In early September I put together three costumes for a Kung Fu Panda themed event. These were for a Magical Quests, a theatrical event company, who were hosting a pretty elaborate children’s party and I had 8 days to design, source fabric and get them ready. It was bags of fun. This post is dedicated to Master Shifu, red panda and all round font of wisdom in the Kung Fu Panda series.
For this outfit I made five pieces, the robe, belt, gloves, a tail and headpiece. I had a very patient fitting model, he was quite attached to the costume by the end of the process and very sad to see it go.
The headpiece was tight lycra hood covered in faux fur, it extended down the neck and tucked into the robe. The ears were the most time-consuming but once I’d figured out the shape I wanted, it came together easily.
The ears are a lycra base, covered in faux fur and stuffed with wadding. I inserted a piece of wire to hold the ear’s shape, taking care to secure the ends to avoid unintentional trepanning. The ears were then handstitched to the hood and finally, I covered the rest of the hood in faux fur. You can probably tell, I was pretty happy when it worked out. I didn’t really want to take it off.
I spent a lot of time looking at red pandas online. So sweet, so unconcerned with how they look because they are so damn cute.
The gloves and tail were fun to make. I used cotton gardening gloves and covered them in faux fur. I considered making nails but I was unsure how much the performer wearing this would need to use his hands so I decided against it. One of the things the director of the show had stressed was the importance of not letting the illusion slip by making the gloves too short. I agree with her. I extended the gloves all the way up to the elbow, that way you won’t get a glimpse of skin up the sleeve and undo the red panda magic.
The tail tail attaches to a belt and I designed it so it could attach in different ways for later shows. I think I did more hoovering than actual sewing when it came to the tail! Faux fur, huh? My love for it only just outweighs my hatred of housework.
To make the robe I used a heavy cotton with highlights of gold at the cuffs and on the belt. Instead of using a pattern I traced round an existing men’s shirt and got stuck in. The robe has slits at the side seams, so walking is easier, and at the back to allow the tail some freedom, it wraps round and is secured with ties. Without the belt, it’s basically a glorified, Kung Fu-ified bathrobe. But, in context, it’s red panda appropriate attire.
We had so much fun taking these photos.