Harry and Hermione - Bookweek Costumes

Every year (usually in August), students in schools all over Australia dress up as their favourite book characters to celebrate Bookweek. It's lots of fun for the kids, encourages engagement in literature, and is both a source of delight and stress for crafty mothers and children. It often results in tears, tantrums and hot glue gun burns as costumes are made with minutes to spare, and changed at the last minute on the whims of capricious children.

This year, I was prepared.  Our school only has a bookweek costume parade every second year, so I was ready to make the most of it.  Way, way back in June (yep, 3 months ago) my children decided they wanted to go as Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. They were certain of their decision, and I got started.  My inspiration for their costume was what I imagined as standard Hogwarts school uniform for Gryffindor students - robe with red lining, wand, stripey scarf, grey sweater, pants or pleated skirt, white shirt and tie.

I'm pretty pleased to say that we managed most of that. The only store bought items were Harry's glasses (via ebay), and clothing from the kids' usual school uniform: pants, polo shirts, tights and black leather shoes. All the rest was made by me and the kids (with some woodworking help from Dad).  The rest of the blog post will be a breakdown of how we made the various items, click on a link below to head straight for the details of that component.







From my perspective, these were the critical components of the costume. I wanted black robes with red lining, a hood and sleeves. I wasn't able to find a pdf pattern for these, but there are a few big 4 costume patterns that met the criteria. I ended up using a free Burdastyle tutorial to draft and sew up the robes.

Before I made the final versions, I whipped up a quick muslin using an old sheet, and was pretty pleased to find that it worked.  Needless to say, my nearly 9 year old son was not keen on the idea of a floral wizard robe, but his sister has claimed it for the dress-up box.

The actual robes are sewnin black bengaline with red poplin facing around the front and hood, and lined sleeves. I managed to grab the bengaline from Textile Traders while they were having a sale. Unsure of fabric quantities (and not wanting to be caught short) I grabbed 6 metres - I have more than enough left over for a pair of pants for me.  For actual fabric usage ... the pattern pieces for my 8 year old are 55" from the top of the hood to the bottom of the hem (18" at the widest point), and I used 2.6m of fabric.

Bengaline has some stretch, along the grain of the fabric (ie it will stretch along the selvage), so I was concerned that the weight of the fabric would stretch along the 'up and down' seams.  Along the front edges of the robe, it was attached to the poplin, which would stabilise it. For the side seams, I included some ribbon in the seam to help stabilise it (green was the colour I had plenty of ribbon available to use).

I strayed from the pattern instructions a little (mostly when making the sleeves). Rather than make the main, and the lining separately, and finish them together at the hem, I joined the lining to the main at the hem, basted the two pieces together, and sewed them both as one piece. This seemed simpler than the process described, but did mean I ended up with a visible seam in the sleeve.

I purchased a couple of Gryffindor patches on ebay, and added them to the front of the robes. I ended up choosing some that were a little more expensive, but had better detail and an iron on backing. After ironing the patches in place, I handstitched around the edge to make sure they stayed in place.

It felt pretty cool to be able to make something from a pattern I had drawn up myself, and I'm really happy with how they turned out.


The wands were made with dowel, hot glue and paint. There are plenty of tutorials around on this approach.

We started with some dowel (1/2" or 3/8"), which my husband cut to length, then planed a tapered tip at one end. Then he put the dowel in the chuck of a cordless drill, and sanded the end smooth.

With the shape of the wand sorted, we added decoration to the 'handle' with a hot glue gun, then painted the wands brown, and added silver accents.  It was pretty hard for me to handover the painting to the kids, but I did, and they did a good job.

The final step (which we haven't done yet) is to add a couple of coats of sealer spray, to stop paint coming off on their hands.


The scarves are what I started first. Knitting takes longer than sewing, and I had two to make. I used this pattern (Ravelry link), which is available for free.  The pattern uses 'double knitting', where you each row you knit every second stitch - and is essentially a way of knitting in the round, to get a flat piece of knitting.

I bought wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills - one 200g ball of each colour per scarf, which was more than enough. For the second scarf I went up a needle size, which made a softer, more drapey fabric, that was easier to knit.

Of course, weaving in the ends took a lot longer than I anticipated. And probably would have taken less time if I hadn't left it until the night before.


Hermione's skirt was made using the Miriam Skirt pattern (originally from One Thimble Issue 15*), but now also available from Once Upon a Sewing Machine.

I lengthened the pattern by about 4 inches, so that it would hit at knee length.

The main fabric a grey wool I found in an op shop. The waistband is lined with red broadcloth for a pop of colour.


Well really, the sweaters are sweaters at all. They're oversized long sleeved v-neck tees - Parker's Vintage T-shirt by Everything Your Mama Made and More.

I found some spandex blend, lightweight french terry on the clearance table at Spotlight, and managed to buy 3m for 50% off the sale price (score!).  The only problem was the right side had a glitter stuck onto the fabric - not the look an 8 year old boy is keen on.  No problem, I sewed his up with the wrong side facing out.

To get the look I was after, I went up a size for both of them (so a size 10 and a size 7). I shortened the sleeves by chopping them off at the point where they flare out for the hem, and added a cuff (cut 4" by whatever the end of the sleeve length was - final length is more like 1 5/8" by the time it's folded in half and seam allowance taken off). I also added bands to the bottom - cutting pieces 6" wide, and a length 80% of the width of the bottom hem.  My kids have long arms, and relatively long torsos, that that worked out quite nicely (although I could have taken a little length out of the front and back pattern pieces to account for the bottom band).

The trick that I'm most happy about with these sweaters is the neck bands. Of course, there's always a happy dance when you nail a v-neckband, but these have extra detailing with the red and gold stripes.  Initially I was planning on using fabric paint to replicate the stripes, but while stitching the neckband down, figured out I could used coloured thread and a tight zig-zag to add the colour to the neckbands. I used my walking foot to try and help reduce any stretching of the neckband, and gave them a good press once I was finished.

Personally I think they look great. And was pretty chuffed when a friend who had seen a photo asked how I found time to knit the sweaters as well.

Overall I'm so happy with these costumes. I managed to buy all the fabric when it was on sale, and use patterns I already owned. Of course, if I hadn't left the sewing to the last couple of weeks I would have made a few more components. I have the following patterns earmarked for completing the outfit.

The final details for the kids were a pair of glasses (via ebay) and a lighting bolt shaped scar (courtesy of some eyeliner) for Harry, and frizzy hair for Hermione - courtesy of 15 small plaits pressed with a hairstraightener and fixed with hairspray.

We're now set for Halloween costumes, and other dress-up opportunities.

*This post contains some affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission and no cost to you. The opinions, sewing and last minute dash across the road to get photos before school are all my own.


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