Costume Needs a Tail? .......... (See Step #7 for Ears!)
Find yourself making a costume that needs a tail? Many costumes need one, but there aren't really any good options for attaching a tail. There are lots of pinned-on droopy tails, but not many stand-up, perky, be proud tail options - until now!
This instructable will show how to construct, and more importantly attach a rigid, stand-up tail to the wearer of a costume. In addition, with this method you don't need to cut a hole in the costume itself... Lets be real; who wants to cut up their nice gray sweats to dress up as a mouse when you don't have to!
When there's a cool solution to a problem you have to figure that the solution involves magnets and so does this one. A belt with a magnet and steel plate (the mount) is worn under your costume and the tail with a steel washer is held in place on top of the costume by the magnet.
Step 1: Supplies
You will need:
3" x 5" Steel tie plate
1-3/4" diameter, 1/8" thick steel washer
12 Gauge steel wire (a T-bar ceiling hanger wire works)
Nylon cable ties (zip ties)
Foam core board, 1/8" thick
Hot glue gun
Costume tail of your choice (or material, etc. to make it)
If you want to make Pikachu ears you will need:
2 Reindeer Antler head pieces (dollar store)
Small cable ties
Black felt for tips
Step 2: Create the Belt Mount
Your tail is held onto you by a belt, your belt. The belt has a tail mount that consists of a steel plate (Steel Tie Bracket) attached to the belt by nylon cable ties and the magnet stuck on the plate.
Take the Steel Tie bracket and cut it lengthwise to make a 5" x ~2" size plate. Snip about an 1/8" off the corners off of the plate to get rid of the sharp corner that could poke you. Apply duct tape over the corners and cut edges to remove the abrasion hazard.
Crease the plate at about thirds so that it more closely conforms to the curvature of your body.
Attach the Tie Plate to the belt with two cable ties passing the ties through the holes in the steel Tie Plate. The belt should be held snug but can be removed when not needed for the costume by sliding it out from under the cable ties.
Cut a ~2"x4" Tie Plate and tuck between the belt and the first Tie Plate to as to create a steel 'tail' hanging down from the belt at 90 degrees. The magnet should hold it in place while you hot glue it to the fist plate. Cut the tips off of the corners, cover them with duct tape and bend up the bottom edge of the steel 'tail' 30 degrees about 1/2" from the bottom edge to prevent the bottom edge of the steel 'tail' from digging into your backside.
Cut a piece of foam core board to provide a back to the 'tail' and hot glue it in place.
Step 3: Create the Tail Structure
Take the 1-3/4" washer and drill a hole in it just slightly larger than the 12 gauge wire. The wire should fit snug and feel that it is part of the washer. Determine the total length of wire you will need for your tail and cut/form it to size.
Fit the wire into the hole in the washer and fasten the two together. I brazed mine (using a MAPP torch), but you can epoxy glue them if you like.
Construct your tail. This might be the wire and foam core, wire and urethane foam, wire and styrofoam or the wire alone covered with batting inside a sewn cover (e.g., for a cat tail) or whatever you have planned.
Pikachu has a unique shaped tail so I cut out two identical pieces of foam core and hot glued them together with the wire sandwiched between them.
Step 4: Finish Your Tail
Finish your tail using the methods you have chosen.
I covered my foam core Pikachu tail in yellow fleece. I cut out the tail shape with a 1/2" allowance all around, I then hot glued the two pieces of fleece together. And hot glued brown felt detail in place.
Step 5: Test Fit Tail Assembly
Align the magnet and washer and let them come in contact. Be careful to not let them slam together, the magnet can chip or shatter. I added a felt disk to the washer to help protect the cloth of the costume that it will be pressing against and to lessing the impact of the magnet and washer connecting.
Step 6: Put on Your Costume and Attach Your Tail
Put on the belt with the tail mount. Put on your costume over it. Attach the tail - Snap! You have a well-attached rigid tail on your costume.
Should you need to sit down or if you have someone or something 'whack' your tail it can pop off to prevent damage.
Step 7: Additional Steps for Pikachu Costume - Ears
Since you now know how to make a 'stand-up' tail you ought to finish the costume by making ears...
We'll now cover the additional instructions for Pikachu ears.
Step 8: Build the Headband
The headband for Pikachu's ears is built by modifying an existing set of ears (actually antlers).
The armature for the ears came from combining two dollar store reindeer antler headpieces.
I stripped the cloth off of the antlers and got down to the plastic structure of both antlers. The placement of the 'ear rods' was not at the proper Pikachu spacing/angle so I knew I had to make modifications.
I removed the 'ear rods' from the first headpiece by trimming them close to the headband so I had just the headband left, with no ears. I cut the headband of the second antler on each side of the 'ear rods' so I had the rod along with some of the plastic headband structure left on each side.
I then stacked the 'ear rods' on top of the plastic headband at the 'appropriate' locations and drilled holes through both. I then used cable ties to connect them together. (See last photos in this step.)
I covered the headband with yellow fleece, hot gluing it in place.
Step 9: Add Fleece to the Ears
I cut out a paper pattern and then following the pattern cut out the fleece for the ears. I also used the pattern to cut out black felt for the tips of the ears.
I left 1/4" seam allowance on all sides and extra fleece material at the bottom of the ears where they would attach to the headband.
The fleece for the ears is stacked with the finished side facing inward. The black felt tips are sandwiched inside the yellow fleece so they will end up on the outside. I carefully stitched the ear together.
I turned the ears inside out, slipped them over the 'ear rods' and stuffed them with batting making sure it was evenly distributed.
The extra fleece material at the open end of the ears wrapped nicely around the headband and was hot glued in place. All finished! Not only do you have a 'stand-up' tail but you now also have 'stand-up' ears!!!!
Now just add a yellow hoodie and those lovable red cheeks and there you have Pikachu!