Sunday, May 24, 2009

Save the Cheerleader

I've been a bad blogger. Call it anticipation of life getting in the way in a couple of weeks when I head off for summer stock in central Illinois for the second summer in a row. By way of apology, please accept this tutorial on how to make a Claire "The Cheerleader" Bennet costume very quickly and for ubercheap.

This is Claire. She's a Hero.

Supplies you will need are:
- Oversized red turtleneck
- White sweater vest
- 1" wide elastic, to the length of your waist measurement plus one inch
- Scissors

You will probably also want:
- Pins
- Chalk or marking pencil
- Sewing machine
- Red and white threads
- Scraps of white muslin or other sturdy cotton fabric
- Sharpies in assorted colors (red, gold, and black)

First things first. Determine how long you want the skirt to be. Measure from your waist to where you want the skirt to hit (i.e. just above the kneecap, if you're modest like me). Add 1 1/2" to this measurement. Use this length to measure from the bottom hem of shirt and mark the length in chalk all the way around the body.

Cut the sleeves off of the turtleneck at the seams, as indicated by the vertical dotted green lines.

Cut the shirt horizontally along your chalk line (as indicated by the horizontal green dotted line). Discard the neck\yoke area (or save it, if you need a dickey to wear at work). The body has now become your skirt.


I recommend doing a preliminary try-on of the skirt at this point to double-check length and tweak width. As the body of the turtleneck is very straight, you may want to take darts in or resize it along the seamlines. If it doesn't gape too much, the elastic waistband will help smooth it out, but more than an inch or two of extra fabric may give you that Sweatpants Granny look. I'm pretty curvy, so I only had to nip mine in about 3/4" on either side.

Turn under 1/2" around the raw top edge of the skirt, then turn under another 1" and topstitch almost all the way around, leaving a 1" gap at a side seam. Thread your elastic through this gap and stitch together with a seam allowance of 1/2". Try the skirt on one last time to make sure the waist fits fine, the elastic is comfortable, and the skirt will stay on before closing the seam gap.


This one's pretty simple, if you know how to set a sleeve. Just put the sleeves you cut off of the turtleneck into the armholes of the sweater vest. You can hand-sew or use a blind hemmer if you want the stitching to be invisible; I personally just top-stitched mine with white thread.


Okay, this is where it gets a little more on the creative side. I made my patch by tracing a circle on a doubled piece of white muslin and serging around the edges, flatlining the circles together. I then freehanded the design onto the circle with a pencil, using a ruler to ensure even spacing. My design was even more simplified than the Trojans helmet pictured above, as I had about 15 minutes to do it in. After penciling the design, I colored it in with black, red and gold Sharpies (thank heaven for Hobby Lobby and their frequent sales).

A simpler way to make a patch might be to draw one up on your computer and print it on iron-on paper or printable fabric. Not all of us are lucky enough to have fierce computer drawing skills or convenient technology.

I recommend putting on the sweater vest to pin the patch on. This will help you take into full account the amount of give the sweater fabric has and will make it lay better when it's on.

Voila! Your Cheerleader costume is complete! You may want to add other finishing touches such as trimming the skirt with gold and white bias tapes (I just used some white twill tape for side stripes on mine, to add a little visual interest). The costume isn't exactly a screen-accurate replica, but then neither am I, and it's a pretty quick solution when you get a last-minute invite to a Superhero party.

And to close... this isn't just a gratuitous boob shot, I just wanted to show how the patch turned out.


Maria said...

This is quite clever and resourceful! Thanks a million for sharing this!

Laura E. Jordan said...

Thanks, Maria!