Archive for November 2012

There and back again: adventures with monsters

Making monster hoodies has been quite a journey. If you liked the idea, have a  look at what happened next…

I wanted to see if there was any interest, because they would take a while to make and, boy, there was interest! That was really heartening.

I didn’t want to squander that cheer by making something that didn’t work for young kids though. The resounding answer from parents on Facebook was to make it a zip up hoodie, not buttoned, so that’s what was needed.

Then I looked at what other people have done so I can make mine special. In order to keep things simple, the few hoodies I could find lacked detail and colour. Using my fabric painting would definitely add something new.

So what does monster skin look like? It makes for an interesting Google images search. There are snakes, lizards, crocodiles, imagined dinosaurs and after a lot of ‘research’ (or some might say ‘looking at pictures’) I decided that mottling that had a hint of scales would be most monsterous.

I made samples: first I tried to see what the paints could do worked wet. I think it’s pretty gruesome, like a scale with monster hairs – maybe one for gross-out teens but it looked too grim for my littlest monsters.


So I tried a more mottled look, using different sized dots in hand mixed colours as a monster tummy and I reckon this looks a lot cuter!


The spines work well and I’d used them before, but again I wanted to bring them alive with colour. Some wax based fabric crayons worked really well to add some orange and lime lowlights, with gold lifting the points and adding some spiny ridging.

I don’t usually get orders before I find out how practical a project is! I use dress patterns but hadn’t used sweatshirt fabric before… then unfortunately the pattern company was late delivering the patterns so I couldn’t start right away.

I set off anyway, using a poncho idea to start without a pattern. I had to use actual geometry to get from the typical measurements for young kids to how big the poncho should be… “Hey kids, maths is useful” ;-)

Here’s the first poncho, I really like it. There are poppers to make optional ‘sleeves’ when you’re outside, a warm hood, spines without stuffing so that you can relax back in them. It’s as much dressing-up box as it is a practical coat. Without anything to go on, the shaping around the neck isn’t perfect, but in future ponchos, I can use my patterns to shape it just right.


When the patterns arrived I spent a lot of time trying them out and seeing how long it would take. I’ve decided after much hair pulling that although I can make a good quality garment, it takes soooo long that it makes the hoodies unaffordable. I may get faster next year, or it may just take that long, but my next step was a deep breath and going online…

The bad news is that this has been a longer journey than I planned :-( That’s one of those learning experiences.

But the good news is that I can source good quality hoodies, add the spines, horns, teeth, tails etc requested by my monster-lovin’ customers and get them out in the next two weeks.

These monsters have been a bit, well, monsterous. But that’s the way it is when you’re creating something new and now I know what I’m doing they’re really fun to make! Mixing painting and making in new ways.

So, the future: I’m going to make a batch of ponchos for the craft fairs – they make great gifts because you don’t need to be exact on the size and kids can wear them as they grow (from full length to cape as they grow). I’ll offer hoodies in the Etsy shop and only make them to order. I’ve got monster throws on order, an idea for a monster mitten and I may try monster bags too…