DIY: How to Make a Santa Claus Costume

With #Christmas just around the corner, a very popular #costume at this time of year is a #SantaClaus (or #FatherChristmas) costume. While there are a variety of off-the-shelf Santa Claus costumes available, quality and cost can vary widely. There’s also the option of renting a Santa Claus costume.

Basic Components

The basic components that are needed for a Santa Claus costume are as follows:

  1. A red coat with white faux fur trim at the bottom of coat, along the coat opening and at the ends of the sleeves. Ideally, the sleeves should be wide.
  2. Matching red pants, ideally made from the same material as the coat. (There are common variations for the pants.)
  3. A wide black belt with a large rectangular open belt buckle worn over the coat at waist level.
  4. A red stocking style hat with white faux fur trim and a white cotton ball at the end. The hat should be the same material as the coat and pants.
  5. One pair of black boots. Ideally, the boots should have round toes (not square toed or pointed) and probably 12 inches tall. The boots should also have black soles. The boots can be shiny or matte. (There are common variations for the boots.)
  6. A long white beard and mustache.
  7. A red toy bag.

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Common Variations

Not all Santa Claus / Father Christmas costumes are the same. Some common variations are listed below:

  • White gloves are a very common variant, but aren’t required. Red, black or even dark brown gloves are also possible.
  • While it is common for the red pants to be tucked into the black boots, the pants can also be worn over the boots. If the pants are tucked in, white faux fur that matches the trim on the coat and hat can be used to trim the top of the shafts of the boots. If the pants aren’t tucked in, white faux fur can be used to trim the bottom of the pants legs.

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  • Coat length can vary from standard coat length (below the waist) to knee length or ankle length. Older versions of Santa Claus typically have longer coat lengths. Father Christmas is more common with a long coat length.
  • Shoulder flaps on the coat are another possible coat variant. These are typically made of the same fabric as the coast itself and should also be trimmed with the same faux fur as the bottom of the coat and coat opening.
  • Pudginess also varies quite a bit. While the traditional Santa Claus is seen as being rather pudgy, other versions (often with a longer coat) aren’t as pudgy. If you’re going for the traditional pudgy Santa Claus, you’ll want a fat suit or some other kind of stuffing to create that appearance. You’ll also need to adjust the waist & chest sizes of the coast to accommodate the amount of desired pudginess.
  • Coat and pants don’t necessarily have to be red. Some versions of Santa Claus / Father Christmas show him wearing a green coat and pants. While any color can be used, red is the best, followed by green. Once you choose a color, make sure that the pants and coat are the same color; they should not be different colors or different shades.

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  • Another variation involving the coat has it kept open with a gold-buttoned red vest being worn beneath. For this style, the vest isn’t made from the same material as the coat and can be embroidered. Also, both openings of the coat should have white faux fur trim. In this variation, the belt should be worn beneath the coat and not over it.

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  • Gold embroidery on the coat can also be added.

Materials

  • The best fabric choice for the coat and pants is velvet, but any cotton fabric can also be used. The fabric should be woven, not knit, which could stretch. Use the same fabric for the pants, coat & hat. A vest (if used) can be made using a different fabric.
  • The belt can be faux leather, not necessarily real leather.
  • White faux fur for the trim. It’s best to be consistent with the type of white faux fur being used throughout the costume.
  • Patterns for the coat, pants and hat.

Pick a Style & Have Fun

The best thing to do is to pick a style for your Santa Claus costume and then follow it to create the desired look. Then go out & have fun!

 

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Introduction to Fabrics

While #sewing is an important rudimentary #cosplay & #costuming skill, so is knowing a few things about #fabrics, which have different qualities depending upon the materials used & how they were manufactured.

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1. Fabric Basics

What is a fabric? A fabric (which may also be called a textile or cloth) is a flexible material comprised of a series of interconnected fibers. The three most distinguishing features of a fabric are the type of fibers being used, how the fibers were interconnect during the manufacturing process and the overall fabric weight.

Let’s look at fibers and the manufacturing processes first.

1.1 Fibers

Fibers fall under one of two main types: natural or synthetic. These have different properties that can be divided into pros & cons, which we have listed in the following table.

Natural Fibers

Synthetic Fibers

Composition

Come primarily from plants or animals. Created in a laboratory. Usually a petroleum product.

Pros

  • Easy to dye.
  • Absorbant.
  • Breathable.
  • Strong.
  • Wrinkle-resistant.
  • Versatile.

Cons

  • Plant fibers wrinkle easily.
  • Animal fibers are expensive.
  • Not very breathable.
  • Difficult to dye.

Fabrics can also be made from minerals, but since these are not common in clothing or costuming, we’ll leave that to you to research on your own if you choose to do so.

The most common fiber types are listed below:

Fiber Category

Fiber Types (& their sources)

Animal

  • Wool (sheep’s hair)
  • Silk (silk worm’s unwound cocoon)
  • Cashmere (Indian cashmere goat)
  • Angora (Angora rabbit)

Plant

  • Cotton (cotton plant)
  • Linen (flax, a.k.a., linseed)
  • Rayon (wood pulp)
  • Acetate (wood pulp)
  • Hemp (hemp fibers)

Synthetic

  • Nylon (petroleum)
  • Acrylic (petroleum & natural gas)
  • Polyester (petroleum & coal)
  • Spandex (petroleum)
  • Kevlar (aramids)
  • Nomex (aramids)

1.2 Manufacturing Processes

Of the various ways fabrics can be manufactured, the two most common are woven fabrics and knitted fabrics, which are compared in the following table:

Woven Fabrics

Knitted Fabrics

Construction

Constructed by interlacing a set of longer threads (called the warp) with a set of crossing fibers (called the weft) on a frame known as a loom.

Constructed by repeatedly interlacing loops made from a single, long fiber together in multiple rows.

Qualities

  • Minimal stretch.
  • Strong
  • Won’t snag.
  • Easier for beginners to sew.
  • Available in both 2-way & 4-way stretch.
  • Not as strong.
  • Susceptible to snagging.
  • More difficult for beginners to sew.

2. Fabric Weight

The type of fibers, the manufacturing process & how closely packed the fibers are determine a fabric’s weight. Fabric weight is measured as ounces per square yard (oz/yd²) or grams per square meter (GSM). The lighter a fabric is, the more flowing it will be, but it will also the typically be less durable. The heavier a fabric is, the more stiff and durable it will be. Also, the heavier the fabric is, the thicker it may also be depending upon the type of fiber used.

GSM

Fabrics

Lightweight

1 – 150 GSM

0 – 4.4 oz/yd²

  • Organza
  • Chiffon
  • Voile
  • Taffeta
  • Single Jersey
  • Spandex

Medium Weight

150 – 350 GSM

4.4 – 10 oz/yd²

  • Velvet
  • Cambric
  • Sateen
  • Chambray
  • Interlock Jersey

Heavyweight

350+ GSM

10+ oz/yd²

  • Canvas
  • Denim
  • Hessian / Burlap
  • Poplin / Broadcloth

3. Putting It All Together

Having listed the basics about fiber types, manufacturing processes & weights, here’s a more detailed list about each fabric listed above.

3.1 Lightweight Fabrics

Fabric

Fiber Type(s) & Manufacturing Process

Typical Uses

Organza

Woven silk, nylon or polyester
  • Bridal wear
  • Evening wear

Chiffon

Woven silk, nylon or polyester

  • Evening wear
  • Lingerie
  • Blouses
  • Scarves

Voile

Woven cotton, cotton/linen blend or cotton/polyester blend

  • Window treatments
  • Mosquito nets

Taffeta

Woven silk or rayon

  • Ball gowns
  • Wedding dresses
  • Curtains
  • Wall coverings

Single Jersey

Knitted wool, cotton, synthetic fabrics or cotton/synthetic blend

  • T-shirts

Spandex

Knitted spandex or spandex/cotton, spandex/polyester, or other spandex blend

  • Compression clothing
  • Super-hero costumes
  • Tights
  • Zentai
  • Wrestling singlets
  • Active wear
  • Underwear

3.2 Medium Weight Fabrics

Fabric

Fiber Type(s) & Manufacturing Process

Typical Uses

Velvet

Woven tufted rayon/silk blend, silk (rare), cotton (less luxurious), polyester, nylon, acetate or other fibers & blends.
  • Ecclesiastical vestments
  • Royal & state robes
  • Wall hangings

Cambric

Woven linen or cotton

  • Linens
  • Shirts
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Ruffs
  • Lace
  • Needlework

Sateen

Woven cotton, cotton/linen blend or cotton/polyester blend

  • Window treatments
  • Mosquito nets

Chambray

Woven cotton, similar to denim but lighter & with the white weft visible making it lighter in color.

  • Dresses
  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Sneakers

Interlock Jersey

Knitted wool, cotton, synthetic fabrics or cotton/synthetic blend; similar to single jersey but both sides are identical and it’s thicker

  • Higher end t-shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Camisoles
  • Bridal wear
  • Receiving blankets
  • Dresses
  • Baby’s layette items

3.3 Heavyweight Fabrics

 

Fabric

Fiber Type(s) & Manufacturing Process

Typical Uses

Canvas

Woven cotton, linen or hemp.
  • Handbags
  • Backpacks
  • Electronic device cases
  • Shoes
  • Artist medium

Denim

Woven cotton

  • Blue jeans
  • Shirts
  • Jackets
  • Work clothes
  • Shoes
  • Upholstry
  • Lampshades
  • More

Hessian / Burlap

Woven jute or sisal fibers blended with other vegetable fibers

  • Rope
  • Bags
  • Gunny sacks
  • Rugs
  • Ghillie suits
  • Sand bags

Poplin / Broadcloath

Woven wool, cotton, silk, polyester or a blend of these

  • Dresses
  • Shirts
  • Upholstery

4. Selecting the Right Fabric(s) for a Costume

The first thing you’ll want to ask yourself is where you plan to wear the costume. If you’re only planning to wear the costume on a cool Halloween evening, then going with heavier / less breathable fabrics might be your better option for staying warm.

If you’re planning to wear the costume primarily at comic or anime conventions, then you’ll want to stick to the most breathable fabrics so that you stay cool and comfortable. After that, it also depends on what type of garment(s) you need to make:

  • Pants: linen or denim
  • Shirts & blouses: cotton voile; rayon challis; double gauze; knit; silk; chambray; cotton lawn or linen
  • Skirts: cotton lawn; rayon challis; denim; knit or linen
  • Dresses: cotton voile; cotton lawn; rayon challis; double gauze; knit; silk; satin or linen
  • Superhero costumes: spandex

If you need to dye a fabric, then you definitely want to use a fabric that is made primarily from natural fibers. Do you need to give the fabric a weathered or tattered look, then you’ll probably want to stick to cotton-based fabrics. Other considerations, such as the sewing pattern you’re using for the garment, can also impact the type of fabric to be used, including any color pattern that the fabric has.

References:

Introduction to Sewing

Probably one of the most rudimentary skills for #cosplay & #costuming is #sewing. For those who haven’t sewn anything before, sewing may seem intimidating, but once you know the basics, you’ll feel increasingly more comfortable with sewing and want to take on increasingly complex projects.

One question that may come up is why is it important to learn how to sew at all? Learning how to make your own #costumes will be far less costly in the long run than paying others to make things for you. That by far is probably one of the best reasons to learn how to sew. Next, if you’ve tended to rely on alternative methods for attaching fabric (like staples, hot glue or some other method), sewing will provide the best overall result and will be the strongest result. Even if you’re planning to wear armor, sewing can be invaluable in attaching velcro to strapping that you’ll most likely be using, especially elastic strapping, which needs to be very securely attached to velcro.

There are essentially two ways to sew: by hand and by machine. Sewing by hand is a lot slower than sewing by machine, but there will be times that you’ll need to hand sew something because a machine can’t always be used in all situations. A good example when you can’t use a sewing machine is when you need to sew something onto the back of a glove or onto a sleeve or pant leg. In these situations, unless you want to remove existing seams so that a sewing machine can be used, the best option is to hand sew. Also, if you can’t afford to purchase a sewing machine, you can always hand sew.

Though using a sewing machine may also seem intimidating if you haven’t used one before, there are very good reasons why to use one: it’s a lot faster than hand sewing, it makes evenly-spaced stitches and all modern machines will have multiple types of stitching patterns. For sewing long seams along pants, shirts, skirts, dresses, capes, etc., your best option will be a sewing machine.

The following YouTube video from 2014 & made by MangoSirene is a great introduction to sewing: