When my daughter told me she wanted to be a peacock for Halloween, we googled a lot of cute dresses with tulle and feathers. But what she really wanted was to be an "accurate" peacock - brown stripey wings, yellow legs, and a tail that could go up or down. So we looked at lots of pictures of real peacocks, drew some diagrams, and got to work!!!
Step 1: Costume Basics
The base for this costume is very simple:
Blue shirt and shorts (or leggings cut off to the length you want)
Tail - lots and lots of feathers
Step 2: Base for the Wings
For the wings you will need felt in the color you want. Felt by the yard works great for the base of the wings and you can use individual sheets for the feathers.
I measured my daughters arms from shoulder to wrist and used that for the length of the wing. Then I eyeballed the drop and the curve and cut them out.
Attach elastic loops to both top sides of the wing. Sewing works best. I covered the raw ends of the elastic with more felt but it's not necessary.
Measures the distance between shoulder blades and cut TWO rectangles of felt that are that distance x 3 inches (for me they are 9 x 3").
Sandwich the inside ends of the wings between the rectangles and sew completely around the perimeter.
Step 3: Adding Wing Feathers
Rather than purchase and sew guinea feathers, I opted for felt to withstand all the flapping! My daughter insisted that they were striped so we colored zig-zag stripes onto the felt with fabric markers BEFORE I cut feathers.
Cut feather shapes and notch the sides for a more feathered look. On the wings there are about 40 feathers on each side.
Starting at the bottom of the wings, lay out and pin the feathers in place and then sew across all the feather tops in one long line. Repeat with each layer of feathers. The very top feathers are then hot-glued into place and all the sewing lines are hidden.
Step 4: Sewing the Tail Together
I used about 1/2 yard of costume satin and 1/2 yard of cotton fabric.
Measure from the child's waist to the floor and then the length across the back of their waist where the tail will attach to the waist. You do not want this measurement to wrap around the waist.
On a large sheet of paper draw a T with these measurements.
Fold the T on the vertical line and match up the ends of the horizontal line then cut through both layers at an angle and round out the bottom to get a tear-drop shape with the flat top.
Using this for your pattern, cut one out of each of the cotton and satin.
With right sides together, sew using a 5/8" seam and leave the top open. Clip the curves if you like and turn right side out and press on the cotton side.
Step 5: Adding the Frame
Because my daughter wanted her tail to stand upright, I needed to add a frame. If you plan on only wearing the tail down, you can skip this step.
You'll need wire hangars (I used 2)
Unwrap the twisted ends and straighten as much as you can. Twist ends of 2 different hangars to give yourself one long wire and then fold in half (but with rounded, not pointed end) and slip into the tail. Straighten it out and fill out the edges of the fabric tail.
Using the zipper foot on your sewing machine, topstitch through both layers of tail as close to the wire as you can get to create a casing for the wire and keep it in place.
Step 6: Add the Waistband
Cut 2 rectangles of fabric long enough to wrap around the waist and overlap. Mine are 3" x 27"
With right sides facing, sew them together along ONE long side and press 1/4" in on all other sides.
Attach this band to the tail the same way you would with double fold bias tape: line up raw edges on one side and sew right sides together (I did 1/4" seam) and then flip the whole ting over and sew around all sides with the raw edges tucked in.
Add Velcro to each side for attaching.
Step 7: Adding Feathers
I purchased feathers on Amazon that were 10-12" lengths and layered them. I used about 90 feathers for this tail.
Find several movies you've been wanting to watch for a while.
To reduce weight and prevent the feathers from just tearing off, I hand-stitched also the feathers on starting with the outside edge and layering in. Closest to the waistband I used some glittery decorative feathers that gave good coverage and a little bling! After my daughter tried it on, I then went back in and hot glued some of the stems down that kept flipping out.
Step 8: Raise the Tail
You need fishing line or some other equally strong but clear thread in two pieces.
Using a needle with an eye big enough to accommodate the fishing line, sew the line onto the tail making sure that you sew around the edge of the frame so that the weight of the tail doesn't pull the stitches out of the fabric.
The white spools of thread in the picture mark where I sewed the line onto the tail but if you imagine the curve of the tail like the top of a clock, you want them at about 10 and 2.
Step 9: Keeping the Tail in Place
On each should of the t- shirt, sew a Velcro piece along the seam line of the shoulder.
Sew the opposite piece to a piece of felt and then attach the felt on one end only near the neck.
This will give you a Velcro flap that allows the fishing line to slide back and forth but will keep it from slipping off the shoulders.
Add safety pins to the end of the fishing line. You can also add felt to the waistband to strengthen it against the weight of the raised tail.
Step 10: Finished Product
My daughter couldn't raise or lower the tail at will and it took some help to get it up, but she could wear it either raised or lowered.
We ran the line through the shoulder flaps and then raised the tail and pinned the lines into her waistband. She wore it like this for trick-or-treating AND a church party where the kids did a lot of running around and it held up really well!!!