She Had to Be a Baboon

While we were visiting family and friends earlier this month, we went to the zoo that will always feel like home, Riverbanks. The best part of going there as a child was that they had polar bears that swam in a pool, and steps that took you underneath so that you could press your nose to the thick glass and pretend to be one of them. The polar bears aren’t part of the experience anymore, but plenty of other fun things remain– the monkeys that swing around their islands, the flamingos that huddle together, the bird house where it thunders and rains, kangaroos that you can walk freely around with. If you’re traveling through with kids, it’s definitely worth a stop.

At the zoo, K was particularly impressed with the baboons. She looked at their red bottoms and decided that they must work like some sort of giant red-inked stamp– they’d leave red butt prints anywhere and everywhere. Despite the fact that we’d already thrifted a perfectly cool pteradactyl costume a few days before and I’d already purchased pleathery fabric to attempt to fashion pteradactyl feet… she’d found a new love. She had to be a baboon. Specifically, a “baboon with a red butt, Mom.”

I took some creative license with every bit of this, of course. There are a lot of source images out there. Some that are slightly disturbing. And fun reading. There’s research and then there’s just knowing too much about baboons.

She. is. delighted. Easiest photo shoot ever. I didn’t have to bribe her to put it on or pretend to be a baboon. Friend Kyra says, however, that I need to make a video to prove later on that she asked to be a baboon and that this was not parental mistreatment.
She looks harmless, right?
Don’t let that fool you. She’s intense and she can gallop on all fours.

She’s got her baboon faces and moves all worked out.

This face is pretty fierce.

And the requisite red booty, which didn’t feel awkward to make or photograph at all.

But how could I say no to that face? That’s the best sewing I do. Not necessarily anything that’s all that blog-popular. But the stuff that keeps me creating. And laughing. And wondering what’s next.


Some notes on construction, since there’s most definitely not going to be a tutorial:
  • I used an existing raglan-sleeved hoodie of K’s to copy the shape and use as a base.
  • The tail is made from a piece of boning that I cut and switched the pieces around, overlapped and re-sewed to make an “S” shape so that the tail would go up, down and then curl back up again. K was insistent that her tail could not touch the ground.
  • Fur is so very forgiving. I used white thread for all of this. You’d have to look for at least five minutes to find a thread. It just melts right in. Despite the piles of fuzz all over my house from cutting the stuff (way worse than minky) I’d use it again because it’s so easy to sew and not worry about the stitches being obvious.
  • Speaking of the fur, the hairy-er looking fur is from a chain fabric store. It’s super itchy. But it’s use is limited. The base fabric for the costume came from a super soft and comfy blanket. I actually went shopping for a sweatsuit kind of thing to use as a base for the costume. I didn’t get that lucky. But when I found the blanket, I thought it’d make a costume that she’d like and not go crazy after 5 minutes to wrangle out of.

  • Her baboon booty (previewed here) is acrylic paint on felt that I stuffed and reverse appliqued into the back of the hoodie. I added a gloss finish. ‘Cause a baboon booty should be super red and shiny.

And that’s K’s costume. All ready for the parade at school. She’s been warned that she can’t pull it apart, spill anything on it or otherwise damage it– I’m not sure whether I’ll be feeling up to fixing it for a while. The wisdom teeth come out in the AM.



  1. says

    You are the best!!! Best. costume. this. year. Showed Alexa… she smiled with the look of fear on her face. “I can still be a princess, right? Because, I don’t really want to be a monkey. K can be a monkey if she wants, but I think I like the purple dress from Grandma. ” Sigh! I envy K’s out-of-the-box creativity on this. Good luck tomorrow!

  2. says

    You win mom of the year in costume design. I am impressed both with your daughter’s desire, and your willingness to come up with an amazing costume.

  3. says

    That is super cute. And I LOVE Riverbanks Zoo. I grew up about an hour away from Columbia, SC and to this day, that is still my favorite place. I compare all other zoos I visit to Riverbanks. Now I really want to get back there and go to the zoo for their Christmas lights. Thank you for bringing back great memories.

  4. says

    That’s our favorite zoo, too. Even though we have moved to Florida, we always go when we visit our family there. It’s definitely worth the trip!

  5. says

    Awesome costume! I hope my daughter (now 3) asks to be something that fun one year. I am working on her witch costume (nice and easy!), and I’m happy I didn’t have to make a princess outfit! I’d much rather sew a baboon or other animal!

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