Introduction: Pixar Up Russell Wilderness Explorer Costume for Child

This Halloween costume was inspired by a trip to Disney World – at Animal Kingdom, my children not only participated in and enjoyed the Wilderness Explorer sticker/badge-collecting program, we also ran into Kevin (the snipe!) walking around and were blown away. This Halloween, their costumes will be: Russell, Kevin and the Fredricksen House (with balloons!)

I enjoy sewing and crafting of all kinds and find Halloween costume-making to be a fun creative challenge. I especially love getting all the little details just right. If you do not sew or do not have time to sew, most of the sewn elements can easily be replaced with store-bought items.

Here are the elements of the Russell costume:

- Wilderness Explorer Shirt

- Wilderness Explorer Patch (for shirt, hat and pennant)

- Brown Shorts

- Wilderness Explorer Hat

- Wilderness Explorer Sash and Badges

- Accessories: Bandanna and Bandanna Slide; Beaded Pin; Pennant Flag; Socks and Shoes



Sewing machine, thread

Scissors (helpful to also have embroidery scissors and rotary cutter)


Tracing paper

Wilderness Explorer Shirt

Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt Pattern

Kona Cotton Daffodil Fabric (affiliate link), yardage as indicated in pattern

Size 15 Silver Cap Snaps and Snapsetter, I used 6 snaps

Embroidered American Flag patch (I purchased mine on Ebay)

Wilderness Explorer Patch

Adhesive crafting felt (affiliate link): brown, orange, green, yellow

Yellow stick on velvet (affiliate link)

Brown Shorts

Oliver + S Sunny Day Shorts Pattern (Free!)

Kona Cotton Mocha Fabric, yardage as indicated in pattern

Wilderness Explorer Sash and Badges

Kona Cotton Mocha Fabric, 1 yard

Adhesive crafting felt (affiliate link), 25-pack (I used almost all the colors)

Yellow stick on velvet (affiliate link)

Grape Soda Pin (I made a separate Instructable for this prop!)

Accessories: Bandanna and Bandanna Slide; Beaded Pin; Pennant Flag; Socks and Shoes

Kona Cotton Cedar Fabric (affiliate link), 1 yard

Sculpey clay (affiliate link), white

Pin Back (affiliate link)

Round Leather Cord (affiliate link), brown (I used a round leather shoelace and painted it brown)

Gold sticker (affiliate link)

Wooden beads



Hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue sticks

Brown Shoes

Orange flat shoelaces (I used acrylic paint to paint a set of kids flat laces orange)

Kids Hiking Socks

Step 1: Wilderness Explorer Shirt

I sewed the oliver + s Sketchbook Shirt pattern and made the following modifications:

  • 3/8" inch seams (for a slightly wider fit)
  • eliminated the curved hem and shortened shirt length to hit right at the hip
  • modified the pocket pattern to create a gusseted pocket, sewed two pockets with top flaps and snaps
  • used snaps instead of buttons
  • increased the width of the collar by 1/2"
  • ironed American Flag patch to right sleeve

Fabric: Kona Cotton Daffodil (affiliate link)

[Non sewers: store-bought/thrifted yellow collared shirt or yellow tshirt will work too!]

Step 2: Wilderness Explorer Patch

[I made three wilderness explorer patches total: one for the shirt, one for the hat and one slightly larger one for the pennant]

  • Use a glass or other circle shape to trace three circles onto the backs of the yellow velvet, brown adhesive felt and orange adhesive felt
  • Draw a circle 1/8" smaller on the circle traced onto brown felt, draw a circle 1/4" smaller on the circle traced onto orange felt (if you have concentric circle shapes to trace, that works too!)
  • Cut out circles and after ensuring the circles are concentric, peel off paper backing and adhere the orange felt circle on top of the brown felt circle, and the brown onto the yellow velvet
  • Using the paper backing from the orange circle, trace circle template onto back of green adhesive felt - use this circle to sketch the triangle outline of the tree shape, then the details; cut out (using embroidery scissors here is helpful)
  • Using the paper backing from the tree shape, trace tree onto the back of the yellow adhesive felt - use this tree shape to sketch the "W"; cut out
  • Using the "W" paper backing, sketch a "E" shape onto the back of the brown adhesive felt; cut out
  • Ensure the pieces all fit together nicely, peel off backing paper and adhere the shapes into place
  • (You can also print out the Wilderness Logo outline and use that as a template if that is more helpful!)

Adhere a Wilderness Explorer patch on top of the right pocket and sew onto shirt with yellow thread

Step 3: Brown Shorts

I sewed the oliver + s Sunny Day Shorts (a free pattern!) in Kona Cotton Mocha

[Non sewers: store-bought/thrifted brown shorts work just as well!]

Step 4: Wilderness Explorer Hat

I had purchased a yellow toddler hat online, planning to just affix the Wilderness Explorer patch, but the color was not right, so I sewed my own hat with the extra fabric from sewing the shirt - perfect color match!

Using a baseball cap that fit my child, I used tracing paper to trace the cap and brim pattern pieces. I added a 1/2 inch seam allowance. These sewing instructions are very loose - I essentially tried to recreate the existing hat and was kind of winging it as I went along.

Cutting instructions:

  • 6 - triangle cap pieces in outer fabric
  • 6 - triangle cap pieces in lining fabric
  • 2 - brim pieces in outer fabric
  • 1 - brim piece (minus the seam allowance) in cardstock or heavyweight interfacing
  • 6 inches of double-folded bias tape (to enclose back opening of cap)
  • 1 - 5x2 inch rectangle (to create elastic casing)
  • 1 - 3 to 4 inch long 1/2" elastic
  • 1 - 2" long facing strip in outer fabric, length will be the circumference of your hat plus seam allowance

Sewing instructions:

  • sew cap pieces in pairs along one long edge of the triangle, right sides together
  • join pairs together, right sides together, until you have two sets of six triangles sewn together to form the cap; you should have one outer cap and one liner cap
  • press all seam allowances open
  • layer the liner cap, right side out, inside the outer cap
  • at the center back seam, cut out a half circle, finish seam with bias tape
  • iron the 5x2 inch rectangle with long edges together and sew along the seam, trim seam allowance and turn casing right side out, insert elastic and sew down at both ends
  • sew elastic across the bottom of the back cap opening
  • sew together two brim pieces along the outer curved edge
  • trim seams, turn right side out and press
  • fit cardstock brim inside the fabric covering, top stitch three lines 1/2", 3/4" and 1" away from the edge of the brim
  • pin brim to front of outer cap, right sides together, baste together
  • fold and iron facing strip with long edges together
  • pin facing strip along the edge of the cap, sandwiching the brim - sew along edge, starting at one side of the back opening and ending at the other side of the back opening (enclosing the raw edges of the facing at the beginning and end)
  • flip facing to inside of cap, iron and top stitch along outer bottom of cap
  • create a fabric-covered button with matching fabric and sew to top of hat

Adhere Wilderness Explorer patch to front center of hat, sew onto hat along yellow outer circle to keep in place

[Non sewers: store-bought/thrifted yellow cap will work!]

Step 5: Wilderness Explorer Sash and Badges

This was hands down my favorite part of the project! I enjoy getting into the details and it was so satisfying to produce badges that really mimicked the movie version. There are 47 (!) badges, 16 rows of 3, with a space for Russell's missing "Helping the Elderly" badge, to be completed with a Grape Soda pin. My badges were 1.5" across - you can adjust the dimensions as needed for the wearer of your sash.

Create the sash:

  • Sash fabric: Kona Cotton Mocha
  • Cut two long rectangles (6 inches by 25 inches, on the fold, so total length is 50 inches)
  • Sew rectangles with a 1/2" seam allowance, right sides together, along two long edges and one short edge, pivoting at the corners
  • Trim seam allowance and corners, turn right side out and iron
  • Tuck seam allowance of open side into the wrong side, top stitch the opening closed

Create the badges:

  • On the back of a sheet of stick-on yellow velvet, trace 47 1.5" circles (I used the bottom of a condiment cup, but the top and bottom of a 2 oz shot glass are good concentric circle sizes as well!)
  • Cut out all 47 circles
  • (I used a piece of 5" x 12" cardboard to arrange all my badges as I was working on them)
  • Using a 1.25" template (bottom of a 2 oz shot glass), trace the inner circle in the following colors and amounts (the numbers below match the chart attached):

1. Dull Red (5)

3. Orange (4)

5. Yellow (5)

7. Green (4)

8. Grass Green (2)

9. Moss Green (2)

10. Aqua Blue (1)

11. Sky Blue (7)

12. Light Blue (4)

13. Deep Blue (3)

14. Royal Blue (4)

15. Purple (1)

16. Lavender (2)

17. White (2)

20. Dark Brown (1)

  • Peel and affix the smaller colored circles onto the yellow velvet circles
  • Create each of the designs! I show how I created the badges in row 6 (cloud, swim, dragonfly)
  • For each design, use the smaller circle template traced onto the back of the appropriate color to help you draw out the design prior to cutting - use the attached images as reference - I also included a REVERSED image, as the drawing would be on the back and the cut image would be mirrored
  • I used paint pen for some detail work: lines on hands, lines in rope, kite string, tornado lines, band aid dots, but otherwise used felt.

When badges are complete, peel and stick onto sash, then sew using gold thread around each gold border to affix to sash

Pin on Grape Soda Pin!

[note: place at least the first column of badges so you know where to start - there were so many badges that my first row of badges is past the fold line and sit right on the wearer's shoulder; the sash is also wide, so I used a safety pin to fasten it at the back shoulder to the bandanna]

Step 6: Accessories

Bandanna and Bandanna Slide

  • cut a 20" x 20" square of Kona Cotton Cedar (affiliate link)
  • finish hems with a narrow rolled hem
  • using Sculpey clay, create a 1.25" cube shape, use a straw or skewer to create a hole from top to bottom, then slowly enlarge it; I used reference photos to get the shape correct
  • Bake Sculpey according to package directions
  • Paint gold, let dry (may take several coats)
  • Use tan paint, paint pen and gold sticker to create the Wilderness Explorer logo
  • (The bandanna stays in place with a rubber band, the bandanna slide sits on top of the rubber band - in the movie, Russell's right side collar is always out of place, under the bandanna, while his left side collar is in place on top of the bandanna. Details!)

Beaded Pin

  • Roll Sculpey into a thin 1/8" sheet
  • Cut out a 2" x 2" square
  • Bake Sculpey according to package directions
  • Paint gold, let dry (may take several coats)
  • Use tan paint, paint pen and gold sticker to create the Wilderness Explorer logo
  • Paint 4 wooden beads green and 4 wooden beads yellow
  • Paint rounded leather lace brown
  • Cut equal lengths of lace, tie a non-slip loop knot at the end of lace
  • String 4 beads on each length of lace
  • Hot glue pin back and beaded laces onto the back of the pin
  • Pin to bottom of left shirt pocket

Pennant Flag

  • Cut two 6" x 12" triangle/pennant shape from Kona Cotton Cedar (affiliate link)
  • Sew right sides together along long triangle sides, trim seams, turn right side out and press
  • Turn remaining open seam inside, top stitch around entire pennant
  • Cut a 6" x 2" length of fabric, fold edges in and top stitch to the back of pennant - this will be the channel for the dowel
  • Affix large Wilderness Explorer patch (Step 2) to center of pennant
  • Insert dowel (use hot glue to keep in place)

Socks and Shoes

Wilderness Explorer Handbook

  • We kept our Wilderness Explorer books from Animal Kingdom and will use it as a bonus prop!

Step 7: Put It All Together!

Our Russell is working hard on learning her lines:

"Good Afternoon, my name is Russell and I am a Wilderness Explorer. Are you in need of any assistance today? I could help you cross the street? I could help you cross your yard? I could help you cross your porch! Well, I need to help you cross SOMETHING!"

"The wilderness must be explored! Ca-caw! RAWR!"

Hope you enjoyed this as much as our family did and Happy Halloween!

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