Introduction: Echo the Walrus

About: Hi I'm Echo, a Boston Terrier. Most of you know me as HalloweenEcho the costume show dog. I've been dressing up for Halloween since 2006.
This is a picture of Echo dressed in her Halloween costume as a walrus. She is a 7 year old Boston Terrier and we have been doing homemade costumes for her since 2006. She's an awesome sport. This costume was made from micro-suede, batting and linen fabric and sewn by hand. The tusks were carved from synthetic ivory.

To begin with the Walrus costume, I drew up several sketches to get an idea of what I wanted to do. Having made clothes for Echo in the past, I knew roughly what would work, etc., but as always there are trial and many errors in sewing. The Walrus costume is essentially a shell. It fits over the dog’s head and drapes down her back. There are no securing straps, elastic and what have you underneath to keep it in place, it stays still because it encompasses her sides as well. I did originally think to add this strap detail, but saw it wasn’t needed after all.

Step 1:

First, measure your dog. I took a lengthy amount of measurements that included the following: nose to neck, chin to neck, head diameter, neck diameter, neck to tail, neck/chest to rear feet, tail to ground, then I divided her back length in to thirds and measured that distance to the ground in each of the three spots (shoulder, mid back, tail).

Once I had the measurements, I laid the linen out and used a fabric marker to notate the general shape I wanted the garment to be and marked the neck, mid-back and tail locations. I then decided to add three inches to the space between each of these marks to allow for gathering and sewing of the “blubber”.

Step 2:

Next, I used a blanket stitch with regular thread to sew the batting together. The batting I used to give the costume its fluff was reused from my first child’s crib bumpers. Since they were cut up into numerous rectangles, I had to do a little surgery to make one whole piece. You could totally save yourself the headache and just buy new batting, but I am “frugal”.

Ok, now that the batting was surgically put back together, I laid it on top of the linen cut out and then placed the micro-fiber on top, making a sandwich like you would if you were quilting. Pin it together, EVERYWHERE. Micro-fiber, at least what I used, is slippery stuff and things got a little squirrelly. After making the walrus quilt sandwich, you are going to want to flip it over and cut it all down to the size of your linen lining.

Note: I stopped the batting at the neck about 4.5” from the end so I would be able to make a ¼” turn on the end, then a 1” casing for elastic to keep the costume fitted to the dog’s head.

Step 3:

After I had the layers “neatly” pinned together, I took it to my sewing machine and that is when the fluff hit the fan…so to speak. I pinched the layers together about 3-4” from the elastic casing, or where the batting began and essentially pinched about a 1-1.5” of “blubber and pinned it all the way across the costume. I then sewed it on the machine making a nice roll. Then I tried to replicate that again, and again and again for the rest of the blubber but my sewing machine just couldn’t handle it. So before I got too annoyed, I switched to hand sewing. The neckline rolls are a combination of a tight running stitch to tacks depending on the width and overall density I wanted to achieve. I rolled the front blubber rolls around to the chest and matched them up to give the illusion of draping loose skin. Cute, right? Then the last few rolls were brought down the side to where the armpit would essentially fall. This made a split look to the fat, like a real Walrus, where the flipper is connected to the torso.

Step 4:

After the rolls were constructed, I pulled elastic through the casing and sewed that closed.

Next I pulled the edges of the micro-fiber under the sides of the costume and sewed them to the linen, encasing the batting and giving a clean edge. I sewed it rather loosely so that the fabric would hang and fold, wrinkle, sag on its own like a walrus would in nature.

Step 5:

Onto the fins. I started with a piece of batting about 14” long by 7” wide, give or take. I cut the top to about 3” wide and gradually flared it out to a point giving it that “flipper” look. Next I folded the micro-fiber in half and placed the batting between the layers, with the bottom of the flipper lined up on the fold to avoid a seam line. Then you’re going to cut the micro-fiber out with about a 1.5-2” seam allowance to accommodate the 2” height of the batting, etc. Flip the flipper right sides together and sew up the sides, leaving the top open for the batting. Insert batting. Then mark out 5 “fingers” to the flipper with pins. Sew them up to about where the flaring begins; making the front “finger” longer than the proceeding ones, essentially it gives it a tiered look. Do this again for the other side.

Step 6:

Originally, I had the batting extending down the whole length of the tail into the fin, but this looked gigantic on my Boston Terrier, so I cut the linen and batting to end at her rump. Then the micro-fiber was able to just drape to the ground with some slack. Then I cut out a tail fin from batting, roughly in the shape of a trapezoid. To make the five “fingers” on the tail, I cut four triangle notches about 2inches deep into the long side of the batting. After that I placed it in between micro-fiber like I did for the flippers. I pinned tightly along the edges of the batting where the notches were, which emphasized the webbing in the tail. Then I sewed up to the top of the tail along each side of the cuts to make a small ridge, like cartilage, between the larger sections of the fin. See pictures.

I extended the micro-fiber a little past the batting so I would have some slack to fold it under ¼”, then another ½” or so. Then loosely gather the “tail” on the main body and pin that to the tail fin you just made. After this was sewn in place, I sewed the loose micro-fiber together to give the tail more continuity.

Step 7:

Lastly, I attached the flippers to the torso where the fabric smoothed out at the shoulders, between the rolls. This was sewn on at an angle putting the pointed portion of the flipper up against the body. Then the long, 3” wide portions of the flippers were sewn across the chest and connected, making a “shelf” in the chest area. This shelf is only visible on the inside and gives the flippers added support. You could totally skip this step and it would be fine, I suppose it’s just preference.

Step 8:

To create the tusks, I used a synthetic ivory pen blank for use on a pen lathe.I purchased these at Pennstate industries (item # wxeea912) @ 4.95 each plus shipping. I used a Dremel tool with a sandpaper disc to carve the pen blanks into a tusk shape.I wanted these to look as natural as possible so by carving it by hand rather than on a lathe gave them an uneven look, just as they would look in the wild. Now to attach them on to Echo (the dog ) was a bit of trial and error, but the final solution was to use some 1/8” steel wire purchased from the home depot. I hand molded this rod into a semi circle and bent the ends 90 degrees. This would hold the tusks in place without choking Echo (the dog). To attach the tusks to the wire I drilled an 1/8” hole in each of the tusks and super glued them in place.

Step 9:

There you have it! A completed walrus costume for your dog.

Halloween Epic Costumes Challenge

Participated in the
Halloween Epic Costumes Challenge