Don't buy a fabric tail for your costume! It's super easy to make an excellent tail out of faux fur. :D Making a faux fur tail is easier than you think!
It'll take you less than an hour to throw together (okay, maybe two if you're not much of a sewer), and you can customize it in tons of ways. There are so many colors of faux fur available in every length these days. I'm sure you can find something you love.
I've even seen tutorials of people painting faux fur to get exactly the color they want if you just can't find the right hue or pattern.
I've attached my faux fur tail with a safety pin, but use whatever you feel comfortable with.
Looking for ears to go along with your tail? Check out my tutorial for realistic faux fur animal ears!
Step 1: What You'll Need:
- 1/4 yard faux fur
- new razor blades
- measuring tape
- needle and thread + sewing machine
- something large and curved like a plate
- safety pin for attaching
- fabric scraps or polyfill for stuffing
- pen or marker for marking
Keep in mind that 1/4 yard of fur will give you enough to make ears and tail!
Step 2: Decide the Length and Cut
I decided I was going to do 26 inches long and 10 inches across. I'm pretty short, and I had a feeling anything larger would turn into a problem.
My tail turned out pretty fat, so if you'd like a skinnier one, go for 6-8 inches wide. Just keep in mind that it'll be quite tricky to turn it right side out. :)
To cut the faux fur, you want to lay it fur side down and cut just the very back layer of it with a razor. Cutting the fur with scissors will chop the fur off in places and make it look a little mangy.
For more information, check out scoochmaroo's awesome instructable on working with faux fur. :D
Also, important to note here: the direction the fur is going in doesn't matter here. It'll matter for smaller things like ears - but this tail will be fine!
Step 3: Curve One End, Cut Again
You don't want a straight bottom to the tail because it will look chunky.
Depending on the type of tail you're going for, you can either curve the outside edges, or make it pointed. Keep in mind while planning that you'll be folding the tail in half and sewing down one side.
I used a lid for a large jar and marked one edge with some nice curves. I then cut off the excess using a razor blade. Keep curving/pointing the tail until you get the look you want. Just make sure to keep it symmetrical. :)
Step 4: Pin the Tail
Fold the tail in half, so the right side (the fur side) is touching and the fabric side is on the outside. Line up the edges.
Pin the tail together all the way down the open edge. You will leave the end opposite the bottom of the tail open. As you pin, tuck the fur inside the tail. Pin every 2-3 inches - you want it to be nice and secure. When you're finished, all the hair should be inside the open edge. The only hair that will be sticking out is the opening of the tail.
Step 5: Baste!
Now you're going to baste the edges of the tail. Basting is basically sewing a long running stitch. You can find out more about basting/running stitches here.
Thread a needle by doubling over the thread and make a large knot at the end of the thread.
Start at the bottom of the tail and make a few small stitches through both edges just to keep everything together. Then you can begin sewing. Use a long running stitch all the way down 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the edge, making sure each stitch goes through both edges. Push the needle straight through every time - otherwise you can grab the hair and bring it with the needle. :)
Step 6: Sew!
Once everything is basted, you can sew it! You'll want to use a heavier duty needle on your machine for this. Sew from one end to the other over or right inside the basting stitches. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end for maximum staying power. :)
Step 7: Turn!
Turn the tail right side out. This can be tricky if your tail is really skinny. Mine was fat enough I could get my arm into it, which helped quite a bit. :)
Just go slow and don't pull too hard - because faux furs are backed with loosely woven fabric, you can rip the stitches pretty easy if you go Hulk on it.
Step 8: Stuff!
This is entirely optional. If you have a very skinny, long haired tail you probably won't need to do this. Mine was lacking body though, so I took my sewing scraps and stuffed it with those.
Psh, polyester stuffing. Who needs it? Scrap hoarders unite!
Step 9: Sew the Top of the Tail Closed
This is pretty easy, especially with shorter fur. The long fur leaves you a little lost every now and then. :P
Double thread a needle and knot it well. Then, starting wherever you like, fold over the fabric 1/4 inch or so at the top. Stitch it down and fold over more fabric, then stitch that down. Just use a running stitch for this. Once you're about halfway around the opening, start pulling on the thread. You'll see the fabric start to gather. Keep stitching and pulling the thread tight to gather it until you reach the beginning of your stitches.
At this point, use your fingers to feel around and make sure you haven't left any holes.
If you've gathered it closed correctly, stitch through both sides a couple time, and then tie off.
Step 10: You're Done!
Now you've got a fancy tail for your cat/fox/dog/raccoon/etc costume. YEAH!
I find it's easiest to attach it with a safety pin, but you can do it in tons of ways. :D