Making floppy dog ears is a little different than cat ears for a costume. In order for the material to accurately reflect the shape of a dog’s ear, you need to create a solid base for the ear (I used EVA foam for this), but leave the rest of the fabric loose. There are many ways you can go about creating your dog ears, but this is the method that I use.
This tutorial will teach you how to make fur dog ears that flop, kind of like a golden retriever or labrador’s ears. You can make the ears look realistic by trimming the faux fur. You can make the ears with or without a wire inserted to make the ear poseable.
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Supplies you need
This is a fairly simple tutorial, so you don’t need any special tools to get this done. An electric razor can help to get a better, more even look to the fur on the finished ears, but I used a sharp pair of shears I had and still managed to get a decent look, so you don’t need to invest in an electric razor if you don’t want to.
Supplies you will need include:
- Paper and pencil
- Needle and thread (in a color that matches your faux fur)
- Faux fur
- EVA foam (4mm) or craft foam (2 layers glued together)
- Fabric glue
- Sharp scissors or an electric razor
- Hair clips or headband
- Optional: 12 gauge wire (jewelry wire)
You can also choose to color some of the fur to create a more realistic effect. I won’t go over that in this tutorial (see my cat-ear tutorial for more information), but if you want to make a gradient color on the ears or add spots, I recommend using hair chalk or fabric paint.
Step 1: Draw your ears
The first thing you need to do is make a basic template for your dog ears. I’ve included an image for you with the shape that I used to create my dog-ear template. But this same idea will work with many different shapes of ears.
Include a line down the middle of the ear from approximately the tip of the curve to the base of the ear. I will tell you what to do with this later, but for now, just make that line for reference.
After you’re happy with the shape, you need to add seam allowance to your template. If you’re just getting started with sewing, seam allowance is the extra material added between the seam that you are sewing and the edge of your material. Without this added bit all along the edge, you would end up with an ear that’s smaller than what you originally intended.
Use a ruler and make a dotted line ½ an inch away from your current shape. When you sew your front and bad ear pieces together, you will sew ½ an inch inside the edge of your material.
Step 2: Cut out the (faux) fur pieces
Once you’re happy with your ear pattern and you’ve added the seam allowance, it’s time to cut out the fur pieces. Flip your fur material over, and trace the ear onto the back of the pattern.
You are going to need four separate ear pieces: one for the front and one for the back of both ears. Make sure to flip the pattern over when cutting out the 2 pieces for the back of the ear.
When cutting out the pieces, you will need to be careful not to clip the strands of fur as you go. Keep the shears very close to the base material as you cut. You can also use a sharp razor blade to do this.
The amount of fur material you need will depend on how big you want to make the ears. Half of a yard should be more than enough for just about any size of ears if you want to play it safe. You’ll have some left over to redo if you made a mistake. But you can get smaller amounts if you feel confident. I used a 20 by 20 inch square for these ears and still had some left over.
Step 3: Sew the fur pieces together
You should now have four dog-ear fur pieces. Two for the front ears and two for the back ears. Comb the fur on each piece towards the center to get it out of the way. Then pin the front and back ears together. You want the fur to be enclosed between the two layers.
Sew around the edge of the ear, leaving an opening along the inside (as shown in the picture above). Make sure to sew along the seam line, half an inch inside the edge of the fabric, that you made in step 1. You can machine stitch or hand sew, either way works fine.
After you’ve sewn the ears together, trim the seam allowance so the ears won’t be so bulky on the seams. Then flip the ears right-side out. Pull out any fur that’s trapped in the seam you just sewed.
Step 4: Insert foam ear structure
Remember that line I had you make down the center of the ear in step one? I want you to go back to your pattern and cut or trace the section from that line to the inside of the ear. This is the section we are going to add support to. It will keep the whole ear from collapsing when you clip it to your wig or hair.
Take this small section and cut it out of EVA foam or craft foam. I recommend using 4mm EVA foam because that will give the ear more support while still being flexible. If you’re using craft foam, cut out two (per ear) and glue them together to double the thickness. If you don’t have EVA foam, you can also use Worbla or even cardboard in a pinch. Just know that these other materials are less flexible.
Once you have your EVA foam cut out, insert these into the base of your ear. Use fabric glue to adhere this piece to the back side of your dog ear. If you are going to insert a wire later, do NOT glue the foam piece to the front. If you don’t plan on using a wire, you can glue the EVA foam to the front and back of the inside of the ear. Wait for the glue to dry.
Step 5: Trim the fur
Now that your ear is basically constructed, you need to trim the fur on the ear. The amount of fur on dog ears can vary dramatically depending on the breed of dog. Since I’m going for a golden retriever or labrador-style ear, the fur is fairly short on most of the ear with some longer strands towards the base. This means doing some major trimming.
The best way to trim the fur on your dog ears is to use an electric razor. This will give you a close, even cut that looks much more realistic. However, I do not have an electric razor, so I’m using a sharp pair of shears instead. You just have to go section by section, cutting off sections of fur until you are happy with the result. It’s best to go a little bit at a time because you can always cut off more of the fur, but you can put it back if you’ve cut too much.
Optional: add a wire
To give the ear more structure and make it poseable, you can add a wire along the inside. Take your jewelry wire and measure it out against your dog ear. Insert the wire into the inside of your dog ear and push it into place.
Personally, I like how it looks better when the wire is inserted. It gives the ear a little more stability and you can pose it in different positions if you want to. However, it does take away the floppiness from the ear, so it won’t bounce around while you walk around. So it just depends on the effect you’re going for.
Attach hair clips
Now all you have to do is attach your ears to your head or wig. Simply sew small hair clips to the inner side of the ear. I like to get them in between the two ear pieces, to hide the hair clip, but usually, your actual hair will hide the clip well enough.
If you don’t want to use hair clips, you can also use a headband for a little more stability. Alternatively, you can sew the ears directly onto your wig if you don’t want to fiddle with the placement of the ears in the future.