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How DO you make those Animal Costumes? (Fursuits)
Faux fur 'feathers' 
21st-Jul-2008 03:47 pm
hedgehog, fursona
I'm planning on making wings for my suit, and I hate the look of felt or fleece covered 'feathers,' so I decided to do some experimenting on my own before I went and bought $50483534 of custom-dyed real feathers. I present: feathers made out of strips of fur! They're not that hard to make, either. Definitely something that would help you if you wanted your feather color to match your suit's fur.

First, I cut out some thin, straight strips of fur that run parallel to the nap of the fur. I looked at the knit backing and just cut down one row of knitting to make sure it was straight. Here are the widths I used for the small and large feathers, respectively:

The width it should be will vary with the type of fur used. In retrospect, the little feather looks a bit threadbare; it should have been wider.

Then I just lined them up and hot-glued the backings to each other. After it cooled, I took my made-of-fail hairspray (that I never actually use on my hair because it is like glue in a can) and gave them a good dousing. You can see the little feather covered in hairspray in the background of the previous picture. I used "Rave 4x" hairspray, made by Suave, if you're wondering. Hairspray might not actually be the best thing to use since it's not waterproof, but that's all I had. The point is to make the hair stiffer somehow so it holds its shape.

My lovely assistant helped me dry the hairsprayed feathers more quickly!

The feathers after hairspraying. They both smell really nice now! The little feather is looking pretty ratty after its treatment, though. It took a bit of teasing to make it look somewhat fluffy again.

Next I grabbed some scissors and gave them a trim to make them look more realistic. You could go wild with this step to make all sorts of feather looks. If you need reference (it really helps) I'd suggest going to an online feather store like Rainbow Feathers or Zucker Feather Products and looking at the different types.

Next was the search for a suitable 'shaft' for the feather, mostly to cover up the very obvious fur backing in the middle of the feather. The perfect solution for this would be puffy fabric paint--quick and easy, just run a line of it down the middle. Or, some sort of glue that dried opaque. However, I couldn't find fabric paint or glue, even though I know we have them... so instead I decided to experiment with plastic straws and Q-tips.

In the end, I used the plastic straws. I planned to cut the Q-tips in half along their length and then hot-glue them on. But I quickly found that it is nigh impossible to cut Q-tips lengthwise. SO... on to the straws. These worked better--I just cut out a thin strip and tapered it on the end, then ran a line of hot glue down the backing of the fur and eased the plastic strip into place. It looked good, but I would not do this in the future, simply because I wouldn't want to painstakingly dissect a million plastic straws to make little shafts out of. Fabric paint or white glue would be much faster and easier. (You wouldn't get a protruding shaft with these, but who needs those if they're going to be glued to a wing?)

Ta-da! There you have them! Faux fur feathers!

"BUT!" You cry, "Wouldn't these things be really floppy and easily crushed?" Actually, after gluing the shaft on only one side, they became surprisingly stiff. The big one still has flexibility when you wave it around, but the little one doesn't even shift when you shake it.

I tested the destructability of the big feather by crushing it thoroughly in my sweaty, nasty fist. The image next to it is what it looked like afterwards, and it was easily smoothed back into place. So they're pretty durable!

Anyway, that's my little experiment of the day. I hope it inspires somebody!
21st-Jul-2008 02:59 pm (UTC)
those look really good. So the "rib" down the middle has two pieces of fur back to back? I've done similar things, but with the backing lying flat and the fur slicked down by brushing varnish through it; this works really well for oversized feathers, or complex "fantasy" wings, as you can do the whole wing from one piece of fabric. I'll certainly try this variation on the idea sometime.

What brand of hairspray did you use? Or what type, something with a very strong hold?
21st-Jul-2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that option would work well, too, and then you wouldn't have to worry about covering up the backing. I did it the way I did because I wanted the fur to naturally be in a feather shape, instead of being artifically held there. This, I assumed would help it hold its shape more easily. I have no idea if it actually helps at all or not.

I used something called 'Rave 4x' made by Suave. It's supposed to be super-hold spray.
21st-Jul-2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
I'm impressed :D great idea!
21st-Jul-2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
21st-Jul-2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
Impressive! I looked at the photo and thought they were real :D I might have to use this to replace the feather's in Red's hair.
21st-Jul-2008 03:28 pm (UTC)
Tiny photos do help make things look nicer, eh? ;D In real life, you can see incriminating bits of hot glue poking out here and there.

Actually, I intended them only as a back-up if real ones weren't available... but I guess these have their benefits, such as not snapping as easily.
21st-Jul-2008 03:13 pm (UTC)
Wow, these look great! I bet for the longer primary and secondary wing feathers you could take the same concept and work with it, using longer-pile fur and some sort of central support in the shaft, like a wooden dowel or a delrin rod. Thanks for the great tutorial!
21st-Jul-2008 03:22 pm (UTC)
I must quote the Guinness guys now: "BRILLIANT!"
21st-Jul-2008 03:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing this insightful info. :)
21st-Jul-2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
Ooooh so pretty! And no dead/naked birdies to feel sorry for =)
21st-Jul-2008 03:57 pm (UTC)
Excellent! Thanks for sharing the technique :)
21st-Jul-2008 03:59 pm (UTC)

scuze me.

I've been looking for a way to do this for about a year.

I should make you cookies. :P
21st-Jul-2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
COOKIES!? *spazz*

I'm glad I was able to help!
21st-Jul-2008 04:10 pm (UTC)
Interesting, well done!
21st-Jul-2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
thats awsome! you should make lots of colors! :]
21st-Jul-2008 04:18 pm (UTC)
Fucking ingenious, dude.
21st-Jul-2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
Those are AMAZING, I wonder HOW large you can make those? Hmmmm!!

21st-Jul-2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
I want to make a Chocobo costume down the line, so I'll definitely be finding out. >:]
21st-Jul-2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
Ooooh, now I want to make a character that has a few real feathers in it. Someone quick, hit the memory button!
(Deleted comment)
21st-Jul-2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
From looking at your avatar... I take it you're making a gryphon?
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