As I have said many times, I love Halloween. I think it is my favorite holiday (if you want to call it that). For 2008 I had a costume in mind that I had been thinking about for many years. Back in the late 80’s Flea, the bass player from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, had a pair of stuffed animal pants. I don’t really remember why I ever thought of this, but I always thought it would be a cool idea. The amazing thing about the internet is you can find anything..... and not only that, people will post almost anything. So I was able to find some photos, music videos with Flea and his pants, and more amazing I was able to find some random guy’s blog about how he made his own pair of stuffed animal pants (link to his site). So armed with a wealth of information I set out on my own quest to make the most amazing pants of all time.
The first task was finding a pair of pants to start the project. Lucky enough in Houston there are a lot of Salvation Army stores. I was looking for a pair of pants that would hold up to all the sewing. Amazingly I found a pair of Columbia heavy duty hiking pants that were the perfect size. Ironically, I already had a pair that I paid full price for. These ones were only $2.95. With that I set out sourcing stuffed animals. The other guy who had made a pair of stuffed animal pants exclusively used beanie babies bought off of Ebay. Apparently all those people who had banked on beanie babies funding their retirement back in the 90s were now “beanie bankrupt” due to the great beanie baby market crash, and thus you could find whole collections of beanie babies for as low as $0.75 per animal. I was able to find a few small collections that I picked up for pretty cheap. One of the many things I grossly underestimated was the shear amount of animals it would take to make a pair of stuffed animal pants. My first Ebay purchases were for a collection of 25 and another of 17. I figured this would be plenty. I eagerly awaited my first beanies to arrive in the mail. Along with the internet purchases of animals I also picked up Red Hot Chile Peppers t-shirt, some heavy duty thread, and a curved heavy duty sewing needle (which proved invaluable).
Now if you don’t know beanie babies get their name... .well because they are filled with beans. Not real beans, but little plastic pellets. A single bear isn’t heavy, but add up a whole pants worth and it is some serious weight. So I had to gut each bear and replace the insides with normal animal stuffing (If anyone wants about 15 lbs of beanie baby guts let me know, I think there may be a black market for it in Asia as a fertility aid).
The first few animals went on the pants with surgeon like precession. Each stitch was strategically placed and each knot double checked. About 10 animals in I realized it would take much more then the 42 animals I had purchases. In fact, 10 animals only covered one pocket. With Halloween only 3 weeks away, I needed a new source of stuffed animals. Something local with no delivery time. Again, luck was with me and I was able to score a mother load of animals at a “99 Cent” store that was across the street from my flat. I also revisited the Salvation Army store and found some more animals. So another 20 animals purchased at the 99 Cent store and another 20 at the Salvation Army and I was up and running again. The good thing about the 99 Cent store animals were they cheaply made, making them very easy to sew to the pants. The beanie babies on the other hand were very high quality and thus had very tough thick skin. By this time in the project I was a pro at sewing and could average about 15 animals in one sitting. Now with 82 animals attached I had covered the top of the pants back and front and a little way down one leg. I tapped my 99 Cent source again for 40 more animals, but with that I had completely bought them out of stuffed animals, and managed to raise a few weird looks from the staff.
122 animals in and I was in the home stretch, but I had run dry on animals. I felt like a drug addict constantly thinking about where I could score my next hit. I tried Target, but at over $10 per animal it was a no go. I tried Walmart and was able to find a few Christmas bears on sale for about $1.50 each, but I was worried that with too many Christmas critters, I might develop a “theme” in one section of the pants. With only 1 week until Halloween I was getting desperate. In fact I was so desperate I finally ventured into a really bad part of town to check out “Dollar General” and “Family Value.” It was a scary place. Needless to say, they did have animals and I got out of there as quickly as I came in.
All in all it took about 155 stuffed animals to cover the pants. They weigh in at about 25 lbs, but are suprisingly very comfortable and walking around is pretty easy.
On Halloween my friends and I went out to eat dinner before we hit the parties. It was pretty fun to walk into a crowded restaurant wearing the pants. A lot of stares and comments. We ended up hitting a big party at the Houston Natural Science Museum. It was a great event. I was actually really surprised how much attention the pants got. Also was surprised that not that many people knew who I was supposed to be. I even was wearing the Red Hot Chili Peppers T-shirt. One guy thought I was a carnival skill game and another guy thought I was a pedophile! The funniest point was when a girl came up and said “Oh my God, my dad called me about you!” Her parents had been eating at the restaurant we went too and he had called her to tell her about the pants. I even managed to win the costume contest. So I can subtract the $50 I won from the cost it took to make the pants (I am still way in the hole).
I also got my picture posted on USA Today! It was only on the blog section, but still I thought it was pretty cool.
All in all the project was a lot of work and I severely underestimated the amount of time and money it would take. Now I just need a reason to wear them again. I may have to wear them for the next 25 Halloweens to get my moneys worth.