Introduction: Totoro Costumes


Two weeks ago my girlfriend Veronica sat me down to watch My Neighbor Totoro, the 1988 classic of Japanese animated cinema. Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the dude who made Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro is a strange kids movie about two sisters who befriend a giant forest spirit. Also - respect for nature, kindness, and the triumph of imagination over all obstacles.

Before even finishing the movie I had decided that I would be dressing as Totoro for Halloween. I googled "Totoro costume" and found a ton of sweatshirt and hooded-pajama based Totoro costumes to work off of.

I did a lousy job documenting the creation of my own extra large grey Totoro hoody - luckily Veronica wanted a miniature blue sidekick Totoro hoody of her own and was a good sport about taking lots of pictures along way.

blue totoro

Step 1: Tools and Materials


  • scissors
  • hot glue gun


  • an old sweatshirt - we bought ours at goodwill
  • felt - i bought a 3x3 sheet of white for the belly patches, small sheets for everything else
  • tracing paper - for making patterns
  • hot glue gun - and lots of glue sticks
  • cardboard - we used cereal boxes

Step 2: Belly Patch

  1. Put some tracing paper on the sweatshirt, draw something close to an oval, cut it out.
  2. Use the tracing paper pattern to mark the oval shape onto some white felt, cut it out.
  3. Have your model try on the sweatshirt and hold up the belly patch. Make any necessary adjustments.
  4. Apply hot glue liberally to the back of the belly patch and lay it out flat on the sweatshirt.

Step 3: Belly Markings, Eyes, and Nose

One of the defining characteristics of a real life Totoro are the chevron markings on it's chests, so we knew we had to get them just right. I find when cutting out even slightly complex shapes, it's easiest to do so in steps. I started with triangles and made sure they were proportioned correctly. Then I rounded them out and glued them down.

Totoro eyes are large, saucer-like and a little bit creepy. Making them was as easy as cutting some black and white felt circles. For realism, we added a twinkle to the eyes by folding up the pupils and snipping a little hole to let the white felt underneath show through.

We cut the football shaped noses extra small because it was important to make the eyes look as far apart as possible.

Step 4: Making the Ears

These ears were really the crux of the project.

Totoro ears are arrow-head shaped and stick straight up. I started by folding a sheet of cardboard in half, sketching out the shape on one side, and cutting it out. In an effort to keep things symmetrical, I copied my first ear onto another sheet of cardboard before covering it in felt.

From there, it's difficult to explain. Pick an edge, hot glue the felt down, shape it around the cardboard, cut away where the felt gets bunched up, glue some more. When I was finished I had two mostly identical ears with lots of excess felt at the bottom.

Step 5: Attaching the Ears

To attach the ears...

  1. Cut small holes through the outer layer of hood, 2 or 3 inches above the eye on both sides.
  2. Push the extra material at the end of the ears into the holes, position, dump in lots of hot glue
  3. The ears probably won't stand up straight on their own - position them upright then glue an extra strip of felt between them.

Step 6: Finished!

These were fun costumes to make and wear. Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween!

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