Our Amazing Halloween Costumes: Ada's Carmen Sandiego

Our Amazing Halloween Costumes: Ada's Carmen Sandiego

I knew going in that the most pivotal part of this Carmen Sandiego costume would be the jacket and its iconic red fabric. Once that was decided the rest of the costume fell into place nicely. I ended up creating some custom pieces and combined them with some store-bought staples to create the perfect costume!

Pinterest-geared image showing my post's title, main URL, and five images also shown below.

Backstory and Overview

From the beginning Ada knew exactly who she wanted to be but wasn’t too concerned about how it was going to happen. Once I started tackling the idea of a Carmen Sandiego costume I immediately worried about what we would do for the jacket. I looked online and finally settled on a coat pattern but worried I’d make it only to have it not fit. Since I wasn’t sure how it would go and I wasn’t sure how often it would be worn I decided to buy the cheaper red fleece that Joann’s had. As Ada hasn’t really worn the coat since I’m happy it fit, for Halloween, and glad I didn’t spend more on different fabric. Also let me tell you that red stood out in a crowd! Anyway once I had planned it out I decided to have fun and make a sketch to show the final costume. This is what I ended up drawing and I was then able to show it to Ada to confirm that we were in fact on the same wavelength. Here it is:

Image shows a sketch of Ada's planned outfit with labels showing what each item is.

The Parts of the Costume

Here’s where we bought some items and how we created the rest to create this truly epic costume.

Black Shirt

Although the shirt can only be seen if the jacket is open I decided to make a black top to go with the whole costume. In the recent cartoon images Carmen Sandiego is wearing a high necked top but I figured Ada wouldn’t be comfortable in that so I decided to instead go with the Firecracker sewing pattern; a tried and trued one from years ago. The top turned out extremely comfy and Ada loved pulling the hem down so it looked more like a dress.

Image shows a close up of Ada's torso while she wears a black tea that goes down to her upper thigh.
I cut out the top pattern a bit longer and added a band to the hem. Ada loved the length and comfiness of it.


I knew immediately that I’d use the sun hat sewing pattern from Rebecca Page. I’d made it years ago and knew sewing it up with the matching fabric from the jacket would be perfect. The only change I made was to add a black band, using the same black knit fabric as the top, and skipping the binding along the bottom.

To create the band I traced out the bottom half of the crown pattern piece thus making a copy that was only about a third to a half in height to the original. I then used it to cut out two pieces in black knit fabric before lining them up right sides together, sewing along their top, and then lining up their edges to turn it into a round piece (akin to sewing a band before attaching it to the top). After lining up its raw bottom edge with the bottom of the hat, around the crown, and clipping it in place I then went on to treat it as a single piece. Sewing the brim onto this hat piece secured it in place.

Image shows the original pattern piece partially hidden by the newly created pattern piece and its matching fabric. My rotary cutter, pattern weights, and fabric lay off to the side.
I used the crown pattern piece to create my black band piece. I then used it to cut two band pieces in black knit.
Image shows the hat top with the black band lined up and clipped together along the bottom edge.
Once I sewed the two top sides together and joined them to make a round piece I next lined up the raw bottom edge with the hat bottom and clipped it in place to be treated as one new piece.
Image shows the edge of the hat top under the sewing machine's foot as it's being stitched into place about half a centimeter from the top of the band.
I worried the top of the band would flip down so I decided to sew along the top edge to hold it in place. If I were to do this again I’d either sew closer to the top or sew perpendicular to this to hold it together.
Image shows the underside of the finished hat.
Technically, according to the directions, I’m supposed to finish this final seam but I decided to leave it as it was.
Image shows the finished hat on Ada's head.
I absolutely love how this hat turned out! It’s perfect for Carmen Sandiego’s costume


I was worried about the jacket as I hadn’t sewn one before and I worried it wouldn’t fit Ada properly. However, this process ended up going great and I’m so glad I decided to take the plunge. To make the jacket match Carmen Sandiego a bit better I chose to skip the button holes and, once the jacket was done, I put it on Ada, lined up the edges, and hand stitched some hook and eye closures to the inside of the jacket so it would be magically held on.

Image shows the jacket under the sewing machine foot with sewing clips all the way along the edge.
I was worried about ironing the fleece so after turning the jacket right side out I carefully checked all the corners and edges before clipping them in place and topstitching along the entire edge.
Image shows the two closure options I purchased along with a red bobbin, sewing needle, and some cut scissors.
Early on in the planning I knew I wanted hidden closures but wasn’t sure how so I ended up buying both some large snaps along with a pack of hook and eye closures. In the end I worried the fleece would tear under the strain of the snaps so I went with the alternative option: hook and eye closures.
Image shows the edge of the jacket folded so it's three layers thick. The white chalk marker is held behind it.
I decided to go with four closures and so folded the edge of the jacket twice to make sure they’d be equal-distance away from each other. Once I was sure where I wanted them to go I marked the spots with a white chalk marker.
image shows the jacket closed with the eye on the one side and the marked spot on the other for the hooks.
I sewed the eye side onto the jacket before lining up the two layers again, marking the other side, and sewing the hook side on.


I knew going into this costume that Carmen Sandiego's necklace was so distinct that I had to recreate it somehow to make Ada's costume recognizable. At first I looked for solutions online, debated grabbing an old black chocker I had somewhere that didn't quite fit, and then started wondering if I should just skip it. Then, while creating Zoey’s black cat tail I realized I could use the copper wire as a base for Ada’s necklace and this necklace was born. I love how it turned out!

Image shows a closeup of Ada's neck while wearing her costume and the necklace.
I love the pop of yellow the necklace contributes to the costume but wish I had angled the elastic a bit more down when sewing it to the triangle pendant. Overall really happy with it and it did get worn again… although I haven’t seen it in a while.


Although Ada and Zoey (black cat) chose completely different costumes there were some similarities. In addition to the above components I made Ada I also purchased black boots, gloves, and leggings for both girls. The first two items, black rubber boots and kid gloves, were purchased from Amazon while we went to Carter’s website for the black leggings.

Final Costume

I absolutely love how this costume turned out! Ada absolutely adored being Carmen Sandiego and I loved how brilliantly she showed up in a crowd. Overall a costume I’m really proud of having made happen.

Overall view of Ada's Carmen Sandiego from the back and slightly angled.
Overall view of Ada's Carmen Sandiego from the front showing the lack of buttons.
Overall view of Ada's Carmen Sandiego looked down from a bit on high. Her hat is covering her face and she looks perfect.

I also absolutely adore how most of the costume elements can be worn on their own throughout the year without anyone thinking Halloween… although looking the hat and jacket weren’t worn that much.

I hope this helps you out whether you, or someone else, wants to be Carmen Sangiego or something else. If it does I’d love to hear how in the comments below. Either way I hope you have an incredible day!

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