Dress by you & mie

Wanna see what I did with this fabric?  I’ll give you a hint – it’s something for ME!  Check it out here.

Happy October 1st!

Happy Bee-lated Halloween

Har har, I know.  I can’t resist a good pun!

Happy Halloween

But I hope you all enjoyed a happy Halloween (for those of you who celebrated)!  I realize it’s a bit late to be sharing our Halloween costumes, but that’s how things are rolling around here, so let’s just go with it, k?

So in the weeks leading up to the holiday, I had been asking Yuki what she wanted to dress up as.  Her answers changed every time I asked.  First, it was a purple dinosaur.  Then a pumpkin dinosaur – though I have no idea what that is!  Then she would just name whatever was nearby or happened to be on her mind, so I would get answers like “juice box” or “Mercury” (the planet).  We started planting the idea of Ladybug Girl into her head because we thought it’d be a fun and easy costume, but one she could get into.  Ladybug Girl is a character from a series of children’s books.  The stories are about a young girl named Lulu who calls herself “Ladybug Girl,” wears a costume, and likes to have adventures.

Yuki was still throwing out ideas like cat and owl, but when I found a pair of ladybug wings and a wand at Joann for 60% off, I decided it was meant to be.  I was worried that Yuki wouldn’t get on board, but took the risk anyways.

I had plans to make the costume identical to the book character, but you know how things change.  I knew Yuki would get excited about a tutu though, so I used one of the thousand tutu-rials out there to make one with red tulle from Joann.  And as expected, she loved it.


Before I keep saying Joann, Joann, Joann – I’ll just say that I pretty much got everything I needed for both costumes at Joann.  This is not a sponsored post.  I just bought all the supplies on one trip, thank goodness for that!

So anyways, the headband is one of the few things that I got elsewhere.  Picked it up at a drugstore and used pipe cleaners and pom poms to make antennae.


The shirt was made using the ever useful Flashback Skinny Tee in size 3T (you know I love this pattern, right?).  At first I just made a solid red tee like Lulu’s, but after seeing the costume the weekend before, Hideko felt like adding spots would make it more ladybug-ish.  Here’s what it looked like before:


So I picked up some Tulip Fashion Glitter and tried that out for the first time.  I thought Yuki would like the sparkles and I could use the other colors on future projects.  If you use the Fashion Glitter pack that I did, you’ll need to buy the bond/glue separately.  I made a stencil to get the circular dots and the glitter was easy to apply.  Some of it came off during the drying/wearing stage, which I expected, but it held up really well otherwise.  I’ve washed and dried the shirt once (inside out) and it lost some of it’s glitter, but still looks pretty decent.  I’ll have to try it out on another project and see how it holds up through multiple washes.  I’m glad I added those spots though – I think they add a lot to the costume.


I also made a little pair of shorts to go under her tutu using the Fancy Pants Leggings pattern.  They came together really quickly and I like how they came out, but I’ll never know how the fit was because Yuki refuses to wear them.  So she ended up wearing the plain black leggings I made for this outfit.  Her boots are from Target.


The best part about her costume is that she absolutely loved it and seemed so proud to be wearing it.  She loved going up to other kids and saying, “Hey, I have wings like you!” or “You have a wand like me!”  (She’s really into comparing herself to other people these days – ugh).  But I didn’t have to bribe her to put it on like other costumes and outfits I’ve made for her!  I did, however, have a really hard time photographing her like always . . .

Happy Halloween2

And that brings us to our little bee . . .


There she is, zipping through the air!  Haha.  So I know it’s a little ridiculous to dress up a one month old, let alone hand-make the entire costume the day before Halloween, but I couldn’t resist.  When I decided on Ladybug Girl for Yuki’s costume, a bumblebee seemed like an obvious choice for Kaya, so I went ahead and bought the yellow and black fleece.  But a couple of days before Halloween, I still hadn’t had time to make her costume and I had to accept that it just wasn’t going to happen.  It wasn’t worth it if I meant having to loose sleep.  I went to bed pretty disappointed that night (If you don’t know me, let me just say that Halloween/making costumes is kinda my thing.  So it’s a big deal).

Then I woke up the next morning at 5am and decided it was a good time to start that damn costume after all.  It came out pretty decent considering I was determined to make it the fastest and simplest costume ever knowing that it would only get a few hours of wear.


The body is just a simple sack with an elastic casing at the neck and bottom with armholes.  I cut the stripes from black fleece and just top stitched onto the yellow fleece before sewing up the sack.  The wings are made from boning since I wanted something softer and more flexible than metal wire.  I just stretched some thin knit fabric and sloppily sewed/tied it on.  Not my best work, but no one could see the other side anyways.

I made the tights using Rae’s Baby Tights tutorial some black knit in my stash.  She offers a  free pattern for the tights in 3-6 mo. size, but since Kaya is a bit younger/smaller than that, I tried to size it down.  Unfortunately, I sized it down too much and I could barely get them over her bum!  Mostly because she wears cloth diapers but I had also shortened them too much as well.  They were super easy to make though, so I think I’ll try again with a better idea of how to make adjustments to the pattern.


I made the beanie using Zaaberry’s free baby hat pattern and tutorial.  I made the antennae with the same black knit and stuffed them with some poly-fil.  At first I tried to sew them into the seam to save time, but they just flopped down.  I really wanted them to stand up when worn, so I cut them off and hand stitched them on real quick.  Again, not my finest sewing, but that’s what Halloween costumes are about right!?

We went trick-or-treating with Yuki’s school during the day around some local businesses and Yuki was super excited and proud in her costume and Kaya slept the entire time getting lots of little “oohs” and giggles from other parents and kids.  So was it all worth it?  Absolutely.  And maybe a bit ridiculous?  Absolutely.  But that’s me!

How was your Halloween?  Did you make any costumes?  What was the best costume you saw this year?  And are you ready for Christmas?  Cuz the rest of the world seems to be getting ready already.  I can’t handle that.  It’s November 7th and I’m still on Halloween.

Totoros and Rain Clouds Galore!

Well, Halloween is over!  All that preparation and it’s gone in the blink of an eye!  We had a great time taking Yuki on her first real trick-or-treat outing and she wore her costume for most of it, so that was a big success.  Did you all have a great Halloween?

Today I’m super excited to be sharing a bunch of costumes made by readers!

When I made the Totoro costume for my daughter last Halloween, I was excited, but figured most people would have no clue who or what she was.  While we definitely had to answer the question more than a few times, it quickly became an internet hit.  It is, by far, my most popular post EVER.  Totoro has a big following!

When people started showing interest in the costume, I thought I might make a pattern for it or sell custom costumes, but I did neither.  I didn’t even make a tutorial for it.  But as Halloween approached, I started getting emails from people who were making the costume just based off of my pictures and brief description.  Some of them had questions, but they all drafted their own patterns and they all came out sooooo incredible!  Each of them unique in their own way.  I was thrilled when I started seeing pictures of the finished costumes and even more so when they said I could share them here on the blog.

As you guys may know, I love Halloween and costumes are probably one of my most favorite things to create.  Unfortunately, my daughter does not feel the same way!  She doesn’t like costumes and it makes me feel like I should give up on trying to get her to dress up.  But when I see that my costumes have inspired other people to create for themselves and their families it makes me so so happy.  Some of them are sewing for the first time or for the first time in years and I think that’s pretty incredible!  And as for Yuki, I won’t approach her with another costume until she’s ready (and hopefully she’s ready by next Halloween)!

Anyways, let’s start the Totoro parade!!

 Ina made this costume for her son’s first Halloween and I cannot get over the cuteness!!  See more of her beautiful pictures here.
The whole gangVenus of Suburbia Soup made this adorable costume for her daughter.   She calls it Totoro on a diet – haha!  But I think it fits her daughter perfectly.  While you check out her blog, you definitely must see her Hoodie Scarf tutorial!
Bree, momma blogger of Shark and Crow, made this for her daughter and it was her first sewing project EVER.  Can you believe it!?  (My first sewing project was 2 pieces of fabric sewn into a rectangular pocket.  And it sucked.)  More pics of the cute costume here.
Raquel sent me pictures of her son, Javier, representing Totoro all the way from Spain!  Look at that lil belly!
Elisabeth made this for her son and I love how she stuffed the tummy and nose and the exposed zipper in the back looks great!

Sarah made TWO Totoro costumes, one of the big gray Totoro and one of the medium blue one.  How cute is this sibling picture!?The Catbus was booked, so these Totoros had to walk the streets for candy tonight.Kristina made this costume for her youngest even though she hadn’t sewn since 7th grade Home Ec class.  She borrowed a sewing machine from a friend.  Didn’t it come out amazing?
And last in the Totoro parade, is this incredible costume that Sandie made.  She used my hood and leaf as inspiration but created the rest of the costume on her own and don’t you just LOVE the soot ball bag and those shoe covers?!  It’s also so awesome to see a slightly older kid as Totoro.  So super cute.

The Rain Cloud costume was a tutorial from this year and there were a few created by readers for both kids and adults!  This costume is a bit more simple in construction, but equally as cute, and it was fun to see some pop up so quickly after I posted the tutorial.

Kristina of Sir Bubbadoo created this adorable costume for her son and he LOVED it!Rachel, of Stitched Together, made her daughter into a little gray rain cloud and I especially love how two of her older kids helped with painting, stuffing and decision making!

Kady, a children’s librarian, said her costume was totally appropriate for her job and super comfy too!
And last, but not least, one of my staff members and her friend dressed up as a couple of clouds for a Halloween party!  Maddee (left) is a rain cloud and Laura (right) is a snow cloud!  I love the variation!

Thank you to all of the talented people who shared their beautiful costume creations with me and allowed me to share them on the blog with you!  I really loved seeing every single one.

If you ever want to share your photos with me OR have any questions, please feel free to email me anytime (see contact tab above)!  And remember there is a you & mie flickr group and I’d love to see your creations added to the group as well.

Now that Halloween has passed, I know that the holiday season will creep up on us so quickly.  Can you believe it’s November already!?  Here in the US, today is election day, so if you’re a registered voter – PLEASE GO VOTE!  It’s truly one of our greatest rights and responsibilities.  I know I’ll be anxious until the day is over, but I’m hoping for good news :)

So get out there and vote and have a great day!

Happy Halloween from my sneaky lil fox!

Happy Halloween!  Today is a big day for us over here.  Not only is it Halloween and Yuki’s first in preschool (meaning her first Halloween parade and party), but it’s the SF Giants Parade.  We won the World Series!  Again!  And this city goes craaaazy when it’s time to party!  It’s estimated that over a million people will gather to celebrate the win in our little city.  But I’m gonna miss the party to hang out with this little fox and her classmates.

When I made the Rain Cloud costume, I never thought it would be Yuki’s actual Halloween costume.  I was proved right when Yuki hated the costume and figured out within seconds how to rip it off (if you’re wondering, there was a lot of pleading and a bit of bribery during our photo shoot :)).  So I started a search for a new costume idea.  Since Yuki does not like hats, hoods, ears, tails, or anything bulky hanging off her, I felt pretty restricted in my choices.  I was trying to think of a costume that would require no more than regular clothes, but none of the ideas felt right or had any real meaning to her.

The fox idea was one of the firsts, but I quickly dismissed it because I knew Yuki would hate it.  She’s into the show “Dora the Explorer” and she loooooooves Swiper the Fox.  Swiper is the show’s villian.  He’s a sneaky little fox that shows up and swipes things from the other characters.  When she first started watching the show, she was totally scared of Swiper and she’d even cry a little when he came around.  But soon she couldn’t stop talking about him.  She’d take things and hide it behind her back and say, “Swiper took it!”  I think it was part of her alter ego.  She would sometimes refer to herself as Swiper and also giggle and say, “sneaky fox!!”  Pretty funny kid, that Yuki.

Anyways, after considering dozens of other options, my partner, Hideko, persuaded me to go for the fox outfit because it suits her so well.  I decided not to make a Swiper costume, but just a regular ol fox.  I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with how it came out!

The costume is pretty similar to the Totoro costume I made last year in terms of construction.  In fact, I used that costume to make the pattern for this one since it was the perfect size.  I used sweatshirt knit which is soft inside and warm, but not quite as much as fleece.  Unfortunately, it barely has any stretch which I thought was weird, but it still works.  The white fabric is also sweatshirt knit, but I sewed it on with the wrong side out so it’d be soft and fuzzy.

I moved the zipper to the front so I could attach the hood to the back and narrowed the wrists and ankles.  I added visible pockets to the front.  I wanted deep pockets for all the things Yuki would swipe (usually just rocks) and decided to make them contrasting for a fun visual look.

I added a little fox paw print to her booty, just for fun too.  All the details are just top stitched on.  Gotta love that knit doesn’t unravel!

So does she love it?  No.  I still have to struggle with her a bit to put it on and she definitely does not like the hood on (again, this photo shoot involved pleading and lots of treats!).  But I think she likes being a fox and she also gets excited when she sees other kids in costume.

Today will be the real test.  First her school Halloween Parade and then her first time really going trick-or-treating tonight!  Let’s see how much loot this fox comes away with!  Most of it is going to be mine anyways :)

Big festivities for you tonight?  Finish your costumes in time?  If you’ve made costumes for any of your kiddos, be sure to link it up at the Project Run & Play costume link up party and check out tons of other cute costumes!

Happy Halloween to you and your family!  And GOOOOOOO GIANTS!!!

Rain Cloud Costume

Halloween is almost here!!  I LOVE making costumes and a few weeks ago, I posted this tutorial as part of The Train To Crazy’s Handmade Costumes series – click the link to see all the creative costumes that have been shared so far!

Since then, this costume made it onto the list of 21 Most Clever Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids on Babble, was selected as inspiration for Craftbaby’s DIY Halloween Costume Contest (go check it out and enter your costume!) and yesterday it was featured in a Martha Stewart Living article, DIY Kids’ Costumes from our Favorite BloggersMartha Freakin’ Stewart, people!!  I nearly died.  (Check out Kristin’s Fanstastic Mr. and Mrs. Fox outfits on the Babble and MSL lists too!)  I really didn’t expect any sort of reaction to this simple costume, so I’m, quite frankly, shocked.  And psyched.

Anyways, I wanted to bring this post home in case you didn’t see it and since Yuki was feeling under the weather (get it!? :P) the first time around, I decided to take some new pictures for this post.  Enjoy!


Over the last several years I’ve made quite a few costumes including a Totoro costume for my daughter (it was a big hit!) and several others you can see here, including Russell from the movie, Up.  But I’m a total procrastinator and also super indecisive, so I haven’t even started figuring out what my daughter, Yuki, will be for Halloween this year.  So in the meantime, I thought I’d whip up a simple costume using only materials I already had a home.  Presenting . . . the Rain Cloud costume!

I wanted to make something pretty simple and very comfy.  I knew that Yuki would not be down with anything too big or cumbersome attached to her, so I kept it small.  And a lot of this stuff, you might already have at home!  So let’s get started.  Here’s what you’ll need.

For the pants:
– Pants or leggings in a “sky” color (blue, gray, white)
– Fabric paint
– Contact paper (or freezer paper)

For the cloud:
– White fabric (cotton, fleece, a white sheet, anything will do!  I used fleece and gauze because that is what I had at home)
– Ribbon (for the shoulder straps)
– Fiberfill or batting

The part of this project that took the longest was waiting for the fabric paint to dry on the pants, so I would start there.  Make rain drop stencils from the contact paper and stick them to your pants.  Use fabric paint to fill in your stencils (be sure to read and follow all the directions on the paint that you use).  I made 3 shades of blue and used two for each rain drop for a kinda gradient/ombre look.

I painted the pants in 3 stages – first the front of the pants, then when that was pretty dry, I removed the contact paper stencil and flipped it over and painted the back.  Then I split the pant legs open and painted a few more drops down the outside of the legs.

After the paint is almost completely dry, I hung them up to finish drying completely over night.  And those are da-DONE!

In between the stages of painting and drying, you can work on your cloud.

First, use a shirt to draw out a cloud pattern.  You’ll want the sides of the cloud to extend past the edges of the shirt (we’ll connect them later), but the pattern shouldn’t go past the shoulder to restrict arm movement.  Add seam allowance.

Cut out 4 layers of the cloud pattern.  I used fleece for the inside of the costume and gauze for the outside, so 2 clouds of each fabric.

Cut 2 pieces of ribbon for the straps.  Lay the inner fabric right side up, then the ribbons right side up.

Lay the outer layer right side DOWN, being sure to tuck all the ribbon inside the cloud.  Pin the layers together.

When you sew the back of the costume, be sure that you flip the direction of the pattern.

Sew around the cloud leaving an opening in the bottom.  Snip each point close to the seam.

Turn it right side out and press.  Fill with a thin layer of batting or fiberfill.

Hand sew the opening shut.  Quilt the cloud however you like to hold the filling in its place.

Stack the clouds right sides out and sew the edges together.

Try it on your model and mark how long you need the straps to be.  Trim your ribbon, fold the edge under and sew it to the back of the cloud.


Pair it with some rain boots if you got ‘em!

Sad cloud . . . err, happy cloud?

Yuki actually has a pair of rainbow striped pajama pants that would give this outfit a totally different look!  I bet there are a bunch of ways this costume could get adapted.

Thanks for having me, Andrea! I’m loving all the handmade inspiration in your series and feel lucky to have been a part of it!


Have you picked out Halloween costumes for this year?  Are you making or buying?  I’m still looking for costumes for our family, so if you have any brilliant ideas to spare, leave me a comment :)

A Handmade Costume at The Train to Crazy

Oy, the first cold of the season has hit our household already.  Between that, craziness at work, and personal projects up the wazoo, blogging is being held up again.  But today I’m sharing a project that not only isn’t old, but is actually early!  I’m guest posting for The Train To Crazy’s Handmade Costume series in preparation for Halloween!

I LOVE Halloween and I love making costumes.  Unfortunately, Yuki does not like wearing them.  She’s old enough now to fight back and take things off if she doesn’t like it.  So this costume wasn’t a win for us – but maybe it will be for your little one?  At least it was super simple, was made from materials I already had at home, and was really fun to make!  Presenting . . .

So head on over to The Train to Crazy to see the full tutorial.  And if you click on the button below, it’ll take you to the series page where there are links to all of the projects that have been shared so far.  The series goes on for another month, so if you’re looking for Halloween costume inspiration, be sure to check back often!

Thanks for checking in and have a great weekend!

Happy Halloween!

Yesterday we went to the pumpkin patch with our friends Emy and Nicky!  It was a hot and gorgeous day, but we couldn’t resist getting a few pics of Yuki in her (super thick and warm) costume.  We tried to make it quick and she was a trooper, but poor thing, we found out later she was actually sick :(

Totoro is real.

Yuki’s favorite part of the pumpkin patch was playing all the instruments along with the live music.

Getting up close and personal with a Scottish Highlander.  These guys were HUGE but Yuki did not seem impressed.

“Ok, get me out of here now.”

Wearing flip flops and sunscreen and it’s nearly November.  Happy Halloween from California!  Hope everyone has a fun and safe night!

Tutorial: Making Whiskers and Bendable Parts

I wasn’t really planning on doing a tutorial on anything costume related, but I thought I’d share these two small projects with you.  These can be used to help you complete a lot of costumes and technically, you don’t need a sewing machine to do either.  We’ll start with making whiskers.

*I apologize for the crappy and sparse pictures.  I didn’t really think about posting this until after I had already made the whiskers and everything was done at night in our not-well-lit apartment*

Making whiskers
Yuki’s Totoro costume was starting to take shape, but it was definitely missing whiskers.  I knew that I wanted something thin, but stiff enough to stick out and not be droopy.  I decided to try some fabric stiffener and embroidery floss.  And it worked!  Here’s how you can do it.

What you’ll need:
Fabric stiffener (don’t have any?  read on for other ideas)
Foam brush
Embroidery floss
Wax paper
Flat surface like a cookie sheet or a cutting board

Lay the wax paper out on your flat surface.  Cut and lay your embroidery floss flat.  Cover generously with fabric stiffener and brush to coat evenly, but leave about 4 inches of embroidery floss without the stiffener.  This part of the floss will be used to thread the needle later.  Let it dry (overnight works well).

So this is my cookie sheet with wax paper and my six extra long pieces of embroidery floss.  It’s a good idea to give yourself extra inches that can always be trimmed at the end.  It may also be smart to make a few extra in case you make a mistake.  These have already been brushed with the fabric stiffener and dried.  The three on the left have been peeled off the paper and the three on the right have not.  You can see the ends (closest to you) have not been stiffened.

Peel the embroidery floss off and thread the needle using the unstiffened end of the floss.

Starting from the outside of your costume, pull your thread through your costume wherever you want your first whisker to be.  Pull it far enough so that the stiff part of the embroidery floss comes through.  It’s a bit stiff (duh), but tie a knot on the inside.  I tied it twice to make sure it wouldn’t slip through the fabric.

Trim the end.

Now you need to tie a knot on the other side of the whisker so that it doesn’t slide out from the inside.  The trick here is to tie the knot as close to the fabric (and the other knot) as possible.  If there is even a bit of space between the two knots, the whisker will sag.  So tie the tightest knot closest to the fabric, sometimes a bit of fabric even gets pulled into the knot – this is good.

Can you see the little knots?  From far away you won’t even notice them.

Now repeat with the rest of your whiskers and give them a trim!

DONE!  If you don’t have fabric stiffener, there are probably other ways.  Fabric stiffener is basically water soluble glue.  Now I’ve never tried it, so I can’t guarantee anything, but I have a feeling that this would work using your regular old white glue (like Elmer’s) or Mod Podge.  If you try this out, let me know if it works.

Now moving on . . .

Bendable Parts – in this case, a leaf.
In the movie Totoro, there is a scene in the rain where Totoro only has a tiny leaf on his head to provide protection from the rain.  I thought it might be a cute addition to the costume.  I wanted the leaf to have shape, so I made it bendable.  This method would be great for any small part of a costume that you want to have some form and bend – like EARS!

What you’ll need:
Pipe cleaners
Needle & thread (if you’re hand sewing)

Start out by drawing whatever shape you want on a piece of paper (I always use something out of my recycling bin which is super full around election time).  Add about a 1/4 inch around your shape for seam allowance and cut it out (I forgot the stem on my pattern).

You’re going to need 2 pieces of your shape, so fold your fabric in half or layer two pieces of fabric on top of each other.  Then use your pattern to cut out your shape (I added the stem in here).

With right sides facing, pin and sew up your shape leaving an opening for turning it right side out.  I left the bottom of the stem open as well for the pipe cleaner.  If you’re making an ear, you can just leave the bottom open.

Flip it right side out!

Now fold that fabric from the opening in and top stitch around the leaf, again leaving an opening at the top of the stem (for the pipe cleaner!).

Now we’re going to sew the casing for the pipe cleaner.  Making sure the space is wide enough, sew two lines along the length of your shape for the pipe cleaner to slide into.

Now it’s time to insert your pipe cleaner.  Take one end and fold it down about half an inch.  This makes it so that the tip is not super sharp (the wire was getting snagged on my fabric and folding it down made it much easier to slide through).  Insert it into your casing and then clip the end about 1/2 inch longer than the stem.

Fold this end up and tuck it into the fabric to avoid any super sharp wires.

And you’re DONE!

Bend it to whatever shape you want!  You can probably sew up the end too, if you want, but I didn’t bother.  Now you can handstitch your bendable part to your costume.

And here’s the updated Totoro hood . . .

My usual model was asleep :(

Anyways, there you have it!!  I hope you are all having fun coming up with some creative costumes for Halloween.  And hopefully these ideas may even help you put some finishing touches on them!  Remember, it’s all in the details ;)

Sew & Tell: Totoro Costume




**The Totoro Costume is NOT currently for sale.  Sorry for the inconvenience, but I am not taking orders for costumes at this time.  There may be a pattern available for purchase or costumes in the future, so please check back here at the blog for announcements.  THANK YOU!!!**


*UPDATE: Since this post has been getting a lot of views, I figure I should at least add one photo of the finished hood.  This post was published with photos from her first fitting and after these were taken, I decided to add the whiskers and the leaf.  You can read more about that in this tutorial.  Hope you like it!*

This year, I really wanted to make Yuki’s costume, but we could not decide for a long time what she should be.  We threw around some ideas, but none of them really excited me.  I’ve had this idea of dressing Yuki up as Totoro for a long time (since she was born?), but was worried that no one would know what she was.  But since I couldn’t think of anything better, I decided to go for it.  So what if I would have to explain a hundred times who she was supposed to be!  At least she would be adorable and original . . . right?

Well, I finished most of the costume EARLY this year (meaning not the night before or morning of) and I’m a little unsure of how I feel about it.  It came out better than I expected in some ways and not as cute as I imagined in other ways.  In terms of the construction, I’m pleased.  I’d never made a full body suit before.  I’d never done an outfit with sleeves.  Or made a hood.  I just kinda made it up as I went along and it surprisingly worked out alright.  Actually, better than alright, it came out looking pretty damn clean.  On the other hand, it doesn’t look like Totoro to me.  I think there is something wrong with the shape.  Or the face.  Or the proportions.  I’m not quite sure and I might have to do a little more fiddling around (eek, that means I’m not actually done yet!), so maybe you can give me some feedback.

I’m actually so impressed that I was able to get these pics of Yuki.  She does NOT like hoods or hats.  She generally rips them off the second we put them on.  I’d tried to get this hat on her a few times while sewing to see if it fit and she hated it.  She wouldn’t even let me get near her with it towards the end.  But I realized that if you keep her really really distracted, she won’t notice it for quite awhile.

So in case you don’t know who Totoro is, he is a character from a Japanese animated movie, となりのトトロ or My Neighbor Totoro.  Although it’s a foreign film, there are quite a few people in the states that have seen it.  Here he is!

So cute, right?!  Ok ok, so here’s our little Totoro . . .

Something about this costume reminds me of Max from Where the Wild Things Are.  It’s well suited for making mischief!

I’m actually hoping that it’ll be cold on Halloween because this costume is made out of fleece and SUPER warm!  I need to make some adjustments, but here are some of the basic details of the costume.  Overall, it’s a pretty simple design that I based off of Yuki’s pajamas.

I zig zag stitched the chevrons on the chest and the white tummy to the rest of the suit.  This was the first part of the costume I sewed, and the first thing I sewed on my brand new machine.  It was dreamy :)

Instead of a zipper and snap in the front, I moved it to the back.

I also added elastic to the wrists and ankles and snaps to the legs for easy diaper changes.

For the hood, I used a hooded jacket to trace the shape.  I cut two pieces and sewed them together, then made the snap collar thing with a long rectangle.  I made ears (and the tail) with scraps of fleece and stuffed it with poly-fil.  Then I hand sewed the ears and face on.

I want to add whiskers to the costume.  Any ideas for what I can use??  I want to use something smaller and not as sharp as pipe cleaners.  Maybe some yarn with fabric stiffener?  I’m taking suggestions.

Now I gotta work on my costume.  It’s going to be super simple this year.  What are you going to be for Halloween??