I have a job which can provide quite interesting work tasks. One of our programs includes a squirrel costume, and as the one we have is new but does not come with a hat or hood, we have been using the old hood. This, however has been in desperate need of repairs (and washing). So I had a look at it and condemned it to be decommissioned, rest in pieces. Literally.
I disassembled the old hood and used the pieces as reference for drafting a new pattern. The old hood had of course warped through the years, so there was some tweaking. Here is the pattern after tweaking:
The pattern consists of two center pieces and two side pieces. Then it was just a matter of folding the fabric (strong interlock knit fabric) in half and cutting out the pieces. I added 1 cm seam allowance to all sides.
Sewing up the pieces has to be done with a stretching seam as the fabric also stretches. I used my serger, and a small zig-zag stitch when folding in the edges. The edges also became a small channel for inserting thin elastic into. This will assure a good fit on the head.
Next I started fiddling with ears. The old ears were floppy and looked more like dog ears, and I had already decided to make new ones. I drew a triangle on newspaper and experimented a bit with folding it. Then cut the same shape from the fake fur. I also cut a small triangle (just the top 5 cm) for the top and a triangle of the hood main fabric to put as an “inner ear”.
PRO TIP for handling fake fur: It will get everywhere. So cut as close to the fabric surface as possible and try not to cut the hairs. Even better: use a razor. I also keep a tape brush and vacuum-cleaner close at hand to avoid anything spreading. I also try to pluck away any loose hairs from all cut edges immediately after cutting. Trust me, it will save you a lot of grief when keeping your sewing area clean.
So back to assembling the ear. I considered sewing, but sewing fake fur is not a lot of fun so I decided to experiment with the hot glue gun. First of all I glued the “inner ear” in place, slightly off set from the middle. The the tip of the ear. This was to ensure visible fluffy fur on either side of the ear. Then I put glue on both side edges of the ear and glued them down to hide the raw edges. The final glue line was on the bottom edge and I folded in the triangle’s bottom corners.
Once the glue had dried I started fitting the ears to the hood, using myself as a model (putting the hood on and seeing what they would look like). I came to the conclusion that they were a bit too big and stood out too much to the sides, so I cut them as an angle to make them stick up more. Once the fit was corrected and the attachment spots marked, I had to figure out how best to attach them. I really did not want to sew them down (again because of fur) but I was not sure if they would stay put if I used hot glue. I decided to give it a try either way and it worked like a charm.
Finally I sewed on a heavy snap fastener and inserted a thin elastic in the channels around the hood. I simply tied it off and hid the knot inside the channels. This pulls the hood in to fit snugly around neck and forehead.
So here is the finished hood. My colleague was kind enough to model it for me. He is an awesome squirrel in our squirrel adventures for children (and adults) of all ages. I will make the pattern available for download as well once I have time to finish up the pattern for the ears.
Squirrel photos by: Fredrik Westblom
Editing: Jo Granvik