Not everybody’s a whizz with the sewing machine like Clare (see her Red Riding Hood cape), so if you want some simple dressing up costumes, try these simple Victorian ones from Alison Edmondson. She says that with just rudimentary sewing skills you can make all four items (enough to dress one boy and one girl) in less than an hour.
The costumes are designed with speed rather than absolute historical accuracy in mind and involve simply adding embellishments to ordinary plain clothes.
- white shirt/t-shirt with dark trousers for a boy – or a dark skirt for a girl
- a needle (with a large eye and a sharp point)
- white and black thread
- sewing elastic makes the girl’s hat easier, but it isn’t vital
- something to mark cloth with (biro or pencil is fine for light colours, chalk is useful for dark ones)
- a needle threader and thimble, a ruler for straight lines and something large and circular to draw round are also useful
Step 1 – girl’s cap
Draw a circle onto a piece of white fabric and cut it out. The circle should be a lot bigger than your child’s head.
With white cotton or sewing elastic, stitch around the inside of the circle, about 1cm from the edge (draw an inner circle if you want a line to follow).
All you need to do is join the cloth together so a straight running stitch is fine.
Step 2 – girl’s apron
On white fabric, draw a rectangle long enough to reach your child’s knees and wide enough to go round the fron of her waist. I used an old worn out pillowcase, which means that two straight lines were already done for me.
Draw two thin lines the same width as the apron. I’ve used marker pen to make them more visible, but pencil is fine. Cut out the apron and the two tapes.
If you have time, hem the apron (see instructions below) to stop it fraying. But if its only needed for a day you can skip this step.
Attach the tapes to the apron by sewing running stitches in a square. See picture. Make sure both tapes are stitched onto the wrong side of the apron.
Step 3 – boy’s cap
Draw 2 large circles on black fabric (chalk is good for this).
Draw a head hole in one circle – this doesn’t need to be precisely measured, but should be nearer to one side of the circle than the other. Cut out the circles.
Put the circles together wrong side out (so if your T-shirt has a design on one side, you should be able to see it while you’re sewing) and stitch the two circles together around the edge.
The hat can be worn like this if you’re out of time. If you want to give it a bit more shape, make running stitches along a curved line on the side away from the head hole. Pull the thread slightly tighter than usual to bunch the front of the hat in slightly.
Step 4 – boy’s waistcoat. No sewing required!
For this you’ll need a black or plain coloured T-shirt. An outgrown one is perfect, as this will leave the waistcoat slightly open at the front and recycle an old garment into a new one.
Turn the T-shirt inside out and draw the shape of the waistcoat onto one side.
Cut away the scraps which aren’t needed, including the back of the collar and the label, making sure that you leave the seams in place so that the edges don’t fray too much.
You now have a basic waistcoat – if you have extra time, you can hem the centre edges (see instructions for girl’s apron) or add buttons and decorations.