Home InspirationSew & Tell I Know Who Sews Santa’s Suits!

I Know Who Sews Santa’s Suits!

by Beth Cooper
Tate in his magician’s vest.

Sewist’s Name: Tate Elliott from Cary, North Carolina

Type of Project: Garments

Featured Date: 02-23-23

Hi, I’m Tate Elliot. I live in Cary, NC (just outside of Raleigh) and I’m sixty-nine years old. Both my wife and I sew. I’ve been sewing since I made myself a Sherlock Holmes hat in high school. The Nancy’s Notions newsletter email last week caught my eye. The subject line compared sewing to magic. It made me laugh out loud because I AM a magician. I should mention that I no longer perform magic shows, although magic is still a hobby. I’ve sewn magic vests for myself and a few friends for years. Most recently, I’ve sewn a Santa suit for myself.

I sew some apparel, some quilts, and almost anything that will fit under my sewing foot. I’ve sewn puppets, a Hello Kitty car seat cover for my wife, rope baskets, and other craft items.

I suppose I’m most proud of my Santa suit. Almost everything you see in the photo, I either made or modified: hat, coat, pants (of course), also the gloves, belt, and I sewed the fur onto the boots.

Tate and his Santa suit that he made.

My machine is a 1961 Singer 500 Slant-O-Matic, the greatest sewing machine ever built – it says so on the cover of the manual!

I also sewed a reproduction of a shirt that Jack Benny wore once on his TV show. I follow the Jack Benny Fan Club on Facebook and this shirt gets posted from time to time. The fans call it the “Wonder Bread” shirt because of the large dots, plus it’s hard to tell what the actual colors are. I made a reproduction using – of course – the Wonder Bread colors. I created a graphic, copying the front of the shirt the best I could, and had it custom-printed at Spoonflower. I even found an out-of-print pattern for a shirt with kimono, or dolman, sleeves, the same as the original shirt.

Jack Benny on the left and Tate Elliott on the right. Tate was able to recreate Jack’s shirt.

Thanks for letting me Sew & Tell.

Tate Elliott

Tate Elliott Santa Claus

Remember, if you want to submit YOUR project to Quilt & Tell, all you have to do is send an email! Read more about how to enter here.

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susan cox
susan cox
1 year ago

I have a life sized stuffed Santa that needs to be remade. Just curious, what material did he use to make the Santa Claus’s suit.

11 months ago
Reply to  susan cox

I made my suit out of velvet. However, for a stuffed Santa you could use velveteen or corduroy.

Jim Wheeler
Jim Wheeler
1 year ago

Tate makes me sound like a piker. I have often thought about making my own Santa costume, seeing as to how I played the role for 16 years. I also started sewing in high school, unless you count hemming cutoff shorts, which I started doing around age 11. some of me projects include flower girl dresses, leisure suits, fancy dresses, adult bibs, COVID masks, fancy hot pads, and special use bags. My preferred sewing machines are Pfaff with IKT technology.

11 months ago
Reply to  Jim Wheeler

Jim, I made my suit because I wanted features that I couldn’t find on mass produced suits. For example, most suits come with band collars that I thought were too tight, plus I wanted a large collar such as in the photo. I think I used a Butterick pattern. If you’ve made leisure suits, then a Santa suit shouldn’t be difficult. Oh, one thing though. The pattern has you use 3 or 4 inch wide fur off a spool so you don’t have to worry about unfinished edges. I thought this was too narrow (and expensive). I used fake fur yardage, which meant I had to be creative to enclose all the fur seams.

Tony Knighten
10 months ago

Hi Tate! The Santa suit looks amazing. I’m a beginner Santa (attended my first school last month in Charlotte) from Spartanburg, but visit my fiancée (she goes to NCSU) in Raleigh often. Cary is a beautiful city. We make a point to visit there and have coffee at Esteemed. I was wondering which Butterick pattern you used for the suit. I know someone that can possibly help sew one for me, but we’re just looking for a starting point. I got a starter suit off Amazon, but yours is so much nicer! Thank you for sharing!

10 months ago
Reply to  Tony Knighten

Tony, Thanks for the compliments. Congratulations on taking the step toward being a Santa. I can’t remember the Butterick pattern number, it’s packed away somewhere, but they have only one version. Your suit in the photo looks pretty sharp too. If you want to talk about being Santa, the next time you’re up here, contact me. Here’s my email, but broken up a bit: It’s my first name, tate, followed by an under_score, then my last name, elliott, and finally, (at)juno.com. By the way, since you’re from Spartanburg, do you know Glenn Strange? You can reply via email.

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