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UPDATE: The free sewing pattern is now available for download for the Sea Turtle Baby Halloween Costume. I also show you how to convert the costume into a plush stuffed sea turtle after the baby outgrows it. :)
Our baby’s first Halloween and our very first family Halloween costume was a big deal. Ryan and I are huge Halloween lovers and have been making our own couples costumes for over a decade. We brainstormed several family costume ideas before landing on the Sea Turtle Baby Halloween Costume and Scuba Diver parent costumes.
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Two weeks before Halloween, we coincidentally had a family vacation planned for the East Coast on Figure Eight Island in Wilmington, North Carolina. This vacation with extended family gave us the perfect opportunity to capture our baby sea turtle in his natural habitat.
DIY Lion Costume
Turn any sized kid into a lion with pajamas, faux fur, and fleece fabric. Perfect for chilly Halloween nights.
The beach house we stayed in during our family vacation had beach themed rooms decorated to match. As fate may have it, the room our little family stayed in happened to be the “Turtle Room,” complete with a pile of giant stuffed sea turtles for our little sea turtle play with.
Stuffed Sea Turtle
This sea turtle costume converts into a stuffed animal using the costume pieces. Get the free pattern for both the costume and stuffed animal.
I created my son’s Sea Turtle Baby Halloween Costume from scratch using two colors of fleece, velcro, Poly-fil stuffing, and a little elastic. The base of the costume is a pair of hooded, full-body fleece pajamas with felt eyes added onto the hood.
- sea turtle costume pattern
- light green fleece (I used Lettuce Green from JoAnn)
- blue/green tie-dye fleece (I used Deep Blue Green Tie-Dye from JoAnn)
- 1/4″ elastic (approx 12″)
- green fleece PJs (I used these from footedpajamas.com)
- black and white felt for the eyes
- coordinating thread
- basic sewing supplies
How to make a Sea Turtle Baby Halloween Costume
This Sea Turtle Baby Halloween Costume can be sewn by hand or with a sewing machine. People have told me they’ve even used fabric glue to make the baby costume. Fleece fabric is very forgiving, and cuts or stitches don’t need to be perfect to achieve a great looking costume for baby.
The sea turtle costume has a loosely stuffed turtle shell on the back plus a removable belly that wraps around the body. The front fins attach to the wrists with elastic and the back fins hang free from the shell.
Tips for Sewing Fleece Fabric
- Use a longer stitch length. I use a 3.5 – 4 stitch length when sewing fleece.
- Lower your presser footer pressure to allow the thicker layers to glide smoothly through your machine.
- Fleece has a slight stretch and can easily be manipulated while you sew, making it more forgiving to errors.
- Uneven seams can be trimmed after sewing, so no need to be perfect.
- Go slow.
How to Make the Costume Belly
Lay the pajamas onto a large piece of paper to create a template for the belly piece.
Trace around the body of the pajamas from the neck to the crotch.
Cut out your paper template and fold it in half. Make a final cut, so both halves match. You should be left with a template that resembles a sleeveless onesie shape.
Fold the paper template in half and place onto a folded piece of fleece. Cut around the paper template, leaving plenty of extra fabric at the shoulders, sides, and crotch. Set aside.
Make the Stuffed Sea Turtle Shell
You can download the free sewing pattern for the turtle shell, or follow along below for making your own shell.
Create another paper template for the shell piece. For sizing, hold the paper piece up to your baby’s back or the PJs to get a good idea for much fabric you’ll need. The shell should sit slightly above the neck and hang slightly past the baby’s bum.
Cut 2 pieces of fleece for the shell.
Now you can start creating the plates on the shell using the tie-dye fleece. I used an image on Google for reference.
Start by making the outer plates around the edge and then cut out shapes to fill in the center plates. Leave about 1/2″ space in between the plates to allow the lighter green fleece to show through.
As you cut out the plate pieces, arrange them on one of the shell pieces. Transfer one or a few pieces at a time to the other shell piece, pin in place, then sew. I started with the center pieces, then added all of the outer pieces, then filled in with the remaining plates.
Once your shell plates are sewn in place, set aside.
Make the Fins
The fins are included in my free sewing pattern (above), or you can follow along to cut your own fins.
Just as you created paper templates for the belly and shell, create paper templates for the fin pieces. You’ll need 4 of each piece. Have a look at this picture below for the basic shape of the fins.
Before sewing the fins layers together, add random tie-dye fleece shapes to the front-side of the fins. Remember that the left and right sides need to be mirror images of eachother.
Create wrist bands for the front fins to hold onto baby’s arms.
Cut 2 pieces of fleece about 2″ x 7″. Fold in half and sew down the long side to create a tube. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and guide the elastic through the tube.
Pull the elastic tight and scrunch the fleece tube. Test the tightness on baby’s wrist. Place a pin to hold the elastic tight. Sew to hold.
Sew the wrist bands onto the backside of the front fin pieces.
Complete the fins by sewing the front and back fin pieces together.
Completing the Baby Sea Turtle Costume
Onto the underside shell piece, sew the fins in place. I found this easiest to lay the shell piece on the floor, lay baby on top, lay the fins in place, and make general marks on where they should be placed. The top fins should point out to match up with the baby’s shoulders. The back fins can hang straight down.
Sew pieces of velcro onto the top, sides, and crotch of the belly piece. This is what the belly piece will be attached to. Sew the other sides of the velcro pieces onto the underside of the shell.
Sew the 2 shell pieces together leaving an opening about 4″ wide for filling with stuffing.
Lightly stuff the shell with Poly-fil stuffing. The turtle shell should be stuffed enought that it’s puffy, but not filled too tight. Sew the hole closed.
Adding the Turtle Eyes
Cut out the eye shapes from the black and white felt (use my pattern or make your own). Sew pieces together, then sew onto the hood of the PJs. I sewed these by hand, only through the fleece layer of the hood.
While we happened to be on the beach for our DIY family photoshoot, I created this Sea Turtle Baby Halloween Costume to be perfect for a chilly, Minnesota Halloween. The fleece layers kept baby warm while the shell and fins could easily be taken off when needed.
Scuba divers parents and a baby sea turtle made a memorable first family Halloween costume.
See how me made our DIY Scuba Diver Costumes here.
Our happy little sea turtle in his first Halloween costume.
One great thing about turtles is that all of their shells are unique, so you can get creative with the shell plates. I’m super excited to see what your little turtle looks like and feature them on Scratch and Stitch. Send your pictures by email or tag @scratchandstitch.
Sea Turtle Plush Tutorial
Once Halloween is past this sea turtle costume can be converted into a plush toy! I show you how in this tutorial.
What a great DIY project.
This is super cute!!!!! I’m using it as a basis for a costume for myself. Thanks for making it available!
Thanks! :) Send me pics of your costume, I would love to see it :)
Hi! I am unsure how the sleeveless onesie piece attaches to the shell. Do you have a photo of the back of the costume? First time sewing, baby is 6 months and looking forward to her first Halloween.
Hi Abigail – This is a great beginner sewing project and your baby will be adorable!! :) Do you mean the belly side of the costume when you say “sleeveless onsie”? Each edge (shoulders, sides, and crotch) of the belly side has a piece of velcro sewn on that attaches to the other side of the velcro on the underside of the shell. Does that make sense? Please, reach out again if you still need help. Also, send pics!!
Angela C says
I’m just finishing up the shell and fins and really proud of the progress so far! This was a perfect design to spark the creative sewing gene again and I’m thankful you shared! First costume I’ve made for my only son who is 14 months and ready for his first real Halloween debut!! PS I love the ability to turn it into a stuffed animal for him to always have!!
Yay! I love hearing that. :) Yes, the stuffed animal that he will be able to cuddle makes the effort double worth it. I would love to see your son in his first Halloween costume. Send me pictures!!
This project is adorable! How many yards of fleece do you need for the base color and also for the scales?
Thanks Dani! Two yards for the base and one yard for the scales.
Thanks! I can’t wait to get started making it!
Thank you so much for this tutorial! I made my son a turtle for his first Halloween! I loved it! It was such a great costume!!
This tutorial saved the day when my daughter had her heart set on being a sea turtle in her school play. Every costume I was finding had a huge shell that wouldn’t work well with dancing around. We did reinforce the shell attachments with safety pins because the velcro wasn’t holding. I can’t wait to make her a turtle stuffy when her performance are over. Thank you!
Oh what wonderful news! :) I just love hearing stories like this. I would love to see pics! You can reply to my email.