Making and Crafts : Thomas The Tank Engine Costume

November 4, 2011 07:04 by ehouston

I promised earlier this week to add some more details on the Thomas costume I made for my Little Guy.  So, here it is!  Nothing fancy, really, just cardboard and paint.  Let’s get started.

Of course, you know I pulled out one of the many diaper boxes I have collected.  This is a Target, Up & Up brand club pack sized box.  To start I flipped the box over, using the bottom for the top. 


Then I used the top to an oatmeal container as a template to mark three circles, along what were the top flaps, to make the wheels.


Next I marked along the top edge of the box where I planned to cut away an opening and create the “cab” portion of the engine.


If you look closely in nearly every picture you will see my Little Guy “helping” through the whole process.


After removing the top portion and creating the opening where my son would stand, I cut down that same piece to use for the front platform of the engine.  I also cut down the oatmeal container to use as the rounded part of the tank.


I cut around each wheel and using some leftover cardboard from another project I cut two more wheels for the front platform and to balance the entire look of the costume.  I attached everything with blue painter’s tape, as well as, covered all cut edges with tape to create a smooth edge.  Brass paper tacks, along with a dab of glue, were used to hold the front wheels to the front platform.


An underside view shows how I added some support to the flaps that create the wheels.  I tucked the side flap in at an angle and taped it into place.  This was surprisingly strong.


I used the front side flap, flipped out and upwards to help secure and strengthen the front platform piece.


After putting all the pieces together and priming the whole thing, I realized (along with from hints from The Mister) that the tank portion was really just off and out of proportion.


So, before adding color I removed the oatmeal container and added a “Party Pail” ice cream bucket instead.  I did trim the upper lip and handle off the pail before taping it into place. 



I didn’t toss the oatmeal container, though!  I cut away about a third of the side and bottom, then pushed them together to close the gap.  I tucked the bottom portion in to create a funnel as I pushed the sides together and then taped the whole thing in place.


Then it was time for the color!  Lucky for us we had all the colors in our paint stash.


If you are wondering, I used painter’s tape to make all the lines nice and straight, eyeballing all of it as I went along.  Then I went back with a small brush and touched up any bleed-through. 


When I got to the wheels and the face my confidence and energy, sort of wilted.  A quick Google search later and I found a head-on shot of both the face and the wheels.  I was able to enlarge them in and print them out on light blue cardstock.  A few cuts later and I just glued them into place.  The very last edition were the bars or rails that connect the wheels.  These were made from strips of cardboard cut to fit the measurements between the center of adjoining wheels.  To clean them up I cut a curve at the end of each strip.  I covered the edges in painter’s tape, painted them and attached them to the costume using more brass paper tacks.  In order to keep the costume on, I cut strips of heavy fabric, folded them in half and sewed them into straps.  I made them wide so they would not dig into my son’s shoulders.  To attach them to the costume I figured out where they needed to be placed, taped them down and then used heavy floss to stitch straight through the box.  If you have a heavy duty needle it will slip through the cardboard like budda’!

And, here we are…a finished Thomas the Tank Engine costume!




The Little Guy loved it and has been playing with it all week.  Even with all the abuse over the last few days it is still in one piece and looking pretty decent.  I never would have imagined that painter’s tape would hold so well.  This is one of those projects that did not take very long, does not require any special skills and had a lot of bang for the buck.  Since I owned all the parts it was a virtually free costume, too.  Always a bonus!

Hope this helps you make your little engineers very happy next Halloween!

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For The Love Of…Halloween!

November 2, 2011 06:05 by ehouston

I know I recapped October earlier this week, but since it was the 31st and technically still Halloween I opted to post about our holiday adventures at a later time.  We actually celebrated Halloween or at least prepared for the excitement, all month long and ended October with a weekend of activities.  A week or so before the big dress up day we started the costume.  I say “we” because despite my best effort I could not keep the Little Guy away from his costume.  As I mentioned before over here, he got hooked on the idea of Thomas The Tank Engine and could not be led in any other direction.  So, off to the internet we went to Google ideas and figure out our plan of attack!  Once I sort of knew how to approach the costume we went to work measuring, cutting and painting.  All the while he was stacking and un-stacking his trains on whatever I was in the middle of measuring, cutting and painting. 



Also, I finally did give in to the pleas of, “mommy, help, paint, Liam!”, his way of saying, “Let me paint Mom!”  Everything is third person right now, which makes for some strange conversations.  After wrapping him in a smock and covering everything else in drop cloth I let him have at it with the primer.  Mistake number one!  I should have known better than to let him use paint meant to stick really well and not come off.  When we got around to washing up I was having to scrap the stuff off, which as you can imagine was not very pleasing to him.  I had to give up on getting every bit off and just made sure nothing was on his thumb-sucking digit.  All was well until it was time for color.  At least that time around we were using acrylics and they were much easier to remove from skin.  Oh yeah, I employed my favorite painting tip this time too!  I always coat my hands and arms up to my elbows with a nice thick layer of lotion.  That way the paint usually slides off pretty easily afterward.  He loved putting the color on “Thomas” and I think having a hand in creating his costume made it all the more special to him.  In fact, at one point during the process of adding the details I had to put it out of his reach because I kept finding him pushing it around the house saying, “choo-choo!”  Cute to say the least! 


I will post some more details about how we put the costume together later this week.

This year we decided to hit up one of the local churches for their annual Trunk or Treat.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this concept the idea is to gather a bunch of fun-loving folks together, usually in a church parking lot and trick or treat within in a closed off area of the lot.  Everyone involved opens their truck or hatch and decorates the inside and around the rear of the car, just as one may decorate their front door or porch in a neighborhood.  Then they hand out candy to the kids as they come around.  This particular event also included a large bounce house and free hot dogs and chips. 

IMG_0425Scoping out the best candy.


Here he is with his pal Jane, who was dressed as Elmo.  (Photo courtesy of Jane’s mom, Erin.)

It was nice to get out and see all the cute costumes and to know that my son was experiencing the Halloween holiday in a very low risk environment.  Plus, because it’s a smaller sized area to trick or treat in he has a reasonable amount of candy to beg for over the course of the next couple of weeks.  (I can’t imagine if we had gone open season in the ‘hood.  He would have easily bagged a month’s supply, at minimum!) 


He seemed to have a great time gathering candy with one of his pals, and eating hotdogs and Cheetos (a new treat) definitely capped the afternoon off on a high note.

The next morning we had our final Halloween related activity, pumpkin carving!  Since the middle of September we have been bringing home gourds and little pumpkins from various places, but not until the visit to the big pumpkin patch did we score one large enough to slap a face on.  He loved the idea of cutting into this larger than life pumpkin and it wasn’t easy to keep him free of the sharp objects.  But, he sat calmly as I dug out the “pumpkin brains”, and as I drew a face. 


He even kept his fingers out of the way most of the time as I chiseled Sir Pumpkin’s features.  Thank God for those carving kits with the tiny saws!  Although I did receive an injury when one broke and I cut my finger on the jagged end- lovely image, I know- I was able to pretty safely slice up the Jack-O-Lantern with little worry about my kid losing his little pigs. 



And, he loved pulling the little bits out from the eyes, nose and mouth.  He kept saying, “Pumpkin Eye”, which is a book his Great Auntie B sent earlier in the month and very apropos for this event.  Later in the evening we lit that baby up and he had another good time poking it, looking through the face holes at the candle inside and of course rearranging the “Lil’ Baby Pumpkins” that sat along side big daddy. 


Halloween put a nice cap on a fun-filled month.  Now I just hope we can keep some momentum going through the rest of the year.  I’m already using Santa as a disciplinary tactic.  So far it’s working great!  I just don’t know what I’m gonna do when January hits????  Does the Easter Bunny get enough respect to bring him into the mix?

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