05 December 2015

how to make a nativity camel costume

That moment of dread when your little angel tells you the part they've been given in the school nativity. "I'm a camel mummy!". "A camel?" you say, raising an eyebrow and feigning a smile.

"Wow! That's great!" you say, through gritted teeth, while thinking, "How the hell am I going to make a camel costume?!".

Of course, I could just buy one, but I do secretly, nay openly, enjoy making these kinds of things, and I am also congratulating myself that the teachers giving me this challenge is a testament to the Buzz Lightyear wings I made a few weeks ago. More on that later.

So if you find yourself in a situation where you need to make a camel costume. This is how you do it.

You will need:
2 x 4 litre plastic milk jugs, empty and washed
Strong craft glue such as PVA or ideally a hot glue gun
1 metre camel coloured material e.g. fleece
Scraps of other brown/beige coloured material
Variety of curtain tassels/trims/ ropes
Packaging tape
Black craft foam or cardboard
Large buttons (optional)
Stapler (optional)

1. To make the head cut the neck and handles off both the milk jugs as shown. Also cut away the remaining flat part from the side where the handle was. Choose one of the jugs to turn into your head piece.

 2. To make the ears take the two flat parts of plastic and cut them into ear shapes. Bend a sharp flap at the bottom to use to stick the ears to the head as shown, using the packing tape.

3. To make the eyes cut black foam or card to the size of the inner circle of the necks of the jug. Alternatively, if you happen to have large buttons that fit like I did, you could use them. Glue them on the sides of the head then use more packing tape to secure the necks of the jugs on top to make the eyelids or socket shapes.

4. Cover with material. Use a combination of staples, PVA and/or your hot glue gun to stick the camel coloured material around the head. The way I did this was to drape it over and mark the shape of the eyes by running a pen around the circle of the eye sockets. Then you can cut the holes for the eyes, which will hold the material in place while you cut around the ears etc. Leave a good amount of material to fold under the rim of the head piece and secure with glue inside. This will help with a snug and comfortable fit on the head. Fold any excess material around the nose a bit like you would fold corners of a bed sheet, to give the contours of the nose and mouth.

5. Cut more material to cover the front and back of the ears. Glue down. Cut a smaller ear shape from a darker piece of material to make the inner ear. Glue down.

6. To make the eyelashes - a really important feature of the camel - I used rectangle strips of black craft foam, and cut thin strips part way down like a comb, then bent these back and stuck them around the top of the eye socket. Black card would work just as well and before I found the craft foam I thought about using half a toilet roll and painting it black.

7. To make the nose and mouth detail cut a three-pronged strip of foam or black card and stick with glue.

8. To make the reins glue your chosen curtain tassels around the bottom of the camel head and some braiding across the nose. This really gives an impressive finishing touch to the camel's head.

9. For the legs I tied on a tail to an old pair of trousers. I made the tail by plaiting strips of the same camel-coloured material.

10. For the body I made a simple no-sew tabard. Fold a rectangle of material in half (about 60cm x 100cm for my 4 year old), and cut a hole in the centre of the fold for the child's head to go through. For the hump cut an oval shaped piece of material (about 30cm x 20cm), place a handful of pillow stuffing underneath and glue it on round the edges to the back of the tabard. Secure the tabard to the child by tying a length of braid round the waist.

And that's it! No picture of the whole shebang yet as we had to get it down to the school for dress rehearsal etc. I am pretty pleased with my efforts and I hope this gives some inspiration if you are ever stuck in the same delightful predicament.