How to Make a Bear Costume

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Make your own bear costume for a child of any size using the printable pattern provided. All you need is a basic understanding of sewing, some furry fabric and a child to wear the costume. You'll impress yourself with your costuming skills and melt the hearts of everyone who sees that round furry bear face.

Rawwwr!
Rawwwr! (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Printer
  • Pattern paper
  • Ruler
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • 2 yards brown fake fur or fleece (or the height of the child times two)
  • 1/2 yard light brown felt
  • 1/2 yard thin batting
  • All-purpose sewing thread in brown and light brown
  • Sewing machine with an all-purpose needle
  • Iron
  • 1 yard of 1/4-inch elastic
  • 1 yard of 1/2-inch sew-in hook-and-loop tape
Supplies for the bear costume.
Supplies for the bear costume. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 1: Measure and Cut the Fabric

Measure around the chest of the child with a tape measure. Add 2 to 8 inches ease to that measurement depending on the size or how loose fitting you would like the costume. For example, a small toddler may only need 2 inches of ease, while a 7-year-old may need 6 inches of ease. Divide that total number by four to get the pattern width measurement.

Print the pattern and enlarge it to scale until the pattern width measurement matches the width of the front jumpsuit. Compare the length of the sleeves and legs to the child and shorten or lengthen as needed.

Example: If the chest circumference is 20 inches, plus 2 inches ease, then the pattern width would be 5 1/2 inches. If the chest circumference is 40 inches, plus 8 inches 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 amount indicated on the pattern.

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

Step 2: Sew the Front Jumpsuit

Pin the two front jumpsuit pieces with the right sides of the fabric together. The right side of the fabric is the furry side. Sew a seam along the center front with a straight stitch 1/2 inch from the raw edge of the fabric. A standard stitch length of 2.5 will be used throughout the project. Trim the fake fur for less bulk at the seams.

Sew the front body together at the center seam.
Sew the front body together at the center seam. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 3: Prepare the Stomach Patch

Cut out a piece of batting using the stomach pattern piece. Trim the edges so that the batting is 1/4 inch smaller around all sides. Layer with as little or as much batting as desired.

Trim the batting slightly smaller than the felt piece.
Trim the batting slightly smaller than the felt piece. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 4: Sew the Stomach Patch

Place the stomach patch onto the outside of the front jumpsuit with the batting in between the felt and fur. Align at the neck, and center the piece over the jumpsuit. Topstitch on top of the stomach patch, close to the edge, through all layers. To sew through the thick layers of fabric, place both hands on top of the fabric and press down as it gets close to the sewing needle. Sew slowly around the curve, and use your hands to turn and guide the fabric as you sew.

Topstitch the stomach onto the front body.
Topstitch the stomach onto the front body. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 5: Sew the Back

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 seam open above the notch for the velcro.
Leave the seam open above the notch for the velcro. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 6: Add a Closure

Cut a piece of hook-and-loop tape the length of the opening at center back. Fold the seam allowance under 1/2 inch and sew one side of the hook-and-loop tape onto the inside of the jumpsuit, over the seam allowance as shown.

The soft side of hook-and-loop tape is stitched onto the seam allowance.
The soft side of hook-and-loop tape is stitched onto the seam allowance. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Sew the second piece of hook-and-loop tape onto the inside of the jumpsuit, but allow it to extend past the folded edge. This will reduce bulk at the back of the jumpsuit.

Test the hook-and-loop tape placement before stitching the second piece into the seam.
Test the hook-and-loop tape placement before stitching the second piece into the seam. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 7: 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.

Wait to sew together the jumpsuit at the side seam.
Wait to sew together the jumpsuit at the side seam. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 8: Prepare the Collar

Fold the collar piece along the long side with right sides together. Stitch a seam at both ends of the collar, 1/2 inch from the edge. Turn the collar right-side out.

Fold the collar piece in half and stitch the ends.
Fold the collar piece in half and stitch the ends. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 9: Sew the Collar

Pin the collar onto the right side of the jumpsuit at the neckline and align the raw edges. Sew a seam 1/2 inch from the raw edge. Turn the collar up and iron the inside seam allowance down with a low heat setting.

Sew the collar to the neckline by laying the collar on top of the right side of the jumpsuit.
Sew the collar to the neckline by laying the collar on top of the right side of the jumpsuit. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 10: Sew in the Sleeve

Lay the jumpsuit flat and pin the sleeve to the armhole. 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 for the second sleeve.

Sewing the sleeve before the side seam helps to avoid catching excess fabric as you sew.
Sewing the sleeve before the side seam helps to avoid catching excess fabric as you sew. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 11: Hem the Sleeve

Cut a piece of 1/4-inch elastic 2 inches smaller than the end of the sleeve.

Any size elastic can be used here.
Any size elastic can be used here. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Fold the bottom edge of the sleeve up 1/2 inch and pin. Topstitch close to the raw edge of the hem.

This will create a tunnel for the elastic.
This will create a tunnel for the elastic. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Secure a safety pin onto one end on the elastic. Use the safety pin to push and pull the elastic through the tunnel. Do not let the end of the elastic get hidden in the tunnel. Sew the elastic together at the ends with a straight stitch, and backstitch a couple times to secure.

Pull the elastic at both ends and sew it together.
Pull the elastic at both ends and sew it together. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

When sewn, allow the elastic to go completely into the tunnel. Stitch together the sleeve's side seam at the cuff to close the tunnel.

Finish off the sleeve's hem by sewing the elastic tunnel closed.
Finish off the sleeve's hem by sewing the elastic tunnel closed. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 12: 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 over the armhole seam for extra strength.
Backstitch over the armhole seam for extra strength. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 13: Hem the Legs

Cut a piece of 1/4 inch elastic 2 inches shorter than the width of the leg's hem. Fold the raw edge of the pants up 1/2 inch, and topstitch it close to the raw edge. Place a safety pin on one end of the elastic, and thread it through the tunnel, just like the sleeve hem.

Pull elastic through the pant's hem.
Pull elastic through the pant's hem. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Pull the elastic through and sew it to the pant at each side seam.

Secure the elastic by stitching onto the ends of the tunnel.
Secure the elastic by stitching onto the ends of the tunnel. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 14: Sew the Inseam

Lay the pant 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.

Finish the jumpsuit by sewing the inseam.
Finish the jumpsuit by sewing the inseam. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 15: Sew the Ears Together

Cut a piece of light brown felt approximately 1/2 inch smaller than the ear and topstitch it to two ear pieces.

Make a contrasting piece for the ear.
Make a contrasting piece for the ear. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Place the front and back piece of the ear, right sides together, as shown. Add a pice of batting to the ear and place it on the wrong side of the ear, which is facing out. Sew the ears together through all three layers 1/4 inch from the edge. Turn the ears right-side out.

Sew the front and back ear pieces together.
Sew the front and back ear pieces together. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)
Turn the ears rightside out.
Turn the ears rightside out. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 16: Sew the Hood

Pin the ears to the dart on the side hood piece as shown.

Pin ears to the hood dart.
Pin ears to the hood dart. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Fold the front of the hood over the ear and line up the raw edges of the dart with the raw edge of the ear.

Sew the dart together 1/4 inch from the edge. Repeat for the other side of the hood.

Sew in the ears.
Sew in the ears. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

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. Repeat this step for the opposite side piece of the hood.

Sew the side hood pieces to the center piece.
Sew the side hood pieces to the center piece. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 17: Finish the Hood

Fold the raw edge of the hood along the bottom and the face opening 1/2 inch to the inside of the hood. Topstitch the hood close to the raw edge of the fabric to finish the edge.

Hem the hood's edges.
Hem the hood's edges. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Cut a pice of elastic about the width of the front center piece of the hood. 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.

Sew elastic to the front of the hood.
Sew elastic to the front of the hood. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Add a piece of elastic to the back of the hood at the hem of the center piece as shown. Repeat the previous step to secure the elastic to the bottom of the hood.

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

Add a square of hook-and-loop tape to the end of each chin strap. Stitch close to the edge of the hook-and-loop tape on all four sides. Add the opposite piece of hook-and-loop tape to the hood, but allow it to extend past the hood's strap, just like the closure on the jumpsuit.

To make the hood tighter, add a piece of hook-and-loop tape to the outside of the chin strap, rather than at the end.
To make the hood tighter, add a piece of hook-and-loop tape to the outside of the chin strap, rather than at the end. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

The bear costume is ready to go!

Your little bear is ready to play!
Your little bear is ready to play! (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

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