Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fuzzy Hoodie Suit with Ears Horns and Tail

I just finished my first full body suit.  It's made out of faux fur with a polyester cuddle fabric lining. With all of its furry goodness, it reminds me of a cross between an abominable snowman costume and something from "Where the Wild Things Are." It has a hoodie-type hood with horns and ears.   This was a commissioned piece, completely made to order.

I started with a muslin mock up made from Simplicity Pattern 2853, size small, plus I added a two piece hood.   I also lengthened the sleeves and pants to be too long for the fitting.  My client and I arranged for a fitting of the mock up.  With him dressed in the muslin suit, inside out, I added a bunch of safety pins to fit the suit to his build.  I pinned the cuffs and pant hems, I took in the width of legs significantly, and also in the hips, waist and a little in the chest.  I drew on the placement of the side seam pockets and the inside patch pockets exactly where he wanted them.  I also marked where the bottom of the opening should start.  Then he got out of the suit, and I penciled where the seam should be as identified by the pins, removed the pins, ripped the muslin apart into its component pieces, transferred the markings to the paper pattern, added seam allowances back in, and my pattern was ready to go.

With the pattern in hand, I cut out the lining and fake fur, trimmed all of the fur out of the seam allowances, and serged all of the pieces including the lining.  I sewed the fur pieces together and all of the lining pieces together.  Then I added ears, horns, and a tail.
Normally, with a fur coat, I machine sew the lining to the fur, right sides together, up one side of the front lapel, across the shoulders, and down the other side.  This leaves just the bottom hems and cuffs to finish by hand.  However, because the particularities of this suit, I decided to finish everything entirely by hand.  It's more work, but I have much more control when hand sewing, so I could finish all of the corners neatly.  Adding the lining by hand required that I cross stitch all of the hems of the fur around both cuffs, pant hems, and the whole front opening (including hood).  You can see the cross stitching in many of the photos below.  I also added five extra-large hook and eye clasps along the front opening. It took me a few tries to figure out a good way to start adding the hooks, but if you look at the photo below, you can see the first two stitches that are adequate to anchor the hook efficiently.
Here's what a hook looks like after it's sewn, before it's covered with the lining.
I was worried that the fabric would rip at the bottom of the front opening, so I added a patch of flannel (it matches the pockets) with multiple rows of stitching across its width, an a tons of knots.

I also cross stitched down the seam allowance where the hood meets the neckline, under the arm pits, and at the crotch.  I did this to reduce bulk.  This photo shows an armpit.

Then, I added the lining.  In addition to stitching all around the openings, I also tacked the lining to the fur in the bottom third of the arm hole seam, on the crotch seams, and where the hood meets the neckline.  I added my tag and it's done!  Here you can see where the lining meets the fur at the front opening.

Today, the suit's new owner came over to try it on and he let me take photos.  Yeah.  We were both very happy with the fit, and he was amazed that the seams blended right in.  He couldn't even feel them.  I really enjoyed this project and we are both super happy with the results.  I put a little piece of my heart and my best workmanship skills into making this suit, inspired by the vision and enthusiasm of my client.  I joked that it's industrial strength, a family heirloom, so he can stay warm on the Playa at Burning Man, in his new fuzzy suit for many, many years to come.
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