Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Apparently, the Okapi Says “Meow,” Too

People seem to always think my Halloween costume is a cat.  At least this year, it was only one person.  There were a lot of interesting guesses: cat, reindeer, giraffe.  The giraffe was actually the closest.  And I’ll cut them some slack; a lot of people don’t know what an okapi is, unlike a zebra.
So yes, this year, I was an okapi.  My second-favorite animal, after a giraffe.  Okapis are actually the nearest living relative to a giraffe.  They have shorter necks, but very long tongues.  Look ‘em up; they’re pretty neat.

Here’s an okapi.
okapi cc by charles barilleaux Okapi CC-BY Charles Barilleaux, available on Flickr.

And here’s me dressed like an okapi.
okapi shot at home

As is the custom, I made my own (um, custom) costume.

amazon dressI ordered a brown sweater dress from Amazon, figuring at least when I’m done I’ll have a nice new sweater dress.  I wear my sweater dresses a little longer  than was suitable for okapi-making, so the first thing I did was tack the hem of the dress up quite a bit.   (Right: actual length of  PattyBoutik Women’s Cowl Neck Long Sleeve Knit Dress.)

okapi legsI had ordered women’s brown tights and white leg warmers from Amazon as well, but the leg warmers were cream and the tights were dancer-leg brown, so neither of those worked.  I decided to go with an old pair of brown tights I had even though I was originally thinking I wanted something thicker.  They worked.  (Left: Okapi legs.)

For the bottom of the legs and the forearms, I used little girls’ tights.  I got size 12-14 for the legs and toddlers’ 2-4 for the arms.  I cut the feet off (and hemmed them and sent them to Munchkinhead) and cut leg lengths suitable for their purposes.  Then, I cut rings out of the rest of the leg.  It worked really well.

first bum stripe
one side of bum stripes For the bum stripes, I used the top of the toddlers’ tights because they had the cable-knit pattern all the way up to the top, unlike the girls’ tights, which had a sort of control-top looks-like-tightie-whities thing going on.  I hand stitched the whole thing with big stitches in back so it’ll be  easy to remove without snagging the dress.  I sewed the bum stripes with the dress on my dress dummy to ensure everything would stretch correctly once on me.  First, I sewed the top down on the full piece.  Then, I cut one stripe, sewed it’s bottom and the top of the next.  Then cut the next stripe, and so-on and so-on.  (Right, above: Okapi bum stripes in progress.)

tail stitchingtail bastingThe bum needed one more thing after that, a tail.  I bought some chenille, fake fur and quilt batting at Jo-Ann’s.  I cut a wide strip of the chenille, making the stripes in the fabric vertical.   I cut a matching width of  batting and basted the two together.  I cut a piece of fake fur about two inches long and basted that to the center of the bottom of the fabric and batting.  I folded it in half, including the fur, and stitched across the bottom and up the long side.  (Right: basting and stitching tail.)

 Then, I had to turn the tail.  This was almost as difficult as turning a Barbie sleeve, and on top of that, I could hear my friends @tromboneforhire and @jackgibson laughing hysterically in my head.  Eventually, I got it fully turned and sewed it to the top of the bum.
finished okapi bum
ears in progressLastly, I needed headwear.  Mommy and I realized while looking at photos of okapis and the stuffed okapis in her zoo, that okapis have horns.  I needed horns and ears.
For the ears, I found giant brown pipe cleaners at JoAnn’s.  Who knew such things existed?!  (Probably Munchkinhead…)  They were super easy to bend into the right shape and wrap around a brown headband.  I have enough left to make a nice monkey tail if anyone ever needs one.  (Right: Ears in progress.)
okapi headshotFor the horns, I used another  brown headband and Styrofoam cones covered in brown felt.  I tacked the felt to the cones with small pins and used scraps of felt pinned to the bottom, around the headband, to attach the cones.
I found out the day before Halloween that only male okapis have horns.  I wasn’t ready to give up on them because 1) they took some effort, and 2) the cones were expensive!  I had to buy a pack of 6 for $9.  One of my coworkers saved the day by declaring that it was fine, I was just a transgendered okapi.

One thing I know for sure, I was a happy okapi.
harley, okapi and joker
Okapi with her friends at their Halloween party.


Jeannie said...

Thanks for posting - I wanted to see what you looked like as an okapi and how it turned out. nice work, as usual. :)

Emily said...

You are my hero! I love this costume!