Category Archives: General

Current Project

Sorry for the lack of posts, I’m busy busy busy with costumes for Into the Woods.

After the Grinch, I made a Senatorial Roman Toga and a custom table costume (aka table cloth) all before Christmas. Immediately after Christmas, I started Into the Woods.

I have many pictures and will upload some soon.

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Posted by on February 9, 2014 in General


Napkin Rings

Relatively easy instructions for working with decorative rope to make napkin rings.

Materials needed:
54″ of rope (for 8, calculate 6.5″ of rope per ring and add a couple of inches)
8 medallions, beads or buttons (one per ring)
Hot glue gun
Heavy thread

When no finishing is added to the end of the rope it unravels quickly.

Typically when a length of rope is cut in the store, tape is applied to the cutting line and then it is cut through the middle of the tape, leaving both ends bound in tape.

For this project, a quick stitch binding is applied to the rope so it doesn’t fray. For best results, use a heavy top stitch or upholstery thread. Thread needle and knot end. Insert the needle through the center of the rope (as shown).

Bring thread over the top of the rope and go through the center of the rope again. Bring thread under rope this time and go through center. Next, wrap thread around rope three time pulling it tight. Make sure loops stay on top of existing stitches. Bring thread through center of rope one more time and tie off.

For the napkin rings, 6.5″ sections off rope are used. Finish end as described. Measure length needed and apply wrapped finish just before the cut line. Apply second wrapped finish just after cut line.

Cut rope between finished sections.

Glue ends together.

Put glue on the back of medallion or button and press joined portion of the rope to the back.

When glue cools, check to make sure medallion is secure.

That’s it, repeat for each ring.


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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in General


Lily Munster Costumes

I love it when my clients send me pictures of their costume in action. These are the two Lily Munster costumes I made this year.

This is my client with Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster) in the costume I made for her.

This is my client with Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster) in the costume I made for her.


Lily Munster Costume by Cotton Costumes.

Lily Munster Costume by Cotton Costumes.


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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in General


How the Grinch Stole the Sewing Room

I’m in the middle of a full body Grinch costume. I was a little leery about working with 3″ long faux fur, but find that I like it a lot better than shorter piles, and it sheds less (I think).

To cut fur, the best practice is to cut each piece separately (as opposed to cutting right and left side with the fabric right sides together), with a razor, on the wrong side of the fur. Make sure to cut each piece right side up and up side down. To make this easier, I quickly trace the pattern onto the fur with a permanent marker. (Make sure it doesn’t bleed through to the right side!) Also, when cutting with the razor, just cut deep enough to cut the fur backing and not the fur.

To get it ready to sew, instead of following the pattern directions to clip the fur short in the seam allowances, I combed the fur back from the seam allowances. That produced two benefits, I didn’t have to “pick” the fur along the seam lines to disguise the seams and the fur isn’t shedding inside the costume along the seams. It basically finishes my seams for me because it won’t shed inside, the fur is pulled to the outside.

I have a quick fitting before I insert the zipper and finish the body. I also have to do shoe covers, gloves, collar and hood.

This costume will be one that I offer in my Etsy store in 2014.

Grinch Fur with 3" pile.

Grinch Fur with 3″ pile.

Marking the Pattern

Marking the Pattern

Cutting the Fur

Cutting the Fur

Preparing Edges for Sewing

Preparing Edges for Sewing

Body of Grinch Costume

Body of Grinch Costume


Posted by on November 6, 2013 in General


CPSIA and Small Businesses

Many small business are following the developments of CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act), the rules for safe children’s products that were developed after the lead scare a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the way the rules read makes it harder (if not impossible) for small businesses to comply.

Generally, anyone who makes a children’s product for use by a child 12 and under, must comply with the rules of CPSIA. This includes toys, clothes, jewelry and furniture. (for a complete list please visit

For the convenience of readers, also linked are the guidelines for small businesses.

There are exemptions, or materials that may be used without necessitating testing for lead. These include:

  • Wood
  • Other natural materials such as coral, amber, feathers, fur, leather, etc.
  • Paper and other materials made from wood or cellulosic fiber
  • Dyed or undyed textiles (cotton, wool, hemp, nylon, yarn, etc.), including children’s fabric products, such as baby blankets, and non-metallic thread and trim.
  • Precious gemstones: diamond, ruby, sapphire or emeralds
  • Semiprecious stones provided that the mineral or material is not based on lead and is not associated with any mineral based on lead
  • Natural or cultured pearls

The complete list is found in Table B of the CPSIA small business guidelines page.

In related news, Mattel, the company that was a large part of the CPSIA frenzy is exempt from the MANDATED third party testing of their products.  They are permitted to test their products in house.  In theory it was Mattel’s own labs that missed the lead content of their toys before the recalls, so it seems strange that the CPSIA would allow them to continue to test in house or even approve the exemption.  There is no publically available information about this agreement on the CPSIA or CPSC websites.

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Posted by on April 27, 2010 in General


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Patterns Available

The patterns shown below are available for purchase (through Etsy). All paterns are like new, in original factory folds and pattern jackets show little wear. 

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Posted by on February 15, 2010 in General, Uncategorized


Handy Uses for Fabric Scraps and a Hand Crafted Holiday

The holidays are approaching. Below are several ideas to use up fabric scraps and create a hand crafted holiday.

  1. Stuffing/Batting: Use to stuff gifts like pillows or pincushions.  Never use left over scraps to stuff toys or other items that could make it into a child’s mouth.
  2. Quilting: create a quilt block from scraps of a certain project to remember the project. For instance, creating a Seuss inspired quilt block from scraps of costumes from the show Seussical. Or use scraps to make quilted holiday items, like stockings.
  3. Testing: Check to see if there are any oil drips after oiling the machine. Use to check thread tension or test new sewing and stitch techniques.
  4. Doll’s Clothes: Create miniatures of projects instead of a quilt block, or make clothes for a special young lady’s favorite doll.
  5. Personalized Greeting Cards: Use snippets of material to create a unique card and use a sewing machine to sew the material to the card using a long stitch.
  6. Donation: Quilters are always looking for material to support their habit. Schools, daycares and churches may be interested in scraps to use for crafts.
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Posted by on November 13, 2009 in General


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Seussical the Musical Costumes

I costume designed this show in May 2009.

On Monday look for an article about designing Gertrude McFuzz’s tail.

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Posted by on October 16, 2009 in Fantasy Costumes, General, Seussical Costumes, Theatre Costumes


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Wanted: Supplies and Resources

Cotton Costumes, Ltd. is a small business that specializes in custom sewing and alterations.

Services offered include basic costume and pattern construction, alterations, costume consulting services, and complete costume design services.

Cotton Costumes is seeking vendors and suppliers for materials, textiles, trims, fabrics, notions, equipment, garment blanks, and related items.

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Posted by on October 1, 2009 in General


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Fair Trade

The alternative to purchasing cheap foreign goods that are produced by forced labor or child labor is purchasing fairtrade goods. Fair trade seeks to alleviate poverty rather than exploit it.

“Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries and promote sustainability.” Wikipedia

The Fair Trade Federation further defines Fair Trade as “building equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and creating opportunities to alleviate poverty.”

There are certifying agencies that verify whether goods are produces in a manner consistent with Fair Trade.  “Fairtrade certification is a product certification system designed to allow people to identify products that meet agreed environmental, labour and developmental standards.” Wikipedia.


Fair Trade Federation


Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International

It is not enough to condemn those who use forced labor or child labor to produce cheap goods, action must be taken. Do not knowingly buy goods produced unethically, but find goods produced in a manner that does not exploit people. Change starts with you.

*This post is not an endorsement of the organizations listed as resources. Cotton Costumes, Ltd., this blog, or the author have no knowledge of the organizations other than the information listed above and the content of their websites. Please use these resources at your discretion.

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Posted by on September 29, 2009 in General


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