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March 30, 2021

The Making of My First Cosplays: Buddy the Elf Costume

Background and Research

I was able to find the actual costumes worn by Will Ferrel online at an auction site, which made for a good reference.  This costume description indicates that the coat was made of antron fleece, and is closed with hidden snaps on the front.  Snaps along the waist hold the belt in place.  I originally thought the embroidered trim was only yellow, but the embroidery details are actually done in both yellow and green.  It is embroidered only on the front part of the coat.

Replicating the Coat and Accessories

 The Costume Elements

  1. Green coat made of antron fleece, probably sewn with interfacing to give it structure.  Fur collar and sleeve trim.  Edges embroidered on the front.
  2. Yellow leggings
  3. Cone hat decorated with yellow trim and a red feather 
  4. Black belt, approximately 4" wide with gold buckle
  5. Black elf shoes

Making the Coat

I elected to sew the coat from felt instead of fleece.  If I had stuck to fleece, I would have had to likely fuse some interfacing to it to give it a more coat-like structure, whereas felt naturally has a coat-like structure.  Felt also has a similar appearance to the onscreen texture.  Plus, felt is super cheap!

Starting With a Commercial Pattern

I purchased Simplicity 2542 as the base for this costume.  Since I'm just starting out sewing cosplay, I don't have any basic patterns on which to base garments on, nor do I have the skill (or current interest) to draft my own.  Having now used this pattern as a basis to make a modified, more accurately constructed pattern and prototype, I'd have to say that buying a regular men's coat pattern would have been more useful.  Not only for this project, but also to simply have a basic men's coat pattern to use in the future.  I guess I was enamored by the picture on the package. It looks "kind of" like the Buddy Elf outfit, and it's certainly the look Simplicity was going for. 

I thought that I could simply lengthen the coat and add the curve on the front.  The collar looked spot-on and so did the hat.  I also thought that I might get some future use from the Mrs. Claus apron and dress pattern that was included. 

Problems with the pattern

First, the hat turned out to be a bust.  Since I was working on Buddy and Jovie more-or-less at the same time, I actually used the hat pattern to make Jovie's hat first.  After making it according to the pattern I decided that cutting out a simple cone on my own would have not only been easier, but would have also yielded a more accurate replica. 

More seriously, I should have paid more attention to the actual silhouette this pattern will yield.  If I had bothered to look on the pattern back, I would have seen that although the "Buddy" look seems like a straight coat on the pattern cover (like the "real" Buddy coat"), it really is just the Santa pattern cut short of the flared bottom. I couldn't simply cut away the front to get the curved edge without taking in the flared part of the coat.  Also, there is no back seam on the pattern, which is necessary to get a proper slit on the back of Buddy's coat.  I thus had to add a seam allowance to the back centerline so that I could cut it into two pieces. 

Pattern coat has no back centerline seam and flares at the bottom.

Buddy's coat is straight (no flare), seamed and darted on back with a slit for mobility.

I basically re-made the coat pattern using pattern making material ("Swedish Tracing Paper") and used it to perfect a prototype made from an old duvet cover.  After doing all of that. I could confidently say that the prototype looked correct sillouhette-wise, and it fit the hubs properly. 

Back and front pattern modifications vs the original pattern. 

Edge Trim, Front Embroidery, and Closure

The site that auctioned-off a couple of the actual costumes worn by Will Ferrel notes that Buddy's coat is closed with hidden snaps and is embroidered in gold and green.  The edges of the coat also appear to be finished with binding tape.  I chose to close the coat with a long zipper instead of snaps for both ease of use and to simplify the sewing. 

I kind of obsessed over the embroidery.  It's hard to tell exactly what the embroidered designs are from either studying the movie or the pictures online, but it looks like a combination of flowers/leaves, Christmas shapes like snowflakes and reindeer, along with random patterns.  Although I value authenticity, there was no way I was going to spend hours hand-embroidering two colors along the entire front edge of the coat.  Instead, I looked to putting together various decorative stitches that are pre-programmed into my sewing machine to get the look and feel of the design, rather than being a strict replica.  

I spent hours trying out different stitch and design combinations.


I finally settled on a very simple combination of two stitch types, sewn in three straight rows. 

Final Costing and Bill of Materials

 Item     Purchase Price inc tax (USD)
 Faux Fur (collar and trim) $8.30
 22" Zipper     $4.32
 Green AP Thread     $4.32
 Santa Belt     $12.86
 Green felt (2 yds of 72" wide) $12.10
 Sew-in velcro (for attaching fur trim) Scrap from Jovie Costume
 Yellow leggings$12.97
 Costume Pattern             $6.95
 Dark green bias tape (edge trim)    $6.46       

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