Intro: Muppet Swedish Chef Costume
Last year my son's friend went as the Swedish Chef whom they both love. Ever since he saw his friends costume he was dead set on being the that this year.
Again, we can't just do a simple thing so we built a full head. There were some tricky parts, and hopefully you will learn from my mistakes.
Since this is mostly about the head I will focus on that.
- 3" Upholstery Foam - Joanne
- Paper (templates)
- Glue Sticks
- 1 yard Antron Fleece (Flesh Color) - Out of the Box Puppets
- 1/4 yard Fur material - Fabric.com
- White Linen (inside liner)
- Red Fabric (mouth)
- Plastic Mesh - Joanne
- Spray Paint (Churchill Hotel Vanilla) (to match Antron Fleece) - Lowe's
- Thread (of different colors)
- String (mouth movement)
- 9V Battery
- Shrink Tubing
- Mini Computer Fan - Amazon, no more Radio Shack :-(
- Battery Pack with Switch - Amazon
- Shirt - Amazon
- Bowtie - Amazon
- Apron - Amazon
- Spoons - Amazon
- Hot Glue Gun
- Electric Carving Knife
- Soldering Iron
Step 1: Basic Head Shape, Ears, & Nose
Using the brown paper I made a template for the first to layers of the head. These would be the chin and eyes with the mouth being between the two layers. I wish I would have made the bottom part a little bigger so I could have the lower lip sticking out further than the upper lip like it is in the real thing.
I cut them using the electric knife. After glueing the first two pieces together with the hot glue gun, I roughed out the shape using the electric knife and scissors. Test fitted to make sure we were on the right path.
For the top, I just cut a cylinder without cutting the inside. With the lower half on, I cut out a place for the top of his head to fit into the top piece. Then glued it on to the lower two pieces. The top really narrows, the idea was that it was going to be what the chef hat attached to (but that really didn't turn out). I then refined the overall shape and added details like the lips.
The back of the mask is open at this point. I was going to leave this open, and use velcro and a flap of fleece to close it.
The ears and nose were shaped from extra pieces that were cut off.
The major problem was trying to get the head so my son could make him "talk". The problem with the foam is that it is hard to get it to move. I cleared a bunch of foam at the corners of the mouth on the inside. This helped a little. I also added a spot for his chin to go, this didn't help at all.
Finally decided to add a string that he could pull to make the mouth open and close. Using a large needle and going in from the bottom of the chin to the lower lip. Then used a big glob of hot glue to hold the string to the bottom lip.
In the end he hardly used the string, and he just did without the mouth moving. I would have like to figure this out, but I think it would have taken some servos to do it properly... maybe next time :)
Step 2: Cooling
Knowing that this was going to be pretty warm, decided to add a cooling fan at the top to exhaust the air into the hat.
With the small area I got a small fan. I could have probably gotten a regular sized case fan instead of this mini one. Wired it up to a 9v box with a switch on it. Hot glued the fan in place. The box just rested in the hat.
I added some channels on the inside of the head for the air to rise up through as well.
Step 3: Skinning
I started by lining the inside with some light linen. This was to keep the foam off my sons skin, and hopefully keep him cooler. I just quickly stitched this to the foam directly.
My biggest problem with this build was the fleece. I started with white fleece from Joanne's that I was going to die the colors I needed. The only color that I could seem to die it was pinkish. This was good for the nose, but not for the face. I ended up buying what I needed and getting real Antron Fleece for the face.
Since I hadn't shaped the face right for the bottom lip, I added some polyfil, which looked okay, but not great.
Wrapping the whole head, the only place that needed stitching was on both sides of the chin. I did the best I could with the puppetery/henson stitch, which was amazing. My biggest issue was that green behind the fabric would make the seam a little more noticeable.
The rest was stitched directly to the foam.
Step 4: Eyes, Nose, Ears, Mouth, Hair, & Hat
The eyes I tried to match as close to the skin color as possible, they look okay, but wish it was even more hidden. If we could have gotten them more hidden we could have made them bigger and thus easier to see out of. They were attached between the foam and the fleece just by sewing the three layers together.
For the mouth I inserted the red fabric and stitched it together.
The nose and ears were wrapped first, again using the henson stitch. I actually used that stitch here first so I could practice on something that was not going to be noticed as much. Then sewed them onto the head.
Finally the hair and hat. This faux hair was long and amazing. The stuff they have at Joanne's just wasn't nearly as good. The hat got stitched to the head lower than I expected, and was not able to use the smaller spot I had carved out of the foam for it. This was because of how everything went together. It would have looked funny for the hat to be so far away from the eyebrows.