Friday, October 12, 2012

Max's Wolf Suit Costume: Where the Wild Things Are

Finally, a wolf suit that looks like the one in the book! I have recently been inspired by Make-It Love-It to begin sewing again and decided to make the costume of my dreams (albeit for my two-year-old.) Here are step-by-step instructions and pictures to make an AWESOME wolf suit. They aren't short and easy, but the end result is well worth it:

1) MATERIALS: Buy fabric. The following is enough to make a 3T (Carters) costume. You will need fleece (or fake fur) to make the body and hood, fake fur for the tail. If you do a crown, also pick up trim, gold stuff, and stiff interfacing. This is what I bought:

  • 2.5 yards of cream fleece
  • 1/3 yard brown fake fur
  • 1/4 yard gold metallic polyester stuff
  • 3/4 yard stiff interfacing (I wasn't sure if the width would go around my son's head.)
  • 3/4 yard fur trim for the crown

Not shown but also used:

  • thin elastic, 1/4" width or smaller
  • 4 large buttons
  • 1/4 yard pajama foot fabric (found in the utility fabrics)
  • 14 gauge floral wire
  • black beading wire
  • 3 feet of velcro
Again, you might want more fabric/elastic/velcro if you are making the suit for a taller person. Or if you hate unpicking and sometimes don't get it right the very first time.

2) BODY: Find a pair of pajamas that already fit and turn them inside out. Then fold them in half. Open your cream fleece. Fold your fabric in so that the right sides of the fabric face each other. This is the magic fold :) Place the folded in half pajamas on the doubled fabric with the arm of the pajamas over the fold. You can either eye-ball it or use a fabric marker (the water-soluble kind) to trace around the outside of the pajamas, folding the arm in to cut the shoulder/armpit seam. Trace from the edge of the fabric on the pajamas, not the seam. Then you will be able to sew a seam yourself. You should end up with something looking like this:

Make two of these. Then cut a small football 5" long for the crotch (pictured below.) The main body is now ready to sew! With one piece folded in half just like you cut it, sew the top of the shoulder together using 1/4" seam (or whatever your pajamas had.) Then sew the leg from the ankle up, stopping 2.5" from the crotch (so you can sew in your football.) Then face the right sides of the front/back seam together and sew ONE of them. This is now the back. Sew the front seam from the crotch up about four inches. Now you have a football-shaped hole to put the crotch piece in. Pin the football into the crotch, right sides facing together, and sew. The body is now ready for some additions.

3) SLEEVES: Repeat the cream fabric folding instructions above and lay the sleeve of the inside out pajamas on the fold. I like the fold on top so the finished seam runs from the armpit down instead of the shoulder. Trace and cut two sleeves. Tip: When you cut the shoulder seam on the sleeve, take the pajamas off and lay down your main body shoulder seam. Just cut the sleeve seam to match the body seam. Easy!

Make sure your fabric has right sides together and sew the bottom of each sleeve.


Do the magic fabric fold and cut out four claws (so only cut twice since you are cutting two claws on the doubled fabric.) Or you can cut four separate claws; just make sure you get two facing up and two facing down. I made my gloves so that little man could take his fingers out and stick his hands through if he wanted to without taking the whole costume off. If you want to do this, go ahead and cut one of your doubled fabrics along the dotted line.  Now match up one whole claw with a slitted claw, right sides together, and sew around the the claws, following the dotted line on the pattern. I backstitched to reinforce all the tips of the claws and bottoms of the fingers. Take a pair of scissors and cut the fabric as close as you can get to the bottoms of the fingers without cutting through the stitching (this isn't the glove I settled on, but you get the idea!):

Sorry I have no pictures of this next part! Take your sleeve and fold it inside out so the seam shows. Turn the glove right side out (no seam) and stuff the fingers inside the wrist of the sleeve. Match the seam of the sleeve with the center of the slitted side of the glove and pin. Pin all the way around and sew. Turn the sleeve/claw right side out. Then take the main body and turn it inside out. Now take the sleeve/claw and put the shoulder/armpit seam inside the shoulder/armpit seam of the body. Pin the bottom seam of the sleeve to match the side seam of the body suit. Pin all the way around and sew. Repeat for the other arm. It's starting to look wolf-y! Yay!

5) FEET: There is probably an easier way, but this is what I did. I thought about doing velcro straps to go under shoes, but I opted to make feet bottoms so the suit would be self-contained. I would probably do velcro straps if I did it again :)

All of these ones have to be cut on the fold. The left foot pattern piece (bottom) should be cut from the utility pajama-foot material. The middle and right are cream fleece. Take the top of the foot and sew, right sides together, leaving a 1.5" opening so you can turn it inside out. Snip between toes almost until the seam, just like claws. Turn it inside out. Repeat for the other foot.

On the heel piece (shown at right above) take a 2.5" piece of elastic and pin the ends (see above pattern piece) at the 2.5" mark with the elastic looping downward toward the zero. Pin elastic one quarter of an inch from the edge so you can sew the heel to the pant leg. Make sure elastic is on the wrong side of the fabric. Pin the middle of the elastic to the middle (0) of the heel fabric.  Using narrow stitch width and long length, zig-zag one end of the elastic thoroughly.  Then holding that end with left hand and the middle pin with the right hand, zig-zag to the middle pin. Make sure it is scrunching well and continue to the end of the elastic, securing well.  Face the right sides together and sew the (see above) top edge together. Pin this seam to the center of the front of the body suit. Pin around ankle and sew onto main suit. Repeat. Whew!

Take the foot tops and pin the middle of the "fold"edge to the center seam of the heel piece. Sew together. Take your floral wire and trace edge of foot top. Squish it together and stuff it into the fabric so the claws stick out. Leave some extra wire to go around the heel (if you're doing bottoms on the feet) and make the whole outline of the sole stiff. You can also stuff some fleece scraps or batting into the toes to make them claw-like. If you attached velcro to the foot, proceed to step six (lucky!) For foot bottoms, read on.

Grab the pajama foot pieces and pin the center of the rounded heel to the center back of the heel piece, with right sides facing together. Pin clawed top of foot to the utility bottom. You are NOT going to sew the edge across the bottom of the claws. Starting at the square corner, sew down. On the sides use a SMALL seam, and around the heel do a generous 3/8" seam. Fit extra wire between the hem pieces around the heel and sew in with a 1/8" or 1/4" seam. Now turn it right side out. This is the worst part of this project. Once right side out, fold the utility fabric in along the claw base and hand stitch together. The worst is over! Now the claws will stand on their own and stay mostly out of the way of walking and running.

6) HOOD/EARS/WHISKERS: I saw a hood pattern here that I used to do some steps on my Max hood. She has more pictures of some steps, so if you are struggling with my written stuff, check it out.

Do the magic fold on the cream fleece. Find a hoodie that fits and turn it inside out. Trace and cut hood, adding 1.5" on each side for flaps to go under the chin. (If you are picky, make sure that the neck piece is the same length as the neck of the main body suit so they match when you sew them together.) Lay the newly cut hood on the magic fold and trace another one slightly bigger. Sew along the back of each of these, right sides together. Lay the small one aside; it will be the hood liner.

Cut two ears out. Fold one ear in half, right sides together, and sew the straight edge. Turn right side out. Repeat. The hood I copied had some elastic across the forehead part, so I put some elastic in the large hood in the same way I did the ankles. Put the larger hood on someone's head and decide where you want the ears. Mark with a fabric marker and cut the hole 1/4" SMALLER than the traced circle. Place a pin at the top/center of the circle. Turn hood inside out and pin the ear seam to the pin. Pin all the way around to make SURE these will lay well. Sew. Take your floral wire and make a T loop on the end.

Place T an inch above the person's ear and trace up through the costume ears. Make another T on the other side. Fit into the hood and hand-stitch into place. Then stuff the ears with batting or fleece scraps. Take your black beading wire and cut eight 5" pieces. Tie one end of each piece into a knot.

Poke the other end through the hood where you'd like a whisker. Hand stitch around the knot so the whisker stays in place. Put four on each side.

Now match the hoods, right sides together, and sew around the edge except for the neck. Turn right side out. Pin the neck edge of the hood to the neck edge of the body suit, right sides together, and sew. Sew your velcro on, one side at a time, from the chin on down to the seam.  Make sure the poky side is facing away from the body. Sew buttons on. Ta-da!

7) TAIL: This is where it will look like you killed an animal in your sewing room. Fake fur is a huge mess! But it looks amazing. My mother in law wanted to know where I got an actual animal tail :) Just have a vacuum cleaner handy.

Cut one panel from your fake fur shaped essentially like what the finished product will be. Then place the wrong sides of the fur together. Holding the hair out of the way, cut another panel.

Pin the right sides together and sew around the edge, leaving a 3+ inch opening. As you sew, brush all of that hair out of the way so the seam is good and hidden.

Turn the tail right side out and stuff it with a little polyester batting; you don't want it to be too heavy. Stitch the tail closed. On the back center seam of your body suit, unpick a small section. Insert the tail and sew it all together. I reinforced this part quite a bit; you don't want to lose your tail! 

And that's IT. You did it! This one will put a smile on your face every time it's worn. Guaranteed. We'll do a post on the crown next. You'll have to figure out the scepter on your own; my little guy would just whack his baby sister if he had one ;)

1 comment:

  1. I so want you to make one for my son! It is perfect!!!!!
    If you would be willing, please let me know!