This year is my wee babe's first Halloween! I'm a huge nerd and love fabricating props and creatures. After working in the film industry for a spell, I have left the life of on-set action to be a full time mom of the most epic little dude! Of course, being an art school geek, I had a long list of potential Halloween get ups and could not for the life of me narrow it down. My son is 11 months and I figured it would be tricky to get him to wear anything for more than 5 seconds (which proved to be very true), but my husband mentioned that it would be awesome if our little guy was a viking- and I knew it had to be so. Our babe was born with a congenital heart disorder and battled through his recovery like a true warrior. Since he isn't quite old enough to let us know what he wants to be, we thought it was perfect to show the world that he is a total bad ass viking warrior baby!
I hope you have fun creating your own versions of epic viking garb for Halloween, cosplay, ren-fairs, or just to wear on Wednesdays for no good reason! These pages are a guide to getting you going in the right direction, but the most fun is adding your own creative input with design details, cool trim, interesting fabrics and neat embellishments. Happy crafting!!!
Step 1: Materials
Brown Leather (or color of your choice)
Brown Thread (or coordinating color)
Brown leather cording (or coordinating cording)
Linen (or fabric of your choice) I used about a yard
Thread to match fabric
Elastic or a cord for drawstring
Linen (or fabric of your choice) I used about a yard
Thread to match fabric
Buttons of your choice
Leather or cord to make button loop
Faux Fur (how much depends on what size you'd like)
Button (or you could fasten with a broach)
Leather scrap (you could really use any fabric for this)
Black Vinyl (pleather material) I used about 1/2 yard for toddler size
Silver Acrylic Craft Paint
Horns (I used real horns from a nifty taxidermy store, but you can fabricate some out of any material that suits your budget, time, and aesthetic)
Plumber's Epoxy Putty
(2) 3/4" Lath Screws (or Pan Head screws, you could even improvise and use a screw with a washer, or make a washer out of a scrap of vinyl or cardboard) **If you are using larger horns, you may want to adjust the size of your screws
Needle (for hand sewing)
Rotary blade (not totally necessary, but I really love using one on fabric)
Ruler (I use a long metal one as well as quilting rulers)
Lint Roller (faux fur gets really messy)
Cardboard Scrap (for squirting paint on- not totally necessary)
Paper large enough to make your own patterns
Hot glue gun
Step 2: Leather Shoes
Step 1-Make patterns:
Each shoe has three parts- sole, front and back.
I patterned the sole of the shoe after my toddler's sneaker. The result was a shoe that is pretty big (which I wanted for a growing toddler). If you want a shoe that is snug, then I suggest tracing the foot of the wearer instead of an existing shoe. Add a 1/4" for seam allowance.
The toe part is made to be slightly larger than the toe of your sole, so that when you sew it, it has a nice shoe shape. I made sort of a horseshoey design that I thought was cool, feel free to get weird and make a cool design of your own!
Since I used leather scraps that I had laying around, I waited until I pinned the front of the shoe to the sole to get the measurement for the back of the shoe. I didn't use a pattern, just make sure that the pieces is at least as wide as the back part of your shoe with 1/2" overage (for seam allowance) and the height is at least above the wearer's ankle.
Step 2- Cut your leather:
Pretty self explanatory. Don't forget to flip the patterns though, so you end up with a left shoe and a right shoe.
Step 3- Pinning the front to the sole:
First find the center of the front piece and pin right sides together to the center of the top of the sole. Pin around the front matching up the edges. Pinning thick leather is a bit difficult, so be patient, careful and I found that if a pin bent, I would toss it because it wouldn't go through the leather at that point.
Step 4- Making the back of the shoe:
Measure the back part of your shoe starting about a 1/4" in from the "end" of the front piece. Give another 1/4" for some overlap when you flip the shoe right side out after sewing. This measurement is the width of the back of your shoe. The height is whatever you like, I suggest a bit above the wearer's ankle. Find the center of this back piece and pin it right sides together to the center of the bottom of the sole piece.
Step 5- Sewing the shoe:
Take a deep breath. Make sure your machine has a heavy duty needle (**Disclaimer!! I broke two needles so I suggest getting a pack of them). Go S L O W!!! When sewing the leather I ended up hand cranking my machine most of the time. You can absolutely hand sew these if that works better for you. Please use caution when machine sewing leather! Pick a side to start on and sew with a 1/4" seam allowance around the toe part. Back stitch at the beginning and end. Then sew around the back of the shoe, back stitch at beginning and end again. Now for the best part- flip your shoe inside out!!
Step 6- Finishing touches:
About midway up the side of the shoe, hand stitch two small X's. I cross stitched each X twice to give it a chunky look and make it more durable. Instead of a thimble, I ended up pressing the back of my needle into the mat I have on the table I work at to get through the thick leather. Once you have two (or more if you are making larger shoes) cross stitches, it's time to add the laces. Using sharp scissors or a awl if you have it, make a hole in the tab part of the front of the shoe. I also cut two small slits in the back of the shoe to thread the laces through since I had planned to wrap the cording around a few times to ensure they stay on little feet! Lace 'em up and try 'em out!!
Step 3: Pants
Step 1- Wash/Dry/Iron your fabric
Not totally necessary for a one time wear, but if you would like your outfit to last through a few washes, you should pre-shrink your fabric. Especially with linen. Then give a good iron and you are ready to go!
Step 2- Make Patterns
To make the viking pants, I found a few really great sources that had patterns for traditional viking style pants and modified them to fit my little guy. I also used a pair of his pants to base the measurements off of because it is impossible to get him to sit still. You'll need measurements for the seam along the outside of the leg, waist measurement, pant leg opening, inseam, crotch to waist in the front, and crotch to waist in the seat. The patterns consist of four pieces, but you will need to cut two legs, so you end up with five total pieces to sew. These pants are meant to be pretty paunchy and you can adjust how large you want the waist to be. The seat and crotch pieces when added together lengthwise should equal the measurement you took from waist to crotch to seat. The waist measurement should roughly equal the top of the leg pattern pieces added to the width of the seat and crotch pieces. Add 1/4" seam allowance on your pieces and add an extra 2 1/2" to your waist height so you can fold down a hem and add elastic (or a drawstring).
When cutting the fabric for the leg piece, place the fold of the fabric along the inseam (from the crotch part downward). This gives you a front and back to your pant leg and when you sew the outer seam you get a nice leggy tube shape to sew into the crotch section.
Step 3- Sew it!
Once your pieces are cut, its time to sew! All stitching has 1/4" seam allowance. Start with the crotch section (there are three pieces for this). Using the reference image as a guide, sew Crotch 1 to Crotch 2 along the A's. Press your seam. Then sew Crotch 2 to Crotch 3 along the B's. Press your seam. Next, sew the outer seam of the pant leg. For a decorative finish, I left about 3" at the bottom to give a little slit that I hemmed at the end. Press your seams. Now you have a crotch/seat piece and two legs. Next part gets a bit tricky, but you can do it! With right sides together line up the "waist" section of the crotch/seat piece and one of the legs. Pin all along the side and make sure that when you get around the front, that your crotch 3 piece is at least as tall as the waist part of the leg piece. I started with the wider panel (the butt part) and ended with the skinny panel (the crotch). Sew that together. Do the same with the other leg. Make sure your pant legs line up nicely. Press your seams.
For the waist, fold down about 1/4" and give it a press. Then fold down another 2" and press and pin. This forms the channel for your elastic. **Note: I used 1" elastic so 2" and some wiggle room worked great for me, if you want to use cording or another size of elastic- adjust accordingly. Sew that once you have it pinned. Leave about an inch between where you start your seam and where you stop so you can thread your elastic through. Attach a safety pin to the elastic and use that to thread your elastic. Once it's in, remove the pin from the elastic and overlap the ends about 1/4" then give it a little stitch to hold it in place. You can close the gap in your waist seam once you are happy with the elastic placement. Flip those puppies right side out and you are ready to hem the bottoms.
At this point, I folded the vent in the leg opening to give a little decorative flair and hemmed the bottom of the pants.
Voila!! Now you have some battle worthy viking paunchy pants!!
Step 4: Tunic
Step 1- Wash and iron your fabric
Step 2- Make patterns
Again, I used an existing garment to get measurements from. Take torso height, waist, arm and neck opening measurements. There are three pattern pieces, one torso, one arm and one gore. The torso is basically just a rectangle with a hole cut in it for the neck and a vertical slit so your head fits through. The arm has sort of a taper to it so you don't have to sew a separate gusset for the arm pit, and the gore adds that medieval flair, literally.
Step 3- Cut fabric
You will cut the torso piece with the neckline at the fold of your fabric so you end up with a front and back that are already connected. Then cut your neck hole. After finishing, I discovered that the neck I made was a bit big for my little boy, so next time I think I would have made this out of muslin or other cheap fabric to size it- but hopefully he can wear it next year too. Cut two arms, again, line up the top of the arm with the fold in your fabric so you have a front and back. Same goes for the gores- make two and line up the straight part of your pattern with the fold of your fabric.
Step 4- Sew it!
Start by pinning the arm to the torso- with right sides together line up the center of the arm with the fold line of the torso. Sew it with 1/4" seam allowance. I suggest sewing a straight stitch to lock it down and since the linen likes to fray, give it a zig-zag stitch along the edge to keep the ends neat. Repeat on the other side.
Next, tackle the decoration around the neck. The trim I found had a cool pattern that I wanted to have match up, so I placed two lengths of the ribbon with the motif lined up along the vertical cut in the front. Give the bottom of the vertical cut a little slit that runs perpendicular to it. I cut a third piece of the ribbon a bit longer than needed to cover the bottoms of the two vertical sections. Fold the shirt fabric under where the edge of the ribbon is so you have a nice finished look. I gave it about 1/4". Then cut the bottom part of each ribbon at a 45 degree angle so you don't have too much bulk when you sew the final piece of ribbon over it. Take your third trim section and line up the center with the slit. Fold under the ends at a 45 degree angle. You are sort of making a little pocket for the vertical ribbon ends. Pin in place. Once you have the trim pinned where you like it, it's time to work on the neck. Cut tiny slits in the circular part of the neck so you can fold under and press. You guessed it, I gave it about 1/4". Give the neck and folded part of your trim a nice press and it's time to sew. I suggest sewing both left and right sides of your trim and the perimeter of the bottom triangle bit. Sew all the way around the neck, giving it a nice 1/4" seam.
Depending on how many and what kind of closures you have, find a placement for them that you like. I used two buttons and leather loops to fasten the shirt closed. I eyeballed where the buttons needed to go (there is a nice spot in the pattern that they worked great on). Then pin the leather loops on the opposite side of the slit. Use a fabric scrap as a backing and run the ribbon-leather-fabric-scrap "sandwich" through your sewing machine to secure it. I sewed it again about an inch up from the end of the leather, just to make sure it was secure. Then hand stitch the button in place.
With the left over ribbon, I wanted to give the sleeves some nice embellishments. Fold the edge of the fabric from the arm opening in about 1/4" and stitch. Again, a zig-zag stitch is helpful to keep the edge from fraying. Pin the trim where you like and stitch along both sides to lock it in place.
Now, with right sides together, you are going to lay the shirt flat, lining up the edges of the sleeves and torso. Place the two gores on either side of the torso. Line up the flat part of the gore triangle with the bottom of your shirt. Pin the right side of the triangle to the back of the the shirt and the left side of the triangle to the front of the shirt. Once everything is pinned and even, you can sew from the arm, around the armpit and down the first section of the gore. Sew the second gore side to the shirt. Again, zig-zag stitch and 1/4" seam allowance works great. Repeat on the other side.
Last but not least, finish the shirt with a 1/4" hem along the bottom.
Step 5: Cloak
Step 1- Pick a direction
The cloak is pretty darn simple. First, make sure that you figure out what direction the fur is going and draw your pattern according to how you want the fur to lay. I made the "top" or shoulder part of my cloak at the top of the fabric with the fur laying downward.
Step 2- Draw your shape
I wanted the cloak to look like an animal fur, so I sort of gave it legs and arms and a nub where a tail would be. You can see I drew a couple of versions before I settled on what I liked.
Step 3- Cut it out
When cutting faux fur, it's best to use a blade of some sort instead of scissors so you don't cut the fur that runs off the backing. This makes sure you have a more natural look to your faux fur instead of a choppy piece that looks like a bad haircut.
Step 4- Make a clasp
There are a lot of options for a closure here, you can make it very simple and use a brooch, or a little more involved and sew some fabric or leather to the piece. For the fabric or leather scrap option, you will need two pieces, a button of sorts and cording to make a loop. Sew each section to opposite sides of the "arms" part of the faux fur. Next, place the button and hand sew it in place. For the loop, measure how much cording you need to loop around the button and give yourself about an inch for a tail. You will knot this part. Then, cut a little slit in the fabric where you want to attach the loop and have the knot part under the leather and the loop sticking out. Run this through your machine a couple times to secure.
Wear your sweet faux fur cape with pride! I chose not to line it because I don't mind the pattern of the backing and didn't want to spend time on a lining, but if you want a nice finished look, you could definitely line the faux fur with a coordinating fabric.
Step 6: Helmet
**Disclaimer** Real vikings apparently did not actually wear helmets, and they most likely didn't have the iconic horns if they did happen to have one. Despite this fact, helmets are pretty cool, and Conan the Barbarian's is top ten material, so this piece is modeled after Conan's amazing helmet. Press on!
Step 1- Make your patterns
Again, I used a hat that we had as a guide for sizing the helmet. I just added 1/2" for seam allowance overall. The fabric part of your helmet is made up of four "slices" that are the cap part, two flaps on the side of the face, and a back piece.
Step 2- Cut your fabric
Cut four of the "slice" pieces. Cut four of the flaps- two facing one way and two the other so you have a left and right face flap that have "right" sides facing out. Cut a base for the back piece and how ever many scalloped pieces it takes to cover the back section. For the small hat, I used four.
Step 3- Sew it
First put wrong sides of the face flaps together and top stitch. This part shows, so take your time and try to make your stitching even. Set those aside.
Next make the back piece. Starting with one of your scalloped pieces, place that so the bottom of the scallops touch the bottom of the base. Stitch it on. With the next piece, be sure to window the scallops so you get a cool design when you get a few layers going. Sew on each layer until you get to the top. Trim any excess so you get that rounded edge to the base shape. Set aside.
Now for the hat part. Get two of your slices and sew right sides together just one side. Do the same to the other pair. 1/4" seam allowance. Next, open your slices and sew one couple to the next. Open the last side and sew those two edges together. You should end up with a cone shaped structure. Make sure the top and bottoms are well secured because you will pull on it a bit and put stress on it. I back stitched to reinforce the bottoms of each seam.
Flip it and test fit!
If the size works for you, then flip it inside out again and notch the sides so that the shape rounds out a bit when you turn it.
Step 4- Make decorative strips
To give the helmet more definition, you are going to make two decorative strips. Measure the hat from bottom to top to bottom and add a bit to that measurement. Now cut two strips that are as long as your measurement and about an inch wide. Pin in place. Next, decide how many studs (the plastic doll eyes) you want to use. I went with two per side. Measure each quarter of your helmet strip and space the doll eyes evenly. Use pins to mark where they should go. Using super sharp scissors, cut a small hole through the strip and through the seam in the hat as well. Fit the stem of the plastic doll eye through the hole and fasten with the plastic washer that comes with the eyes. Repeat for all of your studs. When they are all attached, secure the end of the fabric strip with a little stitch.
Step 5- Paint it
Now the fun begins!! To achieve a really cool hammered iron look you will use some really watered down metallic paint and isopropyl alcohol. With the alcohol, the higher the percentage, the more potent, but around 70% is totally fine. Fill up your spray bottle with the alcohol. First dip your paint brush in some water and then get a tiny bit of silver paint on it. Give the entire helmet a very light coat of watery paint. Next, spritz the helmet with the alcohol. The water reacts to the alcohol and separates from the vinyl fabric, making a pattern of spots. If you don't like what the paint and alcohol are looking like, you can always wipe it off with a paper towel and start again. The alcohol is a thinner, so spray more on if the paint isn't totally coming off with water. You can add other colors if you like to get a weathered look too. Play around with this step and have fun! If you don't feel totally comfortable jumping into paint, test some fabric scraps first to master the technique you like. Let the paint totally dry before moving on.
Step 6- Attach the back, flaps and fur
Find the center of your back piece and pin it to the center of the back of the helmet. Stitch that on. Next place the face flaps where you like them and stitch those on. For the faux fur that lines the helmet, cut a strip of fur that is about two inches wide and a couple inches longer than the circumference of your hat. Starting at the center of the back, pin the fur, fuzzy side down to the helmet, about an inch from the bottom. Stitch that in place. Now you can fold it over so it looks like a band of fur wrapping around the hat. Trim the excess and secure with some hot glue.
Step 7- Horns!
Find where you want to mount the horns to the helmet and cut a small hole. I put my horns in between two studs, so I simply found the midpoint and put my hole there. Push one of the pan head screws through the hole. Repeat on other side. Get out your plumber's putty and put on some gloves. I used half a tube per horn. Mix up 1/2 of the tube of putty and make it into a ballish shape. Squish that onto the screw. Now push your horn onto the ball. The important thing to getting this attachment method to work is making sure the putty is touching as much of the inside of your horn as possible. If you can get a bit to squish out of the bottom so the base of the horn has something to bite on to as well then that is great! Depending on the working time and setting time of your putty determines how long to wait before adding the last bit. My epoxy work time was 3 minutes and 60 minutes to cure. One of my horns also didn't seat completely into the helmet, so after the putty cured, I used a screwdriver and very slowly turned the screw further into the hardened epoxy.
Step 8- Finishing touches
While the epoxy is curing is a good time to make the lining of the helmet. Since there are the stems from the doll eyes poking through the vinyl, faux fur is a good choice to line the helmet with. If your stems still poke through, you could add a bit of foam to pad them, too. To line the hat, first cut four of the same "slice" pieces out of your faux fur. Sew two together along one side with the fur sides touching. Repeat on the next two. Then open a pair and sew one to the other pair. Close the structure. It's the same process as the outer part of the helmet, only you don't end up flipping it. Once the horns have set and it's safe to move the helmet, test fit your lining in the inside of the helmet. If you are happy with it, then you can use hot glue to attach the lining. You can also cut two lengths of faux fur to hot glue around the horns. When you glue, try to get the fur glued to the fabric part of the hat as well as the horn so you have an added connection point to help keep the horns in place.
Congratulations!!! You are now battle ready!!!
Runner Up in the
Hats and Headpieces Challenge