Fur yarn seems to be something I always have a lot of. In addition to using it to trim Trickster Hoods, wacky coats, and Pixie Belts, I also occasionally use it to make costume ears and tails. My first foray into tail making was using crochet, as it was certainly easier for me at the time to deal with the nuisance of all that funky hair using a technique with which I was very confident.
The resulting little fox tail (I call it the chibi tail) was clever, IMHO, made with super soft Lion Brand Romance and ending in a little clip so it could be attached to a belt. But it was a bit stiff, and I decided knitting was really the way to go for these fun and cruelty-free costume elements.
I made a couple more – the tail on the left is made with Lion Brand Fun Fur, knitted to look like a raccoon, the tail on the right is Lion Brand Romance again, in sweet fantastical pastels. Both are stuffed with lightweight polyester fiber stuffing and clippable, like the first, onto belt or pants.
The pastel tail is pretty long, and very slinky and soft. After that one, I went down the rabbit hole. Er, possibly the fox hole.
I had A LOT of Lion Brand Pelt in similar colors. What if I made a really BIG tail, so it would look proportionate to the human body?
So, as you can see, I did that. And this year’s Halloween costume was born. To be specific, I finished the humongous tail less than 24 hours before the costume party! 😀
I dubbed my costume “Forest Witch” but mostly I was referred to as the Squirrel Lady which I am also 100% satisfied with 😉 . This is one of the most handmade of all costumes I’ve ever done, so I’m going to feature some of the elements involved before writing out my notes on making the Tail toward the end of the post – keep reading for the free pattern! You can also favorite this project on Ravelry for reference later.
It was cold and rainy enough the day of the party to wear my super woodsy version of the Boho Fringe Poncho, made with different scrap bulky and super bulky yarns, then trimmed with plain fringe and woven with a super textured handspun art yarn. I also added a leafy drawstring tie to the top of this piece, similar to the one made for the Rhiannon Cowl. I’m so glad to have added this poncho to the ensemble, because it hasn’t really seen the light of day since I made it.
Underneath I wore the dress I had refashioned from a few thrift store pieces – I cut the green top and the brown and purple paisley skirt up joined them using hairpin lace, then added doily accents – all crocheted in gray, upcycled sweater yarn. You can read more about this refashion project here. Layered under the dress is a thrifted skirt that I tie-dyed in browns.
The belt sports several accessories beside the tail – one of them is a crocheted woolen pouch, mounted on loops so that it can slide onto a belt. This pattern is a piece of Lilla Bjorn’s Dandelion Mandala Overlay. The knife is an antique piece made with a real fawn’s hoof found for me by a friend. It’s not handmade by me, it’s just totally wicked so I wanted to mention it 😉
It was terribly overcast all day, so my indoors photoshoot is very dark (and consequently grainy.. just pretend it’s a spooky filter effect, okay?) and you probably can’t see the faux dreads underneath my hair very well, but they are there and I made those too! From Jacob wool, dyed brown and boiled in hot water to felt them making long woolen cords, then attached to and elastic headband and decorated with beads and feathers. The hat on top sports a pair of crocheted fur yarn ears, mounted on an elastic band around the crown of the hat.
The witch hat, unfortunately is not handmade. I attempted to finish the black Hedge Witch Hat for this ensemble in time for the party, but was too busy knitting this big chunky baby…
Speaking of which, how about that tutorial? I’m afraid all I can offer is my notes, since this was not intended to be a full-scale pattern, but it’s pretty straightforward knitting if you can stand trying to see your way around all that fur.
Costume Mega Tail Tutorial
US Size 9 double pointed knitting needles (1 set) US size 9 circular needles, 24″
Lion Brand Pelt (#5, 50 g / 47 yds) 4 skeins “Sable”, 4 skeins “Fisher”
Lion Brand Fun Fur, (#5 bulky, 40 g / 57 yards) 1 skein “Ginger”
Lion Brand Romance (#6 super bulky, 50 g / 27 yards) 1 skein “Truffle”, 1 skein “Champagne”
(Or, in substitute, around 550 yards total of any fur yarn)
~10-15 oz Polyester Fiberfill batting
Scissors and Tapestry needle
With fur yarn and DPNs, Cast On 18 sts. Knitting in the round:
Row 1: *K, M1 increase* Rpt around – 27 sts
Row 2; *K2, M1 increase* Rpt around – 36 sts
Row 3: *K3, M1 increase* Rpt around – 45 sts
Row 4: *K4, M1 increase* Rpt around – 54 sts
Row 5: *K5, M1 increase* Rpt around – 63 sts
Row 6: *K6, M1 increase* Rpt around – 72 sts
Switch to circular needles.
Rows 7 – Infinity: Knit around. Change colors when necessary or desired.
I knit this piece to a length of about 55″. When ready to finish off:
Switch back to the Double Pointed needles
3rd to last Row: *K2, K2together decrease* Rpt around.
2nd to last Row: *K1, K2together decrease* Rpt around.
Last Row: *K2tog decrease* around. Cut yarn leaving a long piece for sewing. Thread the yarn into a tapestry needle and pass the yarn through each loop on the needles, catching the live stitches on the yarn tail. Once all stitches are threaded, pull the DPNS out and use the thread to cinch the stitches shut. Make some firm weavings across this circle to secure shut, then weave in ends and cut.
To finish the piece, Weave in all yarn ends. I used a wig brush at this stage to brush all the fur loose that had gotten trapped in between stitches to make it thicker and fluffier. Then, take the polyester fiberfill and stuff through the open end. Be careful not to overstuff – it really needs less than you think, and overdoing it will cause the piece to be too stiff and therefore less realistic looking.
Once the piece is stuffed, thread a long piece of fur yarn onto a tapestry needle and sew the open end shut, then sew onto the clasp. I used a pretty small metal lobster style clasp, available with the metal findings in most hobby stores. This allows you to attach the tail to a belt (recommended – it’s heavy) or to pants (works better with smaller ones, but if you’re brave enough…)
One last very necessary addition to this monstrosity is left! Using a crochet hook, I loosely threaded a length of bronze ribbon yarn through the knit stitches toward the end of the tail, weaving in and out all around the circumference, then tying the ends in a knot. After all, I had to have some way to keep this thing from getting super wet and mucky by dragging on the ground!
I used the tied length of ribbon as a handle to maneuver the thing all night (and dance with it – SO MUCH FUN.) Also occasionally to bop people in the face with the fluffyness. When I needed both hands free, I wrapped the ribbon into my belt in the front to secure it.
I probably don’t need to tell you that I had too much fun with it 😉 And I hope you will too, if you decide to make one for yourself <3 If you have any questions on how I did anything in this semi-slap-dash tutorial thingy, leave me a comment 🙂
P.S – as a big and unintended bonus, post-costume-party this thing turned out to be an excellent body pillow as well, lol!