Hi there! Welcome to Part 2 of our Kristoff costume project. We’re going to be spending a lot of time in Kristoff’s armpits, today. Or, rather, cutting, binding, and adding fur to the armholes of his vest.
So, this is where we left off at the end of Part 1. I found a great sweater at Goodwill, and Elliott helped me dye it from gray to brown.
Now it’s time to bite the bullet and cut the sleeves off the sweater. (Cutting into clothes always makes me nervous.) Before dyeing the sweater, I marked where I thought a good spot would be for the sleeve to end. Then, I wrote down the measurement and removed the safety pin before dyeing. (I waited to cut off the sleeves until after dying the sweater because we are going to use the sleeves to make Kristoff’s hat!)
After the sweater was dyed, I prepared to cut off the sleeves. I wanted the shortened sleeves to match in shape and in length. So, I folded the sweater in half and pinned it together while matching the shoulder and armhole sleeves with a line of pins. This was a bit tricky because the sweater material was kind of thick. I definitely stabbed my fingers a few times!
My original measurement was to make the sleeve 2 1/2 inches long. Since the finality of cutting things freaks me out, I second-guessed myself. I decided that I should cut the sleeves at 3 inches from the shoulder seam, instead. I could always cut it shorter, if necessary, right? It’s a bit harder to add material BACK if something turns out too short.
At this point, I had Elliott try the sweater on, to make sure I was happy with the sleeve length. It turns out that I should have trusted my first instincts. I thought that the sleeves were actually a bit long. Plus, I didn’t want them to get to bulky in the armpits after I added the fur trim. So, I trimmed about a half inch off of each sleeve edge.
You can see how my new sleeve cuts make the edges of the armholes in a straight line continuing from the body of the sweater. Now it was time to finish the raw edges of these new, shortened sleeves.
By now, you’ve probably figured out that I love to use fabric dye in my projects. Well, bias tape is another of my favorite sewing staples! It’s so easy to use and it’s a quick solution to finishing raw edges. If you’re extra thrifty and ambitious, you can even make your own bias tape by cutting strips of fabric on, well, the bias! For now, I primarily use the stuff that comes pre-made and ready to go! First things first: I like to trim the corners off the ends. This helps to keep raw edges completely tucked away on my finished projects.
I started pinning the bias tape to the armhole of the sweater, wrong sides together, starting just in front of the underarm seam. A word of caution: don’t cut your bias tape from the roll until after sewing it down on at least one side…especially if you’re working with knit material. The knit material may stretch a bit, and you don’t want to run out of bias tape length to finish sewing around your opening!
I used a zigzag stitch and made my first pass at stitching the bias tape around the armhole. At this point, I felt safe cutting the bias tape to length with a bit extra. I trimmed the corners off the ends and folded the excess over. Then, I folded the bias tape over to finish encasing the armhole opening.
Here’s some up-close views of how I overlapped the trimmed and folded ends of the bias tape to make a smooth, enclosed covering for the armhole edges.
Then, I pinned the folded over edge of the bias tape all the way around the opening. I had tried to sew it without pinning, but the knit material was too thick and slinky. (Sometimes shortcuts work, and sometimes you have to be more thorough in order to get tidy results.)
Here is the sweater with one armhole completely stitched around with bias tape and the other one still pinned. Don’t worry too much about how pretty your stitching is. This is all going to be covered with fur. Yes, now we come to the fun part: The fur! It’s about to get hairy in Kristoff’s armpit. Sorry. That was gross!
I wish I could tell you exactly what kind of fur this is, but I bought it over four years ago when I made Jeff a Kristoff costume for Halloween, 2014. I do know that I bought it at JOANN Fabric and Craft. Someday, I’ll probably go back and make a post about how I created Jeff’s Kristoff vest from a thrifted suit jacket. Oh my, you can see that I am eight months along with Eliza! (Jeff called me Pregnelsa.) Never thought you’d see a pregnant Elsa, huh?
Back to the fur. The image on the left is how they usually cut fur at the fabric store. They slice right through it with scissors. It creates a giant, hairy mess! I’m going to show you how to cut the fur in a cleaner way, as you can see, on the right. How do I do it? I use a knife!
Yes, we are going to be legit mountain folk, like Kristoff, once this project is done! We are going to use a knife, my friends. First, I measured the armhole opening to determine how much fur I would need to go around it. The opening measured at 14 inches (measured flat, then double that measurement). So, I decided to cut 16 inches to give me seam allowance and a bit of wiggle room. Time to grab a utility knife!
Next, I used my Dritz See-Thru Dressmaker’s Ruler and a ballpoint pen to mark a 1 inch by 16 inch strip on the back side of the fur. *Disclaimer* I am an Amazon Associate. Purchases made through this link will give me a small commission. I make sure to only promote products that I personally use and would recommend.
Okay, now we get to use our knives! Find a surface that can take a beating. You are going to take that knife and score it along your marked lines until the blade eventually pierces through the fabric backing of the fur. I have the perfect setup, because the unfinished basement room where I keep my fabric and do most of my cutting has a concrete floor. (Floor “artwork” created by the previous owners of our house.)
My knife blade was a bit dull, but it still did a great job! Slow your scoring once you begin to sense that the blade is piercing through the fabric and gently saw it through the remaining fibers so that you end up with a clean edge. Ta-da! Take your cut strip and gently stroke the pile of the fur to remove any loose hairs. Flip it over and do the same on the reverse. So, you will still get some loose hairs after using this cutting method, but it is still way less than if you were to hack through with scissors.
I decided that I wanted the fur to taper a bit at the ends, where the strips will meet at the underarm seam. So, I drew angled lines on the reverse side of the fur and then scored through with the knife.
Here are our finished fur strips for Kristoff’s sleeves; both the top view and the reverse view. By scoring with the knife, we also left the gorgeous pile of the fur intact, which will give a lovely, natural edge to the fur trim, rather than a blunt, cut edge.
Now it’s time to sew on our fur trim! Mark the center top of each fur piece and match it to the center top of each sleeve. I lined up the bottom edge of the backing fabric along the outer edge of the bias tape, around each armhole.
I finished pinning the fur around the armhole, with a bit of overlap at the underarm seam. Then, using the skinny edge of my presser foot as a guide, I stitched the fur down 1/8 inch from the top edge of the fur trim.
The stitches sink into the pile of the fur and are hardly noticeable. I took a pin and picked out a few, stray hairs that got caught awkwardly in the stitching.
We’re done with trimming the sleeves! Now to add some fur trim to the hem of the vest. It looks like the hem of Kristoff’s vest comes up into a pointed swoop, so I will attempt to create that look with the placement of the fur trim. (I would include pictures of Kristoff from the Frozen movie, but I am concerned about copyright issues. You can always do a Google image search if you want to see what I’m talking about!) Anyway, I measured loosely around the base of the sweater, including that pointed part. I knew that I needed to factor in the additional length I would need to create that pointed shape.
Then, I drew a 2 1/2 inch by 40 inch strip onto the back of the fur and scored it with the knife, as before.
I lay the cut strip along the hem of the vest. As you can see, the strip is too long, but that’s okay! Better too much than too little, I always say.
Next, I began to pin the trim to the hem of the vest, starting at the peak of the pointed shape and curving down to the hem. The red stripe at the hem provided a handy guide. I simply matched the top of the trim to the top of the red stripe.
I continued to pin the trim all the way around the hem and drew it up to match the point where I began.
Then, I measured how much excess fur trim I would need to remove.
It turns out that I only needed to cut off about 1 1/2 inches. This further validated me in my belief that you should always leave extra trim. You never know how your base material will stretch and “scoot”, especially if it is a knit.
As with the sleeves, I stitched the fur trim 1/8 inch down from the top edge, using my presser foot as a guide. Easy peasy!
Stay tuned for my next post, in which I will use yet more bias tape to decorate Kristoff’s vest. I may even get around to making his sash and his hat in the same post!