I am a wildlife refuge manager and I made this duck costume for a Halloween event at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island refuges where I work.
Wood ducks are one of the most colorful ducks in the world and they have really cool displays and behaviors too, so we chose a wood duck to be one of our characters that visitors would meet along an enchanted, myth-busting type night walk. The inspiration for the wood duck came from the red/purple speckly fur material the chest is made out of. I found it at a fabric store that was going out of business and when I laid my eyes on it, I just thought, “That is a wood duck!”
This costume is made out of many different materials from denim to fur to shantung and the base is dyed sweat suit. The head is made of craft foam shaped over a baseball hat with a veil made out of green velvet and white brassiere material. The woman at the fabric store took one look at me and asked me why I was buying so much bra material when my chest was not that huge. I laughed and told her what I was up to. Every year when I am making costumes, the women at the fabric store cutting table are always intrigued by what I buy and make me tell them all about what I am making. I have to make costumes to fit our many different volunteers of different sizes, so I need to make stuff adjustable and flexible. This year I made the wood duck, a dung beetle and a jack-in-the-pulpit plant.
The body was cobbled together out of many different materials and was ‘MacGyvered’ from a pattern of a bee. I used the pattern mostly for sizing and then shaped it to my needs. It took about 17 hours to make, and I only bled once (when I stabbed myself with the stitch ripper). It was a big hit at our Halloween Hike.
My advice to home costume makers is that craft foam is your friend! It’s lightweight, flexible, and holds its shape. It doesn’t crush or rip and can be painted and it is the best friend of hot glue. Oh, and it comes in different thicknesses and stiffness. Pleather is also great, but it is the sworn enemy of hot glue. They are like oil and water. Oh sure, they act like they like each other for a few minutes, but it all ends up in crafting divorce. Another good material is foam pipe insulation. This wood duck’s feet are shaped from short lengths of pipe insulation under the pleather.
Another recommendation is to make models of tough shapes in paper first. It will keep you from wasting material. If you are sewing, make sure you have denim needles on hand for tough fabrics. Oh, and finally, always check out the remnants rack and closeout fabric area first. No need to pay full price if you don’t have to. And always remember, you don’t have to be a seamstress to sew something. I am no sewer! But I am a believer in the ‘MacGyver’ school of pretty much everything.