Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Toadette Costume Detail

I am finally getting back on track with sleep, laundry and cleaning, all those things I had set aside while I was rushing to prepare for Otakuthon. So I think it is time for a Costume Detail post. Since she really was the most popular of us, I will present Toadette first.

My Daughter as Toadette, Otakuthon 2011

Toadette’s costume was actually quite easy since it was simple lines and very little details. I used no pattern to make the different pieces, just clothes my daughter wears and in the case of the hat, a bit of draping. The hardest of course was that hat, but I will talk about it later. First things first.

The Dress

Toadette's Dress

To make Toadette’s dress, I used a simple A-line summer dress that my mother made as a pattern. I set it down on the fabric, drew 1 cm larger than the dress all around as seam allowance, cut two, and then make the front neckline 1 cm deeper. From my two dress pieces, I drew the facings. Four pieces in total for that dress. The only difference between this one and the original is I added snaps at the shoulders to make it easier to put on. And there you have it: one reusable Toadette dress which can actually be worn over the rest of the summer, or over a long sleeves t-shirt in the fall.

Original Summer Dress next to Toadette's Dress

Fabric wise, I used Pink silk noile chosen to match the hat fabric. I think it fits with the character: I always imagine the Toads as being country folk, so silk noile with its rough finish just seems perfect. The trim at the bottom hem of the dress is white satin ribbon.

The Vest

Toadette's Vest

This time, I used a polar fleece hoodie made by my mom as a base for my pattern. I drew half the back on my fabric, adding seam allowance, cut that piece and used it to make front pieces. I then eyeballed the curved front and cut. Once I had assembled the three pieces, it seemed a bit big so I tried it on my daughter and made a few adjustments to get the perfect fit. Add trim and you are done!

Polar Fleece Hoodie next to Toadette's Vest

The fabric I used was some cotton leftover I had in my stash. The trim is yellow satin ribbon.

The Shorts

White Shorts worn by Toadette

Here I just used one of the two pairs of white shorts my daughter owns. The second pair was in the diaper bag in case of little accidents (for instance, she was sick in the car – just a case of motion sickness - on our way to the convention center, but she was not in her costume at the time - thank goodness!). Why make something if you can buy it for cheap, or if you already own it?

The Shoes

Toadette's Brown Shoes

In all artwork of Toadette that I have seen, she is shown wearing brown shoes. Since my daughter already has enough shoes for a toddler and changes shoe size every 3 month, I looked around for a really cheap pair, but couldn’t find one. I ended up asking around at work and borrowing these from a co-worker who has a boy 2 months older than my daughter. Since they don’t fit her son anymore, she told me after the convention that I could keep them, which is a good think because my kid loves them.

Toadette does not appear to wear socks, but I went for a white pair to match the shorts.

The Hat

This is the piece that really makes the costume. I received many compliments during the day and evening on how cute it (and she) was and how ingeniously I had made it. First, if you have not read about it already, know that I used her bicycle helmet as a base.

My daughter's Bicyle helmet

I bought pink and white spandex (bathing suit material) to make a slip cover for the helmet, as well as the braids.

First I covered the helmet with the pink fabric as well as I could and I drew a line with tailor’s chalk to mark where it should reach inside. When I put my fabric flat on the floor, I adjusted the line to get an egg shaped oval, which I then cut. Next, I eyeballed the white spots and cut those two at a time to gat matching pairs of spots that I could put on opposite sides of the helmet.

For the braids, I bought Styrofoam balls at the craft store to make the shape. I made sure the two end ones were a little bigger then the four others. I cut two rectangles of the pink spandex wide enough to be pulled tight around the largest ball (plus seam allowance) and more than long enough for all three balls. I eyeballed the white spots here too.

Then it was time for sewing. I began by zigzagging the white spots to the braids’ rectangles. Here I used tearaway, but it was a pain to take off because I was using a wide zigzag stitch and not a satin stitch. For the helmet cover, I did not use tearaway and it worked like a charm.

(Note: it depends on the sewing machine too. I know my old Singer Stylist 522 is hell with knit fabrics, but I was using my Singer Futura for this project, since the Stylist 522 is in need of repair – again – and that one works like a charm both on thick fabric and knits.)

Once the white spots were sewn on the braids, I closed the sides, and then I baste stitch around the bottom to pull them close. I sewed through the gathers with my machine to make sure it would not come undone. Then I inserted the biggest Styrofoam ball. I pulled the fabric tight around it, and using a hand sewing needle, I made a quick baste stitch through both layers of fabric, pulled it tight, then pulled the thread around the bundle of fabric a few times, made another couple of stitches to make sure it would hold and made a knot with the thread. I repeated this with every ball. Once I reached the top, I cut off the excess fabric. Then I repeated everything with the second braid.

Toadette's Hat pieces - Flat

The next step that came was making that Yoshi egg quilt into a bicycle helmet cover. By the way this was Wednesday night before the convention and that is when I realized I was out of elastic. It is a notion I always have, but when I needed it, it was nowhere to be found. So flash forward to Thursday night, after I have gone to buy elastic: at this point, sleep deprivation is starting to play its tricks on my usually marvellous intellect (hum-hum) and I spent two hours attempting to figure out how to best make use of my precious elastic. For educational purpose, I will tell you all about my first two failed attempts.

I first sewed the elastic around the edge of the slip cover with a straight stitch while I pulled on it to create gathers. Once I tried it on the helmet, it was obvious that it was too big. I calculated how much elastic I should take out to make it lye smoothly inside the helmet and I began unstitching it from the slip cover.

On my second attempt, I took the right length of elastic and again sewed with a straight stitch while pulling on it, but this time, I sewed it much closer to the white spots so I would have enough elastic to go around. This time, not only did it look like a Granny Toadette bonnet, it was too SMALL! Pull as I may, I couldn’t get it to hold on to the helmet properly. Nearly ready to cry from frustration and exhaustion, I stared at the bloody thing until it dawned on me that the solution was a casing around the edge. I un-sewed the elastic from the slip cover AGAIN!

Finally, I made a casing by folding the edge of my pink Yoshi egg and leaving a space opened to insert the elastic. I pulled the elastic through and sewed both edges. Then I tried it on the helmet and it was like a miracle had just happened. Sure, it was not as smoothed as I had hoped it would be, but it fit and looked great.

On Friday during lunch time I hand sewed the braids to the slip cover. The result is a perfectly adorable Toadette hat.

Toadette's Hat

The best part about that slip cover is it will fit another couple of sizes of helmets, so should I or she wish to, she could wear it again for years to come. The dress and vest are a joke to make in comparison!

Presenting Toadette:

Toadette the Artwork vs Toadette the "Toaddler"

She was so very cute! And popular too! I am so glad I made her that costume, even if I was completely exhausted by the time the convention started.

But I will do it all again anytime there is an excuse for me and my family to make and wear costumes!


  1. impressive, my 14 year old wants to be toadette for Halloween. I will let you know.

  2. My 8 year old wants to be Toadette for Halloween and I was a bit stumped on how to make the hat. Slip cover for a bike helmet? Abso-freaking-lutely brilliant. I love you right now.