How to Make an Elephant Costume

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Make this cute elephant costume for any size child with some felt, wire, and a sewing machine. A printable pattern is included that can be enlarged to scale for any size. Only basic sewing skills, like stitching around a curve, are required to put together this little giant.

Make this elephant costume in any size!
Make this elephant costume in any size! (Image: Sarah Hamilton)
Learn how to make ears with shapeable wire.
Learn how to make ears with shapeable wire. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Pattern paper
  • Ruler
  • 2 yards grey felt or fleece
  • 1 sheet of light grey or white felt
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • 1/2 yard batting (optional)
  • All-purpose sewing thread in grey
  • Sewing machine with a standard all-purpose needle
  • 16-gauge wire
  • Iron
  • Duct tape
  • 1/4-inch elastic
  • 1/2-inch sew in hook-and-loop tape
  • Felt glue
Supplies for the elephant costume.
Supplies for the elephant costume. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 1: Measure and Cut

Measure around the chest of the child with a tape measure. Add 2 to 8 inches ease to that measurement depending on the size and loose fit desired. Divide that number by four to get the pattern width measurement. For example, a small child may only need 2 inches of extra ease, while a 10-year-old may want 8 inches of extra room in the costume.

Print and enlarge the pattern provided to scale until the pattern width measurement is the same as the width of the front jumpsuit at the red line. Check the length of the sleeves and legs and adjust as needed for the child.

Example: If the chest circumference is 20 inches, with 2 inches of ease, then the pattern width would be 5 1/2 inches. If the chest circumference is 40 inches with 8 inches of ease, then the pattern width would be 12 inches. Print and enlarge the pattern to scale until the pattern width measurement matches the pattern width on the jumpsuit. In this case, the width of the pattern would be enlarged to 5 1/2 inches.

Pin the pattern pieces to the fabric as shown, and cut out the pieces as indicated on the pattern.

Print this image and enlarge to scale to create a pattern for any size.
Print this image and enlarge to scale to create a pattern for any size. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 2: Add Batting to the Ear

Cut out a piece of batting using the ear pattern piece. Trim the edges approximately 1/4 inch on all sides so that it is slightly smaller than the felt pieces. Place the batting in between two pieces of felt.

Place a piece of batting in-between the felt ear pieces to add shape.
Place a piece of batting in-between the felt ear pieces to add shape. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 3: Sew the Ear Together

Sew the three layers together around the perimeter of the ear, close to the edge as shown. Leave the straight side of the ear open. Stitch all three layers together along the fold line. Repeat this step for the second ear.

Tip

  • Align the edge of the fabric with the edge of the presser foot as you sew to get an even topstitch close to the edge of the fabric. A topstitch is when you sew through several layers of fabric, on the top side of the fabric.

Topstitch the layers of the ear together around the outer edge.
Topstitch the layers of the ear together around the outer edge. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 4: Add a Wire Support

Cut a piece of wire that is the length of the top edges of the ear as shown.

The wire will help support the ear and add the ability to shape the ears.
The wire will help support the ear and add the ability to shape the ears. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Wrap a small piece of duct tape around the sharp ends of the wire.

Add duct tape to the sharp ends of the wire.
Add duct tape to the sharp ends of the wire. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 5: Make a Wire Channel

Place the wire inside the ear, between the top layer of felt and batting. Push it up close to the seams, and pin along the wire to keep it in place. Slowly sew along the pin line and remove pins as you sew. Use your fingers to feel the wire to ensure you do not sew over the wire and break a needle.

Create a tunnel for the wire to sit in.
Create a tunnel for the wire to sit in. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 6: Finish the Ear

Stitch the bottom edges of the ear and the top edge of the fold 1/4 inch from the first stitch line. Fold the top of the ear down as shown and pin in place. Sew along the straight edge of the ear to secure the folded edge.

Topstitch the ear to finish it off.
Topstitch the ear to finish it off. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 7: Pin the Ear to the Hood

Lay the straight side of the ear along the edge of the dart line as shown. Keep the ear approximately 1/2 inch below the top edge to allow for seam allowance.

Pin an ear to each dart opening on the side of the hood.
Pin an ear to each dart opening on the side of the hood. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 8: Sew in the Ear

Fold the front of the hood over the ear and line up the raw edges of the dart with the raw edges of the ear. Sew all layers together 1/4 inch from the edge. Repeat this step for the second ear.

Sew the dart to secure the ears.
Sew the dart to secure the ears. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 9: Sew the Hood Together

Pin the center piece of the hood to a side piece of the hood with right sides together. Sew 1/2 inch from the edge of the fabric around the curve. Use the sewing machine hand wheel to move one stitch at a time around the curve if needed. Repeat this step for the opposite side hood piece to sew it onto the center hood.

Tip

  • When sewing around a curve, place the fabric with the curve facing up like a bowl. Use the sewing machine hand wheel to move one stitch at a time slowly around the curved edge. To go around a sharp curve, place the needle down in the fabric and lift the presser foot. Turn the fabric slightly and lower the presser foot to continue stitching.

Sew the hood pieces together.
Sew the hood pieces together. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 10: Iron the Hood Seam

Turn the hood right-side out. Place the curved seam around the edge of an ironing board. Iron the seam allowance down to one side.

Use a folded up t-shirt underneath to support the curved seam  as you iron if needed.
Use a folded up t-shirt underneath to support the curved seam as you iron if needed. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 11: Add Elastic

Cut a pice of elastic about the width of the center piece of the hood at the neck. Stitch the elastic down at one end, backstitching it to the hood to secure. With the sewing machine needle still lowered into the fabric and elastic, pull the elastic tight and sew over the stretched elastic. Trim the excess elastic.

Stitch the elastic to the hood by stretching it while you sew.
Stitch the elastic to the hood by stretching it while you sew. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 12: Shape the Elephant Trunk

Make small darts in the trunk by pinching the fabric at the edge and sewing a diagonal line. The darts will add volume and shape. The darts on the top half of the trunk should be facing out with the pinched fabric on the top front of the trunk.

The pleats on the bottom half of the trunk should be folded so that the the pinched fabric faces the back of the trunk. This will create an "S" shape in the trunk.

Sewing small darts will add dimension to the trunk.
Sewing small darts will add dimension to the trunk. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Continue to add darts in random sizes and directions. Add one or two darts at the bottom of the trunk with the pinched fabric facing forward.

Add darts until you are satisfied with the shape and texture of the trunk.
Add darts until you are satisfied with the shape and texture of the trunk. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 13: Attach the Trunk to the Hood

Lay the hood flat and fold the chin straps over each other at the center. Place the trunk on top of the chin straps and move it around until it is centered with the face opening.

Arrange the trunk along the chin straps to determine the placement.
Arrange the trunk along the chin straps to determine the placement. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Fold the top edge of the trunk over the chin strap, and topstitch around all four sides.

Fold the trunk over the straps to secure it to the hood.
Fold the trunk over the straps to secure it to the hood. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 14: Add a Closure

Cut a piece of hook-and-loop tape 2 to 3 inches long and place it in between the two chin straps. Open one chin strap and place the opposite piece of hook-and-loop tape face up as shown. Topstitch the hook-and-loop tape around all four sides to secure it to the hood.

You can also place the hood on the child's head and hold the chin straps closed to determine the hook-and-loop tape placement.
You can also place the hood on the child's head and hold the chin straps closed to determine the hook-and-loop tape placement. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 15: Add the Toenails

Cut out 12 toenails in a contrasting color of felt and lay them on the bottom edge of the sleeves and front leg pieces. Align the toenails on the sleeve toward the front side as shown. This will ensure that the toenails face forward on the arms of the costume, rather than out to the side. Use felt glue to secure the toenails in place. You can also topstitch them in place for more security if desired.

Place the toenails towards the front of the sleeve.
Place the toenails towards the front of the sleeve. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Center the toes at the bottom edge of the leg pieces and secure with glue.

Center the toenails at the bottom edge of the jumpsuit leg's hem.
Center the toenails at the bottom edge of the jumpsuit leg's hem. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 16: Sew the Jumpsuit

Pin the two front jumpsuit pieces with the right sides of the fabric together. Sew a seam along the center front 1/2 inch from the raw edge. Pin the back jumpsuit together along the center back seam with right sides together. Sew a seam 1/2 inch from the edge below the notch. Leave the center back open above the notch to allow for hook-and-loop tape.

Sew the two pieces together at "center front" and "center back."
Sew the two pieces together at "center front" and "center back." (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 17: Add a Closure

Cut a piece of hook-and-loop tape the length of the opening at the center back. Fold the seam allowance under 1/2 inch and sew one piece of the hook-and-loop tape onto the inside of the jumpsuit, over the seam allowance. Topstitch through all layers. Sew the second piece onto the opposite side so that the hook-and-loop tape will lay over the first piece and close the jumpsuit.

Sew the hook-and-loop tape into the center back seam.
Sew the hook-and-loop tape into the center back seam. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 18: Sew the Shoulder Seam

Pin the right sides of the front and back jumpsuit together at the shoulders. Sew a seam 1/2 inch from the raw edge.

Do not sew together the side seams yet.
Do not sew together the side seams yet. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 19: Sew in the Sleeve

Lay the jumpsuit flat, and pin the sleeve to the armhole. Position the toenails to face the front of the jumpsuit. The sleeve should lay flat at the armpit and buckle at the shoulder of the armhole. Stitch a seam 1/2 inch from the edge. Repeat this step for the second sleeve.

Sewing the sleeve before the side seam allows for a smoother and easier application.
Sewing the sleeve before the side seam allows for a smoother and easier application. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)
Sew both sleeves into the armholes.
Sew both sleeves into the armholes. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 20: Sew the Side Seam

Lay the jumpsuit flat and pin the front and back pieces together at the side seam. Sew the side seam 1/2 inch from the edge, from the ankle to the wrist. Backstitch at the armhole for a reinforced stitch.

Sew the side seam along the body and sleeve.
Sew the side seam along the body and sleeve. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 21: Sew the Inseam

Lay the pant legs flat and pin the front and back leg of the pantsuit together at the inseam. Stitch the seam closed 1/2 inch from the edge. Then turn the jumpsuit right-side out.

Finish the jumpsuit by sewing the inseam.
Finish the jumpsuit by sewing the inseam. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)
Turn the jumpsuit right side out.
Turn the jumpsuit right side out. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)
Your little elephant is ready for adventures!
Your little elephant is ready for adventures! (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

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