Monday, 2 February 2015

Jack II

In 2011 I was asked to make a costume for the Wairarapa Road Safety Council. It was something I hadn't done before, not this type of costume anyway. The WRSC were very pleased with it which was great.

Last year I had a call from someone at Greater Wellington Regional Council asking if I would make them one. They also wanted one as a road safety education tool/mascot. So it would be Jack the Kaka II.

The request was that it was, "the same as the first one." It is, though with a couple of slight differences. The fur I used last time is not being produced any more so we had to choose a similar one. The fleece I used for the boots and beak is slightly different too, due to the dye batch. These were minor things though.

I'm not going to go through all the construction details but I thought I'd share a few things I found useful when working with a couple of the materials. First up Fur. I found some info online first time around which was very hepful.  :)

These are some of the feathers for the wing. I'm cutting just through the backing.

The main fur. As it is a fabric with pile it's important to cut all the pieces so the fur goes in the same direction. This photo is a bit blurry but it does show the pile lying the way I want it.

And what happens when the fur is brushed the wrong way. As I was limited with fabric I cut all of the pieces in a single layer, so I had to make sure I flipped the pattern pieces over so I had one of each side! I also cut in a single layer due to the way I was cutting out the fabric.

Here I've traced round the pattern piece with tailor's chalk on the fabric backing. This is one of the front pieces.

The easiest way I found to cut out the fur was with a craft knife. It gave me a lot of control and meant I cut through the backing only. This means the pile of the fur stays a consistent length.

Then it is easy to separate the off-cut and the main piece by pulling them apart as I'm doing in this photo.

The next material is Fosshape which I got from Cosplay Supplies in the USA as I hadn't been able to find it here in NZ. This stuff is great and I decided I wanted to try it out.

It cuts with scissors. You can sew it which is what I'm doing with the lower beak in this photo. It doesn't fray so you can make a small seam. No need to neaten it.

Then I made a mould (mold) from cardboard the same shape of the lower beak and covered it with plastic clingfilm. This was to prevent the cardboard from absorbing moisture, getting all soggy and losing it's shape.

Whatever you are making needs to be slightly bigger than it will be when it is finished. Here it's hard to tell but the Fosshape is a bit loose on the beak mould.

The next step is to steam it. I don't have a steamer so used my iron on steam setting as suggested. The Fosshape shrinks and becomes firmer. The more it is steamed the firmer it seems to get. Here it has shrunk in directly below the iron, but is still a bit loose at the outer edge. That was soon fixed.  :)

Here I've finished steaming and you can see the shape is a lot firmer and has moulded to the cardboard.

Once the mould is taken out it keeps it's shape well. It can also be cut after it is steamed. This is just a quick version of how you can use Fosshape. There is a great tutorial here at the Cosplay site.

The beak is now covered with the grey polar fleece.

This strange looking thing is the stuffing that goes inside Jack's headpiece to give it a bit of body, and also to make sure the wearer can see out at the correct place.

While I was cutting out the pieces for the stuffed shape above I accidentally threw this piece in the bin along with the scrap pieces!   :-/   Thankfully I found it after a bit of a hunt. A quick iron and it was all good.

These are all the pattern pieces for the headpiece. I made it out of calico first, lined with black polycotton. Then I made the covering of out fur.

Inserting the zip: pinned, then tacked, then finally stitched!

Velcro on one of the back wings, which were in two parts with an opening to allow the wearer to do up the zip, put on the headpiece etc.

Photo courtesy of Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC)

Here is the final product.  Jack II at a school as part of the GWRC education programme.

Photo courtesy of GWRC

Another photo . . .

Photo courtesy of GWRC

Feedback is that, "It is a real hit." from GWRC. It looks as though Jack II is a hit from these
photos   :)

Below is the first Jack the Kaka I made. There are more construction details here if you care to take a look.  

Monday 2 Feb, 2015, 10:00 pm - I just did an online search and have found you can purchase Fosshape in New Zealand at Trinity Treasures


  1. He or she is fantastic!! Great work! Hey, you can get fosshape from Trinity Treasures who are based in Wellington - I had some samples and it is fun isn't it!

    1. Thanks, MrsC! It was a huge challenge, especially the first one I made :) I've amended the link in my post to have Trinity Treasures' name instead of just "here"! Wonderflex is amazing too! I've had a play with it as well.


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