Steps for Making a Fur Suit
Whether it is a Halloween costume for your kids, a mascot costume for school or something to wear to the New Year’s Eve party, a fur suit can be a fun project. A fur suit can be as elaborate as you want with accessories and additions or it can be just a simple suit. It can also be humorous, scary, have high-tech moving parts, or even air-conditioned. It’s all up to your imagination and ingenuity.
There are a lot of different ways to go about making a fur suit. Some people make a frame work out of fiberglass and then cover it with fur. Others have added cameras inside the eyes with a small video screen inside the head so they can see where they are going. But all of that is for advanced costumers with a lot of time and dedication. This article is going to cover the basics of making a simple fur suit. It will follow a step-by-step process from start to finish, from concept to reality.
The first thing you need to do in order to make a fur suit is to decide what kind of character you want to make. The only limits here are your imagination. Some people make fur suits based on well-known characters while others make up something completely original. If you are an artist or know one, the best thing to do is to start with a concept drawing of what you want the fur suit to look like. If you can’t draw a lick or don’t know any artists, find a picture reference that is close to what you want. This will give you something to go by when construction begins.
You will need a list of materials to work with. It can vary depending on the specific suit design but for general purposes, you are going to need the following:
- Fake fur (about 5 yards)
- Cheap cloth (also about 5 yards)
- Open cell sheet foam
- Polyfill stuffing
- Fun foam sheets
- An 18-20″ heavy-duty zipper
- Sew-on velcro
- Acrylic paint
- Heavy duty thread (for hand sewing)
- All purpose thread (for the sewing machine)
- A pair of cheap slippers
- Plastic mesh
- Buckram or white gauze
- Black gauze or similar material
- Hot Glue
- A good pair of scissors
All of these materials you can get at any decent fabric or craft store.
Making the Body
To make the body of the fur suit, you are going to need a pattern. Some people make their own pattern on paper. If you don’t feel confident enough to do this, you will need to purchase a pattern for a fur costume. You can find these at any fabric store and there are several patterns available for Halloween costumes.
Once you have your pattern, you will need to make a test suit or prototype. Fake fur is not cheap and you don’t want to run the risk of making a mistake and having to go buy more fur. So do yourself a favor and make a test suit first out of the cheap fabric. Start out by laying the pattern on the fabric and drawing an outline around it. You can stick some pins in the pattern to hold it to the fabric so it doesn’t move around on you.
When you have the pattern drawn off, cut out the pieces and sew them together on your sewing machine. When it is together, put it on and make sure it fits. If it doesn’t, figure out where you need to make adjustments. If it does, then you are ready to try the fur.
This is important! When drawing the pattern on to the fur, make sure you draw it on the backside of the fur where it is woven. DON’T draw it on the fur-side. Pay attention to the direction of the fur. You don’t want fur pieces going in this direction or that. It is also a good idea to label the fur pieces on the backside or else you might get confused if you have a lot of pieces. When you have it drawn off, carefully cut it out and sew it together just like you did the test suit. You will need to add the zipper in the back so that it doesn’t show in the front.
If you want to add hands and feet, you will need to cut out a pattern for them. A simple long glove pattern will work for the hands. For the feet, you can use the cheap slippers as a base. Cut out a bigger foot from the open cell foam and glue or sew it to the slipper. You can even cut out the toes if your character has them. Next cover the feet with fur. Since sewing can prove difficult on the feet, hot glue works best for attaching the fur.
Now you have the complete body for the fur suit. Next comes the head.
The hardest part of making your fur suit will probably be the head. There are a couple of different methods you can use but you will basically want to create a frame in the shape of the head. Some people use fiberglass but we are going to use the plastic mesh. It is simpler, cheaper, and makes far less of a mess. You will want to cut out the mesh and create a helmet shape with it. Use a needle and the heavier thread to sew the pieces together. If your character has a long nose or ears, you can even cut out mesh and bend it to create those basic shapes. Remember, it doesn’t matter what it looks like because it is going to get covered up by the fur. When you get the helmet put together, take the fun foam and line the inside of the helmet. You are going to be wearing it so you don’t want it to scratch.
After you get your helmet completed, cover it with the open cell foam. You can add small pieces for eyebrows and cheeks to give the head more shape. Remember to leave openings for the eyes and mouth. You need to be able to see and breathe. Once the head has been covered, you can take the buckram or white gauze and paint eyes on them. You can see through the material so leave enough room to see around the eyes. Attach the eyes to the openings in the head. For the mouth, cover the opening with the black gauze.
When the head is ready, you will want to cover it with fur. Cut out a pattern with the shapes needed to cover the entire head. Put together a test pattern using cheap cloth like you did for the suit. If all the edges fit together, cut out the fur patterns. Because you will not be able to sew it, you will need to use the hot glue to attach the pieces to the head. To make sure that your neck is covered, take some of the fur and give the head a small collar to cover the edges.
The Finished Product
You should now have a finished fur suit complete with head, hands, and feet. You can always add clothes to the suit if the character concept requires it. Just make sure the clothes are big enough and won’t ruin the suit. After you’ve had some practice, you can get really creative and try new techniques. Whatever you decide to do, a fur suit is a lot of work but the finished product is well worth the time.