DIY Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Costume
When I first asked Sebastian what he wanted to be for Halloween, he originally said, “Monster.” And I was like, “Okayyyyyy…” But I really had no idea how I was going to do that. But then, last week, he changed his mind. He declared he wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. And I was like, “Yes! I love the Turtles, and I know how to do it!” And so I wanted to share it with you.
Let me preface this tutorial with a few things. First, fleece is spectacular for costumes. It’s warm (especially if you live up north where trick or treating might require a jacket and, thusly, cover up all your hard work). It’s an easy to sew stretch fabric (which is great for less than perfect fit problems). And it doesn’t require hemming (hello, time saver!). Secondly, I totally made this thing up myself, but I borrowed techniques that I remembered from a book my mom had from the 70s called The Illustrated Hassle-Free Make Your Own Clothes Book. You’ve got to check out this cover. It is so hippie, I can’t even explain. But, the book does do a good job of showing you how to make a pattern out of clothes that you already own. And that’s how I set to making the pattern for this costume.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Costume
Materials for a 2T costume (adjust as necessary)
1 yard green fleece
1/4 yard light brown fleece
1/8 yard dark brown fleece
1/8 yard turtle color of choice (red, purple, orange, blue)
1/2 yard green sew on velcro
1 metal disposable roasting pan
First, I traced my son onto some paper. I used some recycled shipping paper to do this. I wanted to get an idea of how big he really was.
And then I placed an outfit of his over top of his outline, adding some space for a seam allowance. I also added length to the legs and arms because I always figure it better to have too long and hem than to have too short.
Then I cut out the pattern and folded it in half. I want to make them as symmetrical as I could. If you have a asymmetrical child, feel free to leave out this step.
Then I cut off the arms. It will be easier to construct this outfit with them separated.
Now it’s time to cut your pieces. For my 21-month old, a yard of green fleece was sufficient. For my nearly 4-year old, a yard was a little tight. Just take into account the height of your child, allowing for a little extra space when you are getting your fabric. Also, since fleece does have some stretch, you need to be aware of how you place the pattern pieces on your fabric. Generally, you want side to side stretch versus top to bottom. You can use the following picture as a guide. The stretch is from side to side in this picture.
Make one outline of your body without the arms. This is the front of the costume.
Then fold the pattern in half. The back will be constructed in two pieces, to allow for velcro (or a zipper, if you prefer). Trace the outside edge of the halved pattern, adding a 1-inch wide tab from the back to the crotch.
Then flip the halved pattern, and trace that, adding the 1-inch wide tab along the inner edge.
Now it’s time for the arms. Take one of your arms, tracing along the armpit, bottom edge, and arm hole. Then flip it along the top edge to make a doubled arm, and trace that. I added a little bit more to the bottom edge because I’ve had trouble in the past with too skinny arm sleeves, and again I figure better to have too much than too little.
Cut those pieces out and get another piece of brown paper. You are going to make the pattern for the turtle belly. Draw an oval and size it according to your body piece. Once you are satisfied with the look of the belly, cut out one in the light brown. Be very careful in your cutting because the raw edge will be visible.
Place the belly on the front piece of the green suit. Pin it in place, and sew around the edge in a dark brown thread. Then sew a line straight down and two lines across to make the six-pack look. I just eyeballed it, but if you feel more comfortable, you can draw a line, just be aware that you may be able to see the line after sewing. I didn’t want to take the risk, or try to put this in the wash before Halloween, so I just eyeballed it.
Then, placing the right sides together, put the two halves of the back on top of the front piece. Fold the tabs open down the middle line.
Make a slit about where you think the top of the butt will be. Pin the butt portion of the tabs together, and sew along where the fold was (so that when you open up the seam, it still lines up with the folded top portion of the tab).
Then replace the back pieces on top of the front piece, right sides together, and pin along the edges of the legs and top, making sure to leave space for the sleeves to be added.
Once you have done that, you can turn it right-side out and give a test on your child. I found that I had to cut the neck down a little for both costumes I made. Make a note of how the fit needs to change, and adjust it now before we finish this off.
Once you are satisfied with the fit, turn it wrong-side out and let’s add the sleeves. To make the sleeves, fold the doubled sleeves in half and sew along the bottom edges.
Turn the sleeves right side out and place them inside the body suit, lining up the arm pits. Pin in place and sew, making sure to not leave any gaps above or below the arm. Again, you can test out the fit if you’d like (or if you just need a little satisfaction).
Now it’s time to attach the velcro. Fold down the back to match the sewing line of the top of the body suit and cut a piece of velcro to go from the top to the slit (the unsewn portion of the tab). Then folding one side in, so that the fold line goes down the middle of the back, place the loop portion of velcro, facing up, and pin.
On the other tab, place the hook portion of the velcro facing down and pin, no folding required. The hook portion should go over the loop portion. Then sew both pieces of velcro in place.
Flip it right side out and admire your work on your child. You did the hard part! Hem or cut the arms and legs as needed for the desired length.
Next it’s time to get shell-shocked. I bought a turkey roasting pan from the dollar store. Then I folded the edge in since my guys are on the smaller side.
Then I painted them with a thin layer of brown paint. I thought the effect was pretty cool, so I left it like that, but if you’d like a darker shell, feel free to paint more.
Once the paint has dried, drill four holes in the pan, two on the top and parallel two on the bottom. Thread some yarn through the holes, making one continuous loop and tie it tight.
Then take a long piece of green fleece and tie it into a loop. This will become the straps of the back pack shell. The fleece will loop behind the yarn and then onto the arms of your child.
For the belt, I just cut the brown fleece I got (1/8 of a yard wide) in half to make a belt for each child.
The face masks were made by cutting a piece of fleece, tying it on and marking where the eyes should be. Then I cut out the eyes. Be careful when you do this; cut smaller than you think because the fleece will stretch some. Again, better to have some to cut away then to not. I also tapered the edges so that it would fit the face shape of my boys a little better.
For the arm and knee bands, I just used some leftover scraps and tied them. Worked like a charm.
And that’s it!
You can obviously add the appropriate weapon. I made a bow staff out of a 3/4 inch dowel, painted it brown, and wrapped some scraps around the middle.
I also made some nunchucks out of a similar dowel with eye hooks screwed into the tops and tied together with knotted yarn.
And that’s how I got two turtles for sons. And while I’m sure this post seems really long and like a lot of work, I was really able to make these two costumes in a weekend, with regular activities and such thrown in there. So you can totally do this.
What will your kids be this Halloween?
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