Saturday, October 19, 2013

DIY Skylanders Tree Rex Costume

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Anyone could've probably guessed that when I asked my little guys
what they wanted to be for Halloween this year,
they chose Skylanders!

They went the rounds trying to think of which character they wanted a costume of most, with some strong guidance from me- I'm no miracle worker! Ryder was thinking Tree Rex and I figured that was one I could manage. I figured people would likely recognize this one more too- Tree Rex is kinda the "logo" guy for Skylanders Giants. We did find this version available for sale on-line:

... and totally laughed! Really? This just doesn't look right- even a terrible DIY would be better! I knew I could upcycle and create something that would be at least more successful than that. :)

I think Ryder looks kinda pained in these pictures- be it from the sun, or being distracted, or whatever. But he really did say over and over, "I love this costume, Mom!" while we were taking pictures. Getting him all dressed up early also helped me to see what I need to improve for Halloween night!

I'm just gonna show pics of each part of the costume and how it was made. I've really tried not to get carried away with detail pics here- none of this costume was difficult and the pieces are not expensive or even new.

Also, a little disclaimer: I worked on these largely at night while the boys were asleep. That's just how it goes with tons of things, right? I want my boys to love their costumes and have an awesome experience on Halloween, not be hating the fact that Mom never listens to them or plays with them for the whole month beforehand! I also wanted to get pics of the process to share with you, but working at night means less than beautiful photos- so it goes :) And now you know for sure I'm no SuperMom and don't manage it all during the day ;)

Cooper chose to be the Slam Bam Skylanders character above. Before I get into the Tree Rex tutorial, I thought I'd link to that one too in case it might interest you even more... Find our DIY Slam Bam HERE. :)

Ok, here we go already! First up: Tree Res'x battle arm! This is without a doubt Ryder's very favorite part of the costume. He wears it around the house sometimes even!

I used a 3-liter plastic pop bottle (Shasta makes this size) for the frame. A 2-liter would surely work too. I cut through the middle of the bottle at an angle and kept the bottom section. Then also cut a whole about the width of Ryder's arm in the bottom. Because I needed the cut end to be less wide, I clipped vertically along the cut edge about two or three inches apart, then pushed the sections on top of themselves and secured with a glue dot. The whole thing was covered in red duct tape to keep that re-created edge together too.

If you follow me on Instagram, you've heard me say this already, but duct tape rocked this project! It made it much quicker that it could've otherwise been! I created the spikes that needed to come off the red portion like this:
These images are actually from Cooper's costume, but the construction is the same :) With this Tree Rex costume, though, I wanted a wider cone base, so I cute rectangles instead of squares  and then wrapped them together. I used yellow and green cardstock to avoid having to cover each piece with tape, then clear packing tape instead of duct tape to secure them together.

If this seems complicated at all, it really won't be once you get the paper and tape in your hands! Cut yourself several sections of clear tape and set them aside, then take up you rectangles of yellow or green and your fingers will figure out in a hurry how to create a cone shape :) To adhere them to the red base so they'd stick off like they're supposed to, I put two clear tape tabs on each side of the cone, like this:

And then put them on! For the larger green cone at the top, I folded and adhered more red duct tape around the bottom edge do that it looked more accurate and less stand-alone. This is totally optional, just a detail touch. See what I mean:

This fits snugly around Ryder's arm so I didn't have to have any additional way to keep it on him. The tape also keeps it from cutting into his skin or clothes too :)

Next piece: The shoulders and back tree knots. I searched Google for a tree knot image and came up with lots that could've worked. I was happy with this one and just had to crop it with a circle, as well as re-size it as needed for different pieces in Word. If you click on the image below, then right click and save the larger image that comes up, you'll be able to do the same and print :)

Obviously the back piece is just a paper plate with the edges painted brown and the tree knot glued on. For the shoulders, I used two Powerade bottles that I'd cut the bottom off of. I found this brown zebra print fabric at JoAnn and decided I could work with it at an angle to look like woodgrain- I really was happy about how well it worked! I cut strips of that to cover the plastic bottle part of the shoulder piece like above, then glued different size knots of the top.

Ryder's trial run taught me that I need a better way to keep these on his shoulders- I taped a section of ribbon across the bottom and taped that against his shirt. I'll be looping tape under his armpit or something for Halloween night I think :)

Next: Tree Rex legs. Ryder happens to have some green pants- any sort of green bottoms would work and hopefully save you from having to sew or buy the green portion of the costume. I created gator type leg covers with my brown zebra fabric like below:

Cut a trapezoid shaped piece with the smaller top length being the measurement of your child's knee area around, plus some. This shape just gives you the bell you want so that your legs look more beefy. Notice I had to piece together my trapezoid :P I'm not always the smartest sewer for sure! Anyhow... so, I measured the length around Ryder's knee cap (just above), then added a few inches and used that number (I think it was 11 1/2") for my top length.  Adding the extra inches allows for the hem and the scrunching your about to do.

Next, cut a length of elastic the same measurement you just used for the top and fold your fabric over just once. The raw edge wasn't a concern since it won't be seen. As you go to sew, start by anchoring your stitch and then pull the elastic slightly as you go- this will tighten up the top section to keep it up on your child's knee. With that top scrunched seam done, fold the trapezoid in half right side together and sew up the side to finish your tube :)

Up next: those Tree Rex horn limbs! These are probably the most defining feature of this guy, eh? :) And in looking at the toy, they really are disproportionate to the rest of him! Doesn't matter in a toy and looks cool, but its not so simple for a costume on a real person! I can see why that store-bought costume I showed at the top has such dinky horns!

I used empty paper towel cardboard tubes, plus a smaller toilet paper tube wedged inside at the top, to create long horns for this costume. The paper towel tubes alone just didn't seem long enough to be right. Looking at it all completed, they might've been fine, so just choose whether or not to add the smaller tube based on your kid's size. :)

I put the tubes together with ModPodge. Then, coated them and covered with fabric. Tuck the ends of fabric up into the tube. Then I went about kinda crumpling and bending the tubes to get the curved in shape I wanted. 

For the head portion, I grabbed this brownish helmet from Dollar Tree. It came with a face shield piece that I just wedged off. If you happen to already have a dress-up helmet you can alter, use it! You could cover it with the fabric if needed too :) Even a heavy duty winter cap might work.

I hand drew the Life Element symbol that is on Tree Rex's forehead with a pencil onto a scrap piece of red felt, then cut out with sharp pointed scissors. I glued the felt right to the helmet with ModPodge.

I opted to use silicone to attach the horns to the helmet. I trust silicone to be really sturdy and strong- hot glue won't work for sure. Another solution I thought of later would've been to cut holes in the side of the helmet that were just smaller than the width of the horn tubes, then stick them down inside. I did have to let the silicone dry overnight and use my fingertip to put on plenty- I propped mine against this squash to dry :) Obviously only one side can be done at a time- I did one one night and the other the next so they could dry while we were in bed. Needing something to be still to dry all day long + crazy boys running around= not likely ;)

The curve of the horns is still a work in progress- another thing this test run taught me! I want the tops of the horns to almost meet at the center like Tree Rex's do- I'll need to bend them up and then put something heavier on them to keep them that way overnight, hoping to help the shape some :) I also want to add tree knot images to the tops.

Last part: the chin. Tree Rex really has a strong face shape. So much so that I knew I really wasn't going to achieve it very realistically for this costume. I figured instead of worrying about the shape, I'd try to do the knots at his lower cheeks and chin :) I found small white nut cups at Michaels and covered them with my fabric the same as we've already done. I used hot glue instead of ModPodge for these. Then glue tree knot cut outs just the same too.

I cut a strip of the fabric and created a strap that I could run through the holes at the sides of my helmet- these were already there from having taken the face shield part off. Brown ribbon would be even more simple for a strap. I sewed the strap like below to keep it on, then cut slits across from each other at the bottom of the covered cups to run the strap through.

I put this on Ryder to measure where the ends of my straps needed to be (they were sewn long originally on purpose), then sewed velcro to the ends. The cup that sits at his chin covers this up.

I should note that I did do this chin portion before adding the horns to the helmet- the description just flows better here showing you that step first. Obviously it'd be awfully hard to sew the straps on with the horns on first. Possible, just more difficult :)

For the red chest portion, I bought a dress-up breastplate piece at Dollar Tree and covered it with red duct tape too. I added a piece of ribbon to keep it secure across his back- it comes with a loop for the neck :)

And I think we're done! I got this plain brown shirt at Walmart and that was it! There are bits and pieces and details like I mentioned here that I want to improve just a bit. Our helmet is enough too big on Ryder that I need  to find a way to secure the back of to the back of his collar or something- so that it doesn't want to fall forward. This makes sense since the horns make it heavy at the front. I plan to sew a strap with my brown fabric and just create a tether down to his shirt at the back.

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I sure hope this will be something fellow Skylanders fans can use and enjoy. I'd love to hear about what your kids are planning on being this year! Happy costuming all! :)



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