Friday, September 27, 2013

How to Make a Gorilla Costume

Last spring our local high school did an awesome job with their performance of the musical "Tarzan".  The talent was amazing but the set and costumes were absolutely incredible.   Credit for the set and costume design goes to a  very talented young man in our community by the name of Patrick Bryant.  There were 25 or more gorillas in the cast and each costume was made by hand.  I helped  with the making of  at least a dozen pairs of gorilla pants, so I thought it would be fun to share how the gorillas came to life. With Halloween coming up I thought this could be a fairly inexpensive costume to make for a party.  It is a little time consuming, but worth it!

* pair of black sweatpants
* black t-shirt (somewhat fitted)
* black sweatshirt or loose fitting t-shirt
* flat black sheets  (2 twin size should be enough, buy the cheapest - you're gonna rip them up anyway)
* hot glue gun & hot glue

Step 1: RIP SHEET.   Begin by ripping the sheet into large strips.  About 12 inches and then the length of the sheet. Rip the first sheet with the grain and the second sheet against the grain.  This will give your "fur" different effects. (Ugh! I wish I would have taken pictures of this first step, but you should be able to figure it out by looking at the next couple pictures.)

Step 2 : CUT & RIP AGAIN.   Cut little slits about an inch apart all the way down the long size of the 12 inch pieces.  Then tear each slit stopping about 2 inches from the edge.  When I first started ripping I actually put a piece of masking tape down the edge where I wanted to stop so I didn't rip too far.  

 This is the difference between ripping with the grain and against the grain.  
It gives different textures to the gorilla  fur. 

Rip until you have a pretty good sized pile.  It will take a lot more than you think!

Step 3: GLUE PANTS.   Starting at the bottom edge of one of the legs, begin to hot glue the solid edge of the ripped strips onto the pant leg.   Begin with the first strip a couple inches from the bottom, letting some hang over the edge. When gluing the strips of ripped fabric, do not glue more than a 6-8 inch strip on at a time and leave a little space between the end and beginning of each new strip. If you run a continuous line of glued strips, the sweatpants will loose their stretch and the person wearing them may not be able to get them on, especially around the hips and butt.

Continue gluing the strips of ripped fabric around the leg and moving up a layer at a time.  The layers can be an inch or two apart, but try not to leave too big of a space between rows.  You  want the gorilla fur to look "full" so also alternate between the stips that were ripped on the grain and against the grain.  Mix it up, in the end it will look great!

Glue up and around each leg.  When you get to the crotch you will want to continue to glue the strips but sort of give the last strip or two on each leg an angle 

Then glue on  a short strip that connects the angles.

Now continue to glue strips of ripped fabric all the way up the front and back of the pants ending with the top row just below the waistband. Again, be sure to leave a little space between strips so not to loose the stretch of the pants.

Step 4: PREPARE BODICE.  Cut off the sleeves off the sweatshirt (or loose fitting t-shirt, which ever you choose)  and also cut the shirt to make it cropped.  

Step 5: GLUE BODICE.  I did not make any of the gorilla tops, but the idea is the same. Start at the bottom of the shirt and beginning gluing the ripped strips in the same manner you did the pants, moving up and around the shirt.

The fitted t-shirt  goes under the gorilla bodice to represent the fur-less stomach of a real gorilla.
Here is Patrick putting on gorilla make up.

Teased and messed up hair looks great.  Also we added colored sheets to the gorillas who had  more significant parts in the musical.

* Note:  Be sure to check out my post on CAMP TARZAN for more jungle ideas.

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