In October of 2008 I returned home, and to a kind of normality. I'll skip over the santa suits of 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 as they were just variations - more green face paint, another set of tentacles, a couple more outings for the Santa Staff of doom. I took three years out, preoccupied with a rough period in my life (and limited funds), but in 2016, in better employment and better spirits, I was drawn back out by an invite from some friends and the santa spark was reignited.
I decided I would start again, and finally make a santa suit that was all me - and also streamlined, convenient and practical. Nothing to carry around, nothing that would fall off or fall apart, and ideally weatherproof and comfortable to wear during a long day on foot. I'll break down this make into four parts: The fur, the hat, the stencilling and the boots.
I started with a heavy black leather jacket with a large hood I'd found on ebay.
The bottom edge of the jacket has a slightly elasticated woollen edge for warmth, which made it very easy to stitch on fur trim. I only inserted stitches every two or three inches, which both made the sewing quicker and allowed me to easily insert a string of white LEDs on copper wire all the way round the hem.
These little LED strings are ridiculously cheap and easy to attach to anything, and surprisingly durable as well as waterproof - I've been soaked through on several occasions and these have just kept going unaffected.
The sleeves were similar to the hem, although the fur puckered up a lot once attached - at some point I'm going to replace those with something looser and more full.
The hood was harder work, being thick leather throughout. I finally punched holes all round the edge and strung it through side to side with strong thread, with little silver jingle bells tied on each side to grip the fur in place - very fiddly to find the punched holes with the needles through the fur, but surprisingly secure enough to hold for three years without repairs.
I again inserted a string of LEDs, weaving them over and under the threads for extra security, with the battery pack and switch held in place with a piece of black duct tape, easy enough to pull out to change batteries or fiddle with the switch.
I held off for two years on attaching fur to the lapels, both because I was struggling to see how best to do it (the leather being too thick and multi-layered to pierce easily for stitching) and because it would immobilise the zip, which I might regret depending on the weather. But in the end I realised the jacket only really looked completed with fur trim down the front.
And fortunately a test patch on my old jacket proved that leather cement worked superbly to attach the fur without stitches.
(At least, with a fair bit of improvised clamping)
The joins were relatively subtle but the new fur, minus two years of London air pollution, looked very bright white against the slightly yellowed original fur, so just to see if it would work I aged it down a bit with a spray bottle of tea and a little salt as fixative. It worked out pretty nicely.
The fur was complete!
See you soon!