Making a simple Duckling costume

Recently I helped a friend with planning out and making a very quick costume inspired by Mo Willems’ popular children’s book Duckling gets a cookie!?! for Halloween. It was very simple and fun costume that took less than 2 hours to execute. I want to share what we did in case you want something fun for a party or as a fun addition to storytime.

In case you’ve never seen the duckling here is an image that we used for reference:

Materials

Required

  • black thread and a sewing needle OR hot glue gun
  • fabric velcro
  • black felt
  • white felt
  • teal felt
  • sharp scissors
  • yellow hooded sweatshirt
  • orange baseball cap

Optional

  • fabric clips (holds items together without poking holes in the fabric or fingers)
  • orange sweat pants

Instructions

There are not a lot of steps involved in the construction of the costume but I’ve taken photos at intervals that made sense to me just to make it easy to compare what we did with your own progress if you choose to give this a try.

After gathering the materials we are going to take the white felt and fold it over so that it overlaps itself. Use pins or fabric clips to hold this in place. Since this is doubled over we will get both eyes from one cut, saving time and also helping to keep sizes as consistent as possible.

Draw a general eye shape that is the size you need to fit your sweatshirt. I used a red pen, and it doesn’t matter if you still have some of this line showing since it will be covered in the final product.

Here we see the cut-out eye pieces held together with fabric clips. I used the clips to keep both eyes together and also to help with cleaning up the edges. This is extra space will be slightly trimmed when we clean up edges later in the project.

Take the black felt fabric and fold it over so that it overlaps, and then place the white felt atop it. Make sure that you have at least 2 centimeters (or 3/4 inch) black felt extending past the size of the white felt.

To make this easier to cut such a large piece of fabric I used an approach that has worked well in the past: making larger straight cuts and then coming back later to refine the curved edges.

Here we see the larger black felt cut and shaped.

In the drawings the eye has a black outline, so the next step here is to cut into the black felt an oval shape that will let the white felt show through. Here you can see lots of fabric clips being used. I wanted to keep the felt from moving too much so clipped it as best I could. This helped get a consistent shape with both layers of black felt.

Here we see the outline laid atop the white felt. As you can see (or not see) any of the red pen from the edge is not seen since we are laying the black felt atop it.

Since I already had teal felt from a previous project I folded and overlapped it to make the colored part of the eye. The shape was a freeform line drawing with the same red pen from before.

This picture shows the teal fabric that was cut sitting atop the inside of the black felt we used for the black outline. The teal will also need a black outline as well so we are going to use this scrap piece to make it. As with the larger felt we want a black shape slightly larger than the teal felt.

Once we get the black felt cut so we have a good outer overlap we need to cut a hole for the teal to show through. This is not absolutely required, but I actually didn’t want a perfectly centered outline so shifted the teal slightly.

Here we see the black outline for the teal together and ready to be sewn together.

To double-check that everything is shaped and sized appropriately I placed all the pieces together. Since the shapes are ovals rotate as needed so you get the overall feeling you want for your eye.

After sewing it all together I feel that it was looking rather nice. The black thread doesn’t show in the image, and that is really the point of using black threat for it not to be obvious. Hot glue can also be used to join the felt if that is what you’re more comfortable using.

I also took a little time to shape the edges a bit more so that things were a little smoother.

The final step is to attach it to the hood. Always place an item and adjust its position before applying the fabric tape or hot glue. If you want to use the sweatshirt later and not have the eyes on it then fabric velcro is really what I would suggest since it is removable and does not harm the fabric.

Conclusion

The final product, when worn with an orange baseball cap, kind of looks the character we were emulating. When my friend wore this she got lots of compliments from other parents and children who thought it looked cool.

Hopefully this post has shown how a simple sweatshirt can be an inexpensive and fun costume. Though there are not a lot of steps involved in the construction of the costume but I’ve taken photos at intervals that made sense to me just to make it easy to compare what we did with your own progress if you choose to give this a try.

Leave a Comment