Kids Yoda Costume
By Susan Beal
Making a fun Star Wars-inspired costume for your baby or toddler can be an easy October craft project leading up to Halloween. I made this Yoda costume in less than a week of naptimes (with a few weekend hours for fittings here and there) for my 18-month-old daughter Pearl. The hardest part by far was getting good pictures of her in the full head-to-toe ensemble during its trial run — she’s speedy these days!
I used an Empire Strikes Back Yoda action figure for inspiration, and carried him around the fabric store to loosely match fabric colors to him and his outfit. The central piece, a simple brown robe, is altered from an adult T-shirt, and the other elements (a hat, snake, belt, and walking stick) are all quick sewing projects using basic templates. You can adapt this costume to fit a baby, toddler, or preschooler by changing the size and scale of the robe and accessories.
Needle and thread
Sharp fabric scissors
¼ yard green polar fleece I used Malden Mills in Leapfrog.
2 buttons I used a variety of pairs of buttons for my hats, each about the size of a quarter.
Brown V-neck T-shirt I used a fitted women’s ¾ sleeve shirt in XS
1 yard webbing mine was 1″ wide in dark brown
Remnant of dark brown felt
½ yard cotton print fabric I used an orange star print from Maywood Studio.
2 buttons I used a white moonglow shank style.
Remnant of red felt
¼ cup white beans optional
½ yard dark brown felt
Step 1: To make the hat, follow Heather Mann’s excellent Yoda Hat tutorial on Dollar Store Crafts. I adapted her adult pattern pieces for a baby, small toddler, and big toddler/preschooler size range. Be sure to use a winter hat that fits your child well for comparison when planning your project.
Step 2: For the baby size, I cut the 2 rectangular base pieces about 8″ wide; for the small toddler, about 9″ wide; and for the preschooler, about 9.5″ wide. I adapted the scale of the other pattern pieces accordingly. The preschooler size fit my 18-month-old nicely. I also played around with the ear shaping on different sizes, and I love buttons, so I tried slightly different styles and colors from my stash for the eyes on each one.
Step 3: To make the robe, fold the bottom section of the V-neck area of the T-shirt over from one side to the other to form a closer, more gathered garment — like a robe or kimono. Hand- or machine-stitch these tucks in place.
I loosely hand-stitched mine in a few places, tried it on my daughter, and made adjustments after seeing how it fit. After a rambunctious wearing, the stitches definitely need reinforcing!
Step 4: If the shirt is still too bulky, you may also want to bring the sides in, or extend the V-neck fold in Step 3 to the bottom of the robe. Try it on your child inside out, carefully pin or mark a more fitted line, and then stitch it on the wrong side of the shirt fabric. Cut the bottom of the shirt off if it’s too long — the raw edge gives it more of a Yoda feel, too.
Step 5: To make the belt, attach one side of the buckle to one end of the webbing and stitch it down in an X or as the buckle package instructs. Instead of sewing on the other end, I made mine adjustable. Pearl has more of a cloth-diaper ledge than a waist so far, so I wanted the belt to be fitted. Add fray-check to both ends to seal them and prevent unraveling.
Step 6: You can also make a sash or simple belt in your own style, but if you want to clip it in place like an action figure’s utility belt, here’s one idea I came up with: I covered a plain hairclip in dark brown felt, much like the boxy piece on the original Yoda’s belt.
Step 7: First measure your hairclip (mine was about 2.5″ long). Multiply that number by 4, and add an inch. Then cut a rectangle of felt that length and 2″ wide (my piece of felt was about 12″ long). Fold it in half and put the clip onto it. Fold each end of the felt strip back towards the middle, pinning the 4 seams individually (as shown). You will have some extra length above the top of the hairclip, which is great — leave that top third or so alone and unpinned for now.
Step 8: Stitch up each of the 4 pinned seams, and open and place your clip inside, one half inside each of the small compartments. Now stitch the top section closed so that the clip is neatly hidden inside the felt square — it’s perfect for clipping the belt at the right spot.
Step 9: To make the snake, sketch and cut a simple curved shape out of the folded fabric — you’ll have 2 identical snake pieces. Mine was a C-shape about 35″ long and 3″ across, with a larger rounded head and a tapered tail. Cut out a small red felt rectangle for the tongue (mine was 3/8″ wide and 2″ long).
Step 10: Pin the snake fabrics together, right sides facing, leaving an opening of about 4″ or 5″ on the inner curve unpinned. Pin the tongue inside the fabric, centered at the head end, with one end sticking out slightly and most of the rectangle hidden inside the fabric.
Step 11: Now stitch around the perimeter of the snake, catching the felt rectangle in the seam, and backstitching at both ends, leaving the opening from Step 10 unsewn for stuffing.
Step 12: Turn the snake right side out and place a small amount of batting into both the tail and the head areas (you can use a chopstick to help with this part). Now add about 1/8 cup of white beans to each one, if you like — this will add a little weight to the ends so the snake drapes on Yoda’s shoulders nicely. Cover the beans with another layer of batting.
Step 13: Keep adding batting to both sides of the snake until it is filled, and pin the open seam closed, catching the raw edges inside. Hand-stitch the opening closed, adding a bit more batting as you go if you need to, and knotting securely at the end.
Step 14: Hand-sew button eyes on the snake’s head and cut a small triangle out of the end of the felt rectangle so it looks like a forked tongue.
Step 15: For the walking stick, cut out a simple hooked cane shape out of 2 layers of brown felt. Mine was about 19″ tall and about 3″ across. If you want to add a wrist loop (which may improve your odds of keeping it with your Yoda for the duration), cut a 6″ or 7″ piece of elastic and double it.
Step 16: Pin the 2 pieces of felt together (leaving an opening as shown). If you are making a wrist loop, pin the doubled elastic inside the stick about ¾ of the way up on the outer edge, so that the ends of the elastic stick out and the loop is concealed inside — a lot like the snake’s tongue in Step 10.
Step 17: Stitch all around the perimeter of the stick, leaving the opening free, and turn it right side out again. Stuff it with batting and hand-sew the opening closed as you did with the snake in Step 13.
Step 18: Dress your Yoda from head to toe! Under the robe, a green T-shirt and brown pants are good for Yoda-like coloring. I also put Pearl in green rain boots, but any green, brown, or neutral shoes would be just fine!
And if you have a full-fledged toddler or preschooler to wrangle, here are some special tips for costume maintenance:
Reinforce any seams on your T-shirt-turned-robe after the first wearing if need be. A strong, squirmy Yoda can wreak havoc on loose or basting stitches!
Trim the belt to be relatively short, and make sure the robe doesn’t drag to ensure the costume isn’t a tripping hazard.
If you want the snake to stay on the shoulders, how about adding small squares of velcro, or sew-in snaps where they touch? Drape the snake where you like it, mark the robe and the snake at the right places, and add snaps, velcro, or secure hand-stitching there. Otherwise, the snake will probably double as an impromptu Jedi weapon!
About the Author:
Susan Beal is a crafter and writer in Portland, Ore., who loves to drink coffee, sew, and make things with buttons. Her new book, Button It Up, is out now!