Intro: Realistic Digitigrade "Backwards" Costume Animal Legs
If you've ever wanted to wear an animal costume and have the "backwards" legs like animals, too, this Instructable is for you! In it, I'll show you how to make digitigrade legs, which look like the joints are standing animal legs. It requires a bit of money, sewing, and patience. If you have those, then look ahead!
In this Instructable, I will go over the materials and steps required to make legs using fabric, craft foam, elastic and a glue gun. You should have a sewing machine if you'd like to make these quickly.
This Instructable is an add-on to the Hooves Instructable. Put both together and you'll have a lower body costume like the one pictured here!
Time to Complete:
Approximately 6-8 hours, if you're handy with fitting fabric. It may be more if you need to make a pattern or pin the leg fabric.
- Have a friend help you to fit the fabric - there is no pattern, so you're dependent on fitting the fabric to your legs. Having another set of hands would greatly help!
Step 1: Purchase and Gather Your Supplies
For this project, you will need:
- At least 2'x2'x4" (approximately) of craft foam. I had grey laying around from a package, and green is the normal colour you will find at craft stores.You can even use old sofa cushions. It comes in different thicknesses and sizes, and to be honest, thick may be better, as it would require less glueing.
- Sharp scissors
- Glue gun and glue sticks
- Fur fabric for legs. You will want at least enough to wrap around your legs VERY loosely. I guestimate when I shop, and I bought 1.5 yards for my 5'6" frame, which was barely enough. 2 yards may be a better bet.
- Sewing machine and thread
- Elastic - either enough to go around both thighs, or around your hips if you opt to make pants.
- If you purchase materials, there are always coupons for craft stores such as Joann Fabrics, Michaels, AC Moore, etc.
Step 2: Create the Padding
The pads we are making are used to give the illusion of "backwards" legs. They will be taped or glued to the inside of the legs once they are made. By making these first, we ensure that the fur will "fit" the digitigrade legs.
To make the pads, begin by looking at some images of animal legs. I added a simple sketch for reference. The yellow is a human leg, with an animal leg drawn over it. Notice where the bends are. We're making one on top of the thighs (a fake knee), and one behind the calves (a fake tall ankle joint).
- Cut out the foam to create curved, sickle-shapes like the ones pictured. Use as many sections as you need to cover your leg. For me, three was wide enough. I made the thigh pad nearly as long as my thigh, and the same with my calf.
- Once you have the rudimentary shape, begin trimming the sides so that it has a smooth, rounded shape.
- Then glue pieces together with the glue gun.
- Label which goes on which leg. I sculped mine slightly differently for each, and by writing on the foam, it differentiates which is which.
- After they are glued together, you can finish sculpting them. They do not have to be perfect, as the fur over them will smooth out any inconsistency.
The final image shows what they should look like when the pads are on your leg.
- To cut the foam, sharp scissors worked best for me - just cut off small pieces at a time. A boxcutter or other knife can be used, but it is more dangerous and really not that efficient.
Step 3: Drape the Fur
At step I stopped taking pictures, because draping takes four hands and I only had two. If you have a friend that can help you, definitely invite them over for this step!
Now we will make the fur fabric to cover your padded legs. You can think of these as giant pants, and can cut them like giant pants, but in step 6 we will be pulling the fabric in tight so it is "form fitting" and not wrinkly/saggy.
I made my fur covers by draping them on my legs, with the pads taped on. Draping is defined as the process of positioning and pinning fabric to develop the structure of a garment design. After draping, the fabric is removed. There are many good draping tutorials out there such as:
I do draping naturally, so cut the fur at a length that wrapped around the foam pads and added an extra foot to that length. I pinned the pieces together, and then sewed them into cylinders.
- Cutting fur can be VERY messy! After each cut, run your hand along the edge and ruffle it. Pull out any loose fur fluff and discard.
- Be sure to sew these inside out!
- I made thigh-high legs, so if you want to make pants-style, you'll have to figure that out on your own. Sorry!
Step 4: Sew Up the Leg Seams
Once you have leg cylinders, begin to pinch in the fabric to tighten it around the leg. Pin the area to tighten, and then sew it shut. It should produce the pictured "form fit" sleeve around the foam pads.
- Pictured are the insides of a leg: close up and the whole length. Notice how many different seams I sewed to tighten the leg.
- The third picture is both leg sleeves once they are sewn to form fit.
- The final picture is what the sleeve will look like when pulled up over the pads.
If you don't have a complex design on the fur, this should not be noticeable. Simply fluff the fur on the 'right' side of the fabric at the seam to fill and cover the seam.
Step 5: Sew in Elastic
Because these are thigh-high, I sewed in elastic to hold the fur up. If you want full fur pants, you can sew the elastic into the waist instead.
- To measure the elastic, wrap a piece around your leg, slightly stretching it so that it is comfortably tight. Mark on the elastic where that length is. Cut the elastic about 2 inches past that mark.
- At the top of the leg seam, cut the fabric so that it is even.
- Fold the top inwards, creating a fur cuff. Measure how wide the elastic is, and fold it over twice as much to give room for the elastic.
- Sew the cuff, leaving both ends open, so there is a hole to put the elastic through.
- Put a safety pin at the end of the elastic and thread it through the cuff.
- Sew the elastic shut at the marked line, using a zigzag seam.
- Hand sew the pants closed where the elastic was put in. Be sure NOT to sew on the elastic - keep it able to freely move.
Do multiple seams over the elastic to ensure it doesn't snap open!
Step 6: Fitting and Finishing
When you pull the legs up over the pads, it should now fit snugly and be able to be held up by the elastic. If the elastic or any fur is still loose, continue to pull in and sew shut until they fit well.
I was worried about the elastic holding, so I also sewed Velcro to the legs at the top thigh, and sewed the other piece on the pants I wore under the fur. This worked like a charm!
Step 7: Congratulations!
Congratulations! You have made fur legs that look very real, without having to bend your legs to pull it off.
I'd love to see any pictures of outfits you make using these. Either reply or message me here, or you can send me a note at "RiftwingDesigns" on Pintrest, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr.
Thank you, and enjoy!