As you may have noticed, I love Book Week. Making my kids Book Week costumes is the sewing highlight of my year, and this year I had so much fun! Birdie decided she wanted a Paddington Bear costume almost a year in advance which gave me plenty of time to plan! Birdie is obsessed with Paddington. She loves the books, she loves the movies, she loves the TV show, and she loves the audio book narrated by Stephen Fry. There isn’t an incarnation of Paddington she doesn’t love. This costume was a really challenging one for me for a number of reasons, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it!
There were some challenges with this costume, and before I get in to them I just want to say that despite things that were hard, I am so happy with this costume! And so is Birdie! She now uses this rain jacket regularly when walking to school in the mornings, and it’s so cute i can’t handle it. I love taking my kids dreams and turning them into real costumes, and this one was so incredibly satisfying.
The first challenge I had was the pattern. I found some really cute duffle coat patterns; the School Days jacket by Oliver & S and the Walnut Duffle coat pattern by Poppy and Jazz; but at first glance it looked like Birdie was out of the size range and I looked no further. I regret that. I ended up finding a different duffle pattern, that she was in the size range for, but I must admit it was the worst sewing experience of my adult life. I don’t say this lightly – it was incredibly poorly drafted, and it’s an understatement to say that the instructions were inadequate. I had to make so many alterations and edits to the pattern to make it work that it’s not worth going through. If you’re looking for a cute kids duffle pattern, I would look at the School Days jacket by Oliver & S or the Walnut Duffle by Poppy and Jazz. If I had looked at the size chart for the School Days jacket more closely I would have seen that Birdie was actually *just* in the size range – lesson learnt, don’t assume, always read the size chart properly!
For the fabric I hunted quite some time and ended up at Remnant Warehouse and really lucked out. I found a royal blue waterproof fabric as well as a 1m remnant of yellow marmalade fabric the Paddington quilting range. What a score! Unfortunately 1m wasn’t quite enough to fully line a rain coat, so i cheated a bit and the arms are actually a different yellow cotton that was in my stash. But i don’t think anyone is going to look up her sleeves ;)
The toggles and cotton cord were found at Spotlight and the leather patches were leftover from a shoemaking project. The little “please look after this bear” tag is actually one of the tags we use in the studio to label our products, so that was nice and easy to find! Birdie is quite in love with the toggles and approximately 50% of the photos i tried to take for this post where of her doing and undoing the toggles hehe.
By the time I came to the hat (even though i had purchased a hat pattern from the unmentioned brand) I went over to Oliver & S and purchased their Reversible Bucket Hat pattern. Which as expected, was a dream to sew and came together quickly and smoothly. Birdie loves it and I will definitely be using this pattern to make her some more cute bucket hats for summer! For the fabric I used this red felt that I had in my stash. I reallllly overbought red felt over 10 years ago making christmas ornaments and i think at this stage i will never run out haha. The nice thing about using felt was that it added some structure whilst still maintaining that floppy old hat look that Paddingtons hat has.
When it comes to the bear skin, I was again up against a challenge. I couldn’t find any bear colour fluffy fabric anywhere. I’m not sure what kind of fluffy fabric apocolypse is going on in Perth, but in the end I used the closest thing i could find which was the tan stretch suede from our studio which unfortunately was a little too close to Birdie’s skin tone but was the best i could do. I used the Mini Virginia leggings pattern and cut them a size big in the hopes it would look less like her actually skin haha. She wore a yellow tee underneath her coat made from the Mini Briar sewing pattern, and her Minnetonka tramper moccasin boots (which used to be Bunny’s, then Buddy’s are possibly the longest lasting shoes in this house!) and the outfit was complete. Well almost ;)
And now we come to the cherry on top. The marmalade sandwich! This part of the costume almost didn’t happen, and I actually made it before school on the day of the book parade leaving a really hilarious mess on the floor. As Birdie started getting dressed into her costume she asked “where is my sandwich?”. And that’s when I realised I had forgotten to make it! I quickly pulled out some yellow felt for the marmalade (also left over from that fateful christmas ornament over purchase) and some cotton wadding from sampling Hovea. For a very quickly thrown together sandwich i’m so happy with how it turned out. And yes, Birdie does insist on keeping it in her rain jacket pocket at all times.
It really matters to me that costumes can be enjoyed and worn after the fact, and i’m pleased to report that all these pieces have been worn separately already! Though admittedly whenever she wears the leggings i do a double take, because they really are much too close to skin colour haha.
I’m so happy with how this costume turned out – but mostly, i’m so happy with how much Birdie loves it! I’m sure i’ve said this loads of times – but i never knew I would enjoy making costumes for my kids so much! It’s become something I look forward to each year and I can’t wait till next time.