This post is sponsored by the May Gibbs Foundation
Today I’m excited to share this idea for a DIY Gumnut Baby costume inspired by the characters dreamed up by much-loved Australian author May Gibbs. Of course, I’m talking about Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, and Little Ragged Blossom among others.
If you can believe it we are approaching the hundredth anniversary of May Gibbs most popular works in 2018. How time flies!
I can clearly remember having Snugglepot and Cuddlepie stories read to me as a child. I loved hearing about how the gumnut babies rode around on the back of Mr Lizard, and recall feeling afraid of the Big Bad Banksia Men who were always after them. I listened to how they slept in cocoons and homes made of gum leaves, and I was enthralled as they swam and lived under the water for a while with fish, crabs and seahorses for friends. For years afterwards I pretended to be a gumnut baby breathing underwater every time I went swimming in the local pool.
These imaginative stories and characters promote an appreciation of our natural environment, in particular the Australian Bush and the many creatures who call it home. I think this message is important for future generations of our country, and since it was one of my favourite childhood books I couldn’t wait to share it with my own girls as soon as they were big enough. I bought my eldest daughter a copy The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie as a gift on her 4th birthday – she’s recently turned 9 and still loves the book.
If, like me, you’re a fan of May Gibbs and her stories you’ll love the website dedicated to sharing and preserving them. There are lots of themed activities and lessons for kids which can be printed out, plus information about the author’s life and her artwork. If you’re not familiar with the books you can read them online here, as well as listen to readings from the likes of Kate Richie and Elly May Barnes.
Australian Book week is next week, and I decided to create a Gumnut Baby costume for Miss K to wear in her school costume parade. I could have done the usual thing and photographed her standing in front of a wall in our loungeroom, but this is the gumnut babies we are talking about here! We decided instead to head into the nearby national park and take some shots on location in the Australian bush.
The problem is, once my kids are let loose in the national park they don’t want to sit still and have their photo taken – they want to explore and have fun. This is not the best idea when you’re wearing a paper skirt and hat! I still managed to get a few nice pictures of our Little Ragged Blossom though.
Look who else we managed to spot while we were there – the ever shy and elusive lyrebird, isn’t he pretty?
How to make a Gumnut Baby costume
Learning to use a sewing machine is something that’s been on my list for a while and I’ll get there one day. That day is not today though, today I’ve created another no-sew costume from items I picked up in the discount store. It was really easy to make, but as a word of warning this costume is made of paper. It will last about as long as it takes to parade around the school hall for a morning, and perhaps even until your child gets home from school but after that it’s likely to fall to pieces. If you want to make something more permanent for the dress-up box you’d need to use fabric like felt or tule to create your costume.
For now, here is how to make our paper version…
You will need:
• 2 x rolls of crepe paper in yellow
• 1 x pack of green tissue paper
• a disposable plastic bowl around the right size to fit on your child’s head
• the pointy inside piece of an egg carton
• double sided tape
• masking tape
• hat elastic
• a piece of ribbon for the waist of the skirt
• green felt for the gum leaf details
• yellow yarn for the pom poms
• glue stick
• hot glue gun
• a shirt and pair of tights in a similar colour to your child’s skin (I bought some pale pink ones inexpensively at Kmart)
• a yellow tutu – I found ours in the costume section at the dollar store
Making the hat:
- Glue the pointy piece of egg carton to the top of your plastic bowl. I’ve used a glue stick but if that won’t hold use some double-sided tape.
- Wrap the bowl with the pointy egg carton top in green tissue paper. I’ve wrapped mine in two sheets of paper and needed to patch an extra circle of paper over the pointy bit because it tore a little.
- Cut two 20cm long pieces from your rolled up piece of crepe paper.
- Gradually unravel and bunch and gather one end of the crepe paper. Attach it with pieces of masking tape to the inside of your hat – see photographs below for a better explanation.
- Once you’ve made it the entire way around the inside rim of your hat with crepe paper, make a second layer.
- Use a metal skewer heated under a flame (I used the gas flame on our stove) to easily poke a hole in each side of the hat for the elastic strap.
- Thread a piece of hat elastic through the hole on one side. Measure it to go under your child’s chin and and then thread the other end through the hole on the opposite side. Tie a small bead on each end to hold it in place.
Making the skirt:
The paper skirt is placed over the top of a yellow tutu. The tutu underneath helps it to puff out like a gumnut blossom skirt. If you prefer, you could just wear the tutu on it’s own but making a paper cover to go over the top matches the hat better.
- Unravel an entire roll of crepe paper, you might need to do this on the floor because it will be very long
- Unroll your roll of ribbon and lay it across the top of the crepe paper.
- Measure the the length of your tutu and place the ribbon approximately that far from the base of the crepe paper.
- Fold the crepe paper above the ribbon over the top of the ribbon and stick it down with double sided tape. The tape should be placed just below the ribbon, so that it can be bunched and gathered like a skirt.
- Push the paper from each end closer to the centre of the ribbon, creating a gathered effect like a tutu.
- Measure to your child’s waist, the paper can be made to fit the entire way around. Leave some ribbon on each end so you can tie it in a bow.
Making the gum leaf necklace and decorations:
- Print out this gum leaf template and attach to two pieces of green felt with a pin.
- Cut out the felt with the paper attached – you will be left with two leaf shapes. Cut out enough leaf shapes to have eight all together.
- Cut two slits in the top of the leaves and thread ribbon through as per the image below to get a necklace.
- Make two yellow pom poms using a small DIY pom pom maker (mine is approx 3cm wide).
- Attach the pom poms to the leaves by tying them securely through the slits you have made in the tops of the leaves.
- Hot glue a leaf and pom pom decoration onto the hat and safety pin one onto the waist of the skirt.
That’s all there is to it!
What costumes are your kids wearing for book week?
More easy DIY costume ideas:
• Make some simple super hero masks using our free template
• Kids can make their own crowns using pipe cleaners and foil
• Here are some easy washi tape wands
• Make some koala masks with our free printable
There are LOTS of ideas on our coolest costumes board on Pinterest too go check it out for more inspiration