The first thing you have to know about me is that I’m a bit of a dork for Halloween. The second is that I always bite off more than I can chew. So when my six year old son, Little Dude, told me he wanted to be Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy for Halloween this year, I jumped at the chance.
“I can totally do that,” I reassured my worried looking husband. “I’ll just pop over to some cosplay tutorial sites and get some ideas. It can’t be that hard, right?”
Well, it turns out it actually was. It was time consuming and could have gotten pricey if I didn’t use a ton of craft store coupons and shop for a “base costume” at Goodwill, but in the end I think I paid about $35.00 to make this costume. (I already had the mini-glue gun and a package of glue sticks.) Not much more than I’d spend to buy a costume normally. My older son’s Captain America costume was $29.99, and the plastic mask was so bad, I had to glue foam to the inside so he could wear it without pain!
The first thing I did was research. And thought about it for a while. These cosplay dudes were using clay and all sorts of things that would weigh my tiny six year old down like Al Capone’s fancy, cement boots. Then, I realized that I could probably use brown foam sheets from the craft store to create the same “bark” that these cosplayers created out of clay or piping.
I also picked up a plain, white plastic mask, the kind with the mouth and eyes cut out. After pulling up a few pictures of Groot online, I carefully cut out the outline of his head on the brown foam and cut the eye and used my trusty mini hot glue gun ($10) to secure the foam to the plastic mask. Next, I used some brown markers and crayons to simulate bark patterns on Groot’s face and used the glue gun to stick some bits of moss around all the edges. The moss can also be found at your local craft store or even Walmart. It’s pretty cheap, and it’s dried and clean. I also had to use a hole puncher to make holes for the elastic ties, on each side of the mask, just above the ear areas.
Leaving the mask to dry, well away from the kids and dog, because HOLY CROW, I’M NOT MAKING THIS COSTUME TWICE, I started cutting up bark pieces. Earlier in the week, I’d dropped by my local thrift store and picked up a long sleeved brown shirt and brown pants. They were to become the “base costume.” I would love to lie and say I sewed Little Dude a costume from scratch, but A) I work, B) I don’t plan well ahead, and C) I am not Martha Freaking Stewart.
I textured the pieces of foam using pinking shears. For those of you not in the know, pinking shears are those funky scissors that have jagged edges. I dragged the shears across the foam, allowing them to catch in places, tear the foam a little, and make the edges more jagged.
Then, I used the glue gun to layer them onto the pants and shirt. Because foam isn’t as pliable as cotton, the costume does sort of have a “lightweight armor” thing going for it as soon as you finish. And that’s why I only did the front of the outfit, not the entire thing. It had nothing to do with the fact that I was so high from hot glue fumes that I wanted to prank call the neighbors, post a bunch of weird GIFs to Twitter, fall asleep on the couch, and drool everywhere. But you might want to keep a fan on or a window open, just in case.
I will admit this didn’t happen all in one night. (Well, the glue fumes incident was only once.) I worked on this costume for over a week and right up until the morning of Halloween. But, that’s because I seriously suck at planning these things around my actual life. If you plan right, you could do it in two days. With the right imagination and a hot glue gun, nothing’s as hard as it seems!
Items you will need:
- Hot glue gun
- Many glue sticks (MANY. LIKE ALL THE GLUE STICKS.)
- Brown foam craft sheets
- Pinking shears
- Dried moss
- Brown markers and crayons
- Elastic string (I recommend the wider, flat kind; it’s more comfortable for the kid, plus it secures better.)
Go for it!