Let me start at the beginning. This delightful creature you see above is Kapibarasan, a Japanese character based on the ever-delightful capybara. I am a fan of capybaras, and I am an even bigger fan of Kapibarasan. He is my favourite Japanese character, and I own many Kapibarasan items – bags, cushions, pens, stamps, plushies…the list goes on.
Here is just a small selection of some of my Kapibarasan goods. Obviously this includes more than just Kapibarasan, but he represents a good portion of my Japan haul. Moving on, though, as I could wax lyrical about the wonder-beast that is Kapibarasan for hours – let’s talk Halloween costumes.
I’ve been in the USA for three Halloweens now, and since this was my last one, I decided I was going to make a costume instead of sitting at home, hoping no one rings my doorbell because I have no candy. I have been wanting to make a kigurumi for ages. For those that can’t be arsed clicking that link, a kigurumi is kind of like massive pajamas. Onesies appear to have exploded in popularity recently, but I am yet to find a decent pattern for one. I did, in my early sewing days, attempt to make a Totoro kigurumi. I am about to show you one of the most embarrassing photos of me that exists, but maybe it will serve to show how much sewing skills can be improved if you practice.
There are a lot of things wrong with this picture – the fact that my Dad shot it from below, thus making me look even larger than I was, the unintentional ombre as I grew my henna out, and last but not least, the extremely shoddy costume. It was my first encounter with stretch fleece and zippers in clothing, and it did not go well. But, I tried.
This time, I decided I was going to start from scratch. I got a roll of brown paper from the Dollar Tree, and a texta, and got to work. I do already own a onesie (it’s a fox onesie in case you were interested) but it’s quite form-fitting, which doesn’t work for kigurumis imho, and also zipped up. I was keen to avoid zips at all costs this time around. So I tried sketching around my existing onesie, but it really wasn’t working out, because it was stretchy and form-fitting, and my first muslin was horrendous – way too high in the crotch, the sleeves were ridiculous, and I forgot to leave room for the buttons to overlap.
I started again, forgetting the previous onesie completely and just using math and straight lines (initially). I measured myself all over, and did some sketches, and then drew my pattern pieces using a French curve and a ruler. I went to Goodwill for another muslin sheet, and sewed it up.
The only change I made to this muslin was to lower the crotch a little more. Sewing the hood was quite challenging – I somehow stuffed up the measurements the first time for the muslin and made a super gigantic hood that was twice as large as it needed to be, but once I corrected it, I was very happy with it. The sleeves were easier than I thought – I simply measured the length of my arm and the width of my bicep, and the armhole, and went from there! I couldn’t wait to start cutting into my soft, soft fur.
Part-way through the cutting process – there was fur EVERYWHERE. I did look up a quick tutorial on cutting with napped fabrics, but it turns out it’s really simple – you just point everything in the wrong direction. Easy peasy!
For his face, I cut out the appropriate pieces from some black twill I had lying around in my stash. I hand-stitched them on, because I wanted greater control over the process. Sometimes it’s easy for things to go wonky on a machine, and I didn’t want to unpick them.
I did make one error – I used some canvas fabric to stabilise the button bands, instead of brown flannel. I didn’t have enough flannel (I only got one yard, to line the hood) and didn’t want to buy more, so I figured the canvas would do, reasoning no one would see it. Turns out I was wrong about that, and that you could indeed see the edge of it poking out. Another quick trip to the Dollar Tree for a pack of coloured textas and I coloured that shit in. It worked surprisingly well for such a ghetto fix!
You guys, I am SO PROUD of how this turned out. It exceeded my wildest expectations! I made this from scratch! With math!
It’s pretty big, right?
RIGHT?! Haha, it’s so huge and comfortable. Being in it is like having a constant, warm hug.
I made the cuffs from a dark brown ribbing I ordered off fabric.com. It’s not proper ribbing, because I couldn’t find that stuff in the colour I wanted, but it worked well enough. Because the ends of the sleeves and legs were so large, I had to stretch the ribbing to its absolute limit to get it to go around without any folds. It sprung back remarkably well, I was impressed!
I attached one of my own personal Kapibarasan toys to the hood with velcro – the sew-on kind for the hood part, and the stick-on kind for the toy. It held out all day, which surprised me as it specifically said not to use it on fabric. Oops. I also hot-glued fur to an old pair of sneakers, which worked amazingly well. I left a flap over the laces, and then this morning once I’d laced them up, I glued the flap shut. The fur stayed put all day, I was comfortable, and Kapibarasan had fuzzy feet! I Instagrammed the shoes, but didn’t take photos with my real camera, and am ashamed to admit I do not know how to post Instagram photo on my blog. Should probably Google that sometime.
This pretty much sums up how I feel about getting this done on time, and loving the end result!
I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween, costumed or not. I’m wondering if I can wrangle my friends into Halloween parties when I go back to Australia, so I can keep making more costumes!