Andy Fox's Cartoon Red Fox Costume

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This page contains detailed information and techniques on how I designed and constructed a toon red fox costume based on my cartoon self. I have tried to document all of the important steps that were taken to make my costume so that mabye someone else might get some tips from me like I did from the web pages I visited.

Body Conctsurction
Original Head Construction
Second Head Construction
Paws and Feet
Tail Construction
Putting it all together - The Completed costume
Review / After Thoughts / Gratuities
Timetable
Other Resources
Public Appearances


Purchased Materials

Fabric:
  • Monterey Mills: 4 Yards red shag, 1.5 Yards red plush, 2 Yards white cubby bear
  • Joe-Ann Fabrics: 2 yards Beachwood Davos walnut (dark brown)
  • Michaels: 2 squares peach felt, 1 square black felt Other materials:
  • 24" x 24" x 32" block of upholstery foam
  • 3 squares of 10 mesh plastic canvas
  • Delta Ceramcoat acrylic paint (lime green, green isle, white, black) + 1/4" angular paint brush,
  • 1 can of 3M Super77 spray adhesive
  • Lots of mini glue sticks (30 or so)
  • 4 bags of fiberfill
  • 40 feet Aluminum grounding wire
  • 2 black shoelaces
  • 1 Unisex industrial breathable work belt

    Total cost: around $350

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    Body Construction

    I decided to design the body part based on the popular one-piece "jump-suit" model, with the opening up the back using velcro instead of a zipper (this turned out to not hold the back together very well and is currently under consideration of being redesigned with a zipper).

    Finding furry fabric was a challenge. I spent several weekends going to local fabric stores looking for fake fur fabrics. Some had a small selection, Joe-Ann fabrics had almost a dozen different colors and patterns to pick from, but nothing close to tomato-red. Then I found a place on the internet called Monterey Mills... Oh goody! A company that does nothing but sell fake fur fabrics! I found my red fur. After trying in vane to dye red acrylic fabric to a tomato-red color, and wanting this fursuit done in my lifetime, I decided red was close enough. And wouldn't you know it? A month later I found a web page describing a method for dying acrylic fabric. However, the process required three weeks of putzing to work. I'm too busy for that.


    (body suit with initial construction completed)

    The jumpsuit pattern was based on a McCalls Easy To Sew costume kit #P386. The adult pattern was actually wayyyy too big. Also, since my arms and legs would be made of two different pieces of fabric (red and brown), and the chest was a separate piece of white, the pattern had to be altered quite a bit. I think this was still easier than trying to make up a pattern from scratch, since neither my mother or I had done this before. A strip of black velcro was sewen down the back to close it up.

    It took about three weeks of off-and-on work to complete the initial construction of the body portion.

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    Original Head Construction

    I purchased a custom-cut 24"x24"x32" foam block from Minnesota Form & Uph. (No bolsters for me!) I printed out and traced a profile of the head on the foam block.

    I began by removing large blocks of the foam with an 8" electric carving knife. Then I figured I'd better carve a hole for my head. It started out as a big cube-shaped hole. Over time as I worked on the head I'd carve it more to the correct shape, but it still looks a bit cube-like.

    It wasn't too long before I had to leave the electric carving knife behind and switch to a 5" fillet knife for carving the details. I carved the ears separately (the things lying on the table next to the head). They turnned out rather good and were glued to the head during the furring process. I also gave them additional support by running some aluminum grounding wire through the inner edge of each ear into the head.

    I used a hot glue gun rather than the 3M spray adhesive stuff some people use. It just didn't work for me. It was a pain to work with and didn't stick very well for me. Plus it was hard to aim it into little tiny cracks. Some people don't think hot glue works well, but I just use a lot of it and it's held up darn good over the years.

    After I was a good way with carving the details of the head, I turned my brain back on and realized I had screwed up the cheeks... they did not puff out with fur like in the front-on image I had on the wall. I had carved the sides of the head based on the side profile image only. I set to work and carves some cheek puff parts (the other things lying on the table next to the head) to possibly replace the existing cheeks, but I didn't end up using them after all. To remedy this problem I stuffed some fiberfill into the cheeks when I put the fur on the head.

    It took 4 weekends of work to complete the carving process. Then I started cutting fur and tacking it to the head. Gluing the fur to the head was done with a hot glue gun and took another three weekends and about one bag of mini-glue sticks (did you notice the only time I got any work done on the head was on weekends?) Near the completion of the costume I wore the head outside, and, after seeing the back flap of fur get caught up in gusts of winds I had two 1/4" washers sewen to the undersides of the two corners as weights.

    The tip of the nose was covered with black felt, sewen into a "sock". Peach felt was used on the insides of the ears (lying on the table). The mouth line is a black shoelace cut to length and glued to the white fur.

    The Eyes:

    People seem to like cutting up plastic bottles for eyes. Since I didn't have any clear plastic bottles lying around I decided to use some plastic mesh (screen) and paint it to look like eyes. I cut the mesh into eye shapes with tabs at the bottom for insetting into little slits in the form head. I painted the mesh holes over for the white portion and left them open (or poked them clean with a toothpick) for the green and black portions.

    Using mesh has proven to be a real plus, as other people with fursuits are always having problems with "fogging up" and not being able to see through the eyes. With plastic mesh, this problem does not exist. It also aids in ventelation.

    Other Goodies:

    I hollowed out the snout and added a 3 inch muffin fan running at 12 volts inside the head at the back opening of the snout. The fan blows air out through a small hole on the underside of the end of the snout. The fan is powered by 8 AA battaries mounted in a battary holder that sits in a "pocket" in the foam in the back of the head.


    (Completed head)

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    Paws and Feet

    The feet were constructed around a pair of cussioned house slippers. Plastic mesh (the same kind that was used for the eyes) was cut to fill in the size differential between the size of the slipper and the final "foot". The mesh was sewn to the blue fabric of the slippers as close to the leather sole as possible. Brown fur was swen to the mesh. Three pieces were used per foot: bottom, top, and a triangle-shaped piece placed in the front of the neck. Fiberfill was stuffed into the front of the foot to fill out the final shape.

    To protect the bottoms of the feet from being worn out when wearing them outside, soles made from heavy-duty carpeting were cut and glued to the bottoms using silicon rubber. Elastic cuffs were added to the tops of the boots so the fur fabric would hug the leg. For a final touch, black yarn was sewen through the fronts of the feet to make the "toes".

    All I will say about the paws is that they were evil and nasty to get right. We had no patterns for three-fingered paws, and it took several nights of work to get the two paws completed. In my opinion they turned out excellent.




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    Tail Construction

    The tail was made from four pieces of fabric:

    During the initial design stage I had the strange notion to encorporate a minimal skeletal system into the tail. I did this with two sections of doubled-up aluminum grounding wire, jointed together with a chain-link made from the wire. Fiberfill was stuffed into the tail around the frame to round out the shape. I left the top 8 inches or so of the tail unstuffed to allow me to push the bulk of the tail aside and sit down. It works extremely well. I can sit and the tail does not get in the way. It took about 30 oz. of fiberfill to stuff the tail.

    As it turnned out, the skeletal frame and joint ended up being rather useless as the fiberfill completely immobialized the swinging "joint". However, the frame does serve to give the tail some structure.

    A Unisex industrial breathable work belt was found to glue the tail to for wearing.

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    Putting it all together - The Completed costume

    Well, that's it. It took 1 year and two months to complete this project, of which only about 4 months were spent actually working on it. At a cost of half what it would be to buy a pre-made costume and about 1 tenth of what it would be to have a custom costume professionaly made, I think it is a good deal. Near the end when all of the costume parts were more or less completed I took some pose pictures to see how everything looked together:

    Click here for more photos of the completed costume.

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    Review / After Thoughts / Gratuities

    First, see what you think: How does it compare to the original drawings it was based upon?

    What do I think about this costune, after all the time and money that went into it? Well, the thing I ended up thumbing my snout at is the head. I think it ended up too big, which is why I made a new one.

    There were plans to sew pockets into the body portion of the costume, but they never happened. The neck line is way to low making it difficult to reach behind to fasten the top of the velcro together.

    Let's see... I think that's it. Though I think the whole costume ended up looking a bit more shorter, younger and cuter than I had intended, but hey, it's only my first costume attempt. And... I LOVE IT!!!!! HAPPY TOON FOX FINALLY LOOKS MORE LIKE HIMSELF!!!! YIP! YIP! Look at all the funny people shaking their heads at him. I think I'll go bark at them!

    Thanks to my mother for helping so much with the sewing portions. Thanks to BigBlueFox for drawing tons of model poses of me which I used to design the head and tail. Also thanks to Earl J. for carting me around to get my foam block. Thanks to Monterey Mills for being so nice and being an excellent source of fur fabric. Lastly, thanks to the, now apparently extinct, web site: Len Canders' "In The Fuzz" for all of the pages it had links to, from which I learned much of fursuiting.

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    Timetable

    75% of the work on this costume occured on weekends.

    8/98 Started looking for fur
    9/9/98 Ordered some fabric from Monterey Mills
    9/17/98 Decided I didn't like the color I ordered and ordered some more fabric
    9/20/98 Began cutting fabric and baisting pieces together for body suit portion
    10/7/98 Acquired foam block for the head
    10/11/98 Began carving the finer details of the foam head
    10/24/98 Fursuit portion of costume completed minus velcro and lining. Carving of the foam head complete. Began cutting fabric for head
    10/31/98 Glued pieces of fabric to head. Worked on eyes.
    11/8/98 Glued some more fabric to head. Ears completed, eyes attached.
    11/16/98 Cut out fabric for tail and constructed frame
    11/21/98 Finished the head: glued remaining fabric, made the "mouth", and installed the fan
    11/24/98 Completed stuffing of the tail
    ***work on the costume was postponed for 4 months.***
    3/21/99 The initial paw patterns were cut and baisted.
    3/27/99 Both paws completed. Nearly-completed construction on one foot.
    4/3/99 Completed second foot.
    ***Work on the costume was again postponed, this time for 3 months.***
    7/7/99 Attached tail to waist belt support.
    7/10/99 Played with tail and belt a bit and finished it up. Tail is as complete as it ever will be.
    ***Nearly 3 more months go by with no work done on the costume.***
    10/9/99 Inner lining completed. Tops of feet sewn to tops of slippers. Took first photographs wearing all costume parts to check overall appearance.
    10/14/99 Soles, "toes", and elastic added to feet.
    10/24/99 Velcro sewen up the back of the body suit. Weights sewen to back of head fur. ** COSTUME IS NOW COMPLETE **

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    Other fursuit resources

    If you would like to know more about furry costumes you can visit FURSUIT, The Furry Costume Information Exchange. They have many links to web sites giving tips/info on furry costuming techniques. A most excellent source for purchasing costume fur is Monterey Mills, located in Wisconsin.

    If you are looking to purchase a pre-made costume or would like to have a costume professionally built, here are a couple of places to check out:

    Public Appearances of A. Fox

    June, 2002: St. Francis Princess' fundraiser car wash

    July, 2003: Anthrocon 2003

    July, 2004: Anthrocon 2004

    November, 2004: Midwest FurFest 2004

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