Here in Australia, it’s Children’s Book Week. Primary schools across the country are reading, visiting libraries, doing book activities, and arriving at school for one day dressed as their favourite book character. Or whatever character can be conveniently tacked together from available costumes at home.
I understand that some parents loathe the dress ups part, but I don’t – Book Week is where I shine! This year is my very last one.
Being “The Last Book Week”, much discussion was had on a suitable costume.
Talks started at least six weeks earlier, which should have been ample time to come up with an actionable idea, but I spent the first four weeks trying to dissuade her from going as a peacock (with actual feathers, Mum) which was never going to happen.
In the end, funnily, it was a book which provided the solution. I had borrowed a book from the library on Disney costumes (it’s this one – it’s got fabulous photos) which included costumes from 101 Dalmatians.
Spotlight happened to have dalmatian fur, so I ordered some online, and while I was there I bought a wig too.
We were worried it wouldn’t get here in time, but by some miracle both arrived last Friday, and I sewed the coat on the weekend, with the costume being required on Monday morning. (Note if you’re a school principal reading this: parents prefer a Book Week dress-ups day later in the week, to give them more time to get their act together.)
Fake fur. I know. Not really in line with the “sustainable sewing” code I’m trying to live by. The quality is shockingly poor too. Buying online, I didn’t get to see it first and for the $$ I thought I’d be getting something a bit thicker and fluffier. However, it ended up looking better in a coat than it did just as fabric.
The Cruella wig is on the same level. Although proclaiming Deluxe Quality! it comes with the convenient disclaimer on the bag “Actual product may vary from photo”.
Still, I tried to be responsible with what we had. I made the coat in an adult size, since my child will no doubt have a growth spurt in the next year and if it’s an adult size it can go into the family dress-ups box and be used/loaned to others. I thought I would have to tack up the sleeves for Book Week, but they look OK.
I also used a zero/minimal waste pattern. Luckily, with sewing fur, simple shapes are best. I used the modular jacket pattern from the March zine with a few little changes. I hadn’t realised how versatile this pattern is.
I “cut my cote after my cloth” and adjusted the pieces to fit the fabric. All I had left was two narrow strips from straightening the ends, and two small pieces which could be use for patch pockets (but they were requisitioned to cover a journal with).
The inseam pocket bags are cut zero waste – I used the pocket layout from the (free to download) January zine.
The lining is gorgeous. It’s old – I bought it from the op shop a while back, and it’s the sort of heavy, lustrous satin one sees in handbag linings from the 1950s. You know the type I’m talking about. It sews and presses like a dream, and the quality is so good I could easily make a dress from it.
She was very happy with her costume, although there was the usual anxiety in the car on the way there – what if Mum got the day wrong and I’m the only one dressed up?????
But all turned out fine.
For the record, here’s a recap of every book week…
And if any long-time blog readers are interested, the rubber boots I spray painted for the doomed Lucky Prescott costume back in 2019 are finally dry. “Touch-dry in 30 minutes” turned out to be 3 years. Meanwhile, children’s feet have grown and taste in books have too, so maybe a younger cousin will wear them.