This year for Halloween I wanted to make the new Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles. I love the art style and thought it would be a TMNT version that would look good as a costume and while moving (it’s important to be able to dance).
I created Raph first (that’s me) and used his patterns to create the other three. Each turtle is a bit different but the idea remains the same for all. They turned out great. The nice thing is I can have different size people in the same costumes and the suits adjust really well.
I am going to post all the patterns i created in order to try and save everybody time.
I don’t know how much of each exactly. I made four, I lost track.
- Basic crafting tools (xacto, hot glue, etc)
- Sewing Machine
- Exercise puzzle matt foam
- Thinner exercise foam roll
- Upholstery foam
- Lots of green spandex
- Tan spandex
- Brown spandex
- Vet tape. (ankle wrap)
- Brown leather
- Billboard sunglasses (the kind with the holes drilled in them)
- Green compression shirt and pants (I used east bay)
- Fiberglass resin
- Assorted spray paint
- Corrugated plastic sign
- Yard stick
- Duct tape
- PVC pipe
- Pipe insulation
- PVC Pipe
- Pipe insulation
- Athletic tape
- Toy sword
- Craft foam
- Duct tape
I Started out by covering a plastic turtle head in tape. cutting out the contours and expanding the pattern. I also found a papercraft Leo to use as reference.
These patterns are rough ideas. Each turtle has a different shaped face so a bit of experimenting will go a long way. I photographed each piece on my grid cutting mat so it will be easier to duplicate.
- trace and cut each piece of the pattern. I am an adult male. The pattern fit my head. If you cut it out as is you should get the shape of Mikey’s face.
- Glue all the pieces together (except the crown). They stack one piece of top of the other. The contours of the mask should give you the shape of the beak and cheeks. I would start by gluing the back together and working my way forward. I found that this gave me more control of the shape.
- Use a heat gun (or hair dryer) to heat the crown until soft. Put the crown in a glass mixing bowl (as seen in picture). Let it cool. It will maintain the shape of the bowl. Cut the crown down to the size and glue it to the top of the mask
- Cut eye holes and glue the billboard sunglass lenses over the eye holes. The eyes are for venting and not so much for seeing out of. Draw you favorite turtle expression for the mouth and cut the mouth hole. Start small, you can always make it bigger.
- Use the same mask pattern to cut a thin piece of upholstery foam to be used as the mask and a piece of spandex the color of the desired turtle (blue). Wrap the foam in spandex (leave enough to hang down. Lightly stretch the spandex and glue on the back side of the mask. Try and make it smooth but don’t kill yourself making it perfect. The wrinkles add character.
- Cut a green piece of spandex the size of the crown. Stretch and hot glue it to the makes. Make sure your wrinkles and glue marks will be hidden by the blue mask.
- Roughly cut the amount of spandex needed to cover the beak mouth and throat. Sew the piece up the back. Remember. The tighter you sew it the less wrinkles you will have to deal with. Leave enough excess spandex on in order to fold and glue the spandex inside the mask. Cut one line the length of the mouth. Carefully glue the spandex to the inside of the mouth.
- Cut a piece of white craft foam slightly larger that the length of the mouth. Glue it along the top of the mouth for teeth (remember donny is missing a tooth). Showing less teeth is better than to much. They start to look like bad dentures.
- If you are making four turtles. Try giving them each a different expression by changing eye shape and mouth.
Donny is nervous. Leo is confident. Mikey is happy. Raph is angry.
- Trace and cut leg pattern. Make sure to flip it over for the opposite leg.
- Use heat gun to form the shin into a cone shape. Glue the edge of the shin together.
- Cut the ankle to the length of shin desired. It should fit so the longest part hits your knee and ends at the joint of your ankle.
- Glue the top of foot to the front of the shin. Leave the back open (it allows you to walk and will be covered in spandex).
- Glue the bottom of foot and toe space together. (I have a size twelve and I had plenty of room).
- Bend the top of foot down and glue it to the toe space. There is a lot of tension in this area. After I glued the boot i duct taped the seams to reinforce the it.
- Cut one big cone shape of fabric that will cover the whole boot. With enough excess to wrap underneath. No need to glue the fabric down. Just make sure it is snug.
The front shell is a bit tricky but is one of the most open to interpretation parts.
I bought a roll of foam matting. The roll is thinner than the puzzle mat. I got if from a K-mart. But it is pretty common.
- Use pattern to trace and cut out two identically shell shapes. Make adjustments to the size based on your size. This is the least forgiving part of the costume as far as sizing goes. To big and you look like a goon and to small you look like a wimpy turtle.
- Cut one of the patterns into pieces to create the front contours in the shell. horizontal lines should be at about nipple height and belly button height.
- Hot glue the cut up shell to the whole shell. Leave about 1/4 inch in between the lines.
- Heat the shell with a heat gun and bend in the edges. You want it to hug your torso. It will cover all of you straps and buckles underneath. Don’t worry if the front pieces heat up and start to pop off. you can glue them back on later.
- Scar the shell. Cut the top layer however you see fit. This gives the shell all of its personality. Have fun. Think about how each turtle would take care of their shell.
- Spray the shell down with a healthy amount of extra strength spay mount. Allow it to get tacky. Too soon and you will be in trouble.
- Lay the tan spandex over the shell and start to work the spandex into the grooves. This can be frustrating but it does not have to be perfect. Once you have all the scars and contours glued down, wrap the excess spandex around the back of the shell and glue.
- I added on more strip of foam down the back for extra support.
In the pictures I tried giving you a reference of size. Please use my patterns but make sure they fit you.
- Trace shell pattern on to cardboard.
- Cut the cardboard out and bend each piece in. Try and bend it just enough that it does not wrinkle. Remember it is the accumulation of all the pieces that give you the dome shape.
- Glue 1-3 together. You should end up with about a six inch arch.
- Starting from the top glue the Left and Right Pieces on. They pieces will want to overlap each other. That’s fine. it will make the shell stronger and allow it to maintain the dome shape. Also it will give it the ridges you are looking for.
- Trace the shell on a piece of cardboard and cut a ring about two inches bigger that the whole shell.
- Glue the ring to the pieced together shell. Bend the edge of the ring inward to give it depth.
- Optional but recommended: put a coat of fiberglass resin on the shells. This hardens the shell and makes it waterproof.
- Use expanding foam on the inside of the shell. It will hold its shape better when stress is put on the shell.
- Use 1/2 inch foam. Trace and cut pattern.
- Spray mount the foam to brown spandex fabric. (make sure you are making a left and a right).
- Have someone hold your back shell on while you adjust your sides to see where they need to be glued in.
- .Glue your sides to the inside of the shell. Start by gluing just a little. If you make a mistake you can rip it out and start over.
- Glue your main support strap into the shell. Any strap will work. I used green. It gave the turtles another layer of color. It should hit you right above your belly.
- Wear the shell for an hour or so. Make sure it will ride on your hips and chest properly.
Alrighty, you made it. Time to have fun!
I tinted every turtle different.
- Raph – dark green
- Donny – blue green
- Leo – classic green
- Mikey – yellow green
Knee and Elbow Pads:
The knee and elbow pads are crucial, they hide all your seams and allow different sized people to wear the same costume.
- Cut knee and elbow pad templates from thin foam.
- Glue strips of foam to the squares. It created the ridges.
- Sew strips of spandex together to create knee pad shapes.
- Glue the foam to the inside of the knee pads.
Cut long strips of leather. Secure it all to the shell and front shell using Velcro. Donny and Leo have sashes that go across the chest.
Tape the ankles of the turtles. I used self adhesive stretchy brown athletic tape. It was really easy and looked great.
Tape the wrists. Cover the seams. Cover any sin that may not be perfect.
Make them all different. Tape their hands based on they personality. It’s fun!
I know I am not being very descriptive but just have fun. They are yours. Make them however you want to.
Velcro everything together. Velcro the compression gear to the sides, the sides to themselves, the side to the front shell, the belts to the shells.
Everything has to be tight. Everything will slide down. The more Velcro the better.
The arms are pretty straight forward.
- Trace and cut arm and hand pattern. Make sure to flip it over for the opposite hand.
- Use heat gun to form the arm into a cone shape. Glue the edge of the arm together.
- Cut the wrist to the length of the arm desired. It should fit so the longest part hits your elbow and ends at the joint of your wrist.
- Glue the hand together. I tried to shape the hands to be in a neutral position. Be careful to glue the hand on so that your arm can be in the elbow slot and thumbs are in the hands.
- Use the same arm and hand pattern to cut the spandex. Remember, the tighter the spandex is around the arm the better it will looks. there is no need to glue the spandex at the elbow. It will be covered by the elbow pad and will give you some flexibility in size.