On the last day of Christmas

Twelve night today, surely my last chance to finally add the pictures to and blog a Christmas related post that I wrote back in November….

(Not so) New toy and new projects…

So, I did it, I bought a new machine, a Janome 7025 from John Lewis, I even splashed out on a taxi home (I don’t have a car and the taxi rank was on the way to the bus stop. Those machines are too heavy to carry any distance!).

I’ve been trying it out and so far I’m very happy. The zig zag and straight stitch work well, it sewed through 4 layers of curtain fabric without me noticing (I was only trying to sew through 2), it winds bobbins much more evenly than my old machine and I like the measurement markings accross the front. I haven’t tried many of the features yet, including buttonholes, but it has one amazing feature that I never knew I wanted, an automatic needle threader. Even my husband was amazed. I haven’t compared it to other machines so there may be others out there that are better, but I’m happy with my choice. Now I just have to work out what to do with the old one.

So, have I been steaming through my overdue to do pile? Or finishing the last couple of sashes? No, I’ve started something new…

The teachers in my daughters school year put out a plea for help with some new nativity costumes (apologies to anyone who feels that it’s too early to mention, I guess they have to be organised and I didn’t use the C word). I’ve agreed to make 2 king costumes and something a little unusual…

So far I’ve made one king costume. I found a piece of gold damask curtain fabric approx 1m45 by 1m75 for £1 at the wonderful Exeter Scrapstore that I thought would make a great cloak, but someone else had already agreed to make a blue tunic with a gold cloak and they wanted 3 distinct costumes, so I decided to make it into a tunic and pair it with something from my stash that I had in mind and it came out pretty well in the end if I say so myself.

I ended up making 2 tunics (more on that later), the first in giddy excitement to try out my new machine, with no models to measure, but I knew that I had enough fabric to start again if need be. I tried looking for blogs on making costumes, I’m sure there must be loads, but I just found costumes to buy or costumes to put together (use a red dress and a belt for a king, cut a hole in a pillowcase, that kind of thing), maybe I was a weensey bit impatient to get started. Anyway, I made it up, as usual.

I used a dress of my daughters as a guide to cut out a rectangle of fabric a tunic width and twice the length, plus approximate seam allowances. Then I turned the raw edges over twice and straight stitched it to make a hem all the way around.

How big is a kings tunic?

How big is a kings tunic?

Then I folded the fabric an half width and lengthways (so I had 4 layers of fabric) and folded the dress in half lengthways to guestimate a cut for a neck opening. I didn’t want to bother with fastenings, so it has to easily go over a 5 or 6 year olds head bearing in mind there is no stretch to the fabric.



Glad my scissors could manage 4 layers

Glad my scissors could manage 4 layers

Ta Da

Ta Da

I cut a larger oval than the neck to make a yoke and finished the edge with zig zag (as it would be on the inside), then sewed it to the main piece right sides together, cut out the neck hole in the yoke and turned it inside to topstitch. At this point I decided that the neck hole might not be big enough so I extended it with a V at the front before topstitching. I actually prefer it this way.

1st attempt at yoke

1st attempt at yoke

Enlarged yoke

Enlarged yoke

I forgot to open the tunic out before sewing the V and accidently sewed through the back too, duh. Unpick and start again. But all credit to the machine, I didn’t realise that I was sewing through 4 layers of curtain fabric.

Finally I made 4 belt loops by sewing a tube and turning it in on itself. The first ones I tried (from the oval scrap pieces from the neck hole) were too thin to turn with this fabric. The second lot worked but were a bit fat and ungainly. I sewed 2 on the front and 2 on the back and made a sash to hold it all together. I was pleased with my simple tunic, it looked quite stylish.

Tunic mark 1, which is going to come in useful for their castles topic

Tunic mark 1, which they have kept and apparently it’s going to come in useful for their castles topic

The problem was, I’d made a tunic to go over trousers and the school wanted one that could be worn onn its own and was long enough to cover underwear when sitting on the stage! So tunic mark two was made, pretty much the same way, including the neckline, but much longer and with sideseams and a split at the bottom each side (to aid walking, small boys not being used to wearing sheath dresses!) This time I made the belt loops by finishing the edges of a rectangle twice as wide as I wanted my belt loop to be and folding the long sides into the middle on the back and topstitching and it worked much better.

The cloak was fun. I have a large amount of home dyed purple calico from a never made project and I cut a semi circle the width the fabric would allow by folding it in half and half again and guestimating both the hem and neckline curves.

4 laters of fabric, hemline just cut, neckline next.

4 laters of fabric, hemline just cut, neckline next.

I folded the raw side edges over twice and sewed them down. I had also found a vaguely collar shaped piece of fake fur at the scrap store. I placed it right side to wrong side of cloak and sewed the next seam, then turned it over so it lay on the outside and topstitched. The fur had a kind of knit back that didn’t seem to fray so once in place I trimmed it to shape.

Finally I sewed a straight gold strip (pre hemmed) to the bottom edge of the cloak partly as a trim, partly to add length and partly to help weighh the lighter calico (which I’d originally intended as tunic fabric) down. I finished the seam on the inside with zig zag then topstitched it so it lay flat, For a fastening I found an oddlarge button in my stash and sewed a loop of elastic on the other side to make help make the costume easy to use, fit more sizes and reduce risk of strangulation!

And voila, one smart new king outfit. Cost in new materials £1.

Tunic mark 2 plus "fur" collared cloak

Tunic mark 2 plus “fur” collared cloak


So that’s what I wrote back in November. After that I made a second king outfit in the same way, from some cream scrapstore find fabric and a curtain donated to the school for making costumes from that was a pig to work with and a little more fake fur (added to the hem of the cloak this time, I thought if it looked too similar to the other one it would be glaringly obvious that the other king costume had been made by someone else).

Cream and red version (the tunic is a little off the shoulder on this one but no one will notice under the cloak)

Cream and red version (the tunic is a little off the shoulder on this one but no one will notice under the cloak)

Then I just had the spider costume to make. Yes, that’s right, a spider. (Still, I guess stables in Jerusalem probably had spiders in). The brief was for nothing too complicated, just two sets of tights stuffed sewn to a t shirt. I was even given a new t shirt and pair of leggings to use as a base and two old pairs of leggings to use as extra legs. Then they went and cast my biggest critic in the role of spider. Arrghh. She had idea’s of her own too “It needs to have a hat mummy”. I think I managed to rise to the challenge…


The spider costume was a bit last minute so no photo at home before it was delivered. This is an action shot from the Nativity Play. I attatched the top set of “spare” legs to the t shirt arms with elastic.


The hood (which was fairly bodged) had an extra 6 eyes appliqued on and there was a partially stuffed carapace (?) on her back (I ran out of stuffing).

4 thoughts on “On the last day of Christmas

  1. Pingback: Prolific Project Starter | The Three Little Pigs and The Big Bad Wolf

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  3. Pingback: Prolific Project Starter | Belated Birthday Hoodie

  4. Pingback: Prolific Project Starter | Making the obvious

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