Saturday, 7 March 2015

How to Make a Thomas the Tank Engine Costume - sort of

OK - I'm being brave, yesterday I showed you a photo of the Thomas the Tank Engine costume I made for Blake for World Book Day at school / dressing up in for the rest of his life.

I'm going to share with you some of how I made it, I'd love to do proper instructions for any of you with little Thomas fans in your house, but truth be known I totally winged this make and was fast running out of time so my photos along the way stopped. But I'll do my best. Here's the finished costume with Blake inside it in his train conductor costume which was an E bay bargain last year!


It's a little blurry as I robbed this photo off the school website as I thought he looked so please with himself! Here's mine from earlier in the day, posing with Zac as the Pirate Who Said Please:


Righto, a rough list of what you'll need:
  • Blue cotton fabric
  • Red cotton fabric
  • Grey cotton fabric
  • Black cotton fabric
  • Red ribbon or tape
  • Yellow, white and black felt pieces
  • Blue, black, grey and red sewing thread
  • Pieces of foam - the sort used to make seat pads on chairs
I can't give you quantities as I didn't measure - sorry!


Clearly I had no idea what I was doing as I made the back piece first. Blake was at school so I measured up against a coat he wears! I cut one of the foam pads and them cut a piece of blue fabric folded in half wide at the top, wide enough to leave space either side of the pad and a lot more at the bottom. I hand cut a number one in yellow felt and appliqu├ęd it on with red thread in a zig zag stitch. I think my next trick was to sew a line of red ribbon across the top of the panel - through both sides so that the foam wouldn't go right to the top when I popped it in. Then I sewed down each side - right sides facing and turned out like I was making a bag or cushion cover.

then pop the foam piece in and totally make a mess hand sewing as close to the foam as possible to seal it in! Then because you didn't do it first - hem the edges and add red ribbon trim. See if I had done this with time and thought, I'd have done that bit first! 

Making the face was actually the easiest bit for me. I printed a black and white image of his face which I found on Google images and drew around the edge onto grey cotton Added about an inch for seam allowance and consequential sewing errors and then cut out.

First i cut the eyes and mouth out of the template and cut around white felt. To get them in the right place I popped the paper template over the cotton fabric and pinned them in place - it looked kinda creepy at this stage and very unlike Thomas! I used a zig zag stitch again in black cotton. Follow the same steps in black felt for his eyebrows and pupils.

I actually used a pencil to draw in the nose, cheeks etc and sewed over and then added a bit more details with grey thread. 


Then I got into difficulty! I don't like sewing round things, never have and never will. If you look at the first collage you'll see I drew four circles onto thick foam the same size as the first pencil line around Thomas' face. Cutting these out wasn't easy and I wasn't very precise either. I measured round the edge and added an inch to get the width of the black fabric for the tube. Then I piled the four circles on too of each other and measured the length and added 2 inches for seam allowance.

First sew down the long length to make a tube and leave inside out. Then carefully pins Thomas' face, also wrong side out to the tube as shown and then stitch slowly to avoid puckering.

Then hold your breath, cross your fingers and toes and turn right side out and relax, I only went slightly oval the the bottom left of his face, pretty sure Blake won't give a monkeys!

I literally shoved the four pieces of foam in and then set about making a front panel for Thomas the same way as I'd made the back. Next step, I pinned the stuffed tube to the front of the costume, turning the raw edge of the fabric in and then hand stitched it on as tight as I could.


You can see on the photo above I'd cut circles of felt in yellow and black and sewn them in place first.

The rest is hit and miss! I made two straps out of blue fabric and sewed them to the front and back to hold them in place - leaving enough space for Blake's head. then decided he needed side panels. I constructed them in the same way as the front and back but using much smaller pieces of foam and just sewed them straight onto the front and back pieces. 

I thought I was finished but Blake said it needed Number One sewing on the sides and of course a funnel. Grrrrrr. 

I made the funnel by grabbing a toilet roll tube, stuffing it with foam so a little popped out of the top. then I made a tube of black fabric, sewed gather stitch across the top by hand, pulled together and turned inside out. Then pop the cardboard tube inside and painstakingly sew to the top of the foam tube!!

My job was done, I could now have a glass of wine and consider clearing up the next day!
My joy came in seeing Blake wearing it, so far most of the time, in fact if you are in Tesco near here you may spot him wearing it right now as he is out with The Spark!!!

Hope this makes some kind of sense to you.

Pin It


  1. Omg Vic, is there no end to your talent, you really are a model mum, well done you it's fabulous! ;) xx

    1. Aw thanks lovely, it was so worth it to see how happy he is wearing it!

  2. What a labour of love!
    I am in awe!
    Chrissie x

    1. Thanks Chrissie! Under different circumstances I would have had lots more time and enjoyed making it much more, still loving seeing him bouncing around the place in it!
      Vic xxx


Thanks for visiting my blog, if you have time please leave me a comment as I love to read them.