My first thought when I considered making a ferret costume was that ferrets are supple and slinky. It was time to get into shape! Eat like a ferret, practice ferret-style aerobics, yoga and gymnastics, and I’m virtually guaranteed to whittle down.
But need I be so drastic? Doesn’t a ferret have a relatively big butt in relation to the rest of its body? And isn’t a ferret’s favorite pastime lying around in a hammock? Ferrets are carnivores, so steaks and burgers can be a significant part of the new diet. Sigh of relief here — maybe I don’t have to make this costume out of Spandex® after all!
Ferret Costume Materials
• 2 yards felt or other fabric of your choice. I used 60-inch wide felt; you may need more fabric if your fabric is narrower.
• Felt squares in choice of colors for details
• Craft fur
• Drawstring, for drawstring costume
• Glue gun and glue sticks
• Polyester fill, if you want to pad the back of the costume
• Needle and thread for stitching
• Velcro® dots (self-stick)
• Inexpensive sunglasses
• Sense of humor!
Find Ferret Design Inspiration
My first step to creating a costume was to observe some ferrets. No two ferrets are exactly alike. Their noses are different colors, their markings all unique. There’s quite a range of color variations in their coats and a random fluffiness to their tails. These are good things. They permit a lot of latitude when selecting fabrics and colors for costumes.
The only bad news is that there is no standard ferret costume. (No, the editors wouldn’t let me don a fake fur coat and sunglasses and lie on a hammock!) Many available animal costume patterns are sized for children. Adult costume patterns include cats and bears, which actually aren’t bad to use as a basic body; adapt the color, fabric and details to represent a ferret. There is no easy way out. Just think of fabricating a ferret costume as a way to unleash your creativity.
Next, find your inner ferret. Decide if you’ll be a girl or boy ferret, and use that as your guide for ferret accessories. Yes, you can accessorize your costume — a feather boa for a female ferret-fatale or a neck scarf for a male ferret-about-town. Some people seem to have a penchant for dressing their ferrets in clothes and hats, so feel free to costume your costume.
Although ferret-savvy friends tell me that no self-respecting ferret will actually tolerate a hat, we’re talking ferret fantasies here. How about a hard-hat ferret? Perhaps a black-tie ferret with a top hat and tails? Or a ferret on its way to a luau? Bring your own hammock!
Ferrets come in lots of colors, so get creative. When I began my costume the really fine faux fur had either sold out or been removed from stock to make way for lighter weight fabric on store shelves. My challenge was to find a lightweight fabric in a shade an actual ferret would wear. I decided I’d be a light, cashmere beige-colored ferret with dark accents. I wasn’t crazy about plush felt because it looked too matted. Smooth felt, although not remotely textured, came in a variety of ferret-like colors. I purchased some squares of felt in complementary shades and some “craft fur” in a darker color for details.
Once I began working with the fake fur, I was glad I had decided against making the entire costume out of this fabric. Aside from the heat factor (it gets hot inside fake fur), my home quickly looked as though I had a pack of shedding golden retrievers running through it. Once you cut the fur, the fibers end up everywhere — and they make huge fur balls, too!
The Drawstring Ferret Costume
I made two basic ferret costumes. The first is essentially a large drawstring bag (like some pumpkin costumes), with leg- and armholes cut in strategic places. Make the drawstring costume by doubling a length of fabric. Hold it against yourself for length with the fold at the top, and cut to desired length across the bottom. Allow several extra inches for the drawstring. Sew or hot-glue the sides together. Cut some of the excess fabric away for a slimmer ferret shape.
Because ferrets have relatively short legs, make the bag long enough to hit below your knees. Cut the holes for the legs by tracing half a 7-inch paper plate against the fold at the bottom of the fabric, then cut out the half-circle.
Try the bag on before cutting arm slits so you know where to cut. Begin cutting at elbow level, and work up until you are comfortable. Trim these slits in fake fur.
Fold the top of the bag over toward the inside, and insert the drawstring, then sew or hot-glue the flap. If you use glue, check often to make sure you’re not gluing the drawstring. The drawstring at the top can be pulled snug around your neck and hidden with a boa or scarf. Once you’ve got it fitted, attach a short tail to the appropriate spot on the back.
The Bib-Style Ferret Costume
The second costume is a bib-style vest intended for use over other garments. You can go slinky or comfy, short or long with this one.
Hold a length of folded fabric up to your shoulders with the fold at the top to determine length, and cut at the bottom. Fold the fabric in half again so that the end with the fold is doubled. At the center point, position a 7-inch paper plate so that the fabric comes to a point at the center of the plate. Then cut it like a wedge of pie, and you’ve got the opening for your head. Taper the sides, curve the bottom edges, attach ties or Velcro® closures at the sides, and you’ve got it.
Embellish the vest with craft fur, fringe or whatever you like. Attach a tail to the vest or to what you wear underneath if the vest is too short.
Make your ferret’s tail with a piece of craft fur and felt. Wrap the felt around a paper towel tube to get the form, glue the edges together, and layer the craft fur on top of the felt. Taper the fur to a point. Once this is done, remove the tube.
A Fashionable Ferret Head
Making the ferret head is fun. Fashion it using a ski jacket hood as a pattern. Then place the back of the hood along the fold of the fabric — cut around the hood on the bottom, top and front. Stitch the top edges together, try on the hood and pinch the top for fit. Pin the places you pinched, turn the hood inside out and sew darts. Sit the darts and turn the edge under, securing it with hot glue. Use Velcro dots to provide closures at the neck.
The ears can be the most fun of all to make. Draw a 21/2-inch tall and wide U shape on a piece of paper. Draw a straight line across the top of the U to create a pattern. Cut the felt and fake fur using this pattern. Glue the fur to the back of the felt, and pinch the flat edge of each “ear.” Apply hot glue, and secure with a clamp until dry.
You can transform all sorts of headgear into ferret fashion, so make as many sets of ears as you need. Use a glue gun to attach ears to headbands, hats, hoods or whatever you wish. A brown eyebrow pencil can be used to draw a dark mask, nose and whiskers on your nose and face. Instant ferret!
Ferret Under Wear
What you wear under your ferret costume depends on personal preference, body type, fabric color and climate. A long-sleeved leotard and ankle length tights are perfect for a moderate climate while pants and a turtleneck sweater are more appropriate in cold areas. If you can find a pair of footie pajamas in a suitable color, you don’t even have to make a costume — just attach a tail to the PJs. Mixing and matching works, too — use the turtleneck with the tights if you wish.
Whatever you choose, be sure it’s comfortable and easy to move in. Hint: When using a matte fabric for the costume, use undergarments made of a slippery fabric (nylon, Spandex, polyester, etc.) for ease of movement.
Ferret Costumes Are In The Details
Paws, face markings, ears and noses, headbands, hats, hoods, face paint, eyeliner pencil, gloves, mittens, socks, boots and animal noses from the toy or crafts stores can all be part of your ferret costume. Purchase some fabric paint for “tipping” fake fur. Take a close-up picture of your ferret’s face, have it enlarged and decoupage it onto a mask.
Boas, hats, bandannas, sunglasses and masks make great ferret costume accessories. Make a ferret mask by gluing felt shapes onto a pair of sunglasses. This gives you ferret markings and bright, dark eyes. To make this, draw a pattern with a lens-size U shape with a concave line across the top so the tips are pointed. Cut the fabric using the pattern and glue the fabric to your sunglasses.
Let your imagination be your guide as you design and make your own ferret costume. There are no rules. Ferret fashionistas, unite!