Yarncrafting Costumes: Designing a Turtle Shell

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Yarncrafting Costumes: Designing a Turtle Shell

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My knitted costuming adventures continue, this time with a different mission: to create a costume for someone else! My performer friend often dresses up as a turtle, and while she had plenty of green costume items and a beautiful custom leather mask, she was missing a key component – her shell! Read along for my turtle shell design.

Designing a Turtle Shell

Turtle Shell

Design & Yarn Selection

For the design, I was inspired by this turtle pattern, which I had knitted as a baby shower gift years ago. I predicted it would scale nicely with super bulky yarn into a wearable turtle shell – what basically amounts to an adult-sized backpack.

Shell Stitch Pattern

Shell Stitch Pattern

In selecting the yarn, I opted for heavier weight options so that this large project would work up more quickly. I enjoyed proposing various green color combinations in different yarns. Green Bay and Key Lime in Hometown USA were the winners! Other contenders included some lovely greens in Wool-Ease Thick & Quick.

I measured my friend’s back and we decided how large we wanted the shell. After a few swatches with different needle sizes, I determined my gauge, roughed out a pattern template, and started stitching!


The turtle shell is made up of two pieces: a decorative front, and a plain back. Once the front and back pieces of the shell were complete, I seamed them together, and stuffed the piece with (so much) fiberfill along the way.


At one of the trimming shops in NYC’s fashion district, I found elastic to match the main color of the turtle shell. I sewed four straps out of the elastic – two for the shoulders, and two for the thighs. My friend wanted to wear the shell as a backpack, hence the shoulder straps. We also needed the leg attachments so that she could crouch down (like a turtle!) and have the shell stay in place. We had one final try-on session to adjust the fit and place the straps accordingly. I reinforced the straps by knitting strips of fabric a bit wider than the elastic, stitched those to the shell, and then attached the elastic to the knitted strips.

Turtle in Action

I found it so gratifying to create the perfect piece for someone’s recurring costume. And voila! The turtle is now complete with her shell!

Turtle Shell Outdoors

More Turtles to Knit and Crochet

Here are several turtle patterns if you’re inspired to create a turtle of your own!

An adorable kit to crochet – a turtle succulent pot holder. Or knit a turtle costume for your dog with this Lion Brand pattern!

Here’s a child’s turtle vest to knit (especially cute with the matching dog costume!). And two amigurumi turtle patterns to crochet: the Tiny Turtle (Crochet) pictured above, and the Amigurumi Turtle.

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1 Comment

  • I am a big fan of these i have a million i especial love the dogs and the kid one from your biggest fan bob

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