Published September 21, 2007 by
To make a Santa Claus costume is quite easy, inexpensive and creates endless fun. Moreover, if it is well made it will last for years and may be used at various Christmas festivities. You will need five yards of bright, sport red flannel, which costs 40 to 70 cents a yard, depending on the quality of the goods, half a dozen large white buttons, two spools of scarlet thread, and a small bottle of LePages glue. The fur trimmings and whiskers may be had for the making.
Let us first make the fur trimmings. On our farms are wild rabbits which are now turning white. The men folk must supply us with seven good skins which have been carefully removed and stretched over wooden frames to dry. When dry, they may be tanned, or, if clean and free from fat and meat, may be used as they are, for the costume is used only once a year and little actual wear takes place. Trim off the ragged edges (the tail and legs) and with a sharp knife carefully cut the skin into a long strip 2112 to 3 ins. wide. This is done by starting at the bottom and working round and round in a spiral to the top. Six good skins will trim the garments, and one good skin makes the collar.
Our old grey mare contributed the whiskers from her nice white mane. Everybody helps to make Christmas a success, and one must sometimes call in the aid of our animals as well. My faithful collie gave the mustache from his beautiful white collar. Doll's hair is merely stuck on with glue. We will do the same with the whiskers. As Dad might object to our sticking the whiskers on his face, we must make a mask on which to glue them. His chin and cheeks are covered with a piece of brown paper, over which is drawn a piece of cloth on the bias and fastened on top of the head. Loose parts of cloth should be drawn together with a needle and thread, making a snug fit all around. Now, take a soft lead pencil and mark out the area to be covered with the whiskers. This should extend from in front of the ears down around the chin, but need not extend much around the throat. The mask is now removed and placed around something as nearly the shape of the face as possible. We used a rather bottomed jug on which the mould was placed. The hair from the mare's mane is carefully removed with a pair of shears, the butts of the hair being kept together in as compact form as possible. Take a liberal supply of glue and smear the point of the chin well, and then a tuft of the longest hair is carefully placed in position, the butts of the hair being well imbedded in the glue just as though growing there. If properly supported several tufts may now be placed in position and allowed to dry undisturbed. Continue to build it up step by step, a little now and then during the evenings, placing the longest tufts at the bottom, gradually working upwards until the ears are reached where the shortest tufts are placed.
Finish with a little of the finer dog's hair. Rough edges are carefully trimmed off where the cloth shows. Holes are cut for the ears. A piece of garter elastic is sewn on the top to securely hold it in place.
The mustache must now be made in the same way. A piece of cloth, the width of the upper lip and long enough to reach to the ear lobes is stitched onto a piece of garter elastic and placed in position over and behind the head, where it is securely held in place. When ready, this mustache is put on first, and then the beard covers up the supports.
The coat is very simple. It is not going to be worn every day, and the looser it is, the better. A man's dressing gown, or a pattern of one, may be used as a guide. More than one man may use it so cut the goods plenty large enough.
Any odd pieces may be stitched together to form a cap or toque. A piece 24x26 inches will do nicely. Stitch the fur along one edge and turn up; then run up the seam, leaving the top open. Gather up the top about three inches from the end and securely fasten. Now cut the remaining three inches into strips to form a tassel. Put the cap on and suitably arrange and stitch the tassel to one side. Pull-over stockings may be made from other odds and ends if it is desired to hide the legs.