My youngest daughter loves dinosaurs, especially the brontosaurus variety. So I wasn’t terribly surprised when she said she wanted to be one for Halloween. I was, however, challenged. Sauropods have long necks and I didn’t want to arm a 4 year old with a huge prop of a neck. So I figured rather than make a front, I could make a back.

The front half of the Brontosaurus costume was easy: A cape and a home-made hat “head” with an attached hood to blend it into the cape “neck”. I painted a bronto face on the hat using her favorite toy dino as a reference. We used a leotard and some more fabric paint to make the front of the neck out of her tummy. The back half was where the brainstorming really had to take place. How to make a bronto back that was light enough for a 4 year old to walk around trick-or-treating in but was also sturdy enough to withstand the unavoidable abuse it would take doing just that.

After discarding a few notions I settled on a wire framework, sort of like a colonial bustle. The only wire I could find that was thick enough and still flexible enough was the stuff my coat hangers are made out of so I took a few of those and, armed with wire cutters, fashioned a “skeleton”. Initially it had 4 “ribs” but the weight was too much so I ended up trimming one off. I used plenty of duct tape to stabilize the skeleton then covered it over in a green “skin” of velveteen – the same stuff I made the cape out of. I stuffed two back legs and a tail and the body was done. The front legs were hers, in a pair of pants I made from the same cloth as the rest so they would match. As an added step I put in hidden suspenders to help keep the back end up, so the illusion of 4 legs wouldn’t be ruined.

The costume worked great for Halloween. It didn’t droop or make her at all uncomfortable the whole time. She could even sit down in it. Because the hind legs and tail were stuffed, they’d just push out of the way. As soon as she stood up they’d drop back into place. Worked better than I could have hoped!