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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       

The Making of My First Cosplays: Jovie the Elf Costume

Background and Research

In the 2003 movie Elf, Jovie appears in two different elf costumes.  The one she is seen in most the department store elf costume from her job at Gimbel's.  This costume is what you would think of as a typical red and green elf outfit.  The second costume she wears is only shown in the ending scene where she and Buddy visit Papa Elf with their baby.  It is pink, red and white.

As the companion costume for Buddy, I chose to do the second costume even though she is seen in it for only a few minutes at the end of the movie.  I did this for two reasons.  First, this is supposed to be part of a couples costume.  The pink costume is what she wears after she and Buddy actually become a couple and are (presumably) married with a baby.  The department store elf costume is worn when she and Buddy have not yet hooked up.  Second, I feel that stylistically, the pink one looks better when paired with the Buddy costume, and is what a "real" elf (at least in the context of the movie) would wear.  On the other hand, the first costume in the context of the movie is the stereotypical department store interpretation of elf attire.

Replicating the Dress and Accessories

The Costume Elements

  1. Pink long-sleeved, skater style dress, likely made of fleece, trimmed with approximately 2 inches of fur at the collar, cuff, and skirt
  2. Red leather belt with silver buckle
  3. Cone hat with red trim
  4. Red embroidery at the collar
  5. A silver/shimmery organza underskirt
  6. Red tights/leggings and red leather elf shoes



The Dress

I compromised on this and purchased a basic pink skater dress in a knit fabric.  I already knew that I wasn't going to want to ever wear a fleece dress in our heat (Texas), especially for a costume that included leggings.  This style of dress is just too easy to buy for cheap, so I decided not to sew it from scratch.  The color and fabric are thus not quite screen-accurate.

The Underskirt

Jovie wears a shimmery, silver underskirt with silver trim.  I replicated this by gathering some silvery/gray organza and sewing it onto the hemline.  I didn't bother with applying a trim on the bottom, and doubled up on the hem to simulate a trim.

The crazy thing about this is that I could not find silver or gray organza or trim to make this.  There's a lot of white (for wedding dresses) and black (because black) available, but not so much in other colors.  While I was searching the internet to find organza, the only thing that was readily available in anything other than black or white was organza gift bags.  Hmm.  That made me recall that over the years, I've received gifts from Amazon where the giver paid Amazon to do the gift wrapping for them.  It used to be that Amazon would actually wrap their gifts in wrapping paper, but nowadays they just throw items into a pre-made gift bag made of....organza. 

Woot!  I had a couple of these bags in silver!

A few minutes and a seam ripper later, I got my underskirt material for free, along with some dark gray non-woven polypropylene material (the stuff they make reusable grocery bags from) that was used to give the bag structure and opacity.  As a side note, I got into sewing cosplay after catching the sewing bug (no pun intended) making masks for the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020.  Non-woven polypropylene can be used to make face masks and mask filters, so perhaps I may use the other part of this gift bag for that someday.  

I cut the organza into about 12" wide strips, folded it in half, and sewed a 1/2" seam at the bottom.  After gathering the strip using two rows of machine basting, I finished the top edge by sewing it into a folded-over 2" strip of scrap fabric to make it easier to sew into the hemline. 

The faux fur that I purchased was labeled as dry-clean only.  Since I wanted to be able to throw the dress in the wash, I did not directly sew the fur trim onto the dress.  Instead, I sewed strips of velcro onto the dress and trim so that I could easily detach the fur when it came time to washing the dress.

The Belt

Jovie's belt appears to be made of (p)leather, but since I already had some scrap red felt in my fabric stash, I chose to use that for the belt, hat trim, and elf shoe covers. I cut out two strips of the felt and top-stitched them together to give it a little more heft and structure.  I attached the strip to a 1.5" adjustable silver buckle that was purchased in a pack of two.  This type of buckle works on tension and has no belt pin, so I didn't need to fuss with cutting holes and installing grommets.


A friend gave me some red knit fabric and elastic to use for Covid-19 mask sewing that I never used for that purpose.  Since I had the materials to make the leggings, I decided to give drafting a pattern and making some basic leggings with an exposed waistband for this costume.

Pattern drafted onto cut up grocery bags and sewn up into leggings with an exposed wide elastic waistband.

Jovie's leggings are decorated with a snowflake/star pattern made from dots/sequins (?).  I made my own version of this decoration by dotting silver glitter fabric paint into a star pattern.   

The Hat

Jovie's hat is a a cone hat decorated with four strips of red trim.  Unlike Buddy's cone hat, there are little gaps between the strips of trim. I could have cut out a simple cone and made a hat from that, but since I the pattern I purchased to make the Buddy Elf coat included an elf hat, I gave that a try instead.  I purchased a yard of pink flannel to match the dress color and a yard of heavyweight interfacing to make the hat.  


IMHO, cutting out a simple cone would have yielded a more accurate replica.  The hat cut from the pattern has a floppy brim, and the Jovie and Buddy hats are closer to a true cone.  Since at this point I had not yet made the Buddy hat, I will do a simple cone for that instead.  I don't know if I will re-make the Jovie hat, although I do have enough extra material to re-do it. 


Final Costing and Bill of Materials

 Item Purchase Price inc. tax (USD)
 Pink knit skater dress   $24.89
Red felt (shoes, hat trim, belt) Scrap from previous crafts
 Silver adjustable slide buckle (2 pk)  $4.32
 1 yd pink flannel (hat) $6.48
 1 yd heavyweight interfacing (hat) $4.32
 Red leggings DIY from fabric and notions stash
 Silver organza "underskirt" Upcycled gift bag
 Glitter Fabric paint (snowflake decor on leggings) $3.45
 2 yds Sew-in 3/4" wide velcro (for attaching trim) $6.61
 White faux fur (trim)     Scrap from Buddy costume

 TOTAL $50.07