For Halloween this year, my girls wanted to be Pokemon. I let them pick which ones, and they picked Pikachu (ok that doesn’t seem too bad), and Jigglypuff (ohmigod big pink ball… how do I do that???) After some consultation with Marcus, we decided that the costume would be a big ball shape worn over a jumpsuit. The ball part of Jigglypuff would be a ball shaped hoop skirt (like a Chinese lantern) with plastic boning, so it’d be collapsible and lightweight.
I was really happy with how it came out because it was all pretty theoretical until about… 2 days before Halloween when I finally got it working. I did a lot of Googling to try to find if anyone else had done something similar, but I wasn’t able to find anything. I ended up having to try a couple different things before I got the understructure working properly.
So here’s a quick tutorial for anyone else who wants to build a giant ball structure out of fabric and boning.
I searched for sphere sewing patterns on Pinterest and chose a pattern for a 6 segment ball.
I had to figure out how much to scale this pattern up by. I knew I wanted my ball to have a diameter of 20″. I calculated the circumference of my ball: 20″ x 3.14 = 63″ (I’m rounding here) and divided that by 6 panels to get 10.5″. I added on a 5/8″ seam allowance for both sides to get 11.75″.
I manually scaled my ball pattern to be 11.75″ at the widest point. (If you have access to a photo copier or something like Photoshop, it’s a lot easier to use that for scaling.)
Then I needed to figure out how big of an opening I wanted. The Grub has a chest measurement of 19″ and I wanted to give her extra space to get in and out so I decided on an opening circumference of 24″. I took that and divided by 6 again, and added on the 5/8″ seam allowance for both sides to get 5.25″. I found the point on my pattern where it was 5.25″ wide and drew a horizontal line. This is where my ball should end. I wanted to be able to fold over the raw edge though, so I added a 5/8″ seam allowance, drew another line and that was my cut line.
So here’s my pattern piece. Sorry, it’s a bit of a mess because I just used whatever scrap paper I had laying around.
Anyways, now I have my pattern! I cut out my ball pieces in a basic cotton. On each segment, I marked the center line at the widest point and then drew horizontal lines every 1.5″ to mark the location of the hoops. You can use whatever distance you like between your hoops, just remember that if the hoops get too far apart, you won’t get as nice of a ball shape.
For the hoop wire channels, I cut 1″ segments of extra wide single fold bias tape and sewed them on to each line. I alternated white and pink so I could tell which row I was on. There was no real method to where I decided to place loops… I just put one down every 5-7 inches. (It’s easier if you sew the loops on before you sew the ball segments together.)
Then I sewed all 6 panels together.
For my hoop wire, I used a synthetic boning that Judy had laying around because I didn’t want to brave Joann right before Halloween. (Have you been in Joann right before Halloween? It’s a madhouse!) Some other boning options available at Joann are Rigiline or poly boning. I wanted something soft and light because this was for a child. If I was doing it adult sized, I’d probably use hoop steel for more stability.
I flipped my ball inside out so the channel loops were inside, and inserted boning into each row. I started from the widest point of the ball and worked my way outwards. I used duct tape to secure the hoop ends.
And here is my first pass after all the boning was in! Hey legit ball shape! WOO! I did end up going back in and expanding the hoop wires a bit more to puff out the ball, so the final version has less collapsing.
I safety pinned on some straps and had the Grub try it on for size. (Of course the Larva insisted on putting on her costume too.)
So after the understructure was completed, I used the same pattern to cut another ball out of the actual costume fabric. I sewed that up, applique-ed on a face and pulled it over the hoops.
I sewed all the layers of the ball together, and here is the Grub wearing the final costume!
Here is a demo of how comfy and collapsible the hoop skirt is…
And with Halloween over, here is Jigglypuff about to go into storage…
I can say now that I have had some sleep… That was a pretty fun project! Next time, though, I will start with the costume that I’m not sure will work and not leave it until the last minute. (HA.)
I hope someone finds this tutorial useful!