Do you find yourself needing a smaller, more spherical tail? Do you want your tail to stand out instead of sag?
Follow these instructions and you can have a tail fit for your costume in a couple hours!
*The actual sewing and construction is fairly simple, but I didn't really have/use a pattern. However, I will give tips on how you can make your own!
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
- Fabric Scissors
- Measuring Tape
- Elastic (about 3" long, 1/2-1" wide)
- Belt (around 1-1 1/2 in wide)
Optional: fabric marking device - do NOT use a sharpie - use chalk, crayon or charcoal pencil
Extra Material Notes:
- Fabric - You can use either fleece or faux fur
- Fleece sews together very nicely and has a little bit of stretch which can work in your favor
- Faux fur looks really cool and more realistic, but is much more difficult to sew. Besides being difficult to sew, as soon as you cut ANY portion of fur it will immediately start shedding. AKA have a vacuum at the ready to clean up after your project. You may even wish to vacuum yourself when finished.
- You will also want a thick, non-stretch fabric the same color as the main part of your tail for the base of the tail
- Polyfil stuffing is an awesome stuffing material, and is sold at Walmart and fabric stores, and if you're lucky, you can find some at thrift stores. Fabric stores will also have coupons and sometimes adds for half off of stuffing, so don't always go with Walmart as the cheapest option. Shop smart!
- Scrap material, if you have lots of this, could be an even cheaper option, but depending on the material you will use to sew your tail with, you may not wish to choose it. It can make your tail look really lumpy, though faux fur will hide the lumps a little better depending on how long the fibers are.
Step 2: Figuring Out Your Pattern
Height: How long you want your tail to be. Add some extra inches to your base height, more inches for a longer tail and less for a shorter tail since when you stuff it your tail it will become rounder...errr....and you will need a little extra fabric for seam allowance. Also remember it's easier to make something shorter than it is to add length to and have it still look good. (For reference, my tail is about 12" long, and I cut the pattern piece at 14".)
Width: You will need a tiiiiiny bit of math for this part (dodges rotten tomatoes). Ahem, well, figure out how wide you want the widest part of your tail to be. Note: This measurement is NOT the measurement you will use on your pattern piece. To figure out the widest part on your patter piece follow this broken-down math formula:
- This is basically the same as finding the circumference of a circle using the diameter, than dividing the circumference by four.
- Take your width measurement (diameter of a circle)
- Multiply it by pi (3.14, not cranberry walnut with custard topping)
- This measurement is the circumference of your circle
- Take the circumference and divide it by 4
- This new number is the base width of your pattern, but I'd suggest adding at least 1/2-1 inch to it for seam allowance
- With the seam allowance added, divide your pattern width measurement in half so you can cut your tail on the fold of your fabric so you will have a nice, even pattern piece.
***A special thanks to my friend Colleen who helped me explain the math. I have to admit I just eyeballed and cut the thing because I knew what I was doing, but for those not as familiar to cutting and sewing rounder objects I knew I had to have a better explanation then just "imagine the shape, cut it and sew it together". Thanks math buddy!
Base: The base of your tail is the most forgiving part. You can kind of choose a measurement and go with it. Mine was about 2 1/2" or 3" long. Just remember that if it is too small it will make flipping and stuffing more difficult. There almost isn't a "too large", since a little wider base will help to keep your tail standing out as opposed to drooping. But if the base is "too wide" it just might look a little funny.
Pattern Shape: Now with your height and width measurements you can figure out the shape of your tail! You will basically note the tip and base of the tail with your height measurements, mark where you want the widest part of your tail to be and connect the dots in a curved line, from tip to the widest point, to the base.
***For a pointier tail have the line from the tip of the tail to the widest point be a little sharper. For a more round tip, have the line from the tip to the widest point be a wider angle. It's like drawing triangles. A pointier tail is more like a 35-45 degree angle while a rounder tail is more like a 60 degree angle.
Something else to keep in mind:
Depending on how large you want your tail to be, you will need to make the base of your tail bigger. At the same time, make your tail too big and it will eventually be too heavy to stand straight out without some extra help. Not only will it be too heavy to stand out, but you could also be adding a lot of weight to an area of your body where it is uncomfortable to add too much weight to.
Step 3: Cutting Your Pattern
Remember the last step where I told you to take your width measurement and divide it by two? The reason for this is because you will be cutting your tail pieces on the fold of your fabric so you will have two evenly curved sides of your tail for a more spherical shape.
- Fold your fabric in half
- Mark the tip, base and widest points of your tail on your fabric with pins
- If it helps you, use a fabric marking tool to draw a curved line from the tip of your tail to the widest point, and from the widest point to the base
- Using your fabric scissors, cut out four tail sections
- You can use the first section as a pattern piece for the next section
- So you can make another tail in the future, trace out your tail piece on a sheet of paper, tracing paper, newspaper, whatever you have to keep note. This is also useful in case you wish to make adjustments when you make future tails.
If you would like the tip of your tail to have a different color than the rest of your tail:
- Lay one section of your tail pieces over your new fabric
- Cut from the tip of your tail to as far down as you want, cutting along both sides of your tail pattern piece
- Take your tail pattern piece off of your new fabric
- You should have a curved triangle with the base of the triangle still attached to your fabric
- The base of this triangle you can get a little fancy with!
- Cut straight across
- Cut a downwards triangle
- Cut a jagged edge (but not too jagged or you will hate yourself for having to sew four of these to your tail pieces!)
SPECIAL NOTE ON FAUX FUR- VERY IMPORTANT
If you are using faux fur to make your tail, you will need to keep in mind which direction the hairs of your fabric are going in BEFORE CUTTING. You want to cut your tail on the fabric with the base of the hairs at the base of your tail and the ends of the hair going towards the tip of your tail. Otherwise when you sew your tail together it will look really weird to have some fur going down your tail, some going up and another panel going perpendicular to the up and down panels. If you're going for mangy, maybe you want your fur to go every which direction, but chances are this is not what you are going for. Double-check the direction your fur is going in before you need to re-cut all your pattern pieces.
Step 4: Sewing Pieces Together
If you have tip pieces for your tail, now is the time to sew them on! I chose to lay my tip pieces on top of my tail piece and sew close to the edge of the fabric to tack it down (this is called topstitching). If you are sewing with faux fur, you may want to hand-stitch your pieces together from the backside of your fabric where you don't have to deal with long fur hairs. Trying to sew on top of faux fur is difficult as the hairs get stuck to your sewing foot, and you may have to cut them if they snare your foot enough that you will not be able to sew forward. Basically, to avoid a hassle hand-sew the suckers together.
To sew the tail together:
- Take two tail pieces and pin their "right sides" together
- The "right side" of the fabric is the pretty side, the side you want to show on the outside of your project. Faux fur is easy to tell, the furry side is the "right side" and the backing is the "wrong side". Fleece may or may not have a right side, depending on if you are sewing with anti pill fleece versus glacier fleece. (Anti pill fleece has a textured side and a flat side. The textured side is your right side. The idea with the anti pill fleece is you can throw this fleece in the washer and it will stay looking better over time. Glacier fleece is smooth on both sides and as such doesn't really have a right or wrong side. I still keep looking and it baffles me to no end! If you try and throw this fleece in the washer, eventually it will develop a pilled appearance on the outside and will not hold up as well to multiple washings.)
- Uh, so back to your pieces, you have both "right sides" facing each other. Sew along one side of these two pieces, removing the pins right before you sew over them because you can end up bending your pins out of shape or breaking your sewing needle! (no, of course I haven't done either of these things...*cough*)
- Take your other two pieces and pin and sew them together along one side, right sides facing together
- You should have two pieces now
- Take these two pieces and placing the right sides together, pin the tips together along the center seam you created when sewing your two pieces together earlier
- Pin around the edges and start sewing from the base of one side up to the tip and back down again to the base of the other side
You should now have a deflated looking tail with the seams on the outside and a hole at the base of the tail
Step 5: Stuffing Your Tail
Flip your tail inside out so the ugly seams will now be on the inside and your pretty fabric will be on the outside.
- Take a handful or so of stuffing and put it all the way in to the tip of your tail
- Keep stuffing, a handful at a time, placing the stuffing as far back as you can go
- Try not to cram the stuffing in too tight or your tail will look lumpy.
- If you notice while you are stuffing your tail that it is not quite the shape you wanted (tail tip too round) simply unstuff and sew the tip of your tail at a sharper angle. If you want to make your tail tip a little rounder, you may not be able to do anything depending on how much seam allowance you sewed your tail with, but you would use a seam ripper to take out the stitches around the tip of your tail and sew a new line of stitches closer to the edges of your fabric.
- If you are re-sewing the tips of your tail, you will want to gradually sew from the tip towards the highest point of your tail or else you will have strange lumps where you sewed the tip of your tail pointier then immediately sewed to the edge of your fabric. Gradually smooth out your sewing line until it meets the first line you sewed.
Step 6: The Patch for Your Tail Base
This part is pretty easy to eyeball. Basically all you need is a circular piece of fabric that will cover the hole in your tail where you were adding the stuffing. Besides covering the hole, it will also have elastic attached to it where you will feed a belt through so you can wear your tail.
The fabric you want to use as the base of your tail should be a non-stretch fabric that is the same color as the rest of your tail. This fabric should also be thick, so you may want to sew 2-3 pieces of your non-stretch fabric together to form a solid base. (Fleece has a slight stretch to it so you may not want to use it as a base for your tail, especially if it is a larger tail. I knew my tail was a little smaller and fleece would still work as a good base so I did use fleece for my base.)
Step 7: Adding Elastic Straps
- Take your three inch piece of elastic and cut it in half
- Place the two elastic pieces fairly close to the edges of your base circle
- Sew the elastic about 1/8" from the edge of the elastic
- Sew over your elastic a second time even closer to the edge if you are afraid of your thread breaking when you feed the belt through the elastic straps
*Using two elastic straps as opposed to one will help keep your tail sticking out and upright, not droopy. I feel it helps distribute the tail's weight a little bit better plus it keeps the tail closer to your lower back/butt which is how it can stand out so well.
Step 8: Adding the Base Patch to Your Tail
Before you begin any sewing, make sure you have the straps and tail seams facing the way you want them. I wanted a seam on the top of my tail, while you may wish to have a pannel on the top instead. (for a different visual reference, my seams look like they are forming a plus sign '+', while having a panel on top would make the seams to look more like an 'x')
Sewing the Base to Your Tail
- Turn the raw edges of the base of your tail in to the center of your tail so you will have a nicer, stronger edge
- Pin your base patch over the opening
- Begin hand sewing the base patch to the opening in whatever hand sewing stitch you prefer
- I used the "whip stitch" since it's a little faster and stronger in this case, as well as very easy to sew.
- Since this piece will be directly against your bum it doesn't have to be "pretty" with invisible stitch lines, no one is going to see them anyways!
Step 9: Wearing Your Tail
Here is where your belt comes in.
You will want a belt that is at least 1" to 1 1/2" wide to hold your tail up. The bigger and heavier the tail, the wider you want your belt to be! If your belt is too skinny your tail can still sag, even with the nice flat base surface of the tail able to rest on your body to help hold the tail up.
Once your tail is on, you can hide the belt under your shirt, and if you thread your belt through your loops correctly you can wear your new tail while the belt is looped through your jeans so things can stay nicely in place!
Now go, parade around in your tail on Halloween, New Years, Convention Day, Leave a Cucumber on Your Neighbor's Porch Day or any day you feel like wearing a cute, poofy tail!