Designing, pattern cutting and sewing a children’s unicorn witch outfit.
Please note, all fabrics mentioned and their suppliers, I don’t know whether they are still available at the time you are reading this post. If not, I’m sure they’ll have other lovely ones for your projects. I did not get paid or sponsored by any of them to use them either, it was all personal choice to do so and personal choice to mention them.
Writing about Halloween costumes after Halloween, when we’re heading towards Christmas, may feel a bit odd, but I thought, why not! I’m guessing also as I made 2 for this year. This one will be all about the Unicorn witch and another one will be covering the Shark. Hope you enjoy reading the one you chose, or both!
The 2 costumes I made this year, I was asked for a Unicorn witch. How would you interpret a unicorn witch? Not something I ever thought of combining myself? I started off by popping unicorn witch into google and you do actually get some costume ideas! Who knew! From this I started the design process, I researched witch outfits to refresh my brain of what a general witch dress looks like. I even watched the new Hocus Pocus 2 for inspiration. I really enjoyed the first one, a tad scary, but also very funny seeing the witches making their way around the evolved new world. If you haven’t watched either before, I definitely recommend them. One thing I took from the films, is that all three wear capes. As we all know, October can go either way weather wise. And wearing a thick winter coat, could cover up the whole look. So after viewing the films, a cape could work keep her nice and warm and still keep the look!
I drew the dress and hat, no witch outfit is complete without the pointy hat (where the design of it comes from exactly and why we attach it to a witch, I’m not sure, do tell if someone knows this). As she loves Minnie Mouse too, I thought, I have to pop on her signature look, the big bow! As a nod to the cartoon character. Drawing done, time to pattern cut, find the fabrics and accessories!
I pattern cut items myself, using the rundschau technique (Mueller und Sohn). I have books by Winifred Alfred too, which I do use as references where needed.
After taking measurements, I decided to go for the bigger size of the size chart the measurements matched with, as going for the bigger one and adjusting it as you go along, makes life easier. As taking something in, is usually easy, but taking something out, is a lot trickier.
With adults I create patterns from
what I measure on the body, but with children I have noticed I find it easier,
personally, to follow a sizing chart.
The bodice has a square neckline at the front, a mid bodice piece and a circular skirt. You may notice, that a circular skirt is one of my favourite designs. It gives such a full, flowy skirt, without the bulk on the waist, which will happen if you use a rectangle and gather it at the top. You can go for that technique if you prefer, just make sure your fabric isn’t too thick or stiff, as that will create a lot of volume/bulk which sewing machines will struggle to go over.
Quick note: I know it’s boring to do, but do always wash and iron (where needed) your fabrics before starting your project. This takes out shrinkages and any dye that perhaps didn’t stick 100%. This will wash that away.
For the fabrics, I mainly wanted to use natural fabrics. These fabrics breathe and as Halloween can mean an open flame here and there (I do see more battery powered flames now, which is great!), it is the safer choice. Fire departments aren’t being party poopers when asking folks to not have open flames or to make sure you don’t go near them especially while wearing the polyester outfits, they just want you to have a great time safely.
I searched for a unicorn Halloween print and actually found some! Not many unfortunately, as most seem to be available in the US. And of course, you don’t know how long it would take to arrive and any unexpected charges to import these. I managed to find the unicorns dressed up as witches, mummies and Frankenstein’s monster online at Holey Moley Crafts, it was perfect! It’s what is called a quilting cotton. Meaning that these are usually as mentioned used for crafts as the name says, eg quilting. For dressmaking, some quilting cottons work fine (as in this case), but some may be just that bit too stiff. As quilts at times need that extra handle/grip to them. Also quilting cottons, are less wide. Dressmaking fabrics usually are 1m40, 1m50 wide, quilting cottons are usually 1m12 wide. So when choosing a quilting cotton for dressmaking, make sure you do check the width and calculate how much extra you perhaps need.
The black cotton, I had in my personal stash and when I placed it next to the unicorn print, I loved how it made it stand out more. The purple poly-cotton used for the lines on the bodice and as lining, together with the purple netting for the petticoat, were bought from Poundfabrics. The white netting, which is slightly stiffer than the purple one, is from Scanlanarts. The netting layers help the skirt look puffier.
The bands on the chest area, are bias binding made from the purple cotton bought. It’s very easy to make your own, to make sure you have the right colour and fabric for your project. You cut the strips to the width you need (if you want the bias binding to be 2.5cm, you cut it 5cm wide for example). You do need to cut the strips at a 45 degree angle. This will help with it stretching on bends and curves without bubbling. And as my lines are sitting on the chest, I don’t want them to start bunching or pulling anywhere. You can cut bias binding straight, if you don’t need it to sit on curves on bends, just remember it won’t stretch then.
For the cape, I found a unicorn polar fleece from tiaknight fabrics. Very soft and warm.
Sewing up the witch dress, was nice and straight forward. I always look at sewing and pattern cutting, as a puzzle. And one thing my dressmaker teacher taught me is to always make your back and front one first. In other words, you do what needs doing there first, be it darts, pockets or closing up a centre back seam. In this case, I made sure the purple bands were in place first, before making the front bodice one piece. My big ham helped with making sure that they are shaped according to the body they would be sitting on. This prevents them from showing any puckering or folds when on. From there on, it was sewing up the front bodice. Sewing up the back bodice needed a concealed zip. Unlike a regular zip, you first pop in this zip and then close up the remaining seam. The dress came along very quickly.
For the sleeves, I wanted a sort of bell bottom effect. I drew the pattern as you would for a circular skirt and moved the opening, so that one side would be wider than the other. Sewing these pieces on was fiddly, as there is no seam in them. I managed to get them to fit on, by making cuts into the seam allowance. This way the fabric can open up and fit onto the sleeve ends. Creating this wavey effect.
The dress is fully lined and to stay in keeping with the purple vibe, the circular parts, are lined with purple lining. The skirt is a circular skirt, this skirt is one of my preferred ones when needing that full look. There are multiple layers (fabric, 2 linings and 3 nettings) I had to cut. To prevent the characters from going upside down on the sides, which would have happened if I cut the skirt in one front piece, I made it into 7 parts, 3 at the front, 4 at the back (due to there being a seam down the centre back). As like the top, I first sewed all the front parts together and then the back parts, to make them whole, before
sewing them onto the back and front bodice. Once these two are whole, the shoulders and side seams get closed up and tadaa, you have what starts looking like a dress! I hope that makes sense, as writing things out of how you do it, is trickier than it looks!
The skirt being circular, I left it hanging overnight, before finishing any of the hems off. This is so any bias lines can pull down if they want to. When you measure the skirt from waist to hem the next day, you may notice it hung out here and there, this is normal. You can just trim where is needed and the skirt is the right length all around again.
The skirt having multiple layers, is so that one layer of lining can finish off the unicorn print nicely and the other lining layer protects the legs from the netting rubbing against the legs. The netting is basically sandwiched in between at the waist. The hem of the lining covering the legs, is finished with a rolled hem. As netting does not fray, that is just cut and left. You can finish off netting edges with ribbon if you prefer, but it’s not a must.
With the dress finished and ready to go (do let me know if I missed anything you wanted to know), it was time for the cape. The pattern is very easy to do. You take the bodice one and draw the cape shape from the shoulders. As if one is lying on your table and your tracing it. It’s a very simple shape. It only has 2 seams and a hem to sew. The neck I used the purple bias binding again, tying everything in together. And unicorn buttons, I found at ribbonmoon.co.uk. Instead of button holes, I popped the buttons on top and then poppers inside, to close the cape. This makes it easier for smaller hands to take off and also keeps it looking nice when not all buttons are done up, instead of showing empty button holes.
The hat was made by me as well! I started by measuring the head size. One of the reasons a lot of store bought hats come off so easily, is because they’re not the right size. You measure around your forehead, towards the back. The widest part of your head basically, where the hat will sit and hang on to. I used this measurement to create the circle for the brim first. The inner circle, that sits on the head is the same measurement as what I measured. You can make it a cm or so bigger for an easier fit. Think of what you’re going to do with your hair. As having that a certain way can determine what you want to do here. The outer circle was drawn 10cm wide. The pointy bit up top, again you need to draw the bottom area the size of where it goes onto and then into a point. You will need to draw this circular, so it all shapes nicely. The brim only had seam allowance on the inner circle.
The pointy pieces, I cut 2, and one of the brim pieces (I cut 2 of these as well) I put in interfacing. To give it a bit more stability, but without it becoming super stiff. First sewing the pointy seam, then sewing the top brim on one and the bottom brim on the other. I had to use the same technique here as with the sleeve ends, meaning I had to cut into the seam allowance to get it to all fit. You will see the minute you put the cuts in and place it on top of each other, that the cuts open up. Easing the fabric in place.
For the brim wire, I bought a hat from poundland and unpicked it. The material of their hat, I can certainly find another use for. But the wire was perfect for this! Black bias binding was used for the edge, putting the 2 brims together and keeping the wire in place. Topstitching it all in place on my trusty machine, making it a full witch hat! Quite a simple little project!
For decorations, I looked at what I had already. I used up the purple netting I had left to make the big bow and a purple cotton cut off to make the middle bit. I first tried it with netting, but it didn’t look right to me. It was all too see through. The purple band, was perfect! The last unicorn button went on and seeing that it all looked a bit plain. I dove into my treasure chest of goodies and found the beads and crystals. The crystals are from Gutermann and the beads, I unfortunately have no idea where I got them from anymore. But it all worked perfectly! To make sure they all went where I wanted them, I first used pins to place them and then when happy, gently sewed each item on, trying my best for no pins and beads to fall out.
No witch outfit is complete without the stripey stockings of course. These I found on Amazon and ordered them well in advance. They are a nice quality and by the looks of it, cover quite a few sizes in years. I’m sure they’ll come in handy again! Waste not, want not. 🙂 Regular black, Minnie Mouse booties finished everything off nicely. For dress up, use whatever you have, why not! 🙂
And here she is! The unicorn witch!
Rundown places used (again, I did not get sponsored or asked to name them):
holeymoleycrafts.co.uk – unicorn halloween print
poundfabrics.co.uk – netting and purple polycotton
tiaknightfabrics.co.uk – unicorn polar fleece fabric
ribbonmoon.co.uk – purple concealed zip and unicorn buttons
Action shots were taken at Barleylands Farm Park, during Spooky Nights.