How to Make a Lobster Costume for Your Dog
In this article, you'll find a step-by-step guide to making a lobster costume for your dog or cat*, complete with patterns and photos. Remember kids, dog costumes aren't just for Halloween anymore. They delight at any time of the year.
I've been wanting to make Penny** a lobster dog costume ever since that adorable lobster Corgi blessed the internet in 2010. It only took me three years, and a tweet from Patrick Stewart, for me to finally grow enough motivation to do it. I chained myself to my sewing machine and made this costume over the course of four days. As this was the most complex thing I've ever sewn, I documented the whole process. If I can do it, you can do. I'm rooting for you!
*Heaven help you if you're trying to put a cat in a costume.
**Penny is my beagle+cattle dog+?? mutt.
Time required: Days. (It depends how handy you are with a sewing machine.)
Cost: $10-$25 (about $10-$15 for fabric/batting, $10 for dat hat).
- A sewing machine
- Straight needles and sewing needles
- Measuring tape
- Good fabric scissors
- Newspaper or grocery bag paper (for the patterns)
- A pencil
- 1 yard of red fleece
- 1 yard of red crushed velvet (the cheap-y stuff)
- 1/2 yard of batting (the quilter's kind)
- Red thread
- Velcro (about four inches or four tabs will do you)
- 2 thickish pipe cleaners
- Optional: large black pom-poms or googly eyes
- Optional: a tiny hat
A tiny, dog-sized bowler hat is the gift that keeps on giving. I promise, the hate your dog feels for you while wearing it will not last.
This is the same bowler hat we have (I took the stretchy neck-band off and replaced it with a thin black ribbon).
1. Measure Your Dog, Cat, Turtle, or Marmet.
Measure around the fullest part of their abdomen, from their neck to their butt, around their neck, and from their eyes down to the end of their neck. This will give you an idea of how much fabric you'll need for everything.
Note: I did a lot of pinning, trying-on (the dog), and repinning before making major cuts or stitches. I was also operating with a limited amount of fabric, so mistakes were very much so unwanted. (I don't recommend operating with limited fabric!)
2. Get Your Patterns Together
Three parts of the costume are not represented in the photo/patterns: the feelers aka "antennae," the claw "shoulder pads," and the abdominal strap. These parts are very simple, so I'll cover them as I go.
Note: Think of the patterns I've included here as a jumping off point. I ended up making some minor edits as I went so that the costume would fit my dog perfectly.
3. Pin Your Patterns to the Fleece and Cut Out Each Shape.
If you're using my patterns, be sure to allow for 3/4"-1" around the edge for sewing (the patterns don't take this into account).
4. Use the Fleece Shapes to Cut Out Identical Patterns in the Velvet.
Take care, however, because no velvet I've ever seen is double sided the way fleece is. This means that for the claws, head-piece sides, and legs, you will need to do one (or in the case of the legs, 3) mirror image(s). I spaced out and didn't do this, and had to go back to the fabric store (grumble grumble).
5. Cut Out Batting for the Body, Tail, Claws, and Legs.
For the body and tail, you can use one layer. For the claws and legs, use two layers. You can cut the batting out slightly smaller than your fabric pieces.
6. Make the Lobster Legs.
First sew the double batting to the underside of the velvet with two horizontal lines 1/3 and 2/3 up the leg (it will make the legs look kind-of jointed). Next, sew the fleece to the velvet, leaving the base open. Turn it inside out (a pencil helps for pushing), fold in the excess fabric, and sew the base shut.
7. Make the Lobster Claws.
First, sew the "thumb" part to the main part of the claw for the velvet and fleece pieces - you'll be doing 4 "thumb-sewings" total. Next, place the doubled batting on the underside of the velvet and sew the velvet to the fleece, leaving the base open. Trim excess fabric and turn it inside out, and you've got yourself a mighty fine lobster claw there, fella!
8. Make the Lobster "Feelers" AKA Lobster Antennae.
Get your pipe cleaners. A thicker pipe cleaner works best because they'll add some density to the feelers (you can find them at craft or sewing stores, but I also have a link to them below). Bend down the ends of the pipe cleaners so you don't have any sharp points.
Cut out a strip of velvet that is an inch or so longer than the length of the pipe cleaners, and about 2 inches across. Cut out 4 of these. Sew two strips to each other (velvet side to velvet side), leaving the base open. The antennas should be about a 3/4" across, with a slight taper and rounded edge a the tip. Trim excess fabric, turn it it inside out, and insert a pipe cleaner into each tube.
Note: To turn the fabric inside out, I found a pencil was very handy. Just shove some fabric in and jam it through.
Big pipe cleaners are best if your making a costume for a medium to large sized dog. I'd use regular pipe cleaners for toy breeds.
9. Make the Lobster Tail.
Sew the batting to the underside of the velvet with vertical lines that radiate out to each of the tail "petals." Sew the velvet to the fleece (leaving the base open), trim the excess fabric, and turn it inside out. Finish it with simple 1/2" hem along the edge (leaving the base open).
10. Make the Head Piece.
This was the trickiest part for me. I found it was easiest to fit it to her head using the fleece first, since it's stiffer. Once you've got a good shape, stitch along the length rounded piece, attaching it to the long strip. Repeat this for the other side. Leave the edges rough for now, and repeat the process with the velvet.
Next, sew the velvet head piece to the fleece head piece (back to back). You'll want to add the antennas at this stage. Make sure the pipe cleaner is actually sewn into the stitch. Turn the head piece inside out, and you should have a pretty solid looking dog hood. Finish it with simple 1/2" hem along the face opening and along the neck strap edges. Leave the base (in the back) open.
11. Sew the Tail and Head Piece to the Fleece Body.
Make doubly sure that you're liking the length at this point (I ended up lobbing off a good 6 inches from the body section). All the rough edges from the head piece and tailpiece should now be sewn into the hem with the fleece part.
Note: The photos shown here have the velvet section overlaid on it. It should give you an idea of how much fabric I had to cut off (from the length) before proceeding.
12. Sew the Abdomen Strap.
Cut out four rectangles of fabric (two velvet/two fleece, or four fleece—whichever you prefer). You'll have to measure you're dog's chest for this to determine the length you'll need. The straps on mine ended up about 3.5" across, but you may want to make it wider or thinner based on the size of your animal.
Sew the velvet rectangle to the fleece rectangle, leaving an opening so you can turn it inside out. Finish it with simple 1/2" hem along the edge, closing up the opening. Sew the end of each rectangle to either side of the under side of the fleece body about five inches (more or less, depending on the size of your animal). Be sure to leave at least two inches along the edge of the fleece body (so you'll have room to sew the velvet onto the body).
13. Sew Velcro to the Abdomen Strap and Head Piece Strap.
I used two 2" tabs for the abdomen strap, and two 2" tabs for the head strap. Sew the softer part of the velcro so it faces towards the body with the rougher part facing away.
14. Sew the Batting to the Velvet Body Piece With Parallel Lines.
If you adjusted the length of the fleece body part, do the same with the velvet part at this stage. Take care to leave a few inches along the top and bottom (where the head and tail will attach) so you can sew a simple hem. (For more images of this step, look at step 11.)
15. Sew the Velvet/Batting Body Piece to the Fleece Body Piece.
Leave the top and bottom (where the head and tail are attached) open so that you can turn it inside out. Once it's the right side around, sew a simple 1/2" hem along the edges. Create a hem along the neck and tail edges with the velvet to cover up all the rough seams. (For more images of this step, look at step 11.)
16. Sew the Lobster Claws On.
They will attach to the upper part of the body so they flop over the front, toward the chest of your animal.
Optional: Create lobster shoulder joints, aka doggy shoulder pads, to cover up the seams. I did this because the stitches I had used to attach the claws to the body looked unfinished. The should pads are simply half circles (sewn from a full circle), made of velvet and batting, and finished with a simple 1/2" hem around the edge. Sew the circles to the body, covering up the place where the claw meets the body, with the flat edge of half circles facing out towards the claws. I left the flat edge (where the claw comes out) open.
17. Hand Sew the Lobster Legs to Either Side of the Costume.
The legs should curve backward, and if you have some that are slightly longer than others, put the longer one in the front (closer to the head). I spaced the legs out about 1.5 inches, and about a half inch from the edge of the body "scales." By sewing the legs this way, they will hang under the costume rather than sticking out from the side (which would drag the edges down unevenly).
18. Jazz It Up.
Optional: Top it off with some eyes (googly eyes or black pom-poms are easiest). If you're going for full Patrick Stewart, you'll need jaunty bowler hat too. (There's a link to it at the top of this article.)
19. Admire Your Handy Work. You Are Done!
Penny in Sweet Lobster Action
Questions & Answers
© 2013 Shay Marie