halloween sewing: King Carlos IV

Hello, friends! I hope that by now you’ve had time to recover from your sugar coma. Or your kids’ sugar coma, at least. So many of you were busy sewing for Halloween, and over the past few days I’ve noticed a lot of really cute, creative costumes pop up in the Flickr group. I’ve been adding many of them to the Halloween sewing with Oliver + S Pinterest board, but I’m certain that I’ve missed quite a few.

A few of you asked for the lowdown on S’s costume which showed up on Facebook, so here it is.




When we were in Spain this summer we spent several days in Madrid looking at art. We all really admire  Velázquez’s Las Meninas, and it was a treat to see it in person for the first time.

While we were exploring the city I was also working hard to keep S entertained. She quickly tired of walking and looking at art, but I’ve learned that if I can distract her by discussing something else it will take her mind off how horribly mean her parents are to force her to look at art. So we started talking about Halloween costumes and how much fun it would be to dress as the Infanta from Las Meninas for Halloween. But much to my surprise, she was more interested in dressing as Goya’s portrait of King Carlos IV of Spain! And although I’ve sworn that I don’t sew Halloween costumes, I couldn’t resist this one.



We took our inspiration directly from Goya’s portrait of the king and hit the fabric stores. We found a cotton velvet (velveteen), some silver sequined trim, and a blue satin ribbon for the sash.


King Carlos Costume: Jacket


I didn’t want the jacket to close at center front so that it wouldn’t get in the way of the vest, so I used the School Days Jacket without the center panel for the jacket. I just shaped the neckline a bit and added some length and a little shaping at the side seams. I sewed the sash and the cuffs directly to the jacket to make dressing easier. The sash has a dart at the shoulder and a chevron seam at the side seam to help with shaping.


King Carlos Costume: Sash Detail


I found the pleated trim for the cuffs just by chance while I was waiting for the sequined trim to be cut. It was so perfect for this project!




I used the Art Museum Vest and Trousers (wow, you’d think I planned that, right?) for the vest and knickers. (Those of you for whom the word “knickers” means underpants, what do you call short pants like these?) I simplified the pants a bit and didn’t sew the welt pockets or the belt loops, so they went very quickly. She loved the front pockets, so I’m glad I included them. The button band at the knees is made in the same way as the Puppet Show Dress sleeve cuffs.


King Carlos Costume: Knickers


I straightened the bottom edge of the vest and added a flounce to get a look similar to that of his royal highness.


King Carlos Costume: Vest


The blue lining for the jacket and vest was left over from another project and was just barely enough fabric. We used silver and rhinestones buttons from my stash for the vest and the knickers.




Whenever S accompanies me to the trim store she begs to pick out a special button, so we’ve developed quite a collection of glittery animal buttons. They came in handy here as embellishment for the jacket.




Vest and jacket are both fully lined, so this costume should last and is headed to the dress-up box for many further adventures.

The wig took the most time to make and was the most challenging part for me, never having made a wig before. I used a tip from the folks at Martha Stewart and made a base cap from a plastic grocery bag and some masking tape. Then I draped and hand sewed cotton batting to the cap until it resembled a powdered wig. I powdered it (talcum powder)  when it was done because I wanted it to be more white than the unbleached cotton. S thought this was really funny. Next time (as if!) I’ll do something in paper more like this one.


King Carlos Costume


She was so proud of her costume! We have violin lessons on Friday nights, so the violin-case-carrying her majesty King Carlos was mistaken for Mozart several times on our way to and from lessons on Halloween. But I really enjoyed watching our neighbors react when we went trick-or-treating in our building and they asked who she was dressed as. Pretty sure S was the only King Carlos IV in our neighborhood this year. Maybe even the whole city of New York!


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  1. Helena

    Knickerbockers! She looks brilliant, a totally characterful and off the wall idea.

  2. Sarah Helene

    WHAT A UNIQUE BRIGHT RED COSTUME OF KING CARLOS IV OF SPAIN, Halloween outfit for your girl, S! Inspiration from Goya’s portrait of this monarch seen in a museum in Madrid during your vacation. The detailing is AWESOME. . . lots of Mom’s LOVE sewn into this costume, Liesl. THANKS for sharing. Sarah in Minneapolis

  3. She looks super awesome! And you usually don’t sew for Halloween? That’s always my favorite.

  4. Linda A

    My older brother wore BRITCHES when he was young. You may have heard the saying “you’re getting too big for your britches” when a boy was talking back to his parents. All the boys wore them back in the 50’s where I grew up (in Toronto), were made of corduroy or a heavier cotton duck & they often had oval patches over the knees. Blue jeans were not worn at that time as denim was really a heavy dense fabric, good for farm overalls I suppose.

    Love the costume!!
    Linda A, Ontario, Canada

  5. dianelyons

    Not only is that outfit totally AMAZING, but I love that S was into dressing up as a king–maybe one day I can convince my little pink princess. . . .oh, and that wig just rocks!

  6. Francine

    Pedal pushers Is how we describe those short pants. Clever costume Liesel & great idea S . A winning combo !

  7. This is just too cool. You made a wig?? Seriously!! Too good. Love the inspiration and the execution is perfect.

  8. Jessie

    knickerbockers here too 🙂

  9. Sharon K

    This is just coolest costume!! Everything looks amazing!

  10. What a wonderful costume! I love all the details and that it is unique!

  11. Such a special costume for a very special little girl. And a greatly special mother who went for it.!!

    Love the whole thing.

  12. Joanne Powell

    Could I subscribe to your blog please, thanking you xx

  13. i love this costume so much! S, you are so creative, and Liesl I love to see your sewing in action! you make a great team.

  14. Olga

    This is a beautiful costume! I’m in awe!
    My daughter is supposed to play Mozart in the upcoming play at school – I’m on a look out for a costumer. She is 11 years old.
    This costume resembels the one of Mozart. Do you think I could buy it from you? It is absolutely beautiful!
    Thank you – I look forward to hear from you!

    1. Thanks for asking, Olga, but I think S wants to keep her costume. It means a lot to her! Good luck with your search for an appropriate costume.

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