Introduction: DIY "Absolem" Caterpillar Costume | Alice in Wonderland Fancy Dress

About: Multi-crafter, jewellery maker, card designer and frequent procrastinator.

I've always found the caterpillar in Alice & Wonderland intriguing (...and maybe a little scary...), and I thought the concept would make a great costume. I particularly like the idea of making a cosy and comfy costume (!) so that is what I aimed for with this.

I hope you enjoy this Instructable :)


You Will Need:

- Fabric in light blue and royal blue; I used brushed cotton flannel for a soft feel. I would steer away from stretchy materials, something like fleece would be a good choice. I ended up needing a length of the dark blue a little over 2 metres long, and about half a metre of light blue.

- Lining fabric; It's not totally necessary to line a costume, but I'm a perfectionist and it gives a nice finish. I used an old cotton duvet cover for my lining.

- Interfacing; I used heavy duty iron-on interfacing. I bought a 2 metre length and used most of it.

- Iron & ironing board

- Sewing pins

- Fabric scissors

- Ruler

- Rotary cutter & cutting mat (optional but useful)

- Velcro; self-adhesive would be easiest. You'll need about 1.5 metres of each side of the Velcro. My Velcro was 2 m wide.

- Stuffing; I used polyester toy stuffing

- Sewing machine & a thread to match the fabric

- A 'disappearing' fabric pen, and also perhaps a chalk marker for marking the darker fabric.

- 4 pairs of gloves; I bought 4 pairs of pink gloves off Ebay for around £5. You could make more hands, or hands and feet too if you like. I would've used yellow felt for the shoes if I had've gone ahead with that design.

- A set of your own clothes; to use as a size guide.

- Materials/tools for the prop; I used a length of rope/cord, glue, breathing mask, scrap cardboard, a small amount of duct tape, candlestick, gold metallic spray paint & a clear protective spray.

Step 1: Hookah Prop

The closest object I could find to the Hookah that Absolem holds was a candlestick, so I simply spray painted it with 2 coats of gold spray paint. I also sprayed a clear protective coating over the top of the paint.

For the pipe section, I already had some rope so I just wrapped some duct tape around one end, and also spray painted it gold. One end was glued to the candlestick.

A thinner rope/cord or pipe would likely be a better match, but I used what I had :)

Step 2: Cutting Out the Back Piece

To get the approximate shape of me, I laid out my jeans and a (preferably semi-fitted) t-shirt onto the royal blue flannel Make sure the fabric is right-side-down.

I then drew around the shape with a chalk marker, making sure to also translate/trace the curves where the t-shirt sleeves are sewn onto the main body. Decide how long you want the costume to be as well, in relation to the jeans, and draw a line across the fabric at this point.

I then removed the jeans & t-shirt, before adding around 2.5" to each side of my outline and drawing more lines. This resulted in a snug fit in the end, so I would recommend that you actually add at least 4" to each side instead. Hold the fabric up against yourself to get a better idea of the size/fit you want.

I added 3/4" extra to the outline at the top and the bottom, as well as the sleeves, and drew more lines. These outer lines you have drawn will be what you now cut along (with fabric scissors or a rotary cutter on a cutting mat).

Next, cut out a piece of interfacing the same size as this flannel piece, minus around 3/4" from the top and bottom edges, and minus 1/2" or so from the side edges. Make sure you measure/cut this piece with the glue (shiny) side facing down onto the back of the flannel piece.

And lastly, cut out a piece of the lining fabric (whilst it is right-side-up) that is the same size as the flannel piece.

Note: You will notice that I made my lining a little shorter at the top and bottom edges, but just ignore this; I was trying to do a trick to hide the edge of the lining from the front, but this turned out to be totally unnecessary!

Step 3: Iron on the Interfacing

Take the piece of iron-on interfacing you have just cut out in the previous step, and iron it onto the back (wrong side) of the flannel piece to attach them together:

- Make sure the interfacing is centred and in the correct position first, and hold in place with sewing pins.

- Place it glue (shiny) side down.

- Iron at the highest heat setting you can use for your fabric and press the interfacing all over. I pressed for about 10 seconds in each spot.

- Particularly make sure that the edges are glued down well.

(The reason for adding interfacing is to add some body to the fabric so that it holds its shape and isn't floppy.)

Step 4: Sew the Back Piece

I used a seam allowance of 1/2" throughout this project.

You need to stack the flannel/interfacing piece and the lining piece so that the interfacing is face down to the floor, and then the lining is also face down on top of the flannel. Essentially, the lining and the flannel are right-sides-together.

Then add sewing pins all of the way around except for along the bottom edge. As I said before, ignore the fact my lining is shorter than my flannel; keep yours the same size.

Sew with a straight stitch along all edges except for the bottom edge. I sewed 1/2" inside the edge of the lining.

Remember to remove the pins so that you don't sew over them. I used the default stitch length of 2.5mm on my machine.

Step 5: Cut Out the Side Sections

We now need to cut the 2 side sections that go at the front of the costume.

So first, sketch out on the interfacing of the back section where you want these side pieces to be positioned. As you can see, I added a curve to the lines. These pieces should be mirror images of each other. To help you picture what size you want these to be, remember that the space left in the centre of these 2 pieces will be the approximate size of the central section, so try to keep everything in proportion.

Then drape the royal blue fabric over the top, right side up, so that it covers the area where it will be positioned. Then pin it in place and flip everything upside down. This will allow you to trace around the back piece with a disappearing fabric pen, drawing onto the back (B) of the flannel.

Cut along this line to remove the excess fabric, and flip everything back over again.

Transfer the line you drew on the interfacing onto the flannel, then cut along this line. This will give you the flannel side piece.

Repeat the same again for the other side to give you both side pieces.

Step 6: Interface & Line the Side Sections

As we did with the back piece, we now add interfacing & lining fabric to each of the side sections.

I didn't have a piece of interfacing long enough so I added it in sections this time, and cut out enough to cover the back of each piece of flannel, minus 1/2" on each side, and minus 3/4" at the top and bottom edges.

Pin the interfacing in place and then press with an iron to attach them to the flannel. Always check the interfacing is glue-side-down before ironing.

Then place the lining fabric right-side-up and put the side sections on top - with the interfacing facing upwards.

Use your disappearing fabric pen to draw around the side panels and then cut along the line to produce the lining pieces. These lining pieces should be the same size as the side panels (unlike mine).

Step 7: Sew the Side Sections

Note: These photos show a little trick I was trying to use to curl the front fabric around at the top & bottom edges to stop the lining fabric showing from the front of the costume BUT as it turned out this was an unecessary step. So, please read on if you'd like to learn the trick anway OR to sew the side sections together, simply pin the lining pieces to the flannel pieces (right sides together) and sew all along the side edges (but not along the sleeve holes).

* * *

OK, so as I said, I made my lining pieces about 3/4" shorter at the top and bottom, so with the lining and flannel pieces right-sides-together, I first lined up the top edge, pinned and sewed along that edge.

Then I lined up the bottom edges, pinned, and sewed across this edge.

Because the lining piece is shorter, this causes the fabric to curl up. To alleviate this, you fold over the top and bottom edge slightly (to let the fabric lie flat again) and pin them in place.

Then you can pin down the side edges, and sew all along the side edges, except along the sleeve holes. Do a small line of stitches at the top of the sleeve holes though (see photos).

Step 8: Cut the Central Section

The last section is the central section at the front. To do this, draw out the gap between the 2 side sections onto a light blue fabric. This fabric should be right-side-up.

Add 1/2" to one side edge of this outline, and (1/2" + the width of your Velcro) to the other side edge. Draw lines at these points.

Cut along these outer lines.

I didn't have a piece of light blue fabric long enough, so as you can see I added 2 pieces together. I did this by placing the 2 pieces right-sides-together, then pinning and sewing the edge.

Step 9: Add Interfacing & Sew the Central Section

Add a strip of interfacing to the back of the light blue fabric piece, on the side where you added 1/2" + the width of your Velcro (in the previous step).

This interfacing pieces should be the same width as your Velcro and sit 1/2" from the edge of the fabric.

Attach the interfacing with an iron. (Also, if you've joined 2 pieces of fabric together for the central section like I have, take this opportunity to press the seam open).

Then put the light blue fabric and the lining fabric right-sides-together, and cut out a piece of lining fabric the same size as this flannel. Pin & sew them together around the edges, except for a section of a side edge where you will leave an unstitched gap about 8" long. You should leave this gap on the side edge that doesn't have the interfacing on.

Step 10: Turn Everything the Right Way Out

Turn the side sections the right way out through the sleeve holes, the back section through the bottom edge, and the central section through the gap on the side edge.

Iron all of the pieces so the edges lie flat.

Step 11: Stuff the Central Section

First, sew a line down the side of the central section where you attached the interfacing inside. You should sew just the other side of where the interfacing lies, which should be the same distance from the edge as your Velcro width.

Then mark out sections on the light blue fabric - I split my piece into 5 sections.

Add stuffing inside the tube to fill one section, then pin & sew across the line you drew for the end of that section. You only want each section loosely filled; don't overstuff.

Repeat this for every section, then also sew up the gap in the side edge so everything is contained.

Add Velcro strips along the edge of the light blue fabric that contains the interfacing.

Step 12: Join the Sections Together

Pin one side section onto the central section, right-sides-together. You want to add the side section to the side of the central section that doesn't contain the interfacing.

Sew along this edge. I sewed slowly because it's quite a thick seam, and I also used a slightly longer stitch length.

Then do this again to join the same side section to the back piece, but don't sew along the sleeve holes. We don't want those sewn up!

Then repeat again to add the other side section to the back piece.

Finally, add Velcro to the inside edge of the side panel, so that now that side panel and central section can attach together, and unattach, easily.

Step 13: Make the Hands!

My favourite part!

I wanted to make 3 pairs of hands so I cut out 6 pieces of royal blue flannel measuring 9 cm x 19 cm.

I folded these over, right-sides-together, then sewed a straight line down the edges.

For each hand, I slipped one of these tubes over the bottom of the glove so that the edges lines up. Then I carefully and slowly sewed these edges together on the sewing machine.

I then filled the hand and cuff with stuffing. You want these to be quite firm. Add little bits into the fingers first, then the main part of the hand, so that you don't get lumpy hands!

In the end, you'll have a pile of hands :)

Step 14: Attach the Hands & Finishing Touches

Position the hands as you want them, and pin in place.

It's a bit tricky to fit on the sewing machine, but you now need to sew these hands onto the side panels of the costume. Make sure all of the stuffing is contained.

Then I just hemmed the sleeve holes and the bottom edge of the back section, and the costume was complete, yay!

Note: If interfacing gets in the way at all when hemming or at any point in this project, feel free to remove some of it as it's not permanently attached with the iron; it can be peeled away.

Step 15: Finished!

And that's it!

I have to say I'm very pleased with how it turned out; it's so cosy :D

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