Thursday, October 27, 2011


So I finally finished sewing all of Darian's Halloween costume this afternoon. It took a lot of work, but I think it turned out pretty good. For those of you not in the know, he has chosen to be Finn (with Jake) from the Cartoon Network show Adventure Time.

We already had the blue shorts and went out and got him the aqua shirt specifically for the event. The hat, backpack and Jake bag were all of my own making. And now I'm going to share my process with you. You lucky ducks.

I had a little online help with the backpack and the hat. The bag? That one was all me, baby.

In order to swing this whole project, I used primarily things that we already had at home. My only expenses were: the blue shirt ($3 on sale and will be worn again as regular clothing), the yellow-orange fabric for Jake ($4 for a yard using my 50% off coupon at JoAnn) and a piece each of white & black felt. Total cost: less than $10. I'm that awesome.

Project 1 : Finn's Backpack

Finn's backpack was the first thing I made. To make the backpack I used some hunter green fabric I had laying around (probably about 1/3 of a yard) and I cut the legs off of some light green scrubs in my "repurpose" pile for the light green fabric. I swiped a button from the stash in my scrapbook room. I then constructed it using a tutorial that I found on YouTube.

Her instructions are pretty easy to follow. I just noticed one thing that I thought I'd pass on to you. About midway through she tells you how to make the straps for the backpack. She tells you to cut 14 inch strips and sew them, but when she shows you the final "tubey noodle things" they look super long. Don't let this freak you out. For the dark green fabric you really do only need 14 inches if you're constructing this for a child of Dar's age. If you're making it for an adult I'd probably add a couple of extra inches.

I also made a change from her plan. When the backpack was fully constructed I sewed around the sides at the top of the pouch. This tightened the top to lessen the slack and also made the backpack appear stiffer.

The backpack took me about three hours. When I was all done, this is what I ended up with.

If I were to do it over again, here's what I would do differently.

1. Use stiffer and thicker fabrics. My backpack is pretty light (which is good for Dar's costume, but not for long term use) and not super durable. If I were to do it again I'd like one I could use.

2. Create a lining. This is along the same idea of change number one. I would want this baby to be super sturdy. As is, it could probably handle some weight, but using it as, say a school backpack would be out of the question. It wouldn't handle heavy school books.

3. Increase the size. This one looks great on Dar, it's just right for him, but it would look super puny on me. I'd say up it to about 150% of this size and you'd be golden.

Maybe I'll work on this some time in the future.

Project 2: Finn's Hat

Finn's hat is super cute. I love it. In fact, when I finished making this one I purchased some fabric that I plan on using to make similar hats in a different pattern...I'll be revealing them later this fall.

The best part of Finn's hat? It cost me...wait for it...NOTHING! Yay for left over fabric! I had a small piece of white fleece in my stash that made the entire hat. For the whole project I think I used up about a quarter of a yard, if that. And the velcro? I swiped that from a Subway Kid's Meal bag that Dar had in his bedroom. Nicely played I'd say.

Now there is a tutorial available on the web for making Finn's hat. It's super easy to follow and comes out pretty cute. Plus it has a link to the pattern.

But...I didn't use this. I sewed a standard cap first. Basically, I cut two half circles. I cut one of the circles in half to make a back seam. I then sewed all of the pieces together. I flipped the edge up to sew a brim. Once I had the basic construction, I cut two slits in the top edges of the hat. These were where I placed the ears.

I sewed the ears by cutting out four matching ovalish shaped pieces. I sewed the edges together (except for the bottom), flipped them inside out and stuffed them with batting. I then finished off the remaining edge. I stuffed the bottom edges of my ears through the earlier placed slots in the cap and stitched them into place from the inside.

Now came the most difficult part for me, the chin strap.  I used the pattern from the tutorial to help me with this one. I cut out a portion of the front pieces that he uses in the video. I found the center of the front of the cap and marked it with a pin. I then measured from the middle of Dar's face to the middle of his eyebrow. I measured this distance from the middle mark on the cap to each side and this is where I placed the edges of my chin strap flaps. I pinned those in, tried it on Dar to make sure it was lined up properly and then flipped the cap inside out.

I hand sewed each flap onto the cap in order to keep from having outside seams showing. After that, I put the cap back on Darian, measured out where my velcro should go, marked that with pins and sewed in the velcro. Voila! Finished hat!

As with the backpack, a few things that I will do differently next time:

1. I love the fleece, but I would definitely make a liner. This is pretty warm as is, but I want to make it more durable.

2. I'm going to try out the method using the tutorial. There is less measuring and it seems to go quicker. But...I'm not sure I like the final result as much as I like my own. So, I'm going to make one myself and compare.

Oh...and a tip about the pattern from the does not print out to scale. Make sure to flip your page to print as landscape. I then would probably increase the print size to 150% for a child and 200% for an adult. I just used my printout as a guide and increased by hand.

3. Jake Bag

I have to say, this is my favorite part of the costume. Why? Because I made it all from scratch and I think it looks pretty awesome.

To make Jake, I purchased a yard of the yellow-orange fabric. I ended up with some leftovers and probably could've gotten away with 3/4. But I tend to panic about the possibility of running out of fabric, so I always buy a little more than I think I need.

One BIG tip before I tell you how I made him. Don't be an idiot like me and let the face scare you. It is probably the most difficult part of the project, but you need to DO IT FIRST. Reason? It's really a giant pain in the butt to try and sew circumferentially on a bag. Cut your front square and THEN place the face. this is how I made him.

Fold your orange fabric in half and cut two 12 x 15" rectangles. Make sure you end up with four separate rectangles when you unfold. Two of these will be used for the outside of the bag and two will be used for the lining.

Take the two lining pieces and sew the two long sides and one of the short sides together. DO NOT sew all four sides, you need to have a top opening for the bag. Flip this bag inside out and set aside.

(This is where I should have sewn the face on. Do it now.) Sew the other two pieces together the same way in order to make the outside of the bag.

Create a pattern for the legs. I drew out an "L" shaped pattern on a piece of index card and cut this out. Using this pattern, cut out four leg shapes. Separate into pairs and sew together. Flip these tubes inside out and stuff with batting (if you don't have batting you can use cotton balls or other fabric). Sew the tops shut.

Take the pattern for the legs and cut it off diagonally at the ankle. This will make the pattern for your ears and arms. Yes, I could have created a new pattern, but this kept everything proportional. You'll need to cut out eight of this new shape. Proceed the same way you did with the legs. Flip them inside out so that the seams are on the inside, stuff and sew shut.

Now it's time to attach the appendages. Similar to in both the backpack and the hat, cut slits at the seams in the locations for the feet, arms and ears. I cut my feet to the back of the main seam and my arms and ears to the fronts of the side seams to give him a little depth. You could probably put them all on one side or another, but make sure that you are consistent. You don't want one leg on the back and one on the front.

Push the sewn appendage pieces through the holes you've created. Flip the whole bag inside out and sew the appendages into the seams. Based on your sewing machine, you may have to sew these by hand. I was sewing machine is the bomb.

This is the time that I chose to make my face. Again, I repeat, I am an idiot. Don't make the mistake I did. Cut these out and sew them on BEFORE you sew the outside bag together.

Take the black felt and cut out two circles and one oval. I used a 3" diameter for the circles and my oval was 1.5 x 2.5". These will be the outsides of Jake's eyes and his nose.

Take the white felt and cut out two 2 1/4" diameter circles. These will be the inside eyeballs.

Then cut out the muzzle. This was a pain in the butt...I'll be perfectly honest. I drew a pattern freehand, using an online picture of Jake as a guide. My piece ended up being 9" wide and 9" tall at the widest parts. Using the pattern I had made for the black piece, I took the edges in by 1/2" all the way around and used this as the pattern for my orange piece. To create his little, what I'm going to call moustache, I cut 1/2" slices out of the orange fabric at the corners of the mouth.

I pinned all of the pieces onto the front of the bag and then sewed the edges down. Make sure you are switching your thread colors for the individual pieces so that you can hide your seams as much as possible. Oh, and make sure you're only sewing on to the front of the outside bag. If you screwed up and made the bag before you put the face on (would you PLEASE take a hint) then you don't want to sew the front and back of the bag together by accident. This would really suck. (I'm proud to say that despite my other failures in this process I did NOT sew the front and back together. Go me.)

Once I had this done - after a lot of cursing for being so dumb and having to arm wrestle my sewing machine to get the face fully finished - I sewed in the lining. By this point I think I was pretty fried thanks to the face debacle so it took me a bit to figure it out. The lining is WAY easy. Turn the outside bag inside out. Leave the lining right side out. Line up the edges and pin. (It won't matter which side of the outside bag you lay the lining onto.) Sew the edges (don't sew the top seam) and flip inside out so that the outside bag now contains the inside lining.  Now turn the WHOLE thing inside out so that you're looking at the right side of the inside lining. Flip the top edge over by about 1/2", pin and sew around. Cut the remaining seams to make the top edge look pretty.

Lastly, it's time to do the straps. Cut out four 2"x10" strips of the yellow-orange fabric. Separate these into pairs and sew the two side seams together. Flip the tubes inside out and sew the remaining edges. I recommend ironing these two tubes before you attach them to the bag.

Line each strap up 1" from the outside edges and pin. Sew the handle edges from the inside of the bag. Cut the seams to make them look pretty and you're done.

Tada! Jake bag.

Things I would change about this process? Other than the obvious face malfunction everything went pretty smoothly. I think this finished product should be pretty durable. We'll find out for sure when Dar uses it as his candy bag on Halloween night.

So there you go. All three pieces. Total cutting and sewing time for the entire project? About ten hours all together. The Jake bag took the longest out of everything and cutting the face pieces took the longest on the Jake bag.

And now we have a pint-sized live model of Finn with his very own Jake.


  1. That's super cute! My sisters love that show. I have seen it a few times. Pretty hilarious.

  2. Thanks! Darian had a bunch of people come up to him at Boo at the Zoo to tell him how awesome they thought his costume was...mostly teenagers.


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