Sunday, October 27, 2013

Maneki See, Maneki Do: EZ Maneki-Neko Costume Tutorial

Three more days 'til it's Halloween and you don't have a costume?!  Well fret no more 'cuz you're in luck, kitten.  I've got a super quick 'n easy costume you can make in one evening-- the Lucky-Cat to be exact, or Maneki-Neko (in Japanese).  You know, those cute little ubiquitous kitties that sit in the window of your favorite [insert here: sushi, thai, ramen, pho, etc..etc] restaurant.  Maneki-Neko literally translates as 'beckoning cat' in Japanese.  So come hither, my crafty-cat, and I'll take you step by step in the making of a Maneki-Neko costume!

About 3 years ago I was scrambling to figure out what to be for Halloween and literally whipped this puppy, oops I mean kitty out in a matter of a few hours as I watched the finale episode of Project Runway Season 8 where Mondo Guerra loses to Gretchen Jones.  Boo-Hoo to that, I was rooting for Team Mondo, but perhaps my disgust for the outcome fueled me to create a masterpiece in the same vain as my favorite PR designer, Mondo, so here's what I came up with!

Please note, my version of this costume requires sewing knowledge and experience.  If you lack that or you have a fear of needles, by all means, I encourage you to recreate this by stapling, duct-taping, safety-pinning, hot-gluing, and painting

What you'll need:
-White OverSized Hoodie Sweatshirt (The one I'm wearing in the pic is a Size Men's XX Large.  I'm petite- 5'3"- to give you perspective)
-Another White Sweatshirt size Adult Large and up (this is used to make the leg warmers and the ears and 4 paws and the white in the eyes).
-Black felt- 7 sheets of 8.5" x 11"
-Tan felt- 2 sheets of 8.5" x 11"
-Yellow felt- 1 sheet of 8.5" x 11"
-Polyfill stuffing (for paws)
-One pack of yellow rick-rack trim- 1/2" wide
-Large Jinglebell- 3 1/2" diameter
-Red Metallic Fabric- 1/4 yard
-Green Metallic Fabric- 1/4 yard
-Gold Metallic Fabric- 1/2 yard

- Measure the length of your knee to below your ankle.  Take this measurement and measure from the sleeve band up the sleeve on your other white sweatshirt that you are not using to make the Maneki-Neko costume. Mark the measurement on the sleeve, then cut across the sleeve.  Ta-Da!  Leg warmers!
The Sleeve Band will be used to keep the leg warmer in place at your knee.

Now let's start with the Maneki-Neko Ears.....

The ear template is sized on my costume at 5.25" width at the bottom and 5" from top point to bottom.
Cut a front and back for each ear out of the white sweatshirt that you use to make your leg warmers.  That's a total of 4 ear pieces.  Make sure you flip the ear template when making the other side of the ear so you don't have 2 of the same ear shapes.  The front and back of each ear will be the same side of the knit sweatshirt fabric.  Sew the front and back together. I used a zig zag stitch to top stitch them, with raw edges.
You will cut 2 red metallic fabric pieces of the inner ears.  Remember, flip the ear template for the other side so that the other inner ear is mirrored. Sew the inner ears in the middle of the white outer ears.
There's a 1/2" seam allowance at the bottom of the ears.  Fold this under, then wear your hoodie over your head and pin the ears where you desire.  You will sew the ears on to your hoodie at the seam allowance.  See lower left pic below showing the seam allowance.

 Now on to the Maneki-Neko eyes....

The eye template on my costume below is size at 4" at the widest part across and 2.75" from top to bottom.  When you cut the eyes, remember to mirror them for each side.  The eyes are cut from the black and yellow felt.  The whites of the eyes are cut from the scrap sweatshirt (use for making leg warmers).  Glue all pieces together.  Try your hoodie on again and pin the eyes on where you desire.  Sew the tops of the eyes on to the edge of the hoodie.  I used a zig zag stitch to top stitch them onto the hoodie.
Now on to the Maneki Neko Bib....

Take some tracing paper or parchment paper to trace the bib neck template using the neckline from your sweatshirt.  On my costume, the red metallic band is 2.25" wide, while the green metallic bib is 8.5" from top to bottom by 12" at widest point across.  Please note, the green bib is placed below the red neck band.  You will spot glue your green bib down on the sweatshirt.  Baste stitch it down with your sewing machine.  Take the yellow rick-rack trim and cover the edge of the green bib.  Spot glue or pin in place.  Then top stitch it down. Place the red neckband down on top by spot gluing.  I top-stitched this with a zig-zag stitch on my costume.  Add the yellow rick-rack trim on top in the middle of the red neck band and top stitch it down.  Now you can sew the oversized jingle bell.  Use a heavier thread like embroidery floss to hand stitch it to the neckline.

Now on to the coin...
The coin on my costume is sized at 11" across in width by 15.5" tall.  I cut the coin out of the gold fabric, the black kanji characters are cut from black felt.  I hot-glued the felt onto the gold metallic.  Then I placed the coin on my sweatshirt hoodie as I desired (I tilted it), pinned it to the sweatshirt and topstitched the edge with a zig zag stitch.

 Now on to the Paws...
You will have a total of 4 paws- 2 for the sleeves, and 2 for the bottoms of the leg warmers.
The paws on my costume are sized at 7" across by 4.5" from top to bottom.  Cut a front and back out of the scrap sweatshirt fabric for each of the front paws.  You will be cutting a total of 8 paws.  Make sure you mirror them for each side- left and right.   Cut the fingernails out of the gold fabric and glue on to each paw.  I also sewed each fingernail on to the paw, as well.  I topstitched the front and back of each paw, but left and opening to stuff some polyfill stuffing in each paw to give it a puffy 3d effect.  Once I got the puffiness that I desired, I closed the hole up by top stitching with a zig zag stitch.  I pinned each paw where I desired on to the edge of the sleeves of the hoodie and then at the bottom raw edge hem of the leg warmers and top stitched the edges of the paws to hold them in place.
And finally, the Spots!
You will cut a total of 4 Spots-- 2 for the arms, 2 for the leg warmers.  The size on my spots is 4.5" wide by 6.5".  Cut out of the tan felt, then cut the black felt pieces and hot glue them in the middle.  I hot-glued the spots to my hoodie sleeves (near the elbows) and hot-glued them to the leg warmers just below the knees.

And voila!!!  You have just completed an adorable Maneki-Neko costume!  Well done, kit-kat!  Now have yourself a happy Halloween and send me a pic of your creation!

I wore white tights under my hoodie and also wore a white demi-mask on my face, on which I glued a little pink felt nose, to complete the look!