how to make a squirrel costume

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The household's been crazy this past week with Halloween coming up. So far we haven't had a Halloween with store-bought costumes. It's one of those things I cling to from my childhood in the '70's. My brothers and I would scrounge the house a day or two before and manage to make something with a little help from Mom's rag bag and craft supplies. So we've been in a tizzy deciding what the kids want to be and executing the costumes.
Since we have so many squirrels in our yard and a taming program underway by the children, my boy has decided on being a squirrel. He thought he might want to be a cat again which he's already been twice (and my daughter has been 4 times), but I pointed out to him all the different animals he could be using the same trusty McCall's 8953 pattern. Of course there's no squirrel variation to the pattern, but we can improvise!
I sketched out a tail on some project paper to find the right proportion, keeping in mind it will appear smaller when stuffed.
Then I added a generous seam allowance and cut 2 out of some really squirrelish-looking faux fur. Before you sew the fur, it's a good idea to give the seam allowances a hair cut so they are not too bulky to sew. Have a vacuum handy- it's gonna be a mess!
I quickly realized the tail wasn't going to stay up on it's own. Some kind of suspension system would be required. I thought of fishing line attaching the tail to the body somehow. The hardware store had this clear picture hanging wire that I figured would definitely be strong enough. I sewed some through a button (so the fabric wouldn't tear under pressure) on the inside of the tail
and out through the other side.
I thought I would attach the other end of the wires to the body, which I made out of fleece, in the same way with a button.  The tail was too heavy though, it just pulled on the body too much. A harness inside the suit would be necessary.
Harness, you say, too complicated! Not really. Some elastic scraps cut to loop around the upper arms and held together by a short length of tote bag strapping were a snap to assemble. Just measure the pieces by fitting directly on the child. I tried the suit on my boy first to make sure the attachment point was in the right spot. Then I threaded the wires through the body and attached them through a button to the harness and secured with a knot and leaving the ends long for future adjustment.
Some other modifications to the pattern were to the hood part. I changed the direction of the ear placement like I did last year for the bat costume and eliminated the hood lining. I used the smallest ears which are supposed to be for the lion and lined them with contrast fabric. I also don't bother with the spats or mittens that the pattern includes (this saves about 1/2 yard of fabric).

Trick or treat!

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did you stuff the tail with anything?

Becky said...

Oops! I guess I didn't mention that! Yes, I did. The tail has some polyfill in it.

Camantonio said...

so did you poke holes through the squirrel suit to reach the harness? I'm going to try to recreate this for my toddler and I need lots of help :)

Becky said...

Yes, I used a big sewing needle and pulled the plastic wire through that way. PLeaaaaaaaase send pictures when you finish!

Anonymous said...

Where did you get the fur for the tail? Is it long pile "wolf fur"?

Becky said...

The fur was from my local JoAnn's. They have a lot of choices out this time of year. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

What size ranges correspond to what age ranges for McCall patterns?

Anonymous said...

I was inspired by Britta's costume on the show Community. I wanted to be something cute for Halloween but not your typical girl costume (if you know what I mean) ;). I hope to adapt your pattern to fit an adult! Thanks!

Becky said...

Please please please send a picture of your adult squirrel costume when it's done!!!!

hey cool cat!!!! said...

This is great! I was also inspired by Britta's costume, and have found this as great help! How did you do the hood? Could you send a link to the pattern?

Becky said...

Well it looks like the McCall's 8953 pattern I used is out of print, but you can find it still on Etsy & Ebay, just google it. 6181 looks like a good replacement if you want to buy new- only for kids though. To make the hood, I did away with the lining & just serged around the edge.

Becky said...

Anonymous, this is a forgiving pattern- my kids get 2-3 years of wear out of their costumes- but I'd just go by the chart on the back of the envelope for the sizing which is pretty standard.

BB said...

Thank you so much for this. I had to make the squirrel costumes for the middle school's version of "Willy Wonka." We purchased doggie noses and colored in with markers, and also attached some fur ears to a headband. The basic costume was a shapeless chemise/tunic. Then I tacked the bottom and the arch of the tail onto the back of the tunic. Voila!

Marnie said...

Thanks for the tail help! I'm making a squirrel costume for my 8-month-old (who we affectionately nicknamed "Squirrelly" when she was just a few weeks old), and your post was a huge help!

Anonymous said...

It is so hard to find a pattern for a squirrel costume and I come across this. The tail looks great. Of course this is what i'm after for our dance concert in Maitland, South Australia. As this is the creative group, the full costume is not needed.
Thank you for putting the time in creating this part of the costume. Cheers

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