Wild things (n): boisterous children; “vilde chaya”, a Yiddish expression meaning “wild animals”.
These are my wild things, Mr. R. and Mr. A. They bring joy to my soul and try my patience daily. When I read The Wild Things to them, I can’t help but think of what a relation there is between them and the characters in the book! Back in June (seriously, dressing up for Halloween is amazing, why would you not think about it half the year long?) when I started brainstorming costume ideas I couldn’t help but think of this one for them, and the boys accepted it, so here we are!
Did you know that the bison/human-looking wild thing is named Bernard? It’s true. You can view the tutorial for his costume here, but keep on reading for the one on Max.
In terms of complexity, these are fairly simple costumes to draft up. They both have the same body shape with a few additional features added. Max’s costume features buttons, a cute hood, a cozy crown, and a ridiculously large tail. Go big or go home, right?
Want in on a secret? I skipped the ears on Max’s costume. In the book when he’s wearing the crown, you can’t even see the ears. Shh, don’t tell!
You know you want to make a little Max for yourself. Regardless of whether you’re making just the one costume or several Wild Things, this one will be a winner. Let’s go for it!
- Enough white/off-white fleece to cover child. I had about 1 1/2 yards for my 2 year old
- 1/4 yard yellow fleece or felt for the hat
- 1/4 yard brown faux fur for the tail and hat. Can be high pile if you want, mine was low and I just stuffed the tail like crazy to make it bigger
- Hot glue and hot glue gun
- Muslin scraps for claws
- 10″ long elastic for to hold the shoe covers to the shoes. Width doesn’t matter
- 4 matching shank buttons (with the ring in the back, not flat with holes visible on the front), or if you want to make your own buttons to match the body, use any 4 similar sized shank buttons plus some brown leather cording for decorative X’s on top
- Scraps, fiberfill, or something similar to stuff the tail and claws
- Sewing machine, matching thread, scissors, pins, etc.
Assume 1/2″ seam allowance unless started otherwise.
- Fold a shirt and pair of pants that fit your subject in half, with the sleeve folded over, as shown. Make sure to overlap them as they fit on the person to get the right vertical fit (seriously, get this one right the first time! Learn from my mistakes). Cut around the clothing on a double layer of fleece, leaving at least 1/2″ for seam allowance. Add extra room on the width as you want a baggy fit as opposed to a tight one (plus you’ll need some for overlap for the closure on the front). Take the cut out body piece, flip it over, and cut out another mirrored one.
- Use the sleeve from the shirt as a pattern, making sure to add extra width to this as well and account for 1/2″ S.A. Cut out two mirrored copies on the fold of your fleece. Better to go too long than too short. You’ll be trying it on your subject before finishing it up so don’t be afraid to go too long for the sleeves!
- Measure 2/3 of the bodice piece from the top to the end of the slope at the crotch. Cut a single piece of felt out, 1 1/2″ wide by 2/3 long. This is an extra strip that will be used for the buttons.
- You should have four body pieces: two left and two right. Choose one pair of left and right pieces to be the back, and stitch them together (right sides together) from the top down to the end of the curve at the crotch.
- For the front left and right pieces, pick one side and sew the button rectangle piece on, starting at the top. Then piece the left and right pieces together below the button piece, and sew down to the end of the crotch, just like on the back pieces.
- Now open up the back and front pieces and sew the shoulder seams right sides together.
- Match up the arm holes to the arm pieces and sew these together as well.
- Finish up the main part of the body by sewing the back and front together at the sides, starting at the wrist part of the sleeve and sewing all the way to the bottom of the leg. Do this on both sides. Then sew the legs together as shown.
- Now it’s time to turn the costume inside out, try it on your child, and see what adjustments need to be made. Take note of where you need to cut the sleeves and legs (if needed, keeping in mind the extra needed for folding under). The neckline will probably need to be adjusted as well – I had to cut off a bit on mine, but again you’ll be adding a hood so leave extra fabric for that.
- (optional) If you are making your own buttons, cut out four circles of the fleece that are twice as large as the buttons you will be covering. Make triangle clips around the edges of each, and lay the front of the button on the fleece, fold the triangles over, and make any needed adjustments to the size before hot gluing it together. After this, cut two small pieces of the cording to make an X over the button, and glue those on as well. Follow the same steps for the next three buttons.
- Finally mark either with pins or a disappearing ink marker where you want to place the four buttons on the button rectangle piece and the corresponding place on the other front piece where the button holes will go. Hand stitch the buttons on, and make button holes on the other front piece where you marked.
- Time to make the hood! Try the costume on your child again, and measure from the middle of the back of the neck over to the front of the head to where you want the hood to end. Add on 1″ for S.A. (1/2″ both sides). Let’s call this the head length measurement. Now measure how wide you want the top part of the hood to be. Mine ended up about 3″, but we tend to have large heads in this family, so yours might need to be smaller. Again, add on 1″ for S.A. This will be the head width measurement. Cut out a rectangle that matches the head measurements you just took.
- Now that you have a starting point to the hood, you can make the pattern for the sides of the hood. Rest the rectangle piece across the head. Take a scrap piece of paper and draw a “D” shape that follows the curve from the rectangle piece, goes down the side of the face, and cuts across the bottom where it will match up with the neckline. You will probably have some testing and adjusting to get the best size, so remember, too much fabric is better – you don’t want it too tight on your child. And don’t forget seam allowance! Measure the neckline and make sure this formula matches up. If it doesn’t, adjust the D pattern so this will match up.
- Neckline length = (head width measurement – S.A.) + (2 x (bottom of D width – S.A.) )
- For example, mine is 15 1/2″ = (4 1/2 – 1) + (2 x (7 – 1) )
- Cut out the D-shaped pattern on folded over fleece to get two mirrored pieces for either side of the head. Sew those to the rectangle just like how you tried it on your child.
- Clean up the front edge of the hood by folding it under 1/2″ and sewing in place, then sew the entire bottom of the hood to the neckline. Try it on your child and make any adjustments needed.
- Ready to tackle the tail? While the costume is still on, mark where you want to place the top of the tail. I put mine right above my son’s tushy. Measure out how long you want the tail to be. Now Max in the book has quite a long tail, but I can just imagine that tracking all sorts of dirt and wearing out quickly, so I made sure mine wouldn’t drag on the floor. Fold your fur fabric in half, right sides together, and cut out half (since it is folded over) of a large tail shape using the length you measured.
- With right sides still together, pin and sew from the bottom to the top of the tail, leaving the top opened for now. Clip the corner of the tail to give it a nice clean fold when turned inside out.
- Turn the tail inside out. Stuff the tail as full as you want, then at the top with your machine’s longest stitch, baste across the top with the seam you already sewed on the bottom. Gather the fabric as much as you can, then sew it to the body of the costume where you marked for the tail to go, making sure the seam is still on the bottom. I went the lazy approach and didn’t finish the edge; it should be fine.
- You’re doing so good! We’re almost done with the body – we just need to do the hand and foot pieces. First, hem up the arm and leg holes. Try it on your child for this next step. Now use a piece of paper to draw a long semi-circle over a hand and foot (wearing a shoe), where you want the covers to go, and mark where they need to be stitched onto the leg and arm holes. You want to make sure your child has enough room to pick out candy while trick-or-treating. 😉 Take these patterns and cut out four copies of each hand and foot (2 for each appendage) out of the fleece.
- Now for some claws: I made things simple and kept each claw the same size, regardless of whether it was on the feet or hands, but you may want to do it differently. Either way, you’ll want 16 total claws, four on each hand or foot (if you’re doing more than one wild thing, save time and do all the claws at once). Figure out the size you want each one to be, count extra inches for S.A., and cut out two triangles of the muslin for each claw (so 32 total).
- Sew around each triangle pair, leaving the tops open. Clip corners, turn them inside-out, and stuff the claws full (but leave room to sew at the top!).
- Baste at 1/4″ S.A. each set of four claws to one layer of the hand/foot piece on the right side, triangles pointing in. Then add on the matching hand/foot pieces, right sides together, and stitch together at 1/2″, leaving the tops open.
- Turn the hand/foot pieces inside out so the claws are facing out correctly. Pin them on the arm and leg pieces where you marked earlier, and sew them together.
- This is actually missing from my photo shoot with the boys, but you’ll want to cut and sew pieces of elastic to wrap around the bottom of the shoe and attach to the bottom of the feet pieces, or the feet pieces will be falling off all night.
- Clap your hands and shout for joy – the body is complete!
- I’ve saved the very best for last – the crown! While your child is wearing the costume with the hood on, measure your child’s head where the crown is going to fit. The rest of this may confuse you, so please reference the image above! Lay out a double layer of yellow fleece/felt (felt would probably be best but if you find a crazy good deal for fleece in the right color like I did, go for it!), and mark the circumference of the head. Measure eight inches up from this; this is how tall the crown will be. Split the width into seven. For every 1/7 of the fabric, make a dot four inches up from the bottom. Then take half of the 1/7 measurement (or in other words circumference / 14), measure that much out from the dots you made (so halfway between each dot, and mark another dot at the top of the fabric. Now cut out triangles between these dots. At one of the edges, cut straight out one inch for overlap, but on the other edge cut straight down.
- Did I confuse you? My son has a head circumference of 22″, but I’m using 21″ for simplicity here (same as in image above):
- Circumference: 21″
- 1/7 x 21″ = 3″
- 1/14 x 21″ = 1 1/2″
- Use either hot glue or Fabri-Tac to glue the two layers of felt together. Then form it into a crown shape, putting the extra 1″ rectangle on the inside, and glue that rectangle to the inside of the crown.
- Cut out a piece of fur 3 1/2″ tall x head circumference + 1 1/2″ for overlap.
- To make it comfortable for your child, we’re going to do a combo of sewing and gluing the fur onto the crown. First, fold and glue 1/2″ of the fur under itself on one of the short ends. Then, with the right side of the fur facing the inside of the crown, sew it onto the crown 1/2″ away from the bottom edge, starting with the raw edge of the fur so the finished edge will end up on the outside. Also pay attention to the direction the fur is going. You want it to go towards the bottom edge when sewing on the inside of the crown, so when it’s turned around on the outside of the crown, it will be facing down.
- Fold over the fur to the other side. This part is a little tricky – you need to glue the fur body to the crown, while also folding and gluing the raw edge under 1/2″ at the top of the fur. Doing it this way will prevent any ugly stitches from showing up in the fur on the front of the crown.
Congratulations, you made yourself a little Wild Thing!