Canine Cosplay: K-9

I love my dog, Maya. I have grown to love costuming as well. Maya comes with me anywhere I’m allowed to bring her, she’s my constant companion, and well-known by our local Krewe du Who members. So I wanted to give her a Doctor Who costume of her own, for when she comes to Krewe events. What costume to make? There was only ONE option, really, and it’s an AWESOME one. K-9, the “tin dog”, beloved robotic companion of The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith.

Part 1: The Character

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Part 2: Sources of Info & Inspiration

It turns out I’m not the only nutter who likes to dress up my dog in sci-fi costumes. Go figure. I found some super cute pictures on the Interwebs, and got some good ideas about what I wanted to do and what I thought would work best for my pup and where/when I wanted her to wear it, and how to make her comfortable. She’s nine years old now, and we live in a hot climate, so comfort was top of my list for considerations for this costume. I didn’t want rough edges or anything too warm, and I wanted to sue fabric so she could lay down and it would move with her, and it would be machine washable as well.

Check out this little guy on deviantart. A Google image search yielded more results, but unfortunately I don’t have links for these. If these are your pups or you have links I can add, please let me know, I’d love to give credit!

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Part 3: Piecing it Together Attachment-1

  • ONE main piece that’s washable, comfortable, etc.
  • The top “control panel” piece w/buttons
  • Collar & Tag
  • Radar-Looking “Ears”
  • Tail?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sewing novice. I’m SLOWLY getting better, but for this job, making something from scratch, I enlisted the help of my super-talented Mom.

MAIN BODY

I wanted a fabric that was washable and comfortable, a little heavy so it wouldn’t flutter around, and close to one of the SA colors we see K-9 in. I was going for a greyish blue, but was having lots of trouble. I ended up choosing a slate/dusty-blue canvas material, that I found on Fabric.com, for $9.98/yard (at the time, it’s about $1 cheaper per yard right now). I ordered a swatch first to check the feel and color, then ordered 3 yards, since I had NO idea how much I would need, but I ended using about half of that. I also grabbed some velcro that was on sale, to use for the straps and the control panel, so that plus the 3 yards and shipping came to $39.92. My Mom helped me come up with the pattern, and she did the bulk of the sewing on the main piece of the costume itself.

The top panel of the costume was made as a sleeve, so we could slide in a hard piece of thick cardboard or (since we happened to have some in our garage) Omega Bond, to make the top piece stay flat even when it was draped over the pup’s back. We installed two straps to help it stay on Maya’s body when she moves – one that’s attached underneath, from either size of the top section, and attaches with velcro under her belly. The second runs across the front of her chest, holding the side panels together in a way, and attaches with a snap.

K-9 “Decals”

This was pretty easy. I found a nice template for the “logo” on this forum, printed it on paper and cut it out to make stencils. I found a small piece of grey faux leather/vinyl at Hancock Fabric for less than $5 for a yard, and cut out the pieces, then just used fabric glue to attach them to either side of the main body of the costume.

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TOP CONTROL PANEL

The “control panel” was a bit tricky, because I didn’t want to make it out of metal and I wanted it to be removable from the main body of the costume. I actually used a small wrapped canvas from Michael’s (a 5×7 I believe, which cost $5.44 with tax), detached the canvas from the frame on one end and slid in a wedge-shaped piece of styrofoam to “lift” the portion where the screens are and give it that angle. The I wrapped the whole thing in the same gray vinyl I used for the K-9 lettering, and glued and stapled it all together underneath.

I then found a small bag of these translucent square glass pieces ($2.17 at Michael’s), in blues and greens, and used some paint to make some of the clear ones red and yellow, and glued those to the panel (following the same pattern of colors from the photos I had of K-9. For the “screen”, I simply used a scrap piece of plastic packaging (in this case, from a package of bakery items), cut it into 2 rectangles and used a paint pen to color the underside to make it look red. Then these also got glued to the panel. I attached the control panel with the velcro bits, being sure to put the soft parts on the costume and the rough parts on the control panel. Viola!

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COLLAR & TAGS

Every dog needs a collar. I used these images of a fan-made K-9 for reference, but decided that the “Tom Baker Scarf” pattern was what I wanted to use for the collar pattern instead of the tartan.  I ordered a swatch of this lovely fabric from Spoonflower, to see if it would work, and realized that the swatch itself was enough fabric to make the collar sleeve, which meant my fabric cost was only $5.00. I bought a simple dog collar from the dollar store ($1.09), and my awesome Mom came to my aid once again, making a cute sleeve to go around the existing dog collar, fitting around the buckle and everything. Yay Mom!

For the tag, I wanted to make sure Maya’s was functional, for safety reasons. I found this awesome custom Gallifreyan dog tag by IvyMoonCustoms on Etsy, and got one for my pup. It reads “Maya” in Gallifreyan on the front, and the back functions as a regular dog tag, with her name and my phone number in English, along with the letters “K-9” underneath. It was a little pricey, at $30.90 including shipping, and I had to order WAY in advance of when I wanted it, because as a custom item it took time to get made, but I love it! It’s SO cute and perfect for my dog.

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“EARS” HEADBAND

The last part I wanted to make sure we had was a set of “ears”. I figured the best way to get Maya to wear them was to make a comfy headband for her. My friend SomeMetryGuy, who also makes other cool DW-inspired items, made these plastic ears for me, with little metal bits on the bottom that made them easy to attach to the headband. For the headband itself, I used a small piece of the same fabric the body was built from, and found in my random craft stash a perfectly-size piece of loose elastic, actually taken from the strap of a yoga mat, and made a sleeve around the elastic, attaching the “ears” by cutting small slits in the fabric and hand-sewing them in.

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Note: All costs include shipping. Total Cost for this Costume = $89.52 (approximate, including a BUNCH of fabric I didn’t use – if I had ordered the “right” amount of fabric, total cost would have been closer to $75)

Part 4: The Final Look

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Part 5: Epilogue

I have the most tolerant, sweet dog EVER. I am going to make a few modifications now that she’s worn it and I can see how it “works” for her. I’m going to shorten the length by about 2 inches so it doesn’t graze the ground. When she’s standing, it’s fine, but when she walks, the front catches on the ground a bit. I also need to shore up the strap across the front, which kept coming loose, so I need a stronger snap or a different way to attach it. I’m also considering adding a “tail” but don’t think Maya would appreciate something strapped to her ACTUAL tail, so it might need to come off the top of the back of the costume, but I haven’t figured out yet how to make that work. She wasn’t thrilled with the headband, and kept her ears back a little, but it wasn’t too tight so she wasn’t trying to take it off. All-in-all, it’s super cute and Maya is a great sport. Success!

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