Thursday, June 06, 2013

Shark Costume Part 2: Drafting and Cutting Out the Tail

UPDATE!  See this link for the Shark Costume Pattern

Welcome to part 2 of the Shark Costume Tutorial series!  This posting will focus on drafting and cutting out the tail. 

I love making Halloween costumes.  In fact, Halloween costumes were the first project to really make me want to learn to sew.  I just HAD to have something different from the standard brothel pirate costumes and Elvira wigs at local stores, but I didn't exactly have the funding for anything elaborate.

So the requirement was "uniquely cheap."  Or maybe "cheaply unique."  :)

Did I mention I had no idea how to sew?

I went to the local Joann's and browsed the Halloween patterns, trying to find something I could manage on my own.  Eureka!  The Flintstones!  How hard could it possibly be? 

Turns out it was a little harder than I thought, but after some trial and error it turned out bueno.  I made costumes for my roommate, myself and our dates.  Roommie K. and her beau were Fred and Wilma.  My short, blond date and I -- with my sassy little bob -- made a picture-perfect Barney and Betty.  It worked out perfectly and I was hooked!  Okay, perfect except my date felt a little too twinkie-esque and added horns to his forehead with fake blood running down into his eyes.  Harumph.  Boys...)

Didn't the costumes turn out cute?!  Sorry for the quality...and cropping.  No creepy ex-boyfriends on this blog!

Anyway, here's how this shark tail thing is going to go down...

Drafting the Tail:

First, I sketched out the tail on the matte side of freezer paper.  Freezer paper is officially the most useful stuff EVER, right behind vinegar.  It's perfect for pattern pieces, because you have a matte side that's easy to write on, but then you have a shiny side that irons on to fabric and then easily peels off without doing any damage.  

To start sketching, measure and draw a rectangle on the freezer paper 22 inches x 11 inches.

  • On the left boundary line of your rectangle, make a mark 1 inch from the top and bottom of the box.  See points labeled A below.
  • On the right boundary line, make a mark 4 3/4 inches from the top and bottom of the box. See points labeled B below.
  • On the top and bottom boundary lines, make a mark 4 inches from the left boundary and extend the mark at least an inch towards the interior of the box.  Draw a line from point A to this line.  The intersection is point C.
  • Draw a line from point C to point B across the top and repeat from C to B across the bottom.  Congratulations!  You have just drafted the main part of your shark tail.  (Don't cut it out yet!)

The opening left between the B points on the right side should fit your shark tail pattern almost perfectly.  Cut out your shark tail pattern and glue or tape it in place to your drafted tail.

Freehand in a couple of mini-fins top and bottom.

Now you're ready to cut it out!  I'm so having an '80s flashback right now.  You need to CUT. IT. OUT. ;)

Ta-da!  Don't mind those extra marks.  This is my original pattern piece, which was marked up and then adjusted to include seam allowances. 

Cut List:
  • From your chosen tail fabric, cut out 2 tail sectionsThey must be mirror images, so if you double your fabric, make sure you lay it down right sides together.  If you want, you can iron the shiny side of your shark tail pattern piece to the fabric to stabilize everything while you cut.  Repeat this step, cutting from lightweight fusible interfacing.  (I ironed my tail pieces to the interfacing before cutting the interfacing so that it matched exactly.  See this post on using fusible interfacing for more information.)
  • Next, from the same fabric, cut 4 rectangles sized 3 inches by 12 inches.  Repeat this step, cutting from lightweight fusible interfacing.  These will make up the waist straps.
  • Finally, cut out 1 booty circle 7 inches in diameter from the pattern I provided. Repeat this step, cutting from your remnant of heavy duty fusible interfacing.
Sorry - I don't have a photo of all the parts and pieces cut out, but it's pretty simple.  I know you can do it!  :)