I briefly was a part of Raspberry Creek Fabrics blogger team (and absolutely LOVED IT!) I wanted to share it here as well. This has somewhat been edited since I originally wrote it. All photos and writing are my own.
Hello, I’m so thrilled to share my sons costume for Halloween (2021) with all of you. My son has been turtle obsessed for a couple of years now and has wanted one as a pet for just as long. Well, this past July we finally decided to add a baby sulcata tortoise to our family. We are all absolutely smitten with him or her (we won’t know gender until around 4 years of age). Of course, that only made his love for turtles grow more.
When I asked both my kids last month what they wanted to be this year I was not at all surprised when my son said tortoise. My mind immediately started to ponder ideas on how I could make this happen for him. I mostly couldn’t wrap my head around how I could create the shell while still allowing it to have volume and dimension. I took to google first to see if I could find any tutorials, that turned up no luck. I saw this as a challenge accepted, I would take this opportunity to try something new and really get my creativity flowing.
I absolutely love RCF fabrics so I wanted to check what taupe/light brown shades they had available in the shop that would work for my vision. The khaki tan french terry fit the bill perfectly. All RCF french terry always amazes me with how soft and cushy it feels, my son was getting his dream costume but would also be so incredibly comfortable!! (Win, win!)
Once I decided on fabric, I moved onto what patterns I wanted to use as my base. For the pants I immediately thought of the Drew Joggers from Petite Stitchery Co. The rouching detail option perfectly depicts our little torts cute wrinkly legs. For the top I knew I wanted to attach the shell to a hoodie, I went with the Hannah from Sonia Estep Designs (which has since been discontinued) and used the crossover hood option from the add on pack.
For the base of the tortoise shell, I did a standard oval. Now, let me note that I have a projector and I have found that I love using it for more than just projecting patterns. I also have a Cricut, so I used design space to make an oval in the shape I wanted and projected it onto my cut mat, over the back bodice, to visualize how large I wanted it. Once I determined the size I wanted the oval to be, I cut it out. I then lined up the back bodice of the hoodie and centered the oval over that with right sides together. To secure the two I used wash away wonder tape, then measured 1.5” from the edge of the shell and sewed all the way around using a zig zag stitch. (You don’t want to sew too close to the edge or you’ll interfere with the remainder of the hoodie construction)
Next, we’re going to work on the top of the shell. To make sure we can add volume but keep the sides at a 1:1 ratio you’re going to measure the circumference of the oval. I marked the top center and bottom center and measured the distance between those two points which came to 27.5”. You’re then going to make two half circles, the straight line being the measurement you got for your oval. The fun part is you now get to decide how large you want your shell to be, there’s no wrong answer here. Once you’ve made your two half circles, you’re going to use your serger or sewing machine to sew the two half circles on the curved edge right sides together. (I used a 1/4” seam allowance)
Before attaching the top of the shell to the base I decided it would be easiest to add the scutes (the darker plates on the top of the shell) first. There are a few ways you can do this, you can use a fabric marker and draw them on, use another color of fabric and sew them onto the shell, you can use an embroidery machine, or use HTV (heat transfer vinyl). For my muslin I used fabric markers. While it didn’t look terrible a friend mentioned it gave Teenage mutant ninja turtle vibes and I must agree with her. The fabric marker was also inconsistent and didn’t give full coverage. So, I decided to go for HTV. I went back to my Cricut design space and made a mockup of the shell so I could play around with how I wanted my scutes to look. I found that using a standard hexagon shape but narrowing the height and bringing out the width it gave the look I was going for. After completing my mockup, I used my Cricut to print out the scutes in pieces. (With the round shape it would be very difficult to have it all in one piece)
I started by finding the center of the shell and using a pin to mark it. I also marked the center points of the first scute I wanted to place and lined the two up. After adhering the first scute I worked from top to bottom then moving my way outward. This step was by far the most challenging. It took time and patience to ensure I didn’t iron on the htv with a crease in the fabric.
Now that the scutes are finished we are going to attach the upper shell to the base shell. I’d like to note that before doing so I made a small little tail by cutting out two narrow triangle pieces out of the main fabric and one out of fusible interfacing. Once my tail was put together, I basted it to the right side of the shell base with the flat edge to the edge of the shell (you don’t want to cut off your tail!) You’re then going to sew the two shell pieces sides together. This means your back bodice will be sandwiched between the two. I marked the top and bottom center points of the base and matched the top shell pieces center points. Before stitching you’ll need to decide how you’d like to enclose your shell, (remember you still need to turn right side out, so you need to leave a small opening!) you can ladder stitch or use an invisible zipper. I went for an invisible zipper in a similar color so I could remove the poly filling for washes.
After turning the shell right side out, I then used a zig zag stitch and sewed around the entire shell to add detail and try to mimic what an actual tortoise shell looks like. My stitches are ¾” long and about 1” spaced apart.
Next you will finish construction of the hoodie pattern you chose before moving onto filling the shell. During construction of the hood, I added eyes and nostrils using black htv. If you have an embroidery machine, I think that would look even better! Sadly, I don’t have one yet. Finally, you’ll fill your shell with poly fill and sew it closed if you left an opening. Now we’re done! My son is absolutely in love with how it turned out and has asked to wear it whenever possible. I can’t wait for him to show it off to everyone this Halloween.
Thanks for joining me today!
Until next time,
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