Sewing a fox tail

10th October 2009 – 7.43 pm

I like exploring the furry in me. After getting the raccoon hat, I am excited by the new fox hat on Shana Logic's site, enough to make me think about making a tail to go with it. Finding some affordable, long-strand fake fur fabric, in both white and orange, is the rest of the motivation I need to break out the sewing machine, along with some help from the Cosplay Catgirls book I have. Unfortunately, I wasn't sure how the fox tail would turn out, so I didn't take any photographs of the process, but I can give a description at least, as it is quite a simple pattern.

The main part of the tail is essentially a tube, created by cutting a rectangle of the fabric and sewing the two long sides together. Unlike my first tail, using fake tiger fur, I want to give a bit of shape to the fox tail, which I achieve by modifying the rectangle slightly. By making the two ends of the main section of the tail thinner than the middle, and adding gentle curves to the full width of the cut rectangle, the tail both fattens out from the base and tapers towards the tip. But before I can sew this section together I need to attach the tip of the tail.

The tip of the tail is just another cut of fabric, but using the white fur. As the edges of the fabric will be sewn together to create a three-dimensional tip, some thought must be given to the shape of the very end of the tip. For my tiger tail I wanted a domed end, which I achieved by cutting two semi-circles from a rectangular base. Joining the two semi-circles together gives a domed tip as required. However, for the fox tail, particularly when considering the shape I am after, I want a more pointed tip. A triangle of fabric joined at two edges of the same length gives a tip, but I don't want such a rigid line. Instead, I cut a symmetrical curve ending in a point that, when joined, should give a tapering point.

The first join is to attach the tip of the tail to the main section, only after which I will sew the long edges of the fabrics to themselves. To join the tip of the tail to the main section I want to hide the seam. To do so, I make all the seams by placing the right sides of the fabric together and sewing along the edge, so that when the fabric is reversed the stitching is hidden. But, before I attach the tip, I want to create even more shape to the tail, as I'd like the whole tail to curve upwards a little. My cosplay book suggests adding a wire to the inside of the tail, but I will want to curl the tail up to carry it in luggage at some point, I am sure, and I don't want to eventually break the shaping wire. Instead, I cut a concave section out of the edge of the white fur to join to the flat edge of the orange fur. This has the effect of cinching the fabric together, creating a natural tension that should pull the tail upwards a little.

I pin the white tail tip to the orange main section, cinching the orange fabric to the white. Satisfied that the sections fit together nicely I start sewing, with just a simple stitch. With the white and orange sections joined I can pin the long edges together. Once happy with the pinning I sew down the length of the whole tail, taking care when sewing over the join of the two fabrics, and when reaching the point of the tip of the tail. After ironing all the seams and checking that everything looks okay, I am ready to turn the fabric inside out. The cosplay book suggests stuffing the tail as you go, but I have made the tail sufficiently wide that I won't have trouble reaching down to the tip, so I invert the whole tail in one go. And it looks good!

I need a way to attach the tail to my clothes, the cosplay book helping with some tips. I decide to use a short section of thick, garden wire I find in a hardware shop, which I hook and sew in to the seam of the join I have created. The end of the wire comes out the top of the tail, where I can create a second hook that can sit over a belt comfortably. The wire is held firmly in the seam and is long enough to hook over my belt. I can start stuffing the tail. I have some washable polyester toy filling left over from my tiger tail, which I pack lightly in to my new fox tail. All that is left is to sew up the base of the tail.

My sewing machine is put away when sewing up the base of the tail, the open end that will attach to my belt. I imagine I won't be tidy, but luckily the long-stranded fur will hide my stitching. I have an orange thread that matches the fur nicely, so as tidily as possible I bunch up the fur and overstitch it all together, under the assumption that I mostly need to stop the filling from coming out.

The finished tail looks fabulous, even if I say so myself. The effort to create some shape has worked well, giving plenty of volume to the body that tapers to a point, with an attractive curve along the whole length. Now I just need to find some excuses to wear it, although that probably won't be a problem.

From my notes, I cut the orange fabric to a length of 24" and a maximum width of 18". The base of the tail, sitting at the small of my back, is 15" wide, curving out to the maximum of 18", for a few inches, before tapering to 12" where the orange fabric is joined to the white tip. The white tip is 12" across where it joins the orange fabric, the long edges following a gradually increasing curve down the tip's 12" length to almost a point. A section of fabric is cut from the white fabric that joins to the orange to create a concave curve connecting the two edges, a few inches deep at its apex, giving more shape to the tip. The two sections make for quite a long tail, but I am tall enough for it.

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