Monday, January 17, 2011

Knight Birthday Party: Make your own Tunic Costumes

When I saw this posting for making your own tunics for a knight birthday party, I just had to try it.  Her pictures are darling, and she makes them sound so easy to make!  And she used a fabric I am so familiar with... felt!

However, not being a seamstress, the "simple" directions seemed daunting to me. So much so that I put off making these until the last minute and then ran into some problems that I'll discuss here in case any of you run into the same thing....

First, I liked the dimensions recommended by the website (13x18.5" when hemmed).  I'd consider making the tunics longer for the bigger kids except that the 18" is convenient when felt is sold by the yard... :)  The width is a tidy 3/8 (13.5") of a yard, so if you want to make tunics in different colors, you can get two tunics out of a standard 3/8 yard cut from 72" bolt of felt.

I was really nervous about cutting out the neckholes.  I searched for a website that would offer a pattern for sewing wimps like me, but none found.  I eventually just had to go for it.  How bad could it be, I had 8 to mess up, right?  I didn't get it right until the last three, darn. 

What I learned.... go deep, not wide! That is, keep the shoulders wide. So for bigger heads, make the neck V deeper in front, not the whole hole.  I've put a pdf of the one that worked best for me below.  Note that the hole will be bigger when you sew it because you'll want to put a small notch at the bottom of the V and fold it over for a small hem.  The pattern worked for 5 - 8.5 year olds.

The pattern also includes a small shape for expanding the armpit area. Not that you need a pattern to do this, but it was something I added that I was happy about.  It helped the tunic lay flat against the boys bodies when they moving their arms around (constantly!). The armpit cut out laid 3.5" below the shoulder.

Knight Tunic Neckhole Pattern 0001

I wanted to avoid using the iron-on transfers recommended by the original website because those are a bit too expensive when considering what I already spent on the party... I had fabric paint, so I thought I could just paint the crosses inside an outline.  This did NOT work!  The paint didn't cover the fabric completely-- you could always see the shade of the underlying felt.  What worked best was to just cut out white felt crosses and sew them on (pattern below).  I used the zig zag stitch on my cheapo machine to make sure the edges were tucked down.  You can still see the fabric paint outline around the crosses, but no one complained. 

The width of ribbon recommended by the site worked well for me (1"), but I didn't buy enough of it.  You need a foot for each tie, so 4 feet per tunic.  With no time to run out for more, I had to scrounge around for whatever ribbon I could find to finish the last one (yellow and red)!  I sewed the ribbon on when hemming, about 4" from the bottom seams.

Luckily, my crowd was very gracious and didn't mind all the mistakes and "uniqueness" of each tunic.  One little knight brought his costume to kindergarten show and tell. One 8 year old who never wears costumes (except for trick-or-treating) can still be seen in his tunic running outside with my boys playing knights.  Aw, shucks.  This is just too much fun!

Knight Tunic Cross Template 0001


  1. Thank you for your help ... You have inspired me!

  2. Thanks for your tips... I have made the tunic costumes for my daughter's birthday party following your tutorial... the kids love it! Do checkout my post at Thanks again.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to comment! I sure love knowing that someone out there is finding this helpful! :)

  4. Dear Cheryl, thanks for sharing. I made one for my boy and posted it in my blog. I had linked your site. You can find it at Merci encore.

    1. Thank you so much for this note! Your tunic looks fabulous, and I am so happy to have been helpful!