Specs and Techniques
Fursuiting Specs and Techniques
Here I'll describe what sort of work I put into making my fursuits, to assure you I'm building to the best of my ability. Though I am always experimenting and learning new things! These are generally my construction methods.. unless of course you need something different. It's all about commissioning; customizing to what you want.. within my abilities, of course!
In the beginning...
- My heads are sculpted one of two ways: balaclava and foam or entirely foam. A balaclava is pretty much a ski mask made with thinner fabric. This is used when the head calls for a moving jaw, or needs to be much smaller than usual. Elastic is sewn onto the balaclava where it's needed (working similar to the muscles in your jaw) to allow for proper movement. Foam is then attatched to it, forming the shape of the head. The ears are shaped using plastic mesh, and then some foam added to them as well. I'll use a thick wire for additional support (in ears, muzzle, etc) where needed.
- Heads with a static jaw can be built using just foam. A basic "toaster cover" shape is created, then foam carved away and added to that for shape. These heads tend to be a little bigger, since they're not so face-conforming. Though I always make sure they don't turn out too big.
- ALL of my heads are breathable through the mouth, as well as invisible ear "holes". This allows for superb ventillation, since most of your body heat escapes from your head!
Adding the fur.
- After the final shape is reached through sculpting, it's time to add the fur. EVERY head is different, thus a new pattern is created for each head. The pattern is created, it's layed on the fur and the fur is cut, and is then all sewn together. It's then fit onto the head and spot-glued down where needed. Sewing fur fur together beforehand makes for exceptional durability! Lastly a neckpiece will be sewn on, and it usually looks good just wearing it on the outside of the body suit/shirt.
Mouth, eyes, and Nose.
- The mouth is lined with fleece, defaulted black unless otherwise specified. And default red tongue. I always like to add two little teeth to the bottom jaw.
- For the eyes (non 3D) I start with plastic.. whether it be a cut up bucket, bowl, or anything else fairly thin and aready curved. The pupil and iris are cut out as one hole from that, then the eyes is painted onto a see-through layer of fabric, backed by a solid black piece of fabric which actually clears up the vision a bit and makes the color in front of it apepar brighter and stand out more.
- 3-D eyes are sunken into the head to give that 'follow you' effect. They can be made with concave plastic or two halves of concave mesh balls.
- Noses are done many ways.. whichever will give the best result for the look you desire. A lot of them I cast myself out of plastic. Or I'll use sculpey(a bakable modeling clay) for the more uniquely shaped and/or odd colored noses. And sometimes carved from foam and coated in rubber. Either way, they're always made with some sort of anchor (a stiff wire or pins) sticking out from the back for a MUCH stronger hold onto the muzzle.
It starts with a LOT of fur.
- Every single pattern is unique and created just for you. A great deal of time goes into this part. This is where keeping in mind 'wear and (quite literally) TEAR' comes into play. The body has to be made as one of the most durable parts of the suit, because you're always moving around in it. When sewing pieces together, I only use upholstery thread. This is an extremely strong, nylon thread with a tear strength of 10-15 lbs (as opposed to regular cotton thread with a tear strength of 2-3 lbs.).
The inevitable zipper!
- I always put them at the front of the suit because, well, it's just makes everything SO much easier. First of all, I use this nifty "invisible" zipper. The dangley zipper pull part is still in the front, but the actual mechanics of the zipper are on the back of it.. so you don't see this part at all! Now attatching the zipper to the fur, is where it gets tricky. I'll try to explain it.. I fold a little flap of the edge of the fur to the inside, all along where I'm attatching the zipper to. So that way when the it's zipped up and the edges are pulled together, there's only a bunch of fur on either side (instead of the raw fabric edges) which hides the zipper really well. At first you may have a hard time with getting fur caught in the zipper.. just brush the fur away from it first. It takes a few times to get used to, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to zip and unzip in one motion quite easily!
What's that tailhole for?!?
- The tail, of course! A hole is left where you pull the belt loop of the tail through, to run the belt through it and attatch it to yourself. This way, there is no pull on the back of the suit from the weight of the tail (it doesn't look pretty, trust me) and that's also one less thing that could possibly get ripped off. Now when a suit calls for a much smaller tail, say, a bobcat, rabbit, or badger.. I will attatch the tail directly to the suit. It's reccommended to wear a pair of thin shorts with belt loops to help hold the tail in its place, and be more comfortable for the wearer, instead of having that belt against your bare skin.
The Rest of the Pieces
- Again, upholstery thread is always used when sewing. The handpaws are custom made to fit you with a couple measurements of your hand and wrist. They come out a little fitting, not too big and bulky. The edge of the fur at the wrist opening is hemmed back inward, so there are no raw edges of fabric exposed.
- Claws are made by myself, molded out of plastic. When the paw is being sewn together, I leave spaces at the tips of the fingers, leaving a hole that I stick the claw through from the inside of the paw. They are then hot-glued in. The pads I also mold, out of urethane rubber. They are then glued down to the paw with a special urethane sealant.
- This is an extra piece you can get when you order paws, allowing you to wear them with a t-shirt. Again, they are custom fit using several measurements from your arm. There is elastic sewn into the upper portion to help hold them in place while wearing.
- The most time-consuming piece to make! It all starts with a very basic slipper. The toes are shaped from foam and glued to these, and some additional padding to the sides of the slipper as well, making it proportional. Then the fur is added, using as few seperate pieces as possible, with less places for the fur to tear apart. Again, the same techniques are used when furring a head. In addition, I use upholstery thread and sew together what I call the "stress points"; the parts on the foot that receive the most pull while walking. This way I make EXTRA sure that they aren't going to just fall apart on you. A 1/2" thick piece of neoprene rubber is added to the bottom to finish them off! Yet another special sealant, "Marine Goop", is used to adhere these to the bottom.
Feet Paw Extras
- Want pads on your feet? No problem! They are not my favorite option, being at the bottom of the feet, they tend to get dirty/scuffed/worn so quick and easily. BUT, I have to admit they come out looking awesome and extremely cute, and are definately worthwhile if you plan on taking extra good care of them. I can't do the rubber bottoms with these, because the pads are sewn on to make them somewhat more durable. So I use either fur (the thick, denser seal fur is recommended) or black vynil. The pads are then added in brown vynil (or whichever color you'd like, pending I can find it). As for claws, the same ones I make for the hands are used, and glued underneath the fur onto the foam, left poking through.
- Possibly the most fun piece to wear around. The most basic tail is a 2 part pattern, where each half is sewn together. A shaped pattern can easily be created for a shaped tail as well. Then they are stuffed with soft poly-fill stuffing. For larger, more upright tails, the "innard" is sculpted out of foam and the fur attatched like on a head. All tails are made with a belt loop, using the fur on the tail itself as the loop. This way the loop is nearly invisible.