It was one year ago, after having completed my daughter's Hello Kitty costume, when Boo requested to be Master Tigress from Kung Fu Panda for the next Halloween. Thus began a year of mulling over how to meet that request. I started back in August, collecting fleece material at very discounted prices (as fleece in the middle of August is usually not a big seller). It wasn't until I purchased the craft store pumpkin in September that the costume really started to take form in my brain. It's mid-October now and I can officially say that Master Tigress has been completed! I'd do a happy dance right now but I'm just too darn exhausted!
Yes, we spent countless hours on this. And when I say "we," I do mean both me and my daughter. Without her patience, coupled with her ability to stand still while I made her try the same thing on over, and over, and over again, we could never have pulled this off. What we didn't spend a lot of was money. In total, the costume materials cost roughly $33. I wanted to try to keep it under $30, but at the last minute I had to get some shoulder pads (at 50%-off) and that set me over a bit.
As I mentioned before, yes, my daughter can see out of this just fine. She can also breathe very well, as the nose is hollow and open on the bottom, providing plenty of fresh air inside of the mask. Hearing, well, that's a little muffled, but still functional. Thankfully the slits on the side of the costume (as seen below) allow sound in from the sides.
The proportions of the costume were entirely dictated by the size of the pumpkin. The face isn't exactly how I wanted it, but I had to work with the pumpkin's proportions, using the beard to "force" the pumpkin shape into a more closely-related Tigress face. I only had two sizes of pumpkins from which to choose, and the other was more rounded, so this is all we had to go with.
You'll notice (photo above) how I didn't do the leaf motif on the back of the vest. The front motif is done with card stock (not fabric) in order to give the flimsy 1-dollar t-shirt a bit more structure. The back of the vest was too cinched to get a leaf pattern that wouldn't be folded in 50 different places, so we just left it off. Everything else on the costume, though, is pretty much consistent with the original Tigress design. The belt is attached with velcro and is a separate item. The cuffs on the black pants are safety-pinned to the bottom of the pant (as is the tail) so the pants are completely wearable after we're long done with this costume.
You can see above how easy it is for her to move in the costume. The bicycle helmet mounted to the inside of the pumpkin keeps the mask stable enough for her to move easily without it shifting around. The clown shoe covers that I found at the thrift store for 50 cents were totally worth it. I had to cut them down to her size and re-position the elastic that holds them on to her feet, but she can kick easily without them moving or coming off. They're attached at the heel of her foot with velcro.
I'm also pleased to say that this is a 100% no-sew project! Everything is held together with either hot glue and/or duct tape. I personally didn't see any need to sew anything that I didn't plan on running through the washing machine, so unless you're planning on keeping the costume for years and need to wash it from time to time, I'd totally recommend just gluing it all together.
Boo couldn't be happier with the results. The photos above were taken in 90º heat (remember, it's made of fleece and she was wearing a white turtleneck underneath it). She loved it so much she didn't care how hot she was, she just wanted to wear it and have her pictures taken!
And for everyone who's asked me so far: No, I have no idea what we're going to try to do for next year! ;-)
Thanks to everyone who has supported us through this project. It was, indeed, a labour of love and receiving all the comments and emails of support really made a difference when I spent those long hours banging my head against the wall. One of the biggest fears you can have as a parent is that of failing your child. It's a costume, and as silly as it might sound, it was very important for me not to fail her on this. So thanks a million!
UPDATE: I finally posted the full step-by-step tutorial on how this costume was made! Please see this post for full instructions and materials list.