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It's Halloween! Kick up your heels, hooves and paws!

October 10, 2011

Halloween is close at hand. Did you mean to concoct a show-stopping costume, but time got away from you? Never fear! Here are a handful of ideas for quick ears and tails you can whip together in an evening. Add a few accessories, and ka-pow! Your one-of-a-kind animal costume is complete, and you haven't lost a huge chunk of your life to make it happen.


Let's start with a bunny. The inspiration for this one is Winnie the Pooh's friend Rabbit, so I chose a pale yellow minky. For all of these projects, you'll need a headband. For the rabbit ears, you'll want a wide band -- 1.5" to 2". Here's the lowdown on how it goes together:


Draw out your ear pattern. You don't have to be daVinci. Just a quick sketched out shape on note paper works just fine.




Cut 4 pieces of elastic the same width as headband. You want the finished product to hug the headband pretty tightly, so there's no need to cut it wider.





Cut 4 ear pieces. Sew your elastic to the right side of each ear front and back using a 1/8" seam allowance and joining the fronts to the backs using 2 pieces of elastic.



Sew ears together and turn, then cut craft foam to fit into the ear, using your seamline as a rough guide.




Slide your craft foam into each ear, then slide your finished ears onto your headband, adjusting foam to create the desired shape.




The tail goes together quick as a wink. Cut a round shape from your fabric (I use a dinner plate as a guide), and use a running stitch around the outer edge of the circle to gather it into a pouf shape, gently stuffing it with poly fill or batting scraps as you go.




Once you like the shape of your tail, tighten your thread and tie off. To attach your completed bunny tail, you can add a ribbon loop at the back to clip it to your clothes, or simply safety pin it into place.




Next up, puppies! This one is great to make in a Dalmatian print, especially if you have a Cruella de Vil in your Halloween crew.


Just like the bunny, sketch out a pattern.




Cut 4 ear pieces, and assemble each ear by sewing right sides together and leaving narrow base open for turning. Once the ears are turned, fold in the raw edges and stitch closed close to folded edge.




Attach a piece of elastic (once again cut to the width of your headband) to each ear base at each end of elastic.




Slide your ears onto your headband so that the elastic is on the underside of the band and the ear flops downward.




To make a tail, cut a long narrow rectangle of fabric (mine was 18" by 3.5"), and stitch it down one side to form a tube, rounding the bottom as you close it. Turn right side out and stuff gently to add body without making the tail stiff. As with the rabbit project above, you can attach a loop for clips, or pin it to your outfit.




Time for piggies!

I had to look at some photos of pigs to get a sense of their ear shape, then sketched out my pattern and cut it out of bubblegum pink minky (wouldn't Pink Minky make an awesome band name?).




Unlike the previous two projects, this one has ears that fold in the middle -- the idea is to leave a small opening that you can thread a narrow headband through. I folded each ear down the middle and stitched, leaving a small notch open on one side at the fold, and a wider space unstitched on the other side, to make turning and inserting craft foam easier.




Just like the bunny ears, I cut craft foam to fit the interior, then turned the ears right side out and slipped the foam in. I threaded my headband through the open edges of the ears, then hand stitched the openings to close around the headband.




For the tail, I cut another rectangle of fabric -- about 8" by 3" -- but I didn't sew it closed into a tube. Instead, I used the stretch stitch on my machine to apply 1/4" elastic along the seam line, stretching tightly as I went, and tapering in to make a point at the closed end. I cannot stress the tightness of the elastic enough. If you don't stretch it to the maximum possible amount, the tail won't do its cute trick when it's done. When you turn the tail right side out, it curls up!



For any "Angry Birds" fans in the house, I made some green piggy accessories with this awesome dark lime minky. These pics show what the tail looks like when the elastic is sewn in, but before it's turned.


17-PiggyGreenElastic.jpg 18-PiggyGreenUnturnedTail.jpg 19-PiggyGreenTail.jpg 20-PiggyGreenEars.jpg


Next up: Kitties!


The ears for kitties work exactly the same as the piggy ears, but the pattern starts out a little differently.




I used a black velvet for one set of cat ears, and a gray leopard print for a second set. (Seriously, you can never have too many sets of cat ears.)


22-CatEarsLeopard.jpg 23-CatEarsBlackVelvet.jpg


The tail for the cat is a little different than the straight tube approach I've used so far for this post. I cut a sort of question mark shaped piece, about 18" long from top to bottom -- the curl that comes back up would measure out to longer than that if you stretched it straight.




When you stitch these tails and turn them right side out, you may or may not want to stuff it, depending on the fabric you choose. Heavier furs will fill the tail out quite nicely with no additional stuffing needed, but my velvet tail looked quite droopy and sad before I added a little stuffing.


25-CatFurTail.jpg 26-CatVelvetTail.jpg



Next up is a simple fave -- Minnie Mouse!


To make the pattern for this one, I traced a circle shape twice, right next to each other, and then drew gentle arcs to join the two circles.


27-MinnieEarsPatternTracing.jpg 28-MinniePatternSmoothedJoi.jpg


Just like the pigs and kitties, these go together, flip right side out, and get an insert before being threaded onto a narrow headband and getting a little hand finishing. I used a black spa minky for mine, but if you've ever visited Disneyland or Walt Disney World, you know they sell Minnie ears in a wide array of colors and prints, so you can be as creative as you want. I finished mine off with a pink bow.




Though Minnie and Mickey have been drawn with and without tails through the years, when  you see them walking around the parks, they're usually wearing clothes to cover their tails, so you needn't make one!


Last, but not least is a nod to "The Wizard of OZ" -- a flying monkey


For this project, I used the same pattern that I used for my Minnie Mouse ears, but I cut it out of this luscious swirled gray and black fur. Yum! When anchoring my ears to my headband, I moved them down a good bit further than the mouse ears. I also constructed a tiny red fez using craft foam and covered it with red cotton velvet. This is not a millinery project -- I just taped the foam together and made the cover to go over it.


30-CraftFoamFez.jpg 31-FezTaped.jpg


Once the fez was assembled, I stitched it to the headband between the ears.




The tail for the flying monkey is the same as the kitties. The fur gives it a really nice lifted drape, and I didn't need any filler for it! Wheee!



I hope this assortment of projects has given you some ideas! Let your creativity really flow to expand on these basics and come up with something uniquely you. I think I may adapt the rabbit ear pattern to make a zebra next ...


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1 Comment

Thank you so much for posting this. I was searching forever last night to solve my monkey tail problem. I tried the wire hanger in the tail, but my 6 year old wasn't going for it. He said it needed to be springy. My problem was using a straight piece and elastic that was too wide. I'll go buy some skinny elastic and try it with the question mark shape tonight. I'll let you know how it goes!
Such a big help!!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Holly Frey published on October 10, 2011 1:38 AM.

Knitting Simple Texture Stitches was the previous entry in this blog.

Halloween Dish Towels is the next entry in this blog.

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