I’ve never been a huge fan of Halloween. It’s not that I am strongly against it; I like an excuse to stockpile candy bars as much as the next gal, and I even enjoy wearing a good costume now and then (the operative word being “good”). Probably not an insignificant factor in my apathy toward the holiday is too many years of a last-minute dash to put together a costume that was basically just me in bad clothing. If someone has to ask what you are, you’ve gone wrong somewhere.
Aw, baby Kole and Jen as Dwight Schrute and Angela Martin from “The Office”
Kole and I committed to ourselves long ago that when we had kids, we would make every holiday as fun as possible for them. Let’s go ahead and ignore Serena’s first two Halloweens, neither of which we dressed her up for (6 weeks old, I was not in that head space – and 13 months old… uhhh… still not in that head space I guess). THIS YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT!
It took only a few minutes of perusing “toddler Halloween costumes” online for us to figure out we wanted our girl to dress as a chicken. Because our own chickens endlessly fascinate her, we figured it was a safe bet that she’d be willing to put the thing on. Turns out I was mostly wrong about that, but I did my best.
This project was a little bit of work, but partly because I did a couple of things over again to give you a better way to do them if you wanted to take this on. I am far from a professional on the arts & crafts front, but that is the nice part about putting together a costume for a toddler. My best estimate is that it will only be peanut-butter free for about 26 minutes anyway.
Yep. Had to give her a box of bunny grahams to get the costume on. Sadly, the box of bunny grahams did not mean she kept the costume on long enough for me to get a good picture. Apologies.
Complexity: Medium, but I am just a hack and I just work my way through things, so if I can do it anybody can!
Time required: 3-4 hours if you undo and redo your work less than I had to.
- White turtleneck onesie
- Orange tights or leggings
- Red felt for the comb
- Orange felt for the feet
- 2 white feather boas
- 1 small craft boa for the headband – optional
- Stick-on velcro dots or squares (not pictured)
Remember how I mentioned I did some parts multiple times? Well, in the interest of full disclosure, this is one of those times. I spent more than two hours sewing (by hand, mind you!) the feather boas onto this turtleneck, only to discover that I had inadvertently made the turtleneck quite a bit smaller around and so rigid that Serena FLIPPED when I tried to put it on her.
I knew she was probably never going to let me try to pull the thing over her head again, so my second effort looked more like this:
I drew a pencil line straight up the back of the turtleneck and cut it in half. I neglected to take a picture of this part, but I attached little stick-on velcro dots every few inches along both sides of the new opening so that I could put the shirt on her like a hospital gown/straightjacket and then stick it together in the back. Next comes the hardest part of the entire project – sewing the feather boas onto the turtleneck. I’m not going to lie to you, this part was a bit tedious and took a couple of hours, but once you get in a rhythm (and with the help of whatever your chosen guilty TV pleasure), it’s not horrible. I did it twice, so how bad can it really be?
To help work around the arms and opening in the back, you’ll want to line the boa up vertically with the shirt, like so:
I probably put a stitch in every inch or two, and because it can be tough to push the needle through the boa string, you will absolutely want to use a thimble or your fingers will hurt for days. Yes, I speak from experience. For a size 2T turtleneck, it took exactly two 6-foot feather boas. When it’s done, it looks like this! Word of warning, these boas shed feathers like a mother – your living room will look like you slaughtered a turkey when you are done.
Now on to the feet. I found some slightly “ribbed” felt which looked a little like scaly chicken feet, but obviously any felt will do. I like felt because it is practically free, comes in little rectangular sheets (no intimidating fabric-store cutting required of the sometimes unfriendly fabric store employees, yay!) and has shape and body on its own, but you could obviously use any material you want and just stuff it with cotton balls or something to give it a bit more shape. During my internet perusal I also saw plenty of people use yellow or orange rubber dishwashing gloves for chicken costumes which is a pretty brilliant idea, and if I didn’t have a sewing machine that needs to be busted out occasionally for maintenance purposes, something I probably would have done.
I used one of Serena’s shoes to mark the size I needed on a piece of paper, and drew my best approximation of a chicken foot. I cut out my template, pinned it to the felt and cut around that, leaving 1/4″ for a seam allowance.
Next I broke out the heavy machinery. Turn your felt right-side in, sew around the outside except the bottom, and use a pokey device to turn it right-side out again. Yes, that is the technical term.
To finish the foot, all I needed to do was attach an elastic band that would go around Serena’s ankle so that the foot could rest on top of her shoe. I grabbed some simple elastic, measured the length that I needed, and pinned it in place, turning the seam allowance of the bottom of the foot inward.
A quick seam across the bottom and repeat of the above steps on the other foot and they are done! This part took me about 10 minutes in total – very quick.
Finally for the headband/chicken comb. This would have been simpler if I had done one layer of felt, bunched it up and attached it to the elastic for the headband. But I am not known for making things easier on myself, and wanted it to look a little extra special, so I cut out three semi-circles of red felt and sewed the bottoms together with a quick straight seam (left pic). Next, I folded the bottom a few times to get a bit of a “fanned out” effect so that there was lots of texture to the comb. This I tacked together at the bottom with a few stitches by hand (finished product in right pic).
I measured out the length of elastic I needed to go around the girl’s noggin, sewed the comb to the elastic, and then sewed the thin “craft boa” to the elastic, leaving an opening at the back to have adequate stretch in the elastic.
Full disclosure: I did not have adequate stretch in the elastic, and had to cut it in the back and sew on ribbons that I could tie instead. HA! Do as I say, not as I do!
Is this costume perfect? Definitely not! But I think it’s more fun to get creative and jazz up a simple idea than do a quick click order on Amazon. Little chicken turned out pretty freakin’ cute if you ask me. But then again, maybe I am (completely shamelessly) biased by the wearer. Happy Halloweeny!