(Left) person in a bat mask and dress spreads her wings outside. (Right) person in a robin mask and black cape spreads his wings outside.
Seated woman with purple face paint poking out of a large, paper bat mask pets a cat on a table.
Woman in bat mask with two eyes that shows her face poking out of the mouth hole.
Unpainted bat mask on a mannequin.

A Look at my Bat Costume and How I Made It

January 11, 2022

I was looking through photos from 2021 and my bat costume is one of my favorite things I made. It was made with paper, scrap fabric, and a pattern from Wintercroft (for the mask; I made up my own pattern for the bat wing dress.) My partner and I decided that we wanted to be 'bat and robin' (a less commercialized couple's costume) for Halloween, but I had started the mask much earlier in the year in hopes of sporting it at an Iowa City Joy March.

A Brief Tutorial of the Bat Wing Dress

I thought someone out there might find it helpful for me to explain how I made the bat wing dress. The dress is made out of brown fleece that I had leftover from being a flying monkey in a school play of The Wizard of Oz in 6th grade. I guess one of the benefits of having a hoarder parent is that sometimes you can finally make use of a leftover art supply 18 years later. It's very warm, which is perfect for fall. I created a scarf with a rectangle of scrap to close the gap between the neckhole of the dress and the paper mask.

For the main dress pattern, I traced a pattern from an oversized t-shirt and made it a bit longer to reach knee length. I then used the same method you would use to make a circle skirt for each sleeve, with the "waist" measurement being the armhole circumference and my arm length as the "skirt" length. Basically, these are the steps to make the sleeves:

  1. Fold your fabric in half. Fold it in half again.
  2. Measure your sleeve hole. Calculate the diameter and use a compass to create circle from the folded corner of the fabric. The pokey side of the compass goes in the folded corner and the pencil does the tracing. If you did this step right, it looks like a pie slice shape. When you cut the piece out and unfold it, the cut out piece is a circle.
  3. Measure your arm length and use this measurement as the diameter for the outer circle of the sleeve. You can use a long ruler and make marks all the way around since nobody has a compass big enough for this part.
  4. You should now have a circle skirt, but sized for your arm. If this explanation was totally unhelpful, Google "circle skirt tutorial" and somebody out there probably can provide a better explanation than I did.

Then, I cut scallops along the outer sleeve hole to resemble the bat wing shape. I sewed along the edge of the bottom few scallops, leaving a hole for my hand to poke through. This step is probably not necessary, but does hold the front and back of the scallops together, which makes it easier to see the shape of the bat wing.

This is what the final bat wing looks like. You could probably also sew lines from the tip of the wing to the inner armhole, but I decided not to so that my arm can move anywhere in the sleeve and it acts like a cozy arm blanket.

A Quick Note on the Mask

Like I said, the original mask is made out of poster paper using the Wintercroft pattern. These masks are typically made with colored poster paper to achieve the final effect. I instead used all white poster paper and papier-mâché'd over it. Then, I painted it with acrylic paint.

I'm looking forward to trying out creating my own mask patterns in the future. If you know of any resources related to making big heads, please feel free to leave a comment!

Anyway, friends, I hope you enjoyed revisiting this project with me. Looking forward to working on a new costume for the spring Joy March in April!

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