If your child comes home disappointed with her new role in the next school play and tells you she is playing a walrus, don't go for the easy option by throwing a paper mask together with just grey or brown sweatpants and a hoodie. Make your child feel better by making the most of her role; make her costume by creating a padded walrus body with clapping arm flippers and tail.
Make the body sack of the walrus costume. Measure your child, or the costume wearer, with a tape measure to assess the amount of fabric needed. Measure the length by measuring from the neck line to just below the bottom, and by the width of the body.
Cut out a rectangle shape out of a double layer of fabric using scissors.
Mark the distance of the arm slits with pins. Measure down from the top of the shoulder of the rectangle sack length, to below the arm pits. Make the arm slit long enough to be a loose fit.
Sew up the side seams on a sewing machine, or use a needle and cotton.
Cut out the neck shape. Pin a T-shirt with a round neck to the body sack and cut out the neck from your fabric.
Turn over the fabric and sew an inch hem at the neck. Sew the shoulder seams to the start of the neck hem.
Gather the front and back of the neck by threading through a neck length of elastic through the hem by using a safety pin. Sew the two ends of the elastic together and hand-sew the joining seams of the neck hem to complete the neck.
Sew an inch hem at the bottom of the sack. Gather in the bottom hem by making a small slit on the inside of the hem seam with a pair of scissors. Feed through the elastic and sew the two ends of the elastic together before sewing up the slit for neatness.
Make the walrus's padded body. Think of making a safety life jacket. Pin a ribbon to the edge of the square cushion pad about 2 inches in from the end. Pin a second ribbon 2 inches in from the other end. These are your shoulder ties.
Repeat the last step to pin ribbons in exactly the same place on the second cushion pad.
Pin on the side ribbons to both cushion pads. Attach the ribbon about 3 inches up from the bottom end of each cushion pad to be able to fasten the ribbons underneath the arms on both sides. Use a needle and thread to hand-sew the ribbons onto the cushion pads and remove the pins.
Attach flippers and tail to the walrus body sack. Draw two arm length flippers and a tail shape onto some parcel paper. Use an image of a walrus to help you to copy the shapes. Cut the shapes out.
Pin the flipper and tail templates onto a double layer of fabric and cut them out. Sew up the fabric shapes leaving one side open to stuff with foam padding.
Place the paper templates onto the foam padding and with a marker pen draw around the template. Cut out the foam shapes and insert the padding into the fabric sleeve. Hand-sew the open seam to cover the foam.
Pin the tail to the back and at the centre of the bottom hem. Pin the arm length flippers to the front chest and hand-sew them on.
Cut 2 wrist lengths of elastic to be used as an arm grip. Sew the elastic to form a grip loop on the back of each flipper near the wrist, so that your child can place his wrists through to be able to clap his flippers.
Make a nose and walrus tusk mask. Draw a round nose on a piece of paper. Draw 2 round cheek pouches at the side of the nose but slightly below it. Draw 2 long tusk shapes hanging straight down beneath the cheek pouches. Cut out the face mask template.
Pin the mask pattern onto a double layer of white fabric and cut it out.
Sew a narrow seam around the mask shape but leave the top seam open to stuff with small pieces of foam --this will form the nose. Sew up the open seam and put aside for later.
Use a hoodie, sweatpants, socks and gloves to be worn underneath the body sack and a pair of grey fur slippers for the walrus's feet.
Gather in the seam of the hood to fit it snug to the face, if preferred. Do this by sewing a length of stretched elastic to the inside edge seam. Sew the nose tusk mask onto the top edge of the hood so that your child's face is free to breathe and to talk.
Use a contrast of colours like grey and white or brown and cream, if preferred.