Sunday, 22 April 2012

Tutorial: Child's knight costume tabard made from a tea towel

This was the first part of my son's St George's Day Knight's outfit which was made at short notice and with a few items I picked up from our local supermarket. A tutorial for the Cowl shown below is also available.

This design has arm holes, fastens at the back and is also reversible. I'm also working on a simpler 'hand towel tabard' tutorial too, as I sort of made this up as I went along.

I found this pack of red and white teatowels quite reasonably at the supermarket, I used the middle one as it already had red stripes, and it came wrapped in this handy red cotton tape which I also used, however its probably easier to use a plain white towel and then add your ribbon (cotton tape or even red fabric paint) in the right places afterwards. The other two teatowels I've saved for other projects, or they might just end up in the kitchen drawer.

What you will need:
1 Tea towel (with red stripe or plain white)
Red ribbon, or cotton tape
Hemming web
An existing T-shirt (for sizing)
4 Silver buttons (optional)

1. Take your subject and wrap the teatowel around them to check if it will fit. Place the teatowel right side down, and bring the two sides into the middle. Press the fabric to keep in shape, and turn over.

2. Now time to cut the arm holes and a dip for the neck. I used an existing T-shirt to work out the size for the arm holes (once hemmed these will be larger - perfect for growing room) then I cut a triangle out of each corner giving the garment a sort of 'house shape, unfold and pin a hem in the V shaped void. Copy the neck line of the t-shirt onto the middle of the front and cut. Now pin your hems.
3. If you have an over locker, use it to seal the ends to stop fraying, otherwise use hemming web or, as I did, use a close edging stitch to bind the ends. 

4.  Lay the garment out flat, lay the red ribbon/tape horizontally across the centre allow for a good 1 inch overlap at either end and cut, cut a matching piece of hemming web and sandwich this between the tea towel and the ribbon, folding over the ends. Iron to secure, as per your web's instructions. If you are using a plain tea towel attach the vertical line of the cross in the same way, running from the neck to the bottom.

5 .Line up the arm V slots and overlap the top tabs, pin and sew together.

6. There are many ways you could choose to fasten the back of the tabarb; buttons/toggles/drawstring, but I went with Velcro straps. To make the straps, I took two 6 inch sections of the cotton tape, hemmed both ends (making them about 5 inches) then cut two 3.5 inch sets of Velcro (male and female). I used sewing Velcro but the new iron on kind would be much easier. Attach the 'loop' piece of the Velcro to the end of the straps (leaving 1.5 inch free), repeat on the other strap. Line up your strap with the 'scratchy' Velcro in two places on the back of the garment, attach the Velcro to the tea towel in these places and attach the corresponding strap directly opposite.

7. Technically you can finish here, but I decided to add decorative buttons to the corners of the straps - I quite liked the idea of the back being decorative, and as it turned out this made the whole thing reversible. The buttons were probably the most expensive part of the garment though, costing as much as the set of 3 tea towels (shhh don't tell Mr S).

This is the back of the tabard on my son - still plenty of room for him to grow.

And that's it, pop a grey top underneath and you're away (to a land of castles, dragons and Damsels in distress.


  1. My kiddo was going to be a fireman for Halloween (he's 2) because I already had a free dalmatian costume for his little brother. But then he told me he wanted to be a Knight, so I told him if I could find him a way to make a Knight costume to go with the cheap dragon costume I found for his baby brother I'd do it. We already have a sword and helmet so this is perfect! Thank you!

  2. Great! Glad to have helped, let me know how it turns out! :D

  3. Just looking around your blog. This is so cute! I love that it's made from a tea towel. I'd love for you to come link up to our party It's a place for us to share our old and new crafts. Also, let me know if you ever set up email subscriptions. I'd love to get your emails. :) Jessica

  4. This is an awesome idea. A knights tabard for a young boy takes very little fabric and tea towels are so much more available than raw fabric.