DIY: Bernard Costume From Where The Wild Things Are

Looking for the Max Wild Thing tutorial? Look here!

It’s here! I finished the second Where The Wild Things Are tutorial. Though there are plenty of variations of Max, not many have been done for this one, Bernard, so hopefully you enjoy this DIY!

Bernard the Wild Thing Costume DIY Tutorial by Sewing Blue

As I mentioned in the Max tutorial, the bison-looking* wild thing is named Bernard. Turns out the author of Where The Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak, named the wild things after his relatives, and one of them was Bernard. Others were Tzippy, Moishe, Aaron, and Emile. Fun fact, eh?

Bernard the Wild Thing Costume DIY Tutorial by Sewing Blue

Anyway, Mr. R is obsessed with bisons, thanks to a favorite stuffed animal he got from Yellowstone. How appropriate that one of the wild things happens to have a bison body! He picked this one out all on his own, no sort of motivation from me.

Bernard the Wild Thing Costume DIY Tutorial by Sewing Blue

*Ok, so upon further research I discovered instead of a bison, this wild thing is referred to “The Bull”. I’m not sure if this relation happened before or after the movie was released, but as this is based off of the book and not the movie, I’m sticking with it being a bison! Anyone with me?

Bernard the Wild Thing Costume DIY Tutorial by Sewing Blue


Materials Needed:

  • Brown fleece or fur for body (I needed about 2 yards for my 5 year old. Also although fur is so so cute and I usually go all out, I went the cheaper route with fleece this year and my pockets are thankful I did!)
  • 1 yard of 1″ velcro for body
  • Muslin scraps for claws on hands and feet
  • Black 1″ elastic, enough to go around child’s head
  • Brown fleece scraps for ears on headpiece
  • Low pile fur scraps for ears on headpiece (I used the same fur for Max’s headpiece and tail)
  • 1/4 yard long pile fur for headpiece and tail
  • Hot glue and gun
  • Craft knife
  • Pink polystyrene foam (very important to get this instead of white insulation foam or it will crumble like crazy! I got mine at Home Depot)
  • Newspaper, flour, water, and salt for paper mache (optional, see below)
  • Sand paper
  • Black/brown paint for the horns
  • Clear top flip flops (I used these)
  • Sewing machine, matching thread, scissors, pins, etc.


Assume 1/2″ seam allowance unless started otherwise.

A lot of the instructions here are the same or very similar to the costume I did for Max, so I will be directing you to those as needed. Go ahead and open the tutorial in a separate tab so you can jump back and forth as needed.

  1. Follow steps 1 through 4 in the Max tutorial to make the body, skipping step 3. This relates to an extra strip of fabric for buttons, but we’ll be using velcro as the closure instead.

Bernard the Wild Thing Costume DIY Tutorial by Sewing Blue

  1. Instead of step 5 in the Max tutorial, sew the velcro onto the top 2/3 of the front body pieces. Tip: place it so the rough side of the velcro will be facing away from your child, and the soft side is on the other side. This way if the velcro isn’t on straight when your child fastens it, they won’t get scratched up on their chest.
  2. Sew the front body pieces right sides together from the bottom of the velcro down to the end of the curve of the crotch.

Bernard the Wild Thing Costume DIY Tutorial by Sewing Blue

  1. Follow steps 6 through 9 in the Max tutorial, but instead of leaving seam allowance on the neckline for the hood, go ahead and fold it under and finish it.

Bernard the Wild Thing Costume DIY Tutorial by Sewing Blue

  1. You can do a similar tail as the one I did for Max (look at steps 16-18 if you want to do this), but I went for a different model for Bernard – more like a flat beaver tail. First mark where you want to place the tail on your child and figure out how big you want it to be. Cut out whatever shape you want out of the fur folded in half right sides together to get two identical layers. Just watch what direction the fur is going in.
  2. Pin and sew the two tail pieces together, leaving the top part open.
  3. Turn the tail inside out and sew it to the body piece. Make sure the stitching will show up under the tail when your child is wearing it. If you’re lazy like me, don’t worry about finishing up the edges, it’ll be just fine!
  4. Now follow steps 19 through 23 in the Max tutorial to finish off the arm and leg holes and add claws. You will not be doing the feet pieces since Bernard is barefoot, so you’ll actually only need 8 claws for the hands instead of 16 total. Aaaaand that’s it for following along with the Max tutorial! Onto the headpiece…

Bernard the Wild Thing Costume DIY Tutorial by Sewing Blue

  1. First, cut out a piece of black elastic that fits around your child’s head snuggly, with some overlap. Sew the ends together with zig-zag stitches.
  2. Now the horns: Figure out how big you want to make them and trace one out on a piece of paper. Use this pattern to cut two rough shaped horns out of the pink foam, using a craft knife.
  3. Shave down the the horns, cutting down just a little at a time, until they look more three-dimensional than flat. If you try to cut off a lot all at once you’ll break the horn! These don’t have to be perfect yet, that’s what the next step is for.
  4. (Optional) Mix equal parts flour and water for the paper mache. Add in some salt to prevent it from rotting. Make strips of newspaper (or any other paper really, I actually used paper towels!), dip them in the mixture, and put them on the horns. Give the horns 2-3 layers then let it dry completely (mine took about a full day) before moving onto the next step.
  5. Once dry, sand down the horns. If you skipped the paper mache I’m pretty sure you’ll be ok just sanding down the foam, but the paper mache will make it a little smoother. Now go ahead and give the horns a couple coats of paint and let it dry between each coat.

Bernard the Wild Thing Costume DIY Tutorial by Sewing Blue

  1. Figure out where you want the horns to fit on the elastic band and glue them on with your glue gun (at this point I realized I could double this tutorial for devil’s ears since they look quite similar, don’t you think?).
  2. Cut triangles out of the fleece and fur for the each of the ears (mine were slightly bigger than the horns). Piece one fleece and one fur right sides together and stitch all the way around, leaving half of the bottom unstitched. Turn it inside out and close up the bottom. To make it clean, use a pin or other pointed object to pull any fur out of the seams.
  3. To attach the ear to the elastic, bend it slightly in half with the fleece on the inside, and pin it just below one of the horns so it stands slightly on the elastic. The bottom of the ear should form a “V”. Stitch in place on the side of the fleece.
  4. Follow the above steps for the other ear.

Bernard the Wild Thing Costume DIY Tutorial by Sewing Blue

  1. Now for the fur pile on top of the head. With the headband on your child, trace a half circle onto a piece of paper from the elastic line going towards the forehead, where you want the fur to go. Cut out the high pile fur from the pattern, adding 1/2″ for S.A. Stitch the right side of the straight edge onto the elastic, so when it’s folded over the stitching is hidden.
  2. Make another pattern from the elastic going backward away from the forehead where you want the fur to cover. My shape is some sort of half rectangle half triangle. 🙂 Sew it on the same as you did the front piece.
  3. When it’s on, if it’s bulging funny, you can add pleats like I did to make it fit the head better.

Now add on some clear flip flops, and your Bernard Wild Thing is now complete. Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

1 Comment

  1. Love it! I posted it on FB.????

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