It’s Halloween time again, the time of the year which my daughter eagerly awaits as she loves to dress up in costume. Actually it is also something I wait for, since I love making costumes. Last year my daughter and I had a blast trick or treating in a Plants vs Zombies themed costume (http://stoicpassion.com/2010/11/how-to-make-plants-vs-zombies-costume/). This year, my mind was on the works again thinking of a costume that is easily recognizable, probably a fad of the current year.
I was going for an Angry Birds inspired costume, but unfortunately I couldn’t squeeze any idea out of my brain on how to incorporate Angry Birds into my daughter’s costume. I eventually ended up with another “bird” inspired costume called an “Ostrich Rider”. An Ostrich Rider, is a costume that visually tricks the viewer into seeing a person riding a dummy ostrich. There are several variations of this “Rider” costume, but all are the same in their intention to visually trick the eye.
The challenge I had when I made the costume was to achieve the same visual illusion while making it light enough for my daughter to carry around. There is not much info on the Internet on how to make one, which is why I’d like to share how I made the costume.
How to Make the Ostrich Rider Costume
I initially thought that this would be a hard costume to make, but I was surprised to finish this within 3 days. If you’d do this non-stop, you’d be able to complete the costume within a day.
- Choose a wire that is a little bit hard to bend to give a sturdy frame.
- ½ inch thick padding foam (2 meters).
- Cost around P80 per meter, usually sold pre-cut.
- Where to buy: Juan Luna street, Divisoria, near Recto Ave.
- Old newspaper
- Furry cloth (Black;2yards)
- Velvet cloth can also be used, but the more furry ones would be preferable.
- Where to buy: Azcarraga Textile building, Recto, Divisoria. (or textile shops at Ylaya and Tabora streets)
- Not many carry this type of cloth so ask around. When describing the cloth, mention the type of cloth used on teddy bear stuffed toys.
- Stretchy cloth (Light Pink/Skin tone; 2 yards)
- Where to buy: Azcarraga Textile building, Ylaya, or Tabora. (most textile shops have this type of cloth)
- Felt cloth (Yellow; 1 yard)
- This cloth is a little bit rough and stiff.
- Where to buy: Azcarraga, Ylaya, Tabora, or , Carolina’s (Market, Market)
- Choose the fine, short, soft feathers, not the long, stiff ones.
- Where to buy: Tabora street or Carolina’s (Market, Market)
- Googly eyes
- Choose the size of eyes relative to the size of the styro foam ball head
- Where to buy: Tabora street or Carolina’s (Market, Market)
- Accessories: Handkerchief, Sun glasses, Headband.
- Styro foam ball (6-7 inches diameter)
- Buy the size relative to the size of the ostrich you intend to create.
- Pants and shoes
- Buy the cheapest worth less than P100. It would be cheaper to buy from second hand/ukay-ukay shops
- Straps (1 yard)
Steps for creating the body
1. Create the body wire frame.
a. Create an egg shaped wire frame. The ovoid wire frame should be wide enough according to how big you intend to make the ostrich body, adjust the diameter accordingly.
b. Next, cut a wire that would form the silhouette shape of the ostrich from breast to tail. It would be like a half shaped ovoid. Attach it from end to end on the middle elongated portion of the initial ovoid wire frame. You should now have a cup shaped wire frame. The oval brim portion of the cup shape is intended to be at level with the hips of the person wearing the costume. Try it out on the person who will wear the costume and adjust the silhouette shape accordingly.
c. Cut 2 sets of wire that would form the outline of the width of the body of the ostrich. Attach those wire crosswise at ⅓ length away from the front(breast) portion and end (tail) portion or position them in such a way that the legs and thighs of the person wearing the costume should fit between the 2 wires.
d. Create another circular wire frame, this time smaller in diameter. This circular wire frame should be wide enough for the person to be able to get in and out the costume. The intended position of this circular wire frame relative to the body of the person wearing the costume, should be just below the navel. (Remember that the position of the initial ovoid shaped wire frame should be at the hips, there is just around 1-2 inches distance between the two wire frame). When the 2 wire frames are attached to each other, ensure that the smaller circular wire frame is NOT positioned at the center of the bigger ovoid wire frame. Preferably move it nearer to the wider portion of the ovoid wire frame.
e. Ensure that the wire frame is sturdy. Add more “ribs” to the wire frame as needed.
f. When the wire frame is completed, cover the wire frame with old news paper to give thickness to the wire frame body. This step is optional if you think your wire frame would not easily bend.
2. Cover the wire frame with ½ inch thick foam. The foam would give a circular and soft shape effect on the body of the ostrich. It would also prevent the wireframe from bulging.
3. Cover the wire frame with the furry cloth. It would be better to hand sew the cloth to the ribs of the wire frame rather than use super glue as it would damage the fur cloth.
a. Cut 2 wide rectangular shaped cloth that would cover the sides of the body; leave 4 inches excess on the tail end of the rectangular strip. The excess inches would become the tail of the ostrich. Form the tail portion by overlapping the excess cloth such that the bottom part is narrow and the top part is wide (this would naturally form a diagonally shaped tail portion). Sew from the bottom, but leave the top open and wide enough for you to be able to put more foam filling on the tail portion as needed. Shape the tail like a duck and when satisfied, continue sewing the remaining open portion of the tail. Do not sew the front/breast portion, leave this open for now as we still need to connect the neck to the body.
b. Cut 2 circular/ovoid shaped cloth that would cover the top and bottom of the ostrich body. Cut holes on the bottom for the legs and on the top for the torso of the person wearing the costume.
Steps for creating the head, neck, legs and feet of the ostrich
1. For the head, use the styro foam ball as the head of the ostrich.
a. Cover the head with stretchy light pink cloth. As much as possible prevent creases on the area where you intend to put the face of the ostrich. You can prevent creases by stretching more on areas where creases appear. You’ll definitely end up with more creases on the back part of the head, but this can be easily concealed with a bandana handkerchief.
b. Create a beak using two sets of triangle shaped yellow felt cloth. The beak that I made serves also as a harness to control the head. I first created a rhomboid/diamond shaped wire frame,then afterwards glued the upper and lower portions of the beak. I then attached wires on both corners of the beak that runs around the back of the head; this would serve as the harness. To fasten the harness, I attached a wire that would run around the top of the head. I made a small fold on the wire on the top that would act as stopper to keep the head band accessory from falling. (If you wanted to conceal the wire harness, cover the wire with brown cloth so it would look real similar to a horse’s harness). Attach the googly eyes and adjust accordingly.
2. For the neck
a. Create the neck part by rolling up the ½ inch thick padding foam up to the desired thickness for the neck of the ostrich. Cut to the desired length of the neck. Cover the roll of foam with the same light pink stretchy cloth used on the head of the ostrich. You could either stitch or glue the seams of the neck. I positioned the seams on the front portion, and then afterwards, to conceal the seams, I covered the seam with feathers. (Optionally, you could put wire in the core of the neck to make it stand by itself. I opted not to do this to make the neck more movable)
b. Attach the head to the neck by sewing the cloth covering. Try to do 3-4 passes around the neck to ensure that the head does not easily detach.
c. Remember that we left the front (breast) portion of the ostrich body open, not sewn. It is on that portion where we attach the neck to the body by tying it to the frame with wires. Afterwards, we hand sew the furry cloth around the neck to conceal the wire.
3. For the legs
You have 3 options for the legs.
- The simplest is to wear light pink stockings or leggings.
- Another is to roll up a foam to the desired thickness, cover with light pink stretchy cloth (same as the neck and head) and attach/tie the ostrich legs in front of the legs person wearing the costume. Preferrably the person is wearing black pants/tights.
- Another option is to create a foam padded leggings. This is what I opted for and described below.
a. Cut a foam padding to cover the person’s legs and thighs.
b. Cover the foam padding with light pink stretchy cloth on both sides.
c. To fasten the padding around the person’s legs, attach velcro on the both end of the foam padding.
4. For the feet, I opted to go for a very simple flat foot that can be placed on top of the person’s foot, unlike a mascot’s foot where the person’s foot is inside the foam.
a. To create the feet, draw and cut a 3 toed foot on the yellow felt cloth. Make the foot wide enough to cover the foot of the person wearing the costume.
b. Draw and cut a circle on the heel portion that would be wide enough to be wrapped around the ankle of the person. Make an incision on the heel end of the foot pattern so that the person can open the end part.
c. Attach a velcro on the each end of the incision, particularly the side facing the floor. The intention is NOT to overlap the velcro, but instead to ‘fold’ the heel portion. The folding on the heel portion would make the front portion curved, so that the feet of the person is covered from side to side.
The ‘Rider’ illusion
To make the illusion of the person riding the ostrich, we need to make fake legs and feet.
a. Rip the back part of the pants up to the crotch area. Attach straps on both sides of the ripped pants. The straps would enable the person to wrap and fasten the pants around the waist when the person is inside the ostrich costume.
b. Roll up some foam to form the thigh and legs of the rider and place inside the pants. Put some excess inches on the lower end of the pants so that you could attach the shoes on the foam.
c. Attach the shoes on the excess foam.
d. Bend the pants so that it would look more natural instead of just freely hanging. Sew the bent legs on the side of the ostrich.
Straps for the ostrich body to hang
The ostrich body will just hang from the shoulders of the person wearing the costume. Think of it like a suspender. The straps are sewn on the ribs on one end and simply just tied on the other end. Adjust the position of the ostrich, ensure that the pants of the ‘fake’ rider is on the same level where the pants of the person would naturally be found.
To cover the straps wear shirt or jacket on top of the straps.
That’s it! We now have our finished Ostrich Rider costume.