Felt...who knew?!?!? | Week 39 | #52wonderfilledweeks

I had a light work week this week and so I set a pretty high goal of finishing the kids' Halloween/Coco Party/ Dia de los Muertos party costumes. I would have loved to have wrapped up my costume as well but I just ran out of time. Our big party day is four weeks away and I'm starting to freak out a teensy bit! But getting their costumes finished does feel good and I'm not sure I've had a Halloween as a parent yet where we had our costumes finished a whole month before we needed them. Back in Week 35 I made P her Mama Imelda dress and it turned out great.  I'm  not a fan of face paint (the mess!) and since we are wearing our costumes for several various events the last week of October a mask made the most sense.  Plus P and Bubba can wear them for dress up later on (I'm a big fan of multi purpose projects)! I was torn on how, or rather what medium to make the masks out of and then I saw several different Coco masks on Etsy made from felt.  They looked great but only covered the eyes and upper face and I knew P would want to "BE" Imelda with the whole sha-bang, so I sat and thought about how I would accomplish this.  I pondered for almost two weeks...and then it came to me.  I would make the masks out of felt, but use my graphic skills and my Cameo to make it quick and easy...ha!

I knew could trace some photos of the characters using Adobe Illustrator, and then tweak what I needed to to get the idea across.  That's how I did Bubba's Miguel mask.  I found a picture on the interwebs, traced it in Illustrator, and printed the shapes I would need. For P's Imelda I got really smart... I had planned to buy a photo prop bundle from Etsy for her party so I went ahead and bought that...turns out it was compatible with Illustrator and had all the paths editable.  All I had to do was make a few adjustments to get the shapes I needed to trace.  This project is so super easy and you actually do not need fancy software or tools!!! You just need a picture and to be able to print it in reverse! Here's how I nailed P and Bubba as Mama Imelda and Miguel from Disney's Coco.

What you need:

Inspiration: Photo or drawing, can be in a digital format or hand drawn
Freezer Paper or Heat n Bond/Wonder Under or you can even use Wash-Away Hem tape
Sharp scissors
Iron and Pressing cloth

First I had to decide on the size and shape of the pieces I needed to cut out.  I printed a few different sizes and had P "try them on".

The original file had half closed eyes but we decided since she'd be moving around a lot in it we should make the eyes bigger.

Much better...

If you think this looks like a mess you should see my studio floor...

I'll be honest, I had intended to get my shapes all ready and send them to cut on my handy Cameo...I bought the deep cut blade and everything but it was a nightmare...I figured out really pretty quickly that I would be time (and materials) ahead to just cut the shapes I needed the old fashion way, by hand! I tried using a few different methods to cut and attach my felt pieces.  I have tons of freezer paper so that was really easy to trace my shapes onto once I had printed them (mirrored).

With the shapes traced I cut loosely around the paper trace and then ironed the paper onto my felt.  here's where we learn an important lesson.

Some felt can and WILL melt when you iron it! Eep! Take my word for this and just use a press cloth when working with felt!

Once I had my paper tracing ironed onto my felt I cut the shapes out along the penciled cut lines.  Then all I had to do was stack my mask pieces.  I started with the Miguel mask, which was the easiest of the ones that I had to make.  It consisted of a white back ground, black hair, eye holes, and a nose cut out.  This mask is suppose to represent Miguel when he's wearing skeleton makeup to blend in with the skeletons in the land of the dead. Here's where using Wonder Under or Heat n Bond is far superior to just freezer paper.  Freezer paper just peels off whereas the other options leave layer of heat activated glue.  This glue is so super helpful when dealing with small pieces of flexible, stretchy felt...I used Heat n Bond on all of the Imelda mask and it went together so much easier.  With the Miguel mask I saw the writing on the wall and quickly grabbed my Wash Away hem tape and tacked a few piece here and there to keep my pieces from shifting. That said, if you are not handy with a sewing machine you can use just Heat n Bond or Wonder Under and do not need to top-stitch your pieces down like I did.  That stuff will stick, fairly permanently, especially when used on felt! If you just iron on your pieces your project will go so much quicker as well.

Using same colored thread I sewed around each of the pieces about 1/8th of an inch from the edge.  After getting all the pieces on I trimmed up a few pieces here and there.  Mostly around the eyes. When I was trimming Miguel I realized it would look better to back the masks in black felt and not the originally planned white AND that if I did that I could simply cut out the nose shape from the white face and when it was backed by the black it gives it a recessed look.

Miguel's nose is a separate piece cut and top-stitched in place.

Imelda's nose is cut out of the white and backed by the black backing piece.

I waited to sew on the black backing fabric until the end but this means you have to sew around the eyes twice...which isn't a big deal but if you plan your layers out you can limit the times you have to sew around any of the items.  The other thing to keep in mind is that you need to either sew in straps/ribbon or elastic between the mask front and the backing layer.

While the Imelda has a ribbon to tie around the head to wear I didn't feel comfortable putting a long string around Bubba's head.  I also knew that part of his costume had a hood...and I remembered that a few years ago P had a My Little Pony sweatshirt with a flip down "mask" and I thought I could use the same idea here.  I know Bubba and he loves to walk around with a bucket on his head so if we have any chance of him actually wearing this costume we have to make this easy as possible for him.

First I added a strip of white grosgrain ribbon to each of the arms of a RTW (ready to wear) sweatshirt.  I had planned on making it but buying this for $12 was way easier on me considering everything else I have on my plate currently.

I loosely measured the length of ribbon I would need.

Then I used my trusty wash-away hem tape to hold it in place as I sewed it down to the shirt.

I did switch to a stretch needle so I wouldn't rip any holes in the red sweatshirt.  I want to be able to remove the Miguel component should I need to and by using the appropriate stretch needle I limit the chances of me doing any damage to the shirt.  Also, sewing down near the wrist was a pain in the BLEEP.  But it totally turned out!

To attach the mask I decided to use 4 grosgrain tabs sewn into the seam of the mask (between the front and the black backing).

Next I folded the mask in half to find it's center and lined it up with the center of the hood on the hoodie.

Because Miguel wears his hood down over his head I set back the edge of the mask to run along the top-stitching of the hood.

With everything pinned I sewed across the tabs and have a super cute and easy way to make Bubba Miguel for our upcoming celebrations.

I am telling you, this was one of the easiest projects I have done, with some of the biggest impact. It was easier to make the costumes than it was to try and photograph an almost 18 month old.  I still have my Dante mask to finish, Papa's Hector and Grandy's Aubelita, not to mention the kids' masks for the craft project we're doing during P's party.  But I am making headway and I really fell in love with working with felt as a medium.  It sewed so beautifully and was easy to trim. I think the sky is the limit with this textile, just make sure you use a press cloth and and adhesive component for your best chances at success.  I also highly recommend ironing with steam when you're all done.  You'd be amazed at the "imperfections" that can be erased by a shot of hot steam! I can't wait to think of other things to create with FELT!!

Are you making your kid's Halloween costumes this year? What's popular in your house?


  1. Your work is amazing. I am hosting a kids coco party. Would you mind sharing the coco masks layouts? Lsesanto01@gmail.com. Much appreciated.

    1. Hi, just seeing this…are you referring to the files I used to cut the masks?


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