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September 23, 2021
Hello, I’m Afton from Sew Anxious. I’m so thrilled to share my sons costume for Halloween with all of you. My son has been turtle obsessed for a couple of years now and has wanted one as a pet for just as long. Well, this past July we finally decided to add a baby sulcata tortoise to our family. We are all absolutely smitten with him. Of course, that only made his love for turtles grow more.
When I asked both my kids last month what they wanted to be this year I was not at all surprised when my son said tortoise. My mind immediately started to ponder ideas on how I could make this happen for him. I mostly couldn’t wrap my head around how I could create the shell while still allowing it to have volume and dimension. I took to google first to see if I could find any tutorials, that turned up no luck. I saw this as a challenge accepted, I would take this opportunity to try something new and really get my creativity flowing.
I absolutely love RCF fabrics so I wanted to check what taupe/light brown shades they had available in the shop that would work for my vision. The khaki tan french terry fit the bill perfectly. All RCF french terry always amazes me with how soft and cushy it feels, my son was getting his dream costume but would also be so incredibly comfortable!! (Win, win!)
Once I decided on fabric, I moved onto what patterns I wanted to use as my base. For the pants I immediately thought of the Drew Joggers from Petite Stitchery Co. The rouching detail option perfectly depicts our little torts cute wrinkly legs. For the top I knew I wanted to attach the shell to a hoodie, I went with the Hannah from Sonia Estep Designs and used the crossover hood option from the add on pack.
For the base of the tortoise shell I did a standard oval. Now, let me note that I have a projector and I have found that I love using it for more than just projecting patterns. I also have a Cricut, so I used design space to make an oval in the shape I wanted and projected it onto my cut mat, over the back bodice, to visualize how large I wanted it. Once I determined the size I wanted the oval to be I cut it out. I then lined up the back bodice and centered the oval over that right sides together. To secure the two I used wash away wonder tape, then measured 1.5” from the edge of the shell and sewed all the way around using a zig zag stitch. (You don’t want to sew too close to the edge or you’ll interfere with the remainder of the hoodie construction)
Next, we’re going to work on the top of the shell. To make sure we can add volume but keep the sides at a 1:1 ratio you’re going to measure the circumference of the oval. I marked the top center and bottom center and measured around to those two points which came to 27.5”. You’re then going to make two half circles, the straight line being the measurement you got for your oval. The fun part is you now get to decide how large you want your shell to be, there’s no wrong answer here. Once you’ve made your two half circles, you’re going to use your serger or sewing machine to sew the two half circles on the curved edge right sides together. (I used a 1/4” seam allowance)
Before attaching the top of the shell to the base I decided it would be easiest to add the scutes (the darker plates on the top of the shell) first. There are a few ways you can do this, you can use a fabric marker and draw them on, use another color of fabric and sew them onto the shell, you can use an embroidery machine, or use HTV (heat transfer vinyl). For my muslin I used fabric markers. While it didn’t look terrible a friend mentioned it gave Teenage mutant ninja turtle vibes and I must agree with her. So, I decided to go for HTV. I went back to my Cricut design space and made a mockup of the shell so I could play around with how I wanted my scutes to look. I found that using a standard hexagon shape but narrowing the height and bringing out the width it gave the look I was going for. After completing my mockup, I used my Cricut to print out the scutes in pieces. (With the round shape it would be very difficult to have it all in one piece)
I started by finding the center of the shell and using a pin to mark it. I also marked the center points of the first scute I wanted to place and lined the two up. After adhering the first scute I worked from top to bottom then moving my way outward. This step was by far the most challenging. It took time and patience, working against the curves. Just make sure you are patient and go slow.
Now that the scutes are finished we are going to attach the upper shell to the base shell. I’d like to note that before doing so I made a small little tail by cutting out two narrow triangle pieces out of the main fabric and one out of interfacing. Once my tail was put together, I basted it to the right side of the shell base. Back to the two shell pieces, you’re going to attach them right sides together. This means your back bodice will be sandwiched between the two. I marked the top and bottom center points of the base and matched the top shell pieces center points. You’ll clip all the way around and sew using a 3/8” seam allowance. Make sure to leave a small opening to turn. I chose to add an invisible zipper instead so I can easily remove the poly fill for washings. After turning the shell right side out, I then used a zig zag stitch and sewed around the entire shell to add dimension. My stitches are ¾” long and about 1” spaced apart.
Before adding the poly fill to your shell you’ll want to finish construction of the hoodie per the instructions of whatever pattern you’re using. I chose to add eyes and little nostrils to my hood for a finishing touch. Now you can fill your shell and sew it closed if you left an opening. Now we’re done!
My son is absolutely in love with how it turned out and has asked to wear it whenever possible. I can’t wait for him to show it off to everyone this Halloween.
Thanks for taking the time to read and if I’ve inspired you to make your own tortoise costume I’d love to see pictures!
Lots of love, Afton
If you’re interested, here are my #afflinks for the patterns I usedKids Drew Joggers
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