Sunday, 2 March 2014

World Book Day costume- the Fat Controller (Sir Topham Hatt)

Well.  Oscar's nursery are doing dressing up for World Book Day this coming Thursday, so of course he needs a costume.  We thought long and hard about what he would like to dress up as, and after about 0.7 seconds settled on the idea of the Fat Controller from Thomas the Tank Engine.  Trains are Oscar's 'thing', and Thomas is a huge favourite.  He has a big book, known as 'heavy book', of all of the original Railway Series stories by Rev. Awdrey.  They are much wordier than the more recent adaptations, and of course seem pretty old fashioned a lot of the time, but they are still brilliant and we love them.

To make the costume I needed a golden yellow waistcoat and a black tailcoat.  I enlisted long-suffering husband to help me make a pattern for the tailcoat.  I used Kitschy Coo's Reversible Zippy Hoody pattern to make hoodies for the boys a few months ago and used the pattern pieces as the basis for the tailcoat.  Long-suffering husband's main job was to add the 'tail' to the pattern.  And I think he did pretty well.  I also made the sleeves a bit longer (as the hoody had big cuffs to add) and quite a lot wider at the bottoms.  We added a collar piece, which is more or less a rectangle a few centimetres less than the total width of the neck hole.  I used the tailcoat pattern pieces for my waistcoat, too, just cutting it shorter then cutting off the corners  at the top (for a v-neck) and bottom.


I didn't want to make a 'proper' jacket, so I took a trip to Fabricland in Kingston and bought felt for this project- a metre of black felt for the jacket and half a metre for the waistcoat, which was plenty.  Working with felt was even easier than I thought it would be- of course I didn't need to hem anything, which was my main reason .  But it also had just a bit of give, which made the sleeves super easy to set in.

I had intended to have the waistcoat fasten with Velcro and just sew buttons on for decoration.  But then my automatic buttonhole foot got upset, and complained that it hadn't seen any action for aaaaages, so I had a go at making a buttonhole on a scrap of felt and it worked pretty well, so the waistcoat actually buttons up.  I put an extra layer of felt underneath the buttonholes so they won't stretch out of shape too fast.

The jacket came together in a few minutes.  The collar seemed to naturally find its shape once the jacket was tried on, and I gently pressed it flat with a cool iron.

I topstitched around the edges of both the waistcoat and the jacket.  It looks decorative and it also acts like a stay stitch to stop the felt stretching out of shape.

The final decorative touches make this costume really cute.  I bought a huge button for the jacket (it doesn't fasten- Sir Topham is too fat to be able to fasten up his jacket!) which is maybe actually a little bit too big.  But it's cute.  And I added buttons to the cuffs and the back of the tailcoat.


There are also some fake pockets, including this one with a handkerchief sticking out.  The Fat Controller is so smart!

Long-suffering husband also made the tie.  It's a piece of felt, which I sewed right onto the shirt.

This  is not a super sturdy costume- it's not designed to stand up to lots of wear and tear.  The felt will stretch out of shape in time, I'm sure.  But is looks amazing and will definitely do the job it's intended for.  Oh and did I mention he loves it?



We already had grey trousers, and I bought a shirt (well, a two-pack, actually, from Asda), and a top hat.  The hat is an adult size so it's way too big but that's OK.

Happy World Book Day!

You can find more book-inspired outfits over at Nap Time Creations' Sew Many Books!