Animal Tail Tutorial

March 24th, 2011 by Dionna | 21 Comments
Posted in Adults, Carnival and Special Series, Children, Eclectic Learning, Families, Create!, Preschoolers, Teens, Toddlers

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2011-03-22 04

Kieran is getting to the age where dress-up play is really fun. He has a couple of costumes (Superman and Buzz Lightyear) that he got courtesy of Halloween clearance, several superhero capes, and an assortment of other dress-up gear. The other day when we were at the zoo, he saw several kids walking around with homemade construction paper animal tails. He was fascinated, so we decided to try to make tails that will be more durable. I loved that we did this project together – so did Kieran!

Below are instructions for you to make your own easy animal tails. You’ll need:

  • fabric (we used 16×4 inches of brown flannel for the tail, and two pieces of 3ish by 4ish inches of brown flannel for the tail “anchor”) and something to cut it with;
  • thread and needle (and a sewing machine to make it super easy);
  • pipe cleaners;
  • stuffing (we used poly-fill); and
  • elastic (or something to attach the tail to your child’s waist – I suppose yarn would work).

Instructions to Make Your Own Animal Tail

(Click on pictures to see them bigger)

    Tail Tutorial 1

  1. Cut Fabric: Decide on what kind of tail you want and cut out the fabric. We chose monkey, mainly because it looked easy. I used brown flannel, and I cut a piece out that was 16 x 4 inches. I folded the two halves together (inside out) and rounded off one end for the tip of the tail.
    I want to try a lion tail next – I have some tan colored felt, and I think I could sew some yellow yarn scraps at the bottom to make a fluff of fur. Other tails that might be easy: elephant, cat/dog, anything if you have a fabric print (zebra, cheetah, etc.).
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  3. Stitch a Seam: Using a sewing machine, make a straight stitch from the top to the bottom, about a quarter inch from the edge.
  4. Tail Tutorial 2

  5. Attach Pipe Cleaner: Hand stitch a pipe cleaner to the tail. We stitched it to the fabric that would not show once we turned it inside out (in that quarter inch on the other side of the seam – there’s got to be a technical word for that!). The next time we do this, I’m going to figure out how to stitch TWO pipe cleaners – one just doesn’t do the trick of making the monkey’s tail curl, but it does make it a little bendy.
  6. Tail Tutorial 3

  7. Turn Inside Out and Stuff: Carefully turn tail inside out. Stuff with poly-fill. I used a knitting needle to get the poly-fill to the tip of the tail.
  8. Tail Tutorial 4

  9. Make Tail “Anchor”: For our tail anchor (since this isn’t part of a bigger costume), I took two pieces of the same flannel and made a two ply cloth wipe. Basically, you sew around the outside of the two pieces, leaving a gap on one side big enough to stuff the end of your tail in. Turn the two pieces inside out, neatly tuck the unfinished end of the tail in the gap (seam side down), then top stitch around.
  10. Add Elastic: I decided on an elastic waistband, but I could also see somehow attaching yarn instead (that way, the child won’t have to step in and out of the tail). I simply hand stitched the elastic to the inside part of my tail anchor.

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Voila! Your child is now a monkey. Or a lion. Or whatever animal they so desire.


March’s Families, Create! challenge was filled with awesome animal-themed posts. From Mo Willems to monkey finger puppets, our writers and crafters kept busy getting creative with the little animals in their lives.

Visit Code Name: Mama and Living Peacefully with Children to find out how you can participate in the next Families, Create! Carnival. Our April theme is “Fantasy” – childhood is a fascinating time, filled with magic around every corner. What can your family imagine and create?

Please take time to read the March submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Lizz at Am I a Funny Girl turns a family outing at the zoo into a picture book to keep.
  • Maman A Droit shares her easy pattern for a felt monkey finger puppet with you!
  • Aunalise at My Sweet Potatoes offers helpful ways for a child to remember calming techniques with a “Calming your Beast” basket.
  • Most of us have monkeys running around our house at times. Or lions. Or elephants. Make your child’s creative animal play even better with stuffed animal tails! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares an easy tutorial.
  • Galit Breen at These Little Waves shares an easy way to get creative with Mo Willems’ “We Are In A Book.”
  • Maman A Droit shares her pattern for a felt bunny finger puppet-a perfect Easter basket filler!
  • Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares a look at butterflies through metaphor, books and a coffee filter craft.
  • Amy at Anktangle shares photographs of crocheting a lovable stuffed turtle for her son to play with.
  • Aunalise at My Sweet Potatoes knows a few ways to bring beneficial birds to the garden.
  • Lauren at Hobo Mama has a fun and easy game to make to stimulate your preschooler’s memory.
  • Aunalise at My Sweet Potatoes is making nature bags or field bags for nature journals and the other things we may need as we explore our planet.

21 Responses to:
"Animal Tail Tutorial"

  1. LIZ

    This is darling! I think my son will need one very soon!!!!!

    (ps – I’m farily new to your blog, but love it!)

  2. Love this idea! So creative and your child will enjoy the experience of making it too!

  3. What a cute idea! I think you might be able to pull off more curl in the tail if you cut it into the original shape, too. Or you could get corset boning, but I’m not that familiar with it. As another option for the waist band, perhaps fabric with a velcro closure? I’m not sure how well that would stay on a LO with not much of a waist, but it would allow for easy on/off and room to grow.

    SOOO cute! Thanks for sharing!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I thought about fabric with a velcro closure, but I was worried that he’d either grow out of it, or he’d have a friend who wouldn’t be able to fit. I figured with the elastic it would be more versatile. I’ve never used corset boning, but I bet you’re right!

  4. teresa   momgrooves

    Oh Yeah!!!
    All I managed on my own was a felt Eeyore tail that tucked in. This will be great!!!
    I have to get that sewing machine out…
    thanks for the instructions and I love that last shot of Kieran in the mirror.

  5. Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama   ithoughtiknewma

    What a sweet idea! I may have to make this for Jac before he’s even old enough to help. ;-)

  6. Maman A Droit   MamanADroit

    Sooo adorable. Totally bookmarking this for later. :)

  7. Ruth Ann

    What a clever idea…and what a crafty pair you are!!! Would you like for me to be on the lookout for material in animal prints? (And by the way…the 1/4 inch thingy at the seam is called the Seam Allowance!) I can’t wait to see Kieran put his tails to use!!!

  8. That is sooo cute! I am going to have to save this idea for the summer when I will (hopefully) have a little more time.

  9. Lizz   libismorgan

    This is such a great idea! Add a cape and you’re super fill in the blank man! So fun! Adding it to the list for when my sewing machine comes out of storage! LOL

  10. Neat, my kids would love this! You could take your same brown flannel, make two tabs with velcro and sew them to the ends of your “elastic belt”. That way he doesn’t have to step in and out but it still has the stretch you want to it will grow with him and/or fit different kids.

  11. He looks so thrilled. I love the combination of batman and a tail – so Kieran! :)

  12. Galit Breen   galitbreen

    Dionna, How fun is this?! Thanks for the tutorial, explanation and especially the photos! So very cute!

  13. This was a great tutorial! I really love the picture of Kieran looking at you though the mirror, too cute!!!

  14. rhiannonaisling

    Awesome. I needed this information. I however would sew the tail to a metallic swivel hook so it can be attached at to a belt loop or the top of the pants and make the base for outfits that don’t have belt loops (or for girls dresses). Which you can probably find in a craft store in the jewelry or kids craft sections with the lanyard making supplies.

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