Sew the winner is… and sewing queen May Martin stitch together some tips for World Book Day costumes 

With World Book Day hitting schools across the country on 3rd March, which has more than 8,000 listings for ‘World Book Day’, has teamed up with celebrity sewing queen May Martin to provide some inspiration on creating costumes for little literates, from intricate masterpieces to last-minute ensembles for perfectionists and busy parents alike.
Says May Martin, “There is nothing quite like the images conjured up in the pages of a book. Characters come to life in stories and the next best thing to reading about a character is to actually become it in costume.
“eBay provides the perfect resource for all your costume needs, from elastic to sequins, sewing tools and stick on motifs, so that every parent has the opportunity to get creative with their child this World Book Day, whether they’re a time-poor novice or a seasoned seamstress”. 
May Martin’s tips – for all products below search the ‘Sewing & Fabric’ category on
1. Boning – search ‘fabric covered boning’
Traditionally used in fitted bodices and hooped skirts, boning is wonderful for shaping and stiffening edges but it is also great for giving structure to a pair of wings for a Tinkerbell outfit or the plumage of a Peacock costume. For ease of use, buy the type that has its own casing and sew along both edges of the tape to secure in place.

2. Vilene – search ‘Vilene’
This is another product that is good for stiffening and giving structure to large areas. It comes in several different weights and the quickest to use is the iron-on variety. Use heavy weight to give body to a hat for a Peter Pan costume, headdresses, helmets or a belt for a Mad Hatter costume.

3. Elastic – search ‘Bias binding’
Elastic can instantly give shape and flexibility to a flat piece of fabric.
To encase the elastic, make either a double hem by turning the edge of the fabric under twice or attach a strip of bias binding. Make a Aladdin Genie costume by taking a bright pair of pyjamas and threading narrow elastic through the hems of the sleeves and legs.

4. Make your own iron on motif – search ‘Vilene 329 paper-backed bondaweb’
If you have an old t-shirt that you want to jazz up for your child’s costume, this is the most amazing aid for applying motifs for garment decoration. The process is called appliqué. Cut a square of Bondaweb bigger than the finished shape to be applied. Iron this square onto the wrong side of a slightly bigger piece of fabric with the paper side touching the iron. Draw a shape onto the paper - if letters are being drawn these should be drawn back to front. Cut out the shapes. Peel off the paper backing. Position onto the garment glue side down and then stick into position with a steam iron. This is great for a Harry Potter or Hermione Granger costume where you can draw out the Gryffindor crest.

5. Stick on sparkles and beads - search ‘craft stick on bits’
There are endless wonderful products that can be stuck onto fabric. They come in numerous shapes from pearls, jewels, hearts, flowers, stars and much more and can make a real difference to the end result. Great for turning an everyday dress into a Cinderella costume!

6. Sew on sequins and beads – search ‘sew on sequins and beads’  
You can purchase these either singly or joined together with a chain stitch. The latter are great where a long continuous line of sparkle is needed, if you were making a star for a Fairy costume or some sparkles for a Little Mermaid outfit. They are easier to work with as individual beads and sequins tend to get lost!

7. Felt – search ‘felt fabric’
This is another great product that has been around for years. There are a range of styles and colours and it’s great for children’s costumes as it doesn’t fray. This fabric is perfect for hats and flowers to embellish a Mad Hatter costume.

8. Ribbons – search ‘ribbon’
Ribbon is easy to use and gives long lines of colour. There are currently more than 200,000 to choose from on and it comes in many widths and can be plain or patterned. This is wonderful for bows for an Alice in Wonderland costume. 

9. Eyelets – search ‘eyelets’
Eyelets are easy to insert and come in many colours. A good way to use eyelet fastening is to mimic a long pair of lace up boots by choosing a piece of fabric to blend with a pair of shoes, shape and hem two pieces of fabric to wrap round each leg. Insert eyelets on the long edges in pairs and lace them together to create a boot effect for a Pirate costume. You could also use this method to create paws for a Gruffalo outfit.

10. Paper patterns – search ‘children’s costume sewing pattern’
There are lots of dressmaking patterns that can be used as a basis for many costumes. Choose from Superman, Tinkerbell, Little Red Riding Hood and much more. A good tip is to make costumes with generous hems so that they can be lengthened and worn again.

Says May Martin, “Finally, don’t panic if you’re running out of time to pull a creative masterpiece together, there is a marvellous array of ready-made costumes for you to buy on eBay, from Alice in Wonderland to Horrid Henry, Mad Hatter and Where’s Wally”.

For more World Book Day costume inspiration visit

Notes to Editors
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