I am making our Halloween costumes this year. I have been taking some sewing lessons at Muse and so I’m able to improve on previous years’ efforts. I am going to be a tiger, but I didn’t want to be too, you know, “furry”, so the costume has been modified. Brad will be a caveman. It is a costume that will allow him to wield a cudgel, which is the important part.

For those of you interested in the “how to” of tigerdom, here’s how I did it. I used commercial patterns but modified them.

This skirt is from a cheerleading skirt pattern for kids, but made a little bigger for me. I also put the zipper in at the side rather than the back, since the tail has to go in the back.

Putting the tail in was hard. I wanted it to be secure and perky, so I couldn’t just pin it on. I ended up making half a back seam and sewing it in by hand, then using the zipper foot to machine sew it but get the needle closer to the bulk of the tail.

For the top, I just used an off the shoulder pattern that looked kind of tarzan/jungle:

The more creative part was the tail and the ears. Again, I used a commercial pattern for animal costumes, but just modified it. I made the tail as they suggested, but after much consultation with various tail experts, decided it needed wire. As you can see in the above picture, its just not perky without wire, no matter how securely you attach the base to the skirt.

But with wire, the tail has a life of its own:

The pattern imagined the ears as a hood attached to giant furry overalls. But a hood just doesn’t go with the skirt and top I made. So I decided to make the ears as directed, then just cut it down to something cuter.

Here’s the pieces. The gold is the lining:

Here’s the hood stiched together according to the pattern:

Then I just folded and pinned until it was more of a beanie. Then I cut and sewed, and it came out like this:

Again, I had to use the zipper foot to get the needle anywhere near the base of the ears, which are very thick but still need to be sewn into the seam of the hood.

Then I gave it the ultimate test, and it passed:

Probably the most useful thing to know before starting a project like this is that you absolutely positively must have a walking food when working with fur. The zipper foot lets you get the needle close, but the walking foot does an excellent job of feeding the fur through the machine evenly. Its about $25, can be purchased at Sunset Sewing Center on Irving Street, and looks like this:

I plan to wear it to the Mystery Ball on Saturday night and to the Castro on Halloween itself. I was going to say “on Halloween proper” but there’s nothing proper about Halloween in the Castro.