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I can’t see you, but humor me and raise your hand if you ever wore a Biblical costume in a church play! Did you do it? Both my hands are raised! Well, I thought it was time to make Emma and Elliott a set of Bible costumes, too. These were made almost a year ago, in preparation for Classical Conversations Cycle 2, which focuses on Ancient World history. Yes. I made these a year ago and am just now posting about it! Welcome to my life.
These costumes have already gotten lots of use, and have been loaned to many other home school families. They’re a good, staple costume set to have around, so let’s dive right in!
It all started with two pillowcases I found at one of my favorite thrift stores. I chose them for their neutral color, the subtle stripes, and the piping trim. In my opinion, subtle textures really elevate what could otherwise be very plain costumes.
Here it is, folks! This is a spread of nearly all of the materials I used to make these costumes. The pillowcases were fifty cents, each. The striped pillow sham was a dollar. The trims were all bargains that I snapped up on my various thrifting adventures. I’m tellin’ ya! Grab those trims when you find them. Buying new trim gets expensive, ya’ll! (I went to college in Oklahoma, so I can say y’all from time to time.)
Next, I washed and dried the pillowcases. I always recommend a good soaking in OxiClean, and/or a natural product I also love: Rockin’ Green. It’s truly amazing/horrifying to see all the funk that these products can remove from clothes and linens! Then, I measured and marked how deep the arm holes would be, along the side seams.
Snip, snip! I can never find a seam ripper when I need one, so I used these little scissors to snip the stitches out of the side seams to make the tunic armholes.
I reinforced the side seams right at the base of the newly-made armholes, so the stitching wouldn’t continue to unravel.
One of the pillowcases had a worn spot at what would become the top of the shoulder. So, I pulled out my favorite “fixer”: Fray Check! I also ran a bead along the newly created armholes, since the bias trim I intended to use wouldn’t encase the raw edge.
While waiting for the Fray Check to dry, I turned my attention to the neckline. I used one of Elliott’s T-shirts as a guide for how big the neck opening should be. I used my favorite, purple, Disappearing Ink Marking Pen to mark the width and the depth of the vertical, T-line for the neck opening. I cut along these lines.
Before this next step, I had the kids try on their pillowcases to make sure their giant heads fit through the neck openings! Then, I sewed narrow bias tape along the vertical slit in the neck opening, by stretching it into as much of a straight line as possible as I sewed along.
Stretching creates a smooth stitching line and reduces fabric puckering, but it creates a U-shaped neck slit, instead of a sharp point. So, I folded the neckline slit edges together and stitched a small dart to taper the slit opening back into a point. There! Isn’t that prettier?
To finish binding the neckline, I stitched more of the bias tape around the top edge of the neckline, leaving extra tape at each end for ties.
Now, it was time to relieve this sea of beige with some accent colors! I trimmed the armholes of Emma’s tunic with brown, vintage, bias tape, leaving about an inch-and-a-half at each end.
I mitered the ends of the bias tape so that raw corners would be concealed and encased more easily when I folded the ends of the tape together.
Aaand…Here is the folding process. It takes a little patience and practice, but this is just one of the ways you can finish the base of the armhole.
I did the same for Elliott’s tunic armholes, only I used tan colored bias tape, this time.
Since pillowcases are long and rather narrow, I wanted to make sure the kids had some leg-room. This was achieved by opening parts of the tunic side seams to make leg slits. As with the armhole openings, I re-enforced the side seam with some extra stitches.
I gave Emma’s tunic one, longer side slit. As with the neck opening, I encased the edge with bias tape, stretching the slit completely open as I went. Then, I sewed a small dart at its top, to make the slit finish in a sharp point and lie smooth.
Next, I decided that Elliott’s tunic should be a bit shorter, so I removed the lower band and decorative piping from his pillowcase. I saved these scraps of material for later use.
Then, I gave his tunic two, shorter side slits and finished them just I had with Emma’s. I gave the bias tape a bit of decorative top stitching with burgundy thread.
At this point, both pillowcase tunics were ready to wear, with the edges all finished. However, they were very, ummm, beige. Time to add more trim and accessories! I’ll show you more in Part 2. See you soon!