This method will involve attaching ears to a hoodie, coat, or caplet so that they stand up straight on top of your head. I’ll be making rabbit ears, but the same technique can be used for Eeveelution ears, totoro ears, or even shorter ears that aren’t standing correctly. You can adjust the shape of the ears and the fabric used to match whatever you need for your next cosplay, but the overall method will be the same.
These are going to be more cartoon-ish ears that you can attach to a hoodie, cape, or hat as necessary for your cosplay. I’m going to be making long rabbit ears on a loose fitting hood, since this is the most difficult combination to get the ears standing upright. But you can use this same technique for any type of animal ear.
- Two colors of fabric (I used cotton but any kind will work)
- Matching thread
- 12 gauge wire
- Stuffing (optional)
- Electrical tape or duct tape
- An iron
Step 1: Create your pattern
The first step in any tutorial is to create a pattern. I don’t have a hood pattern available at the moment, so I’ll walk you through how to make one alongside your ear pattern. You can skip the hood part if you already have a pattern or you’re making a different kind of hat.
To make a basic hood pattern:
- Measure from your collarbone to the top of your head to get your starting hood height.
- Add 4-5 inches so the hood will be loose.
- Measure the neckline of your garment. NOT the measurement around your neck, but instead the length of the fabric that will sit around your shoulders.
- Cut that in half for the width of the hood. You will be cutting two pieces and sewing a seam down the middle.
- Draw a rectangle with your length and width.
- Curve the neckline so that the back is about an inch higher than the front. This way it will sit better on your shoulders.
- Curve the top so that it’s hood-shaped instead of a rectangle.
- Add ½ inch seam allowance around the whole hood. I forgot to do this on my pattern, and had to eyeball it when cutting out the fabric, but it’s way easier if you can remember to add the extra seam during this step.
To make your basic ear pattern:
- Draw out the basic shape of your ear.
- Draw any details or decorations that will need to be sewn onto the ear. In my case I am creating a smaller piece for the inner part of the rabbit ear.
- Add ½ inch seam allowance around the sides of every piece. If you are using felt or planning to glue on any of the decorations, you don’t need to add a seam allowance.
Step 2: Cut out your fabric pieces
Now that you have your pattern pieces, all you have to do is cut them out of your fabric. You will need:
- 4 hood pieces: 2 in you main fabric and 2 for the lining
- 4 base ear pieces: 2 for each ear
- 2 inner ear pieces: 1 for each ear
Don’t forget your seam allowance. Hopefully you adding it onto your pattern pieces, but if your like me and forgot, you’ll want to make sure to cut with that in mind. You can use whatever colors you want for this. I’m using red and yellow since I’m working on making the snow bunny outfit from Cardcaptor Sakura.
Step 3: Attach the ear decorations
You’ll want to attach any ear decorations and details before you sew the front and back of the ears together. If you used felt or a type of material that does not fray, you can use fabric glue or a double sided fusible interfacing to attach your details. Since I’m using regular old cotton fabric, I need to sew down the inner ear detailing. For making the rabbit ears:
- Align the smaller inner-ear piece on one side of a base piece.
- Fold over the edges of the fabric and pin it down so the frayed edges are not visible.
- Sew using a thread that matches the color of the inner ear. The thread will be visible on the finished ear, so try to match the color as closely as possible.
Step 4: Sew the ears together and hood pieces together
This step is pretty simple. You just want to sew the parts together. With right sides facing each other you will:
- Sew the front and back of each ear together.
- Sew the right and left sides of the hood together.
- Sew the right and left sides of the hood lining together. Put this aside to use in the last step.
- Once everything is sewn together, take the time to trim and iron the seams. For curved seams, you want to make short vertical cuts that are perpendicular to the thread line. Thin will allow the fabric to overlap when you turn it right side out and allow the ear to lay flat.
- Turn everything right side out and get ready to put it all together.
Step 5: Create your wire structures
Before we attach the ears to the hood, we want to create a wire structure that will keep the ears standing upright. For this you’ll want 12 gauge jewelry wire. 9 gauge is also probably okay, but it’s a little more difficult to bend around and work with. Anything thinner probably won’t hold it’s shape, while thicker wires will be too heavy and will weigh the hood down.
- Form your wire structure around the outline of your base ear pattern piece.
- Add an extra three inches on either side of the wire structure.
- Twist the two wire ends around each other, connecting the two sides of the ear.
- Bend the end of the wire to a 90º angle or less.
- Slide the fabric ear covers over the wire to make sure it fits.
- Optional: If you want rounded or stuffed ears (like Umbreon), add the stuffing in now.
- Sew the bottom of the ears closed around the wire structure.
Step 6: Cut small slits into the top of the hood and sew in the ears
Now it’s time to take your hood and cut slits to insert your ears:
- Cut two slits into the hood. Try to make the slits identical on either side of the hood so your ears will stand the same. They should be towards the center and front of the hood so that it will be easier for the ears to stand up straight. Make the slits just wide enough to fit the base of your ears through. In my case it was about two inches wide.
- Insert the ears into the slits. The bend in the wire should rest just below the surface of the hood.
- Sew the ear to the hood. You’ll want to sew the two slits closed and attach them to the ear fabric. You’ll also want to take matching thread and sew the wire base in place behind the ear. The thread will show on the outside of the hood, so make sure it matches your fabric.
Step 7: Sew on the hood lining
At this point, you are already pretty much done with your hood. You can even test it to make sure the ears are standing properly. All that’s left to do is hide the machinations of the wire ear by sewing on your lining. This works the same way you would attach a lining to other garments.
- Pin the hood and lining with the right sides together.
- Sew them in place and trim the seams.
- Flip the hood right side out and iron the seams.
- Now you can attach the hood to the neckline of whatever kind of hoodie or capelet you are making.