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Choo Choo Soul Genevieve Costume

March 28, 2015

I don’t have the Disney channel but my cousin back home (in the states) introduced our train loving girl to Choo Choo Soul via youtube and she took to it immediately with a great deal of bouncing crazy (loud, very loud) toddler enthusiasm.

Lately she loves costumes. At least 3 times a week she is queen Elsa of Frozen and sometimes she’s a fairy… or a dinosaur…  or sometimes a fairy dinosaur… or an airplane.

We always encourage her to follow her imagination and since she enjoys Choo Choo Soul with Genevieve so much I figured I’d tap into my crafty talents and make an attempt to assemble the outfit.

The star of Choo Choo Soul, Genevieve Goings is such a delightfully positive role model for little girls for a number of reasons, so even if my head is exploding with Choo Choo Soul overload, I’m still happy for my daughter to watch it and emulate her as much as she wants.

I also love that Choo Choo soul makes a primarily male centric interest/hobby accessible to EVERYONE and it’s ok if you aren’t interested in trains too because the show is mostly about singing and dancing.

Before I could tackle the individual pieces of the outfit I had to decide what I was going to have to make and what I was going to buy.

The only things that I made from scratch were the waistcoat and the hat. I bought the trousers, the tie and the shirt. At first I had wanted to make the trousers but then I realized that realistically (after making the waistcoat) I wasn’t up for it without a pattern.

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I tackled the waistcoat first because I knew that it was going to be the biggest challenge. I hadn’t touched a sewing machine since I was in middle school (many moons ago) and Genevieve’s waistcoat is somewhat unique in that it halter’s around the neck.

Materials for Waistcoat:

Fabric
Ten brass buttons
Yellow or gold colored cord or edging stuff (technical term)
Scissors
Black thread
Gold/yellow thread
PVA glue
Straight pins
Awesome tiny pocket watch and chain (optional)

Sooooo having absolutely no experience in sewing a garment in my life, I took the highly technical course of action and drew out half of the shape that made sense to me on some brown wrapping paper. Then I measured it on my daughter, made a few adjustments and cut out two of them to make a pattern. The pieces are identical but I cut out two because I needed them to visualize the final piece (photo above).

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I genuinely had no idea how the hell I was going to make the little treble symbol with the gold cord I’d purchased for the edging but I managed with PVA and pins to hold it in place while it dried. It took about an hour for it to harden but once it did I was able to stitch it onto the vest in the correct shape.

I bought the buttons and the watch on eBay. There were a lot of options from various sellers, at very reasonable prices.

I pinned the fabric to the pattern allowing a quarter inch seam allowance around the edges and then I hemmed both halves of the vest before hand stitching the edging all around the borders. Then I stitched the buttons to the front and they go straight through the fabric so the vest only fastens in the back. (no button holes)

The last thing that I added before the velcro was the little pocket which I just made a little pattern for on a post-it note and hand stitched in place. The pocket watch came with a necklace chain that I cut to size and fastened to one of the buttons. It looks pretty awesome but she of course likes to swing it around like some sort of bizarre belly button tassel.

Then I hand stitched the black velcro in place on the neck and back pieces which was probably the most tedious part of the entire project.

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Next I stitched the edging along the seams of the trousers which was more than a job than I had anticipated, but it looked good when I was finished. Luckily in the UK black trousers and light blue, long sleeved shirts in tiny sizes are readily available at reasonable prices because they are often parts of standard school uniforms, so that’s what I bought and it worked out rather perfectly.

I got the tie for about £2 on eBay and that was the whole outfit completed except for the hat.

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The hat was tricky … and I’ve included a lot of photos of my process because when I looked up how to make one, plenty of people on the interwebs provided well intended written instructions but without pictures they were fairly confusing and inconsistent. So I guess I’m hoping that my rambling in combination with photos will better serve someone else if they endeavour to make a conductor hat.

Also I’d like to note that the hat isn’t exactly modelled on Genevieve’s because I couldn’t talk myself into making it tapered but it’s fit for purpose!

Materials For Hat: 

Fabric
Cardboard
Shiny tape
Gold/yellow edging
Glue gun
Glue gun sticks

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So as you may have already spotted, this conductor hat was made out of a NerdBlock box! My husband has received two of these boxes so far and they have been awesome, filled with many cool novelties and completely worth the money. Check out the link if you’re curious.

Back to the topic of the hat…  I cut a long strip of cardboard about two inches wide and measured it around my daughter’s head first before cutting it to size. Then based on the circle it made when the two ends were joined I drew out a rough pattern for the top and brim of the hat on a piece of printer paper and used them as templates to cut the cardboard.

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I wanted the brim of the hat to be shiny like Genevieve’s and the best way I could think of to do that on the cheap was with shiny black tape.

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I wrapped the tape around all sides and trimmed it away where necessary. It’s lumpy and far from perfectly symmetrical but it’s pretty damn good for making a conductor hat out of a cardboard box so I’m trying really hard not to scrutinize it to death.

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Next I needed to cover the long piece but first I crunched and rolled it several times to make sure it was very flexible as this would be fairly difficult to do afterwards. I taped the two ends together before gluing on the fabric because this would be stronger than attempting to glue the two ends together later.

I roughly cut out a rectangle of fabric around the piece, leaving ample edges for sufficient coverage.

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Then I picked up my ultimate tool of half-assery, the hot glue gun… and I went to town… very carefully. I worked it about two inches at a time, applying glue to only the inside part of the hat, making sure each part was stuck, taut and cool before moving on. If you have a good relationship with your glue gun, you know how much time must lapse before touching the glue with your fingers. If you’re not overly familiar with your glue gun, work slowly and try not to mangle yourself.

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Any number of profanities are perfectly acceptable to shout, mumble or otherwise explode from the depths of your soul while manipulating hot glue. :)

Next I moved onto the top of the hat and carefully glued the fabric to the cardboard in the same way. Small areas at a time, ensuring the glue stayed on the under side and that the fabric was pulled nice and taut.

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Once all three pieces were covered they needed to come together. So that the glue wouldn’t show I again, only applied it to the inside of the hat and I attached the top to the head piece about an inch and a half at a time, waiting for each section to dry completely before moving on. It doesn’t matter if it gets a bit blobby, since it’s not a part that is going to aggravate the head and it’s just hot glue so it’s not going to reconstitute and attach itself to hair or anything sticky or gross like that.

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The brim went on the same way with the glue being applied to the underside. It’s actually attached to the hat at the front about 1/8 of an inch from the bottom with PLENTY of hot glue which was applied slowly and then reinforced.

You can still see plenty of glue boogers and spider webs on the photo below but it is surprisingly sturdy and they came right off.

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The ornamentation was made with a leftover piece of the cord used on the trousers and waistcoat and a piece of cardboard that I painted gold. You could use any type of gold cardboard or even yellow felt if you wanted but I had white cardboard and gold paint so that’s what I used.

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I measured the cord, glued it to the cardboard, let it dry and then stretched it over the hat.

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Here it is all finished. The hat took me about an hour to make and all in the completed outfit probably took about 6 hours but there was a great deal of hand stitching involved. I’d say it cost me £21 to make but I bought a lot more fabric than I actually needed as well as some extra cord. I’m sure I could have sourced both of those things more cheaply as well if I had put some more effort into it.

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The important thing is that my little CHOO CHOO SOUL enthusiast is super happy with her custom mommy-made costume and I got some practice with making her an outfit which I’m pretty sure will come in handy in the future!

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