Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Holiday isn't a Holiday without Costumes

Eric's always saying that these dogs are a couple of turkeys, but I have come to learn that the truth is they are one turkey and one pilgrim.  A few weeks ago I thought I'd whip up a couple of turkey costumes for these turkey-chasing turkeys, but it took HOURS to make that tail-feather tutu-like thing.  Of course, a second one wouldn't take so long, but I couldn't face doing another so I decided to whip up a pilgrim costume instead.  And it was actually whipped up.

You've probably gotten tired of this photo by now.  Nah! Who am I kidding?  Who could get tired of this photo?  No one, that's who.
How to spend hours making a turkey get up for your dog:

We got a 50-pound turkey this year!  Domestic, but semi-free-range, organic and omnivorous.

I cut 5 feathers in 3 sizes in both dark brown and tan felt.  Then I cut details in red, orange and yellow making sure that no two adjacent feathers had the same color in the same place AND that the backside details didn't match the front side details.  I originally planned this for Betty who will wear such things and wanted it to look good coming and going.  Then I sewed the detail strips to the base feather for the 10 pieces making a shaft in black-threaded stitches up the length of the feather.

I wanted them to stand up so I cut a cereal box to make supports and glued one dark brown and one tan feather to either side using about a teaspoon of glue out of the gallon if Elmer's Glue-All I have.  I left about 3/4" of cardboard hanging out the bottom that I cut a slit in to make two tabs.  I folded one tab toward the front, the other towards the back.  When all 10 felt feathers were made into 5 two-sided feathers and the glue had dried, I glued the tabs (one facing forward the other facing back) to another strip of cut cereal box just longer than the 5 feathers' bases.  I took no photos of this for some reason, possibly hatred.  I did get some closeups of the finished product that may help illustrate, though.

Left: The cereal box cardboard between the felt feather layers. 
Right: The tabs at the base of the feathers and the strip they're glued to inside the polar fleece waistband.

The finished feathers stand up pretty well and I don't think the whole thing was particularly uncomfortable.  Delia just prefers to be mostly nekkid is all.

While that dried, I sewed a long tube of brown polar fleece and cut a slit in it the length of the 5 feathers' base.  I inserted the feather assembly through the slip and glued the fleece over the cardboard.  When it was dry I did a quick fitting on Betty, cut the extra fleece off each end leaving enough overlap for a goodly amount of hook and loop tape which I then cut and sewed in place.

She did NOT want to take this photo.  She kept insisting on showing me the non-wattle side.  But as soon as the shutter clicked on this shot she was relieved of her modeling duties and released into the yard to play.

The turkey wattle assembly is roughly based on a Gentle Leader which is a "headcollar"  that fits over your dogs muzzle, but doesn't inhibit their panting, sniffing, biting, kissing, drinking, ball stealing, etc.  Mine is made of 4-way stretch something-or-other that I had in my stash, luckily it's black so it blends with the Beastie Grrrlz' snootles.  I just cut a wattle out of red felt left over from the tail feathers and sewed it to the "headcollar" with a zigzag stitch.  There's a loop at the bottom that slides over the "neckcollar," but the whole thing is loose enough that a few swipes with the front paws takes it off her snoot and leaves dangling from her collar (see video below).

How to spend about an hour making a pilgrim costume for your dog:

So prim, Miss Betty is.

Another turkey tail was out of the question, so I decided on a pilgrim costume.  Either dog would wear the collar, but Delia would never go for a hat.  Luckily, the girls are very close in size so I could just make Delia the turkey. (actually, it's Delia who makes Delia the turkey)

Betty's pilgrim outfit was made entirely from scraps, leftovers, and scavenged parts saved for just such an occasion.

I've had great luck with costume parts that just slide over their collars, so using white fabric left over from some forgotten project I cut 2 collars based on a quick internet search and some creative license.   Next, I sewed them right sides together leaving about 5" for turning and the ends of the top open for the collar to slide through.  I top-stitched around the perimeter to close the hole left for turning and to keep the collar crisp looking, keeping the collar holes open, then hand sewed on a couple of brass buttons from the box o' buttons.

The buttons are not at all centered.  After the first one was on I considered taking it off and centering it, but then I said to myself, "it's a dog costume."

I had made myself a Pilgrim Cheerleader costume a few years back, so I dug out the hat from that to use as a pattern.  A few size and dimension modifications and an elastic chin strap rather than ribbon ties and it was done.

Maybe someday I'll dig out my Pilgrim hat again and Betty and I will do mother-daughter pilgrim costumes.  Eric can be a turkey with Delia.

I was not yet done.  There's just something about a pilgrim that needs a buckle.  I don't care if it's historically accurate or not (and I didn't look it up), it's almost as much a part of childhood Thanksgiving drawings as hand turkeys.  I dug around in my stash, found 2 brass buckles (what luck, dog ankle-sized), found just enough scrap of black vinyl from Eric's Halloween costume a few years ago, a tiny bit of extra-strength, black hook and loop, and some black elastic in just the right width,  Yes!

My favorite part!  The "shoe" buckles!  These were the only thing that Betty fussed over at all and that was minimal.  I took them off right after this photo.

Because of these costumes and a housewarming gift from the neighbors, we now have a Thanksgiving/Autumnal Decorations box in the garage.  I never expected to have one of those and I'm pretty sure that Eric didn't either.

Rest assured, the dogs are not left unattended while wearing these things and they wear them for only a short amount of time.  Keep your pets safe!


  1. That statement can't be any more true. Holidays are special but it gets even more special when you put in the work to dress up according to the spirit of the holiday. Thanks for the pictures!


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