Intro: DIY Rocket Raccoon Costume
My nerdy kids decided our family should be the Guardians of the Galaxy after watching the movie. They chose what characters we would all be. My wife was given the esteemed role of Rocket Raccoon. Like any project, research was the key to a strong start - followed by a bit of trial and error. We searched what was out there and went for a kinda middle of the road style costume. Rocket costumes range all over the place from total fur suits to playful and sexy. We were going for a combination of realism (yeah - I know Rocket is not really real) and Southern California function for warm summer nights. I also didn't want the costume to be too expensive or overly complicated to make and wear. Total supplies for this build were about $70. At first, she wasn't too hot on the idea, but was just willing to play along, but as the costume developed and she began trying it on, she really got into it and spent quite some time with different options for facial makeup to complete the look. The above was my results.
Step 1: The Jumpsuit
Orange jumpsuit - Amazon $30
Black leather or pleather fabric - Joann's $10
I've had very limited experience sewing. Last Halloween was my first time sewing complete costumes and though it turned out pretty well, it was very time consuming for me - I learned a lot. But since I had 4 costumes to build this year, I had to cut some corners and took the easy way out. I ordered an orange long sleeve / long pant jumpsuit from Amazon for about $30. When it arrived, it was very utilitarian and baggy most everywhere on my wife - not at all the look we had in mind. So I had to modify it. I started by cutting the legs so the extended just below her knees like Rocket's jumpsuit. I also had to make it sleeveless. The final cuts were to the neck which I partially unstitched about 1.5" back on each side, then cut it back to match the desired angle. Now I had to tailor it and take it in. I started by pinning it in place while she was wearing it. I took in the waist first. Then I tapered along a pleat from the shoulder down towards the waist along the back, which also made the arm hole much smaller and the chest more form fitting. Finally, I took in the center seam in the butt and crotch area. Some of these adjustments were minor, but several involved well over a couple inches being taken in. I sewed the areas I had pinned in place as well as folded and reinforced the shoulders where the sleeves were removed.
Now to add the black leather features on the costume. Rocket has black leather trim around the neck that is very thin in the back of the neck and also has leather on the inside edge of the legs and crotch area. I started by folding leather material over the new neckline I created when cutting and transferred the shape to my leather and cut it out, making sure to make it thin along the back of the neck (see photos.) The material I used was very thick and leather like. I single stitched the material along all the edges and completely covered the interior and exterior aspects of the collar. The final phase of the jumpsuit was to add the leather to the inside of the legs and finally around the knees. I cut two matching strips and that I just eyed by holding up the inner legs of the jumpsuit and estimated how wide to make them. I started by pinning at the ends closest to the knees and then adjusted the shape (which required some curves) to match the crotch area. I sewed the two matching pieces in place and the center seam where they met needed a little more material, so I added a small curved wedge piece where they met to provide the proper fit. I then took 2 identical 4.5" wide strips of the material and sewed them on the lowest 4 inches of the knees and folded the last half inch over to the underside to reinforce the edge.
Step 2: The Vest and Harness
Black leather or pleather
Dark brown leather or pleather
spool of black 1" elastic material or webbing
3 x black 1" clip buckles
package of small rivets
black fabric adhesive velcro
hot glue and gun
I might not be using the correct terminology here, but I'm not sure how else to describe it. Rocket wears a thin black leather vest, but it also resembles a harness since it has straps that connect to it that go down the outside of the legs. It also incorporates into his backpack. I started out by having her put the modified jumpsuit on and, while looking at photos, I drew approximate location, size and shape of vest, panels and straps with white chalk.
I started with the vest, since that could support the other pieces. I used my chalk marking with the jumpsuit to make a back panel and two front panels for the vest out of black leather. I sewed the seams connecting the two front panels to back panel on the sides and shoulder tops.
Now I took my 1" elastic and buckle straps and cut the 3 appropriate lengths of material so the buckles would be roughly centered in the chest. One side of the buckles I chose to use remained adjustable for the perfect fit. I pinned the elastic straps in place and then used pairs of rivets to bond the elastic to the leather vest and the non-adjustable side of the buckle.
I again used my rough chalk marks on the jumpsuit to create the two different brown leather leg panels that are on each leg. Then cut the supportive elastic straps to tie in to the vest and the lowest chest strap. The lowest chest strap was connected with a loop of elastic material. All elastic was bonded in place with pairs of rivets. I used fabric adhesive velcro on the back side of the smallest and lowest brown leather panel to attach it to the jumpsuit, which holds it in place and prevents it from swinging around. Ideally, it would be sewn in place for durability, but I was trying to save time.
Step 3: The Backpack
a sheet of EVA foam - 4 pack of 24" square anti-fatigue mats from Harbor Freight for $10
thin sheet of black craft foam - Michaels
small short piece of corrugated plastic tubing - Home Depot
1" black elastic - Michaels
LED tap light - 2 pack for $6 at Home Depot
dark brown leather or pleather - Michaels
black plastidip spray - Home Depot
Design Master Tintit Blue spray dye
I started by taking my craft foam sheet and holding it to her back and drew the rough shape I wanted with white chalk on the foam while looking at my reference photos. I squared it up and gave it straight edges. I cut out the shape of craft foam and copied the pattern onto my EVA foam and cut that out as well (both with scissors.) The textured side of the EVA foam will go against the wearer's back. I cut an approximately 5" long piece of corrugated plastic tubing and notched out a rectangular hold in the bottom portion of the backpack using an Xacto knife just large enough to fit my piece of tubing.
I took my LED tap light and removed the 4 screws to take it apart. Use the blue Tintit spray paint to spray multiple light layers of blue on the "white" lens of the tap light after it has been taken apart. The more layers, the less transparent and the darker it will become. I used about 4 coats until I was satisfied with the color when the light was on. I used black plastidip to paint the remaining external parts of the tap light. When the parts were dry I reassembled the tap light. I traced the shape of the tap light onto the upper portion of the EVA foam and cut it out using an Xacto knife. Do not cut the circle out of the craft foam.
I used another piece of the thin craft foam to hold against her shoulder and used chalk to draw the shoulder pads while looking at reference photos. I transferred this to my EVA foam and cut out one and a mirror image copy of the first (one for each shoulder.) I used a heat gun to heat up the EVA foam shoulder pads and curved them to fit her shoulders. I then cut brown leather to cover each piece of EVA foam on the shoulders. I then glued each piece of leather with craft flue to the top side of the shoulder pad.
I cut six identical strips approximately 4" long of the 1" elastic. I test fitted the backpack to the shoulder pads with 3 elastic strips on each side fanned out from each other using tape. I used craft glue to bond the elastic straps to the underside of the EVA backpack and the top of each shoulder pad. I then glued the black craft foam to the wearer's back side of the backpack (textured side) and by doing so, I sandwiched the elastic straps between the two pieces on the backpack for a more secure hold.
I craft glued the piece of plastic tubing into the small slot I created to the sides of the EVA and the bottom side that now has craft foam. I also used craft glue to glue my painted tap light to the side walls and the black craft foam, making sure to not apply glue to the battery door. After the glue was all dried, I used an Xacto knife to cut out the opening of the battery door from the craft foam on the wearer's back so that I can remove and change out the batteries.
Finally, I used adhesive velcro on the shoulder pads and the middle of the backpack and applied the mating velcro to he shoulders and back of the jumpsuit while on the wearer to attach the backpack.
Step 4: Heads and Tails
cheap cat head and tail costume set - Target $3
brown striped craft fur sheet x 2 - Michaels $6
1" high density foam (only need less than a square foot - $2
polyester fiber fill - Michaels $5
I made this the easiest way I could think of and I was very pleased with the results.
To make the ears, I took the existed headband / ears that I purchased and used them backwards, so that the fur side is the surface that would be seen, not the side with black sequins. I held a sheet of fur against the ears by starting in a corner at the peak of the ears and folded them down and back until it made a nice curve and had the dimension I liked. I cut it out in place, but was essentially triangle with curved sides and also curved and extended down on the bottom of the triangle because it will extend back and completely down onto the wearer's head. I used hot glue to glue the very tip of my fur together (in a small pinch) and then glued the edge of my fur to the outside edge of the existing ears and the base of the headband. Then I cut several small wedges (of a few different sizes) of the high density foam and dry fit them into the ears to fill them so they maintained a full and curved shape about 2 full inches toward the back of the head and in all directions. When I was happy with my dry fit test, I cut out more similar shapes for the other ear and then craft glued them all in place.
To make the tail, I took one full craft fur sheet (9"x12" dimension) and the remaining fur left over from the ears (about 4".) I sewed the two strips together hiding the seam and blending them to appear as one solid piece. It is important to cut only the backing material using small tipped scissors so the fur is all full length when joined together. Using this new approximately 16" long piece I cut what was essentially a large oval with near points on the end. The oval shape cuts will give the tail a curved appearance. I sewed the tail together, inside out, leaving enough space on one end to insert the existing cat tail. I inverted the tail so the fur was now on the outside and pulled any hairs through that I could from the seams. Now I inserted the cat tail inside the hole that I left to give the tail some form and the wire inside the cat tail would allow me to adjust the shape of the tail and the loop on the end of the cat tail will be used for my attachment to Rocket's jumpsuit. The cat tail was very thin, so is used polyester fiber fill to pack Rocket's tail and fill it out to give it a raccoon shape. Lastly, I had to hand sew the end of the tail closed to contain the cat tail and fiber fill. I used the small satin loop from the original cat tail and two safety pins to attach the tail to the jumpsuit on the butt where the top of the tail would be just covered by the bottom of the vest.
The last step was makeup. You can see from the photos, the makeup started as essentially a classic cat or dog with drawn whiskers, nose and muzzle. It then progressed by enlarging the nose, darkening the muzzle, outlining and darkening the eyes (raccoon eyes) a bit, but not too much.
Step 5: The Blaster
cardboard from a very large box
expanding foam - Home Depot
small Home Depot Halloween bucket
thick craft foam - Michaels
various PVC pipe (3/4" and fittings)
top of a small water bottle
2 caps to small bottles (glass essential oil bottles)
black spray plastidip - Home Depot
metallic hammered bronze spray paint - Michaels
blue Tintit spray dye - Michaels
If you watched the movie, you know Rocket is some sort of super modified raccoon. As such, he is the size of a large raccoon. In comparison to his body size - his blaster is HUGE! So to translate that to a person dressed to be a small raccoon, I needed to make the blaster very large. I overall blaster is about 3 1/2' long, which is still not to scale, but worked well and was manageable for her to carry around.
I started by doing research on the internet and finding a picture of of the blaster that I liked. I printed it on transparency film. I taped some cardboard to the wall and projected the image on the cardboard and moved it back until it was the size I wanted. I traced the image on the cardboard, then folded the cardboard in half and taped the edges to hold them together. Any parts of the traced image that were going to be larger than the basic body of the blaster or on the side, I traced onto paper so I would have a template of the right size for each part. I used an Xacto knife to cut the shape out, and I had both halves since the cardboard was folded in half. After I had the two sides cut out, I estimated that I should make the blaster about 3" wide, so I cut a lot of long 3" wide strips of the cardboard. I began at the top of the blaster muzzle and began working on cutting relief lines into the 3" wide cardboard at each corner in the side pieces. I continued this process until I traced all around the blaster until I got to the bottom side of the muzzle. The muzzle was left open. For the curved parts, I repeated cut relief lines in the cardboard, at times only 1/4" apart, to allow it to copy the shape. I used craft glue and masking tape to bond the lower half of the 3" strips to both sides of the blaster. My initial idea was to use the expansion foam on the inside of the blaster in the middle of the cardboard to give it more strength and durability. I sprayed some expanding foam in, and then completed glueing and taping the remaining 3" strip along the top half of the blaster. Unfortunately, I was overzealous with the expanding foam and it began deforming and taking apart my seams, so I had to remove a side and scoop out some of the foam while it was still wet. I then glued and taped the sides back together. After the glue dried, the tape was removed.
I cut out and made many detail parts from the cardboard. The oversize muzzle, handle, extra grip and other detail pieces were all fabricated using the paper templates I drew earlier. Most of these pieces were attached to the blaster using small pieces of doubled up cardboard and glue in inconspicuous areas. The pistol grip, made of 3 pieces of cardboard glued together, was inserted into a hole I created on the underside of the blaster and taped and glued in place. The pistol grip was wrapped in tape to give it some texture. This was the only tape left in place on the final product.
I was unsure at first how to make the curved parts around the handle area of the blaster, but eventually came upon the small Home Depot trick or treat buckets that were made of a very thin plastic and were approximately the right circumference. I used extra craft foam to create a template for the curved piece that I copied onto the two sides of the bucket and cut with scissors. I added some cardboard areas to attached the curved pieces and glued them in place and temporarily held them with masking tape.
I used my PVC pipe and some fittings to create a scope for the blaster. One end is flared and curved, so I used a hand mitre saw to cut the top off a of small water bottle at a gentle angle. The PVC pipe and bottle top were glued together to achieve the results in the photos. The final detail was hot glueing two miniature plastic bottle lids to the top and one side of the scope for adjustment knobs.
The scope and the assembled blaster were taken outside and painted with 2 coats of plastidip. After drying, I painted the blaster body (not the scope or pistol grip - mask off) with the hammered bronze paint - 2 coats. The final paint was the blue Tintit, which was applied only to the muzzle guard (after masking off the rest of the blaster body with newspaper and masking tape) on the tip of the blaster and over the hammered bronze, so it still maintained it's metallic look since the blue paint in semi-transparent. Again I was happy with the results after 2 quick coats.
I cut 3 identical pieces of the craft foam to fill the inside edge of the curved arm / should area for padding like on Rocket's blaster. I used the heat gun to heat them a little and match the curve of this part of the blaster so they would adhere to the blaster much easier. I then used craft glue to attach them. Finally, I used hot glue to attach the scope to the top of the blaster.
Step 6: Ready to Save the Universe!
With all the pieces complete and Halloween upon us, she donned the jumpsuit in conjunction with the vest / harness. The backpack velcro'd on to her shoulders and back. One push and the tap light turned on bright. A second push and it dimmed a bit and provided a better effect. We completed the makeup and put on the ears. She grabbed her blaster and we were off! The costume held up well for a night of trick or treating. It was reportedly very comfortable to wear and was perfect for the warm Southern California night. We got lots of positive comments and requests for pictures of our guardian family.