TURTLE SHELL HIDEOUT
You may have already seen some of the photos of the turtle costumes I made for Halloween this year, but you might not know the back story yet. Tula had her heart set on being a Powerpuff Girl for about six months. Then one day in the car she said, “Mom, I think I’d rather be a turtle for Halloween so that I can hide in my shell and eat candy.”
Brilliant! How could I say no to such a fantastic idea? I only wish I would have thought of it when I was a kid. After hearing her plan, Alden quickly abandoned his costume idea and wanted his own turtle shell candy hideout.
I love a good challenge when it comes to costumes—not in regards to sewing, but more in the cardboard construction arena. After spending so much time making their turtle costumes though, I was sort of burned out on them, and didn’t really want to have to edit the photos to show how they were created. But then last week I received the news that I had won third place in Seattle Goodwill’s annual costume contest!
So, $100 Goodwill gift card to me, and a behind the scenes costume post for you. Nothing like a little cash to motivate me.
I had originally thought of constructing the shells out of paper mache, but I really loathe the mess and the lengthy dry time, so I instead wove long strips of cardboard into the domed shape and secured each joint with a generous amount of hot glue.
The challenge was to make the shells big enough that the kids could actually fit all the way inside. After getting the overall size and structure right, I went back and added more cardboard strips for strength.
I didn’t have a pattern for the fleece suits, I just based them loosely on some of the kids’ sweatshirts and pants. I didn’t really get the fit right on Alden’s pants, and if you could see them without the shirt, you’d think they were something right out of Three’s Company.
The tummies of the shells were covered with fleece and I wrapped the tops with some vinyl I picked up in the clearance section at the fabric store. Again, there was copious amounts of hot glue used, and several burned fingertips.
After the shells were covered, I used painters tape to mask off a hexagonal pattern which I then painted with gold acrylic paint.
There are a few details that are hard to see in the photos, and I have no plans to drag these back out to take more pictures, so I’ll do my best to describe them. The sleeves had circles (lined with interfacing for structure) sewn onto the ends to close them so that they would look more like actual turtle feet. The seams were cut just above the wrists so that the kids could pop their hands out and hold their treat bags. I also stitched boning at the bottoms of the pant legs to keep them in nice big hoops around their shoes.
The openings of the shell were big enough that the kids could slip them on and off, which helped a lot while we were trick-or-treating. I put straps inside at the shoulders, too, which made them a little more comfortable to wear.
The kids were really hoping to keep their costumes, but there is nowhere to store two giant turtle shells. So, I’m thinking about posting them on Craigslist. My materials weren’t that expensive this year, but it would be nice to recoup the cost, and it would be fun to share these with other kids.
I have to say, between the $100 gift card, and the chance to see my kids live out their dream of gorging on chocolate while hiding in a turtle shell, it was all totally worth it.