Last weekend I went to Fanime Con 2015 as April O’Neil from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Check out the earlier post here for more fun pictures like those above with cosplayer David Volko as Shredder. In this post I’m going to talk about the construction of the costume since it was one of the more complicated — and fun! — sewing projects that I’ve ever done.
I wasn’t going to be designing this costume from scratch so I searched for a jumpsuit pattern that would be a good starting point. I came upon Simplicity 7310, a vintage 70’s pattern that I got used from a seller on Etsy.
I went by the measurements on the package and hoped for the best since patterns from back then only came in one size and not multi-sized like they do now. Fortunately, they also seem to be more true to size back then. Also, the pattern was missing two pieces. One I didn’t need and the other was a facing that I was able to redraft from the back piece.
Before I officially agreed to do this cosplay, I wanted to make sure it was feasible by making a muslin of the pattern. I stitched up the body part (because I could always shorten the legs) and tested out making the back a separate piece since I’d need to split it out to do the yoke. You can see where I made the seam line markings on the muslin. It fit pretty well so the next step was ordering fabric.
I placed an order for enough fabric in several different shades and weights from fabric.com. Well, when I finally got the shipping notice (several days later) there was no way it was going to arrive in time for me to work on the costume during the main weekend I had available for sewing it. So my friends and I took a trip to one of those fabric warehouses where I found this polyester fabric that I ultimately made it in.
I was a little worried because the fabrics I had ordered all had stretch in them and this one did not. It turned out fine and I think sewing the stretch fabric actually might have driven me up the wall. This polyester fabric turned out to be super easy to sew and pressed beautifully which really contributed to the enjoyment of the making process. And since I had sized the pattern correctly, the resulting costume had plenty of give. Plus I think this polyester is more true to fact of what such a jumpsuit would actually be made of.
Alright, let’s get to some sewing! I’m only highlighting the interesting parts and where I deviated from the pattern itself which I mostly followed.
The biggest deviation was adding a yoke to the back. I had already split the back into two pieces — a top half and bottom half — when I made the muslin. Now I needed to split the top half into a yoke and bottom. I traced out the shape I wanted and redrafted my back pattern. Then I redrafted the top half of that to give me the sides and the pleat you see above.
First I pressed the pleat sides in and top stitched along those pressed edges.
Then I stitched the pleat to either side of the top half of the back.
Here’s the back laid out. I stay stitched the curved edge and clipped it so that I could sew it together nicely. This also held down the pleat.
Lots of pins to get the stay stitch seams to line up.
And the curved seam after pressing. It wasn’t laying quite as flat as I’d like so I added some top stitching.
After topstitching. You can see the seam allowances through the fabric. I know. If I had more time or if I had sewn this before, I would have serged them, but I wanted to keep them in case I had to rip any seams out and had to make it smaller or larger.
Some top stitching close up.
And here’s the whole back piece. Now we’re back to the normal instructions since this is the shape of the original back piece.
Front Patch Pockets
The next item of interest is the front chest patch pockets. All the pockets on this costume are real functioning pockets — several of which I used on the day of. For these I did actually tack them down because the flaps were, well, flapping. If I had had more time I would have added velcro to them.
I used the existing patch pocket pattern piece from the original pattern.
But as you can see the flap was too big for April’s look.
This was my first attempt as shrinking the flap. It did not work out so well. Too rounded although the width was a win.
So I drafted a new flap using my desired width and giving it a slight curl.
And finally, placement. I actually sewed one on first and then tried it on. Bad idea. I had to rip the whole thing off because it was way low. So on round two, I put the jumpsuit on and then pinned them to me in approximately the right spots and then evened them out. Then I stitched around them twice since the cartoon has extra thick lines there.
Side Cargo Pockets
Not on the original pattern were cargo pockets on the side. I looked at a number of tutorials online about how to sew cargo pockets and this was what I came up with.
I sewed the corners. Then I top stitched the edges. Then I top stitched to sew it down for the final pockets.
One thing which April’s jumpsuit has is way more seams than this one. Actually, correction: it just has seams in different places. The front ones are the most noticeable ones and they had to be there. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to redraft the legs which is the Right (TM) way to do that. Instead I fudged it a little. I added faux seams on the front and back of the legs and highlighted them with top stitching and then left the side seams on the legs un-top stitched to draw attention away from them.
I made the faux seams by doing a little pin tuck to the inside.
Then I pressed it to the side (all faux seams were pressed towards the center) and top stitched along that tiny seam allowance. Pretty happy with how it turned out.
And now for a couple of extra details that I only have a picture here and there.
First was the knee patches. This one took two iterations as well as the first try was too skinny. But we got it on the second try. Se above for the finished look.
The next were were April’s weirdly triangular hip pockets. For these I started with the original pockets from the pattern and then traced out the bottom curve. I also had to bring the top to a point instead of squaring it off. I top stitched the bottom edges to the pants, so again they were small, but functional pockets. I lined up the long edge top stitching with the leg seam so it seemed continuous since they if I had redrafted this, they would have been in that seam. Probably.
Finally, as you can see in the reference pictures from the last post, April seems to have some D-rings on the side. No idea what she ever uses those for, but there you go. Added those, too.
Finally, a couple of close up shots of the cuff. Nothing really special here. For this I followed the directions of the original pattern. I didn’t add the button because I was going to be rolling them up. But I did do a faux french seam on the inner arm seam since that was going to be visible when I rolled it up and this fabric was fraying like crazy.
What I didn’t do
There are a couple of details to April’s costume that I would have liked to do but ultimately decided were unnecessary. Namely, the redrafting of the legs and her back zipper pocket. But given that the zipper pocket only appears in some episodes (not sure if it’s the early or late ones), I decided to take artistic liberties.
April can be spunky when she wants to.