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halloween costume: owl


Of all of the halloween costumes I have made over the years I am most proud of this one. As a matter of fact, I may wear it myself this year! Owen's obsession with Harry Potter began last year and that combined with his fascination with birds led him to want to be an owl. 


I too share a love of birds so it was a fun one to think about. I started with this sketch, and while it helped me figure out a general plan I ended up constructing it differently once I had the material in front of me. I bought a yard each of white and pale grey felt and a yard of muslin at our local craft store...their website is limited but if you call the owner can help you if you want to order supplies. I also bought some really amazing feathers in the garment district that were all sewn onto a trim. This year I found a similar white feather trim here. If you are in NYC and can go in to the store I would recommend it, but if that is not possible they will do mail order. When I talked to the sales people they said you may need to send a photo for them to match so I have included a close up of the collar I made below.



The yard of muslin became the base of the costume, and because I always end up leaving things to the last minute and am short on time I did the least possible to it. I folded the muslin, corner to corner, to form a triangle and cut a neck hole in the center, forming a very basic poncho. 


At first I had been imagining wings that spanned Owen's back and then some sort of breast plate or bib for the front.  Once I decided to cut the muslin into a poncho that made the whole thing one piece, and actually a lot simpler to make.



I made a template from a manila folder and cut feather strips from both colors of felt. Then I sewed them in alternating rows down the front and back of the poncho. In order to cover the entire muslin I needed to space out the rows considerably...this also helped prevent the costume from getting too heavy and hot. The feathers for the front and back came to a bit of a point in the center. For the wing feathers I cut the strips similarly, but eliminated the tapering shape, opting to keep them uniform length instead. (see photos above)



Once all the felt feathers were cut I divided them up to be sure that I had enough for both wings. With open spacing I managed to cover the entire muslin, placing the wing feathers perpendicular to the chest feathers (photo above left). The opening for the head was not beautiful using this technique but luckily I had found that feather trim and had not used it yet. I sewed  a piece of felt over the poky ends and added ribbon so we could tie the collar on like a necklace. It covered the top opening beautifully and added a lot of drama to the costume.


You can see in the photo (above right) that the muslin points extend beyond the wing feathers. I cut a slit in the fabric just under the feathers for Owen to poke his hands through--this helped keep the wings centered over his arms. I also sewed seams down the front on either side of the chest feathers from the bottom up, leaving a generous amount of room at the top so it would fit around the armpits. This helped keep the poncho from rotating around his body. Just be sure there is plenty of room in the costume to get in and out easily. 


For the face mask I just bought a plain white mask and Owen and I glued feathers and a felt beak to it. Worn over his eyes, or on top of his head, it added the perfect finish.

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Reader Comments (9)

That is breath-taking

October 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

Love this!

October 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

Awesome Amy.. I wish more kids wore homemade costumes! I think it makes Halloween so much more exciting for the kids when they are involved in the process.

October 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrooke Reynolds

Thank you for sharing this. I am going to make an owl costume for my daughter this year. What wonderful ideas!

October 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnn


Love the idea! I'm going to make this for my younger sister this year. I was wondering how much felt you used and how exactly you made the neck piece?

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJules D

Hi Jules,
I used about a yard each of white and pale grey felt. The neck piece was made from a feathers which I bought by the yard. They come already sewn together so I just cut a piece long enough to wrap around my son's neck. The ends were kind of pokey though so I cut a rectangular strip of felt that was the same length and folded it over the pokey ends - I attached the felt with a glue gun. and added in a ribbon at the ends so it could be tied on. I hope that explains it for you.

October 11, 2012 | Registered Commentereclecticmom.com

I just love this for my 9yr old... Wonderful Idea! I've never done anything, but I'm going to try & do this for my son... So he can use it at his school character dress day on the 31st...
For the feathers front/back you have 5 rows am i right? 7 feathers per row?
& wings is it 3 rows? How many feathers?


October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenteriLs@

Hi Ilsa,
Good question--I had to dig out the costume in order to answer it! You are right about the front (and back) having 4 rows with 5 feathers per row. The sides are done in a tapering pattern. It looks like I used the full width of felt to begin with. The top row across the shoulder has about 22 feathers, the second row has 15, and the third row has 12. I left the muslin unhemmed and so it added to the feathery feel, and since I was using pale grey and white the muslin blended well so any bare parts were ok.
I hope that helps! One last thing, depending on your sons size, the muslin poncho may be too large - ours fit my very tall 9 year old and would fit a small adult. You can always cut down the poncho first, and then adjust the amount of feathers you need to cover it. Amy

October 15, 2012 | Registered Commentereclecticmom.com

Hi Amy,
Thanks for taking the time to reply, I will keep all info in my while working on this.. Again thank you. I will try to send you a pix of the results but where do I send this too?
Again, thanks!


October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenteriLs@

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