Homemade Sea Otter Costumes

Using a few facts about sea otters, along with a hoodie and pants and a handful of craft items, create otter costumes for your special event, whether a marine life educational day or Halloween. The DIY costume is suitable for all ages, from tots to seniors who want to pay their respect - and look cute while doing it -- to the world's smallest marine mammal, an endangered species that lives in the nearshore waters of the Pacific Coast.

Otter Terrific Characteristics

When planning your costume and following the instructions to make it, keep in mind the physical characteristics of a sea otter. Doing so will help you with details.

The sea otter, after diving for food, carries its prey such as squid, clams and fish, inside of pockets -- flaps of skin extending from under the arms to the chest. It also carries favorite rocks for breaking open clams and mussels, using its chest and belly for a dining table as it floats on its back.

Mother otters often carry their babies on their stomachs until they've taught them to swim and hunt. A mother sea otter often uses part of the kelp forest as a playpen, securing her baby with the top of a plant. When it's time to sleep, sea otters that live near kelp forests anchor themselves by wrapping up in the kelp. They also hold paws to stay together while resting -- if the costumes are for a group, have them hold paws a bit at the event. It will raise curiosity.

Its flat, broad tail acts as a rudder and also, along with their webbed, flipper-like back feet, helps propel an otter through the water on its back. Claws on the front paws, unlike the back feet, are retractable. The sea otter's elongated body is larger at the chest and midsection. Its outer coat is brown, black or silver. The head, except for the black nose and cute little black ears, may be lighter in color.

Costume Foundation

Things You'll Need

  • Hoodie in an otter color and in a soft fabric such as microfleece, velour or flannel. The hoodie should have a drawstring so it can be tightened securely around the head -- important for peripheral vision and costume appearance. The hoodie should also have front pockets.

  • Pants that match the hoodie in color and material. Pants and hoodie sets are sold in leisure wear departments.

  • Seam ripper

  • Small pointed scissors

  • Thread in color that matches hoodie

  • Sewing needle

  • Tissue or napkins

  • Toy octopus, squid and/or fish -- one for each pocket

  • Clam shells and a stone (optional)

  • Fabric glue (optional)

  • Hot glue gun (optional)

Step 1

Using the seam ripper and scissors, carefully remove the stitching from the hoodie's outside pockets.

Step 2

Create the otter's food pouches: Hand-stitch or glue the pockets, openings facing upward, under the arms, extending partly over the chest.

Step 3

Place otter toy food in the pockets. Scrunch up tissue or napkins for a filler to help hold the items up a bit so parts of them peek above the pouch where others can see them -- and ask you why you are carrying around a squid, clams and a rock.

Ears, Paws, Feet and Tail

Things You'll Need

  • Mittens color of main costume

  • 2-inch square of black felt, plus enough to cover most of the palm of each mitten

  • Black thread

  • Sewing needle

  • Fabric glue (optional)

  • Black permanent marker

  • Socks in color of costume and of a size that will stretch over shoes, or canvas tennis shoes or sneakers

  • Acrylic paint, black and a color that matches the costume

  • Felt, about 6 inches wide and 2 to 3 feet long in the same or similar color of costume

  • Safety pin or thread, color of costume

Step 1

Fold the felt square in half, and cut diagonally to form two triangles. Hand-stitch them onto the sides of the hood so that each ear sticks out less than an inch. Otters have tiny ears!

Step 2

Cut circles from the felt, and hand-stitch or glue to the mitten's palms.

Step 3

Using the marker, draw four small ovals on top of the mittens.

Step 4

Print an image of a sea otter's feet, and use this to help you draw the webbed toes with claws on the top of the socks. If using canvas shoes, brush on acrylic paint to match the costume; after paint dries, use a permanent black marker or black acrylic paint to create the webbed toe and claw design.

Step 5

Create the tail: Measure the length from the costume-wearer's lower back to about the knees. Cut the felt to this length. Draw a tail on the felt, wide at the top and gradually narrowing. Draw it straight or with a playful curve. Pin the tail to the pants' waistband, by inserting a safety pin underneath the waistband so it doesn't show. Or hand-sew the tail to the waistband.

Making Up the Face

Things You'll Need

  • Eyeliner pencil: silver, gray or light brown

  • Black face paint or lipstick

Step 1

Color the nose and skin just next to the nose black to form a triangular shape with the point of the triangle at the top of the bridge and the base of the triangle at the nostrils and extending outward. Draw a line from the middle base of the triangle to the lips.

Step 2

Color the lips with the dark lipstick or a very dark color such as raisin.

Step 3

Using the eyeliner pencil, draw long whiskers extending from the sides of the bottom of nose and area between nose and mouth. Draw the whiskers so they swoop downward and around the mouth to the bottom of the face.

Playful Props

Sea otter costume props are optional, but if you have the resources, they add interest and distinctiveness to the costume, helping it stand out from other otters.

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