Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Animal Magic [A Costume Tutorial]

Having a number of animal costumes to make, I wanted to find an easy an adaptable method which would look good, be quick to produce, and fits 'the average' Year 4 child [8/9 years] I came up with this system. You need three rectangles - two approx 17" x 26", and one 8½" x 26"- give or take a bit. Using recycled fabrics means sometimes they weren't always precise.
Where possible, I cut a strip 17" x 52" meaning I didn't need to do a shoulder seam.
My other key piece of equipment is this plate which measures 7" across. This is exactly the right size for a "head hole".
Begin by sewing the shoulder seam [or marking the middle of your strip], then place your plate in the middle of that, draw round and cut out a 'head hole'. Mark the centre back of the hole.
Now fold your narrow strip in half to make a hood. Round off the corner, and sew the back seam.
Stitch the hood to the head hole, matching the seam with the centre back [you will have a gap in the front of about 5"] Folding the tunic at the shoulder seam, mark 8" down the side, and pin together. Sew up the side seams from the bottom to that 8"mark.
This gives you a simple hooded tunic.
Modify as appropriate for your animals. Add tails to the back, triangular or round ears to the sides of the hood, and any other details.
Now draw a simple mask shape on a piece of paper. Look for animal masks on the net, to get some ideas of how to do the different animals. Draw round a pair of spectacles to get the right size!
I sewed mine with two layers of felt, and put elastic round the back.
Here's horse, rooster, chicken, goose, duck, pig and cow.
And here are some of my tunics with the masks laid on them

Hen, rooster,cow, pig, duck, horse. I've turned the head sideways on hen and rooster so you can see their 'combs'. The rooster hood is separate, with a feathered neck, because he has to change his head and become a stork halfway through the play [?!]
Baa-baa-ra the sheep was a little more challenging. She needed a Marie Antoinette 'mouton' wig. But a white hood with little black ears would have looked just as good.
I blogged about her, and the Harp costume last week.
But these were all relatively quick to make, and this pattern is easily adaptable.

I hope this tutorial is helpful to any of you out there needing to produce animal costumes for nativity plays! Feel free to share it!


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