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2015 Costume Contest Winners – Pet Costumes

2015 PET CATEGORY

The pet owners within this category really went all out for their furry friends during the 2015 Halloween season! Year after year, the pet category continues to be a judge favorite. How can you not enjoy looking at these pictures?!?!

FIRST PLACE: Jennifer Arnold – Dunedin, FL

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THIS COSTUME?

Being a huge fan of the Hunger Games books and movies, I’d been dreaming of making a Katniss Everdog costume for my dog for a couple of years. When the Mockingjay movie was released, I loved the leather costume worn by Katniss and knew it would look great on Olive, my Golden Retriever that simply adores the attention she gets from wearing clothes. Plus, Olive is the ultimate hunter herself, spending much of her day stalking and pouncing on lizards in the backyard.

WHAT ITEMS DID YOU USE TO MAKE THIS COSTUME AND HOW?

To create Olive’s Katniss Everdog costume, I bought about a yard of brown leather, several yards of brown trim, and a remnant piece of black mesh fabric from a local craft store. I purchased a dark brown, long hair wig to put into Katniss Everdeen’s famous side-braid, and found a gold Mockingjay pin online. For the arrows, I used wooden dowels that I painted black with feathers glued to the ends. The quiver was made using a scrap of black suede fabric. To make the costume comfortable for Olive and easy to put on and take off, I built it in several pieces. The first layer is a long-sleeved brown t-shirt from my closet. Next, the shoulder piece (made from the black mesh and strips of leather) slips over her neck and fits just like a dog collar. Then, the chest and back plates slip over her neck with the several straps held in place with velcro. Finally, I wrap the leather arm shield around her forearm and fasten in place with velcro. While it appears that the quiver and arrows are slung over her shoulder, they are actually sewn into the back piece to keep them in place when she walks. In all, the costume took about 8 to 10 hours to design and sew. However, someone with more experience (that spent less time re-doing things!) with sewing would be able to make this costume in much less time. Luckily, with lots of treats and praise, Olive was a willing participant and let me try the parts and pieces of the costume on her as I created them.

WHAT REACTION DID YOU GET WHEN WEARING THIS COSTUME?

Olive recently wore her costume to a local pet event and everyone that saw her fell in love (much to her pleasure!). Many people were amazed that she was perfectly contented wearing a wig and others just laughed with excitement over seeing such a familiar character in a new way – no one had ever seen a dog dressed as Katniss Everdeen before!

We also heard a LOT of great puns – besides changing her name to Katniss Everdog, a few people asked if she was from District K9 and she became known as “The Barkingjay” instead of the Mockingjay.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT THIS COSTUME OR YOUR EXPERIENCE?

May the treats be ever in your favor!

 


SECOND PLACE: Kathryn Dunlap – Plainfield, IL

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THIS COSTUME?

I wanted to do something fun like a toddlers costume for my extremely large 175 pound Neapolitan Mastiff Rufio and that is how this Octopus costume was born! I was drawn to an Owl, Dinosaur or Octopus. Unable to decide, I let the 15,000 fans of Rufio’s Facebook page decided. They overwhelming chose the Octopus!

WHAT ITEMS DID YOU USE TO MAKE THIS COSTUME AND HOW?

I chose a bubbled dark purple soft material for the main body. Then a light purple fabric with light reflecting sequin for the under-body of the tentacles. The first order of business was a 4 inch band to connect all six 3 foot tentacles to. These were stuffed and wire was added to give the tentacles the curling ability. From there I constructed an armless hoodie with a double layered hood, this made it possible to stuff the hood to create the Octopus’ large dome shaped head. I then created larger tentacles for the shoulders, stuffed and wired them also. These needed to be large enough to hide Rufio’s arms and huge paws. From there I cut three sizes of reflective circles from green and black material.These were glued on to the underbody of the tentacles and dome hood give the appearance of suction cups. Rufio then allowed me to apply pet safe fur dye to give him a slight purple face to match the Octopus costume. I also created a backdrop from wood, a plastic ocean bottom scene, hand made fish from colored foam, and a pink spray painted tree branch to make coral. This took me almost a month to complete, but it was a labor of love and creativity!

WHAT REACTION DID YOU GET WHEN WEARING THIS COSTUME?

As you can image, seeing a HUGE dog dressed as an Octopus is kind of a once in a life-time thing! Folks are used to seeing him sporting all kinds of costumes and clothes, but this by far is the most unbelievable thing he has ever worn. It was exciting for the people who helped choose this fantastic Halloween costume for Rufio……they helped create OctoRu.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT THIS COSTUME OR YOUR EXPERIENCE?

I am hoping the judges realize how unusual it is for huge dogs to be able to wear Halloween costumes. They are just not sold…..so you have to create.

 


THIRD PLACE: Lori Lynn Korchok – Coraopolis, PA

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THIS COSTUME?

My bulldog, Goblin is such a social butterfly and LOVES to show off her unique outfits around town. I have always had trouble finding clothing to fit her unusual body shape, so I took a few sewing classes and started making her outfits myself. My friend was helping me try to come up with something different but special to make for Goblin. People often mistake her for a boy, so I was hoping to make her into something really girly. We had been to 3 or 4 Halloween/costumes stores, and I had almost given up on an original idea. I happened across some plaid mini-skirts in the last row of the last Halloween/costume shop we were scouting for ideas, and as soon as I saw them, Abby Sciuto, the Forensic Scientist from NCIS sprang to mind! NCIS is my favorite TV show, and even the people who don’t watch the show know the character from the commercials, so it felt like it would be well received. This was the first basic Halloween costume I made after taking a couple of sewing lessons. It was such a simple design, but I was able to add flare with the extra pieces the character wears.

WHAT ITEMS DID YOU USE TO MAKE THIS COSTUME AND HOW?

My friend loved the idea of turning Goblin into Abby, so we headed to the local fabric store. My first stop is always the clearance section, and I got lucky enough to find a red plaid skirt fabric on clearance, along with pieces of white fabric for the lab coat and black material for the shirt. Abby wears studded collars and bracelets, so I purchased some by-the-yard studded leather accessories. I couldn’t find any letter appliques, so I also purchased black fabric paint to paint “NCIS” on Abby’s lab coat.

I raided my craft supplies at home and found black yarn for the wig, a headband to make the headpiece, ribbon and skull buttons to make barrettes for the braids, and I had a skull patch, which would be perfect for the front of Abby’s shirt!

I sewed a basic lab coat and stitched the skirt to the bottom of the coat. I find that dog costumes are more comfortable if you can make most of it in one piece to just slip over the dog’s head. I made a faux t-shirt (it was actually just a front panel with the skull patch) to sew into the lapels of the lab coat. This would create the neck hole where her head would slip through. The costume just lies on her back, so I stitched the studded bracelets to the lab coat to act as the sleeves. I also stitched Velcro to the bracelets to hold them on. This holds the costume on her back and prevents it from slipping off either side. I usually add a belly belt, but with the sleeve cuffs, a belly belt was not needed. The necklace was the easiest piece! All I had to do was stitch the ends together and slip it over her head.

The headpiece was the most challenging part. I actually made a really cute headpiece, but I used so much yarn it became too heavy for her head. Comfort and safety are the most important things when dressing pets, so that wig was scrapped. For my second attempt, I decided to use less yarn, but add some bendable tubing to fill the braids out and make it so they could bend. Once again, I wrapped a headband in black yarn and sewed some yarn to a strip of material to make the bangs. After the bangs were sewn onto the headband I wrapped long pieces of yarn and tubing to make Abby’s high braids. With the braids finished, adding the ribbons and skull buttons to look like barrettes was simple!

My friend printed the Abby NCIS ID badge from the network’s website and laminated it for me. I just cut it down to size and sewed it right onto her lab coat. I used the actress’ actual photo just in case someone did not know the character. I also painted NCIS on the other side of the lab coat.

I used several Abby props for photos. A friend of mine lent me small a Bert, the Hippo toy (Abby’s toy), I made a CAF POW cup (Abby’s drink of choice – she needs her caffeine!), and borrowed safety goggles from another friend. Abby wears big platform boots, but for safety sake, I photographed Goblin in my little Mary Jane’s that I still have from when I was a baby. One of my photos was taken with the props just sitting on the floor. The costume is adorable on its own, so I wanted to show which items were just for photos. Obviously the shoes and goggles were not safe for her to wear in public.

We did a few different photo shoots with this costume, so for the first shoot I went all out and even dyed Abby’s spider web neck tattoo on Goblin’s neck with dog dye. The rules state I am not allowed to use photos taken before this contest period. With the photo limit at 3, I would rather show better photos of the costume, so I did not dye the tattoo again for this photo shoot.

WHAT REACTION DID YOU GET WHEN WEARING THIS COSTUME?

I am “that person” who takes her dog to every pet store, every park, and anywhere else I can take her throughout the month of October, so we had a lot of feedback from a lot of different places!

The most often heard comment was, “It’s super cute!” Then they would ask to take a picture of her. There must be close to 100 photos of her out there by now.

It amuses me to no end, so I was happy to hear nothing but great things when she wore it. Almost everybody who saw her walking in it commented on how adorable the braids are since they bounce when she walks! We had a couple people look at the ID badge because they didn’t know Abby by name. As soon as they saw the actress’ photo, they knew exactly who she was and said how great the costume turned out, even though they don’t watch the show. We also heard a lot of people commenting on how the little skirt flowed when she walked too. That might just be from the bulldog butt bounce though. 🙂

A lot of people asked where I bought the costume and said they wished they could make something like it when they heard I made every piece. I also mentioned that it was not very difficult to do. My left hand is mostly non-functional, so if I can make a costume like this, I think everybody is capable. A few people told me I have too much time on my hands, but it really did not take very long to make.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT THIS COSTUME OR YOUR EXPERIENCE?

First of all, thank you so much for giving us a platform to share our unique costumes with more than just our family and friends! I’m so pleased with how this one turned out, especially since it was my first costume after I started learning to sew.

As I mentioned before, safety and comfort are the most important things to focus on when dressing pets. I made sure to use very lightweight materials, especially since bulldogs suffer leg and spinal injuries very easily. That is also why I tried to make the bulk of the costume in one piece. The headband just slides on and off, as does the necklace. Opening the Velcro bracelets and slipping the entire thing over her head easily removes the rest of the costume.

I don’t watch much television, but I am addicted to NCIS. I especially love the character of Abby because she is a strong, intelligent woman who has her own sense of fashion and looks beautiful in what some may consider “unconventional” clothing. I think it’s wonderful that such a popular character can show young girls (and dogs!) that it is okay to express yourself in your own way.

I love this costume because for once in her life, nobody called Goblin a boy while she was out and about! That was the main reason I wanted to make something so girly, so I would say this was a successful costume.

Unfortunately for my wallet, this was the most expensive dog costume I have ever made. The total cost was just under $30, but that also included some of the props for the photo shoot! I still think it was worth it, despite the cost.

Finally, I want to thank you for holding a costume contest with actual judging. They are very rare these days, and I really am grateful for the opportunity to compete fairly.

 


THIRD PLACE (a): Judith Treasure – Los Alamitos, CA

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THIS COSTUME?

Our dogs were the inspiration for this costume. I usually dress them up as a couple for Halloween. We nicknamed our sweet pug/chihuahua ‘little monster faced girl’ because she sticks her teeth out sometimes and looks like a monster. She is very vocal and always demanding snacks. Our little chihuahua boy is so nervous all of the time and the both of them together are a real life Seymour and Audrey II from The Little Shop of Horrors.

WHAT ITEMS DID YOU USE TO MAKE THIS COSTUME AND HOW?

Fabric, wire, stuffing, styrofoam balls cut and covered with fabric, craft foam, silk flowers and plants, toy teeth, paint, moss, hot glue. For Seymour, I sewed the pants, vest and shirt using my own patterns along with a wig out of curly fabric. I made the glasses out of fimo and attached to the wig. For Audrey II, I sewed a base jacket with velcro closures, stuffed the hood and lined the inside, added teeth, and a fabric tongue that I wired. I hot glued wires covered with fabric casings to the back for the stems, attached the ball heads that were made from flowers, wire, craft foam, teeth and painted fabric tongues. I then sewed and hot glued stuffed fabric leg vines to the front and back of the jacket. I added leaves to the stems then tacked and glued everything down, covered the back with moss and a cracked pot made of craft foam covered in fabric. Whew! It took me about a month to create.

WHAT REACTION DID YOU GET WHEN WEARING THIS COSTUME?

Some of the reactions were: That is so awesome! Did you make that? That’s amazing! What a great idea! Perfect costume for those two! You are so creative!

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT THIS COSTUME OR YOUR EXPERIENCE?

It’s a labor of love and I hope you enjoy it!