Your cosplay character has a tail and you want to make one that doesn’t just hang behind you lifelessly. You’ve come to the right place! I will teach you how to create a tail that you can position into various poses to bring a little more life into your cosplay.
Use a sturdy wire and clear fishing string to create a tail that you can shape into different poses throughout the day. You can use either a stretch or non-stretch material, so use whatever fabric works best for your character.
This technique works best for skinnier tails (rather than large fluffy tails) because the wire will only be able to hold a limited amount of weight. You can also adjust the design of the tail according to your character. For example, you can easily add wire to create a three-pronged tail or create many different shapes for your tail spade.
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You don’t need all that much to create your tail. The most important piece is the wire. You want to make sure you get something strong enough to hold your tail in position. I recommend going for a 9 gauge wire or lower (the higher the gauge number, the thinner the wire will be). You’ll probably have to look for this in a hardware store, rather than a craft store since jewelry wire is usually not that thick.
The materials you’ll need to create your tail are:
- 9 gauge wire
- Wire cutters
- Batting (the layer of white fluffy stuff that’s often used with bedding)
- Fabric (any type of fabric that works for your character)
- Clear string (jewelry string or fishing wire)
- A keychain or jewelry clasp
- Optional: craft foam (for creating the tiefling tail tip)
Of course, you will also need basic sewing supplies, including thread, pins, and needles. I ended up hand-sewing a good portion of the tail, but if you have a sewing machine available, you’ll make the process go a lot faster.
Step 1: Determine the length of the tail
The first step is to cut the wire at the length you want your tail to be. I planned to make the tail about three feet long, but I am also a very short person. You might want to make your wire longer depending on your height and what you want the tail to look like.
- Unroll the wire and measure the length. If you’re unsure, you can test what it looks like in a mirror before cutting the wire.
- Add an extra 2-3 inches. This will be used to make a hook and attach the tail to your costume.
- Cut the wire with wire cutters.
Step 2: Cover the wire with batting
Batting is a plush and extremely lightweight material that can be used to give thickness to your tail without weighing down the wire. Remember, the more you add to your tail, the less it will be able to stand on its own, so I don’t recommend substituting this for a different type of fabric unless it’s equally as lightweight.
- Place the length of wire along the edge of your sheet of batting.
- Roll the batting over the wire until you achieve your desired thickness. I wanted to make a fairly thin tail, so I only rolled the batting around the wire twice. Make a mark so that you know where to cut it.
- Cut the rectangle of batting. Make sure you also pay attention to the top and bottom edges. The top of the batting should line up with the top of the wire, but you should leave 2-3 inches of wire poking out of the bottom.
- Roll the batting onto the wire. I used masking tape to temporarily keep the batting in place while I rolled it along the wire. I tried using pins first, but they just pop right out of the layer of batting.
Step 3: Sew the batting closed
Now that you have your batting rolled around the wire, you need to sew it in place so it doesn’t fall off. You won’t be able to use a sewing machine for this part, but there is no need to be neat. Everything will be covered by the fabric.
- Sew the length of the batting. You can use wide stitches along the length of the batting tail while removing any masking tape you used to hold it.
- Sew both ends of the batting. Using closer stitches, close up both ends around the wire. The goal is to prevent the wire from sliding around too much inside the layer of batting.
Note: You’ll need to make a loop around the edge of the batting to knot the thread in place. If you try to knot the end of the thread, it will just go straight through the batting layers.
Step 4: Cut and sew the tail cover
Now it’s time to get out the fabric you want to use for your tail cover. I used a faux suede material for my tail, but this should work with just about any kind of fabric. You can even use faux fur if you want to create a furry cat tail, or a stretch material if you want a tight-fitting tail cover.
- Measure the amount of fabric you need by placing the batting/wire on the material. Fold the fabric over the batting and be sure to add an extra half-inch for a seam allowance.
- Mark the fabric and cut it. Be sure to trim it to the length of the batting, but add an extra half-inch on either side for a seam allowance.
- Sew the length of the seam and the top edge of the tail cover. Make sure you have the right sides of the fabric together (you’re sewing it inside out). You can curve the top edge to make it look rounded.
- Trim the excess seam allowance. But be sure to avoid clipping any of the stitches. Now you have a long tube of fabric that will be your tail cover.
Step 5: Cover the tail
There are two difficult parts of long, thin tubes in sewing this tail. One, you need to get the tube right side out. Two, you need to get that tube onto the tail to cover it. The good news is, the wire in the tail will help you solve both problems.
- Do not turn your tail cover right-side out yet. This only works if you start with an inside-out tail cover.
- Place the tip of the batting/wire against the tip of the fabric. You are going to turn the fabric cover right-side out directly onto the tail.
- Push the fabric cover over the top of the tail. Loosen the fabric a little to form a small pocket that you place over the end of the tail.
- Use the wire to push the end of the fabric while you pull the cover down over the tail. Continue to pull the fabric down until you have the tail fully covered. Then hem the open end of the tail around the wire.
- Like magic, you now have your tail fully covered.
Step 6: Make the tail decorations
Now that you have the base of your tail finished, you can add any extra decorations to the tail. You can make anything like a tail ring or a tail spade. Make sure you use lightweight materials that are not going to weigh down the wire too much.
This will vary depending on the decorations you want to make, but here’s what I did:
- Place the end of the tail on paper so I can draw the design I want to add. This will ensure that I create a tail tip that fits onto the tail I made.
- Cut the shape out of craft foam. The craft foam is a lightweight material that will give structure to the tip of the tail.
- Cut the shape out of fabric and sew it together. This will go around the craft foam so be sure to add a seam allowance.
- Put the craft foam inside the fabric. This required a lot of shifting and squeezing, but luckily craft foam is quite flexible.
- Slide the tail tip onto the end of the tail and sew it in place. The fabric cover should easily slide over the end of the tail. Hem the fabric and hand stitch it in place.
- Add other decorations. In my case, I added a white fabric bandage. This helps to hide the seam at the edge of the tail and also adds some personality to the character.
Step 7: Attaching the base of the tail to your costume
Now it’s time to go back to the other end of your tail. You want to use those extra few inches of wire to attach it to your cosplay. You’ll need to have some sort of belt, sash, or sewn-in loop to create an attachment point on your costume. It’s best to have something thick and sturdy that will hold the wire tightly in place.
Then, all you have to do is bend the edge of the wire and hook it over your belt or loop in your costume. I also like to twist any extra length of wire around the base of the loop so that it has a sturdier hold.
Step 8: Attach a clear string (fishing line)
You’ll notice at this point that the tail droops a little bit. To fix this, we will add a clear string near the tip of the tail that you can use to hold it up. You’ll tie this string to a clip that you can use to attach it to the wire at the base of your tail, or another part of your costume.
- Tie the clear string or fishing line around the end of your tail. I made the string approximately half the length of the tail, plus a little extra length for tying knots.
- Tie the other end of the string to a clasp. Make sure to tie your knots securely because they are going to be pulled around a lot.
- Clip the string to your costume and pose your tail. I usually clip it directly to the wire hook at the base of the tail. Once it’s clipped in, you can bend your tail to put it in any position that you want to.
The higher you clip the string, the higher the tail will appear. So you can clip it to something on your shoulder or collar if you want it higher up. You can also attach the string to something on your wrist if you want the tail to move with you as you walk around.