This is a quick project that will take approximately 3 hours or less to complete depending on how detailed you want to make it.
We purchased the ½” thick green upholstery foam from Jo-Ann’s Fabric & Crafts for $11 a yard. Use a Jo-Ann's printable coupon from (www.joann.com/coupon) when you purchase the foam and it will be only be about $6 a yard.
This soft foam armor is very easy to make and similar to our Minecraft Zombie Costume!
Please Note: Some of the photos are slightly different in detailed appearance than what the instructions say. We used scrap pieces of foam to make this armor set so you may see some seams and misaligned parts in some of the photos. We are only using these photos for you as a general reference since this was our prototype set.
Step 1: Materials Needed
1. The upholstery foam is green ½ thick and “Jo-Ann’s Fabric & Crafts” sells it in 2.5 yard by 24” lengths/sheets (2.5 yards should be enough for a child’s size).
2. Low temperature hot glue sticks & gun (regular hot glue may be too hot and melt the foam).
3. A yardstick to use as a straightedge or a fabric cutting board to keep your foam cuts perfectly straight.
4. One (1) can of black spray paint (trim color)
5. One (1) can of white spray paint (highlight color)
6. Exacto-Knife or box cutter with new blades (dull blades will tear the foam and keep you from getting a clean straight cut).
7. 12” Velcro strip without the adhesive.
(Optional) The foam is already bluish green (Diamond Armor Color). If you want Iron armor (pictured) or gold armor you will need: One (1) can of grey spray paint for iron armor or One (1) can of bright yellow spray paint for gold armor.
Step 2: Getting Started
Measure the child’s chest across from armpit to armpit and from the top of the shoulder to the waist.
Also measure across the top of the shoulders from the childs back to the outermost front chest. These measurements will be used for the length width and depth of the chest piece below. The child in the photo with the armor wears a size 12/14 in boys.
We used the following measurements:
Foam chest plate parts to be cut:
(2) 10”wide x 18”long (front and back chest square)
(2) 8”wide x 18”long (left and right sides of chest piece box)
(1) 9” x 10” square (top cap of chest piece)
(1) 1”wide x 26”long strip (reinforcement for head opening)
To make the main chest piece: cut two (2) 10” wide by 18” long squares, cut two (2) 8” wide by 18” long foam squares, cut one (1) 9” x 10” square and one (1) 1” wide by 26” long strip. This is where you can use the yardstick as a straightedge to make your long straight cuts if you do not have a fabric cutting board.
TIP: Keep your blade as close to a right angle (90°) as you can while cutting the foam and be sure to use a new razor blade or Exacto-knife to cut the foam on a large flat surface. If you do not use a new blade the foam can tear creating jagged edges that could show later.
Step 3: Hot Glue
The objective here is to make a 9”x10”x18” box shape when glued together.
Place the 10”x18” square on a flat surface and proceed to glue an 8”x18” side along the top inside edge of the 10”x18” making sure that the ends and edges of both pieces line up evenly. Glue the entire length of the foam edge down working on a short distance at a time to keep the hot glue from cooling too quickly.
Once you have completely hot glued the length of the first 8”x18” strip repeat the process by gluing the next 8”x18” strip on the top inside edge of the opposite side of the 10”x18” piece that is still flat on the table. Once the second 8”x18” side of the chest is glued down you can glue the next 10”x18” strip to the top of the two 8”x18” sides working the glue on one side at a time so the edges line up exactly and the glue does not cool too quickly. When complete if done correctly you will end up with a 9”x10”x18” box with both ends open.
Tip: Run an extra bead of glue on all the inside seams to re-enforce the chest.
Take the unused 9”x10” square and place it on a flat surface. Find a bowl that is 6” to 7” across the top and place it upside down and center it on the unused 9”x10” square. Next trace out and mark the circle on the foam with a felt tip pen. Remove the bowl and cut out the marked opening. Take your 1”x26” foam strip and loop it around the outside edge of the circle you just cut out and mark where the ends of the looped 1” strip comes back together and cut it to length. Now discard the 6” to 7” circle (it is no longer needed). Take the 1” strip of foam and hot glue the 1” ends together to make a loop or ring shape. Let cool completely and then glue the side of this loop down to the top of the 9”x10” square you cut the 6” to 7” circle out of. This piece will reinforce the neck area of the armor and keep it from bending/flexing too much while it is being worn. (see photo)
Next glue the 9”x10” square to one of the open ends on your 9”x10”x18” box. The foam loop side on the 9”x10” piece should point outward away from the inner box shape.
Step 4: Cut Arm Openings
Now that the chest is completely glued together we will cut out the arm openings on the sides. Stand the chest piece upright with the head opening at the top and measure ¾” down from the top side shoulder edge (this should be just below where the foam seams together) and measure in from the side 4.5” and mark this as a center spot (this mark will be used for the top center of the arm opening).
From the mark you just made measure down another 4.5” and mark another point (this will be used as the bottom center of the arm opening).
Starting at the top mark you can now mark and cut out a rectangle shape to allow enough room for the childs arms (typically around 5” wide) using your top and bottom marks as the center points of your rectangle.
Step 5: Shoulders
We used the following measurements:
Foam shoulder parts to be cut:
(4) 8”x 8” (sides)
(4) 4”x8” (front & back)
(2) 9”x4” (tops)
(4) 4”x2” (bottom caps)
(2)3”x20” (inside shoulder supports)
The goal of this step is to make a 9”x4”x8” foam box shape. After you have cut out the above foam parts place a 4”x8” rectangle on a flat surface and proceed to glue an 8”x8” side along the top inside edge of the 4”x8” making sure that the ends and edges of both pieces line up evenly. Glue the entire length of the foam edge down working on a short distance at a time to keep the hot glue from cooling too quickly.
Once you have completely hot glued the length of the first 8”x8” strip repeat the process by gluing the next 8”x8” strip on the top inside edge of the opposite side of the 4”x8” piece that is still flat on the table. Once the second 8”x8” side is glued down you can glue the next 4”x8” strip to the top of the two 8”x8” sides working the glue on one side at a time so the edges line up exactly and the glue does not cool too quickly. When complete if done correctly you will end up with a 9”x4”x8” box with both ends open.
Next hot glue a 9”x4” top over one opening of the box shape being careful to line up all the edges. Flip the box over to the last open end and hot glue one 4”x2” bottom cap by lining it up with the end edge of the box then take another 4”x2” cap and hot glue it to the other side of the opening. This should leave you with a 5” long opening in the bottom of the shoulder.
To cut the side opening for the arm line up the shoulder piece edges exactly with the upper side chest arm opening you previously cut. While the shoulder piece is lined up take a felt tip marker and trace the chest arm cutout opening onto the inner shoulder piece. Once marked separate the shoulder and chest piece and cut out the marked arm opening in the shoulder. We marked the inside of our shoulder pieces (L) left and (R) right with the felt pen so everything would line up when worn. Discard the rectangle piece you cut out of the shoulder, it is no longer needed.
The final foam part can now be glued in the shoulder. Take one of the 3”x20” foam strips and fold it in half and mark the center spot with a felt pen. Place the strip into the shoulder side opening you just cut out. Try to center the marked spot at the top inside part of the shoulder. Hot glue this center point down to the top inside of the shoulder. Now pull the ends of the strip down to form an even “U” shape inside the shoulder area and hot glue it in place. (see photo)
((Repeat this process for 2nd shoulder))
Step 6: The Velcro
Time to hot glue in the Velcro strips. This is what will keep the shoulders in place and keep them from sliding down the arms no matter how much sword swinging action is going on.
Take your 12” Velcro strip and cut it in half. (You will need a 6” long strap for the top of each shoulder.)
Separate the Velcro strips and retain the fuzzy soft sides. Cut both of these soft fuzzy sides in half once again leaving you with four (4) soft 3" strips. Take two (2) of these strips and hot glue them sideways next to each other into the top center arm opening of the chest piece (see photo). Repeat the process on the other side.
Now take one of the scratchy 6” pieces and hot glue it into the inside top center of the shoulder (Scratchy loop side of the Velcro facing the foam. Smooth side down to the arm). You will need to leave about 4” of Velcro protruding out of the shoulder opening so it can attach to the inside top of the chest plate (see photos).
Allow the hot glue to fully cool before attaching the Velcro strips (hook & loop) sides together or you may end up pulling the Velcro off the foam parts.
This small strip of Velcro when attached will allow full free movement of the arms and shoulders without the shoulders sliding down or around the wearers arms!
Step 7: The Gauntlets
We used the following measurements:
Foam gauntlet parts to be cut:
(6) 4”x 7.5” (top & sides)
(4) 4”x5” (front cap & bottom cap)
(4) 4”x1.25” (inside box)
(2) 4”x4” (inside box top)
Optional (4 to 8) 1/2”x3” (arm grip supports)
The goal of this step is to make a 8”x5”x4.5” foam box shape. After you have cut out the above foam parts place a 4”x7.5” rectangle on a flat surface and proceed to glue a 4”x7.5” side along the top “outside” edge of the 4”x7.5” making sure that the ends and edges of both pieces line up evenly. Glue the entire length of the foam edge down working on a short distance at a time to keep the hot glue from cooling too quickly.
Once you have completely hot glued the length of the first 4”x7.5” strip repeat the process by gluing the next 4”x7.5” strip on the top “outside” edge of the opposite side of the 4”x8” piece that is still flat on the table. Once the second 4”x7.5” side is glued down you can glue the 4”x5” strip to the top end edge of the two 4”x7.5” sides working the glue on one side at a time so the edges line up exactly. When complete if done correctly, you will end up with a 7.5”x4.5” box with both ends and part of the side open.
Take a 4”x5” square and hot glue it to the open most end of the box (opposite end of the last 4”x5” piece glued) carefully lining it up while hot gluing one edge at a time.
Next for the arm/wrist grip insert (this part keeps the gauntlets from falling off). Take a 1.75”x3” strip and hot glue it into the back opening of the gauntlet touching the 4”x5” bottom foam square inside edge. Then take another 1.75”x3” strip and hot glue it inside the gauntlet at the other end of the 4”x5” square (you now have an open box inside a box if done correctly). Use a 4”x4” square and now hot glue it across the tops of the two 1.75”x3” squares to close them off.
Optional Step: If the gauntlets are too loose and flop around you can hot glue in some ½” foam wrist grip strips into the back opening of the gauntlets to hold them a little more firmly in place. Remember this foam is soft and will stretch and flex, it’s not ridged.(See photos for grip strip placements.)
Step 8: Painting
Not to worry, spray painting your armor will not make it stiff! After the paint dries the foam is still soft and flexible and will not chip and crack or flake paint.
If you want Gold or Iron Armor you will need to spray paint your entire foam armor set: Chest, Shoulders and Gauntlets your desired color before proceeding to the next steps. If you wanted Diamond Armor you can skip this part because your foam armor is already bluish green!
Note: One can of grey spray paint was enough for us to cover the complete iron set but with Gold armor you may need two.
Now that your armor is the color you want it lets get started on the trim. We used masking tape at ¾” out from the edges of the foam to make the spray painted black edging lines. Not only does it make the armor look similar to what is in game it also hides all your glued seams! When painting in the black outline edges use the spray can across the top of the tape (never towards the open taped edge side) and you will get very clean lines with no over/under spray - we found that less is more with the black spray paint. Heavy coats of black paint turned out nearly the same color as the light coats but took much longer to dry to the touch.
After all your edges are dry you can paint in some white highlight squares to make the armor look like it has a Minecraft type texture grid pattern. We included a paper template .pdf file that you can cut out and use as a stencil to spray your white highlight squares. Less is more with the white spray paint as well. It takes a very light dusting of white spray paint to show up very bright on grey iron colored armor.
Note: After painting your armor it may take up to two days for the “spray paint smell” to go completely away. We used inexpensive $1.00 a can Wal-Mart spray paint and that may had something to do with paint odor lasting that long.