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We’ve all been there – it’s two days before Halloween, and Target is fresh out of Elsa, Spiderman and Pikachu. Or maybe you don’t want to spend a bunch of money, and would rather go for something simple, homemade and unique. Or maybe your kid has sensory issues, and she’s tried on a million different costumes, and all of them are leaving you both in tears. Parents, unleash your inner DIY superhero – if you have one hour and five dollars, you can turn your sad, costumeless kid into an adorable little bear! And while you’re at it, make one for yourself – your kid will think you’re even cooler if you get in on the fun.

Materials

  • Felt – Main face color, accent face color(s), nose color
  • Cheap gloves or mittens in same color as the bear’s face
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Elastic (1/8-inch braided or whatever you have kicking around)
  • Sharpie and/or white colored pencil for tracing the template onto the felt
  • Cardstock/heavy paper for printing template
  • Printer

Instructions

Mask

1. Gather your materials: Everything on your list can be purchased at a craft or fabric store. When getting the felt, go to the section with pre-cut 9”x12” felt sheets in a variety of colors. Use one color for the main face (“A” on template) and back layer (“B” on template), a second color for the inside of the ears and snout, and a tiny bit for the nose (black works well).

2. Print out templates on card stock and cut them out.

3. Trace the templates onto felt and cut them out.

4. Assemble the face: Glue the features on with your hot glue gun. Hot glue can get messy, so I’d suggest putting down some aluminum foil or scrap paper to protect your tabletop.

5. Measure and cut elastic: The beauty of making a mask for your own kid (or yourself) is that you can completely customize it – take the elastic and put it next to one eye, then pull it around the back of the head to the side of the other eye, and cut. You want it to be stretched a little bit – and elastic is really forgiving, so it doesn’t have to be exact. I generally cut 10-11” for kids and 12-13” for adults, but if that feels too loose or tight, just adjust!

6. Attach the elastic: Lay the face piece down, with the back side facing up. Glue one end of the elastic onto the back side of the face in the spot where it is indicated on the template. While the glue is still wet, put the back layer on, sandwiching the elastic between the two layers. Loop the elastic around and do the same thing beside the other eye. The back layer will now be attached to the front layer in two places (beside each eye).

7. Glue the rest of the bottom layer onto the top layer: This part is a little tricky – but with the hot glue gun, add glue between the two layers so that the layers will stick together. Go slowly and in small sections – you don’t want the glue to dry before you can stick the pieces together.

Paws

1. Trace the paw template onto the same color felt you used for the snout/ears, and cut the paws out: This template is just a guideline – depending on the size of the glove or mitten, you may need to adjust the size of the ovals.

2. Glue the felt paw pieces onto the gloves/mittens: Put a cup or glass into the glove/mitten before gluing – this will stretch the glove out so that it looks more like it will look once a hand is in it. This will help you figure out where to place the felt and also keep you from accidentally gluing the glove to itself.

Bravo! You just made a bear!

Now have some fun with the rest of the costume! Throw on a hoodie, sweatpants and bear claw slippers. Dress your family up as the Three Little Bears, with Mama Bear in a dress and heels, Papa Bear in a suit and Kid Bear in pajamas. Or just slap a mask on with whatever you happen to be wearing and call it a day. It can be as simple or elaborate as you and your little bear cub want it to be.

Rachel Lewis is a mom and maker based in Bay View. In addition to raising a sassy seven year old, she is the brains and brawn behind Flying Ox Creations, home to a whole menagerie of felt animal masks, tails and wings that are perfect for Halloween or everyday imaginative play. Rachel strongly believes that playing dress up really can change the world, one happy, engaged kid at a time. 

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