My family LOVES all things Studio Ghibli, especially the movie, My Neighbor Totoro, so last year, when I was looking for some Halloween costume ideas, I came across a few homemade Totoro costumes. The problem is, as a mom, or any busy person for that matter, we don't have the time or skills to sew some magically perfect ensemble that our kid may or may not wear (and with toddlers, you're lucky if you can keep it on them for more than an hour). I thought "there has to be an easier way", and so I give you the easy way! You can also use this method for other character costumes.
Find a simple hooded sleeper as your base. This will save you so much time instead of sewing on zippers, buttons and taking measurements, etc. Don't worry if there's an image on the belly area, because you are going to put the white fabric over it anyway. Next, you'll need felt fabric. Something close to the same color as your sleeper. Not much though. You can see by this photo that you just need enough to make the ears,
tail and chest marks. You'll also need enough white for the belly and eyes, black for the eyes and nose and another color for the whiskers (fishing-wire would have been too much of an eye poking risk). I ended up making 3-D ears instead of the cutouts, as in the first layout photo. A lady's entitled to change her mind. ;) So, gather and cut your felt. Save the scraps to stuff the ears and tail, and get some thread to match. Keep a photo nearby to eyeball your sizing. So cute, right? I was so excited when it was all cut out.
When you cut out the white belly part, make sure there's a straight section in the middle so that you can cut it where the buttons/zipper is, and tuck about 1 inch underneath on each side so that it's seamless. Once everything is placed, just use a simple straight stitch (or whip stitch for that crafty look) to attach the parts. You can also use some of that no-sew glue to save you even more time.
For the ears, I just sewed two pieces together, flipped them inside out, tucked the scraps inside and then sewed them on by attaching the underside. They're not the best looking ears, but this is mama sewing at 1am, so it will certainly do. For the tail, I folded a piece of fabric in half and sewed it into a U shape, flipping it inside out, stuffing and sewing just like the ears. You'll notice that after sewing, the shapes warped a little bit from the original vision, but for a kid's outfit, you should never be too hard on yourself! It's still cute, especially once it's on your little cutie!
I mean, just look how cute she looks!!!!
So there you go. Not bad at all. Only took me an hour or two in the middle of the night. Oh, and we safety pinned a big ol' leaf on her head at the end.