(Latest letter, November 22, 2014)
Hello Papa Bear,
Me and my girlfriend are really wanting to get into fursuiting but we're really not sure here to get good fursuits. We know what we would like, but we have no idea where to get them, or how to make them ourselves.
Please help a Fox and a Wolf!
Kaz and Mjay
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Dear Kaz and Mjay,
Thanks for your question. This is a two-part answer: first, how to get fursuits made by others; and second, how to make them yourself.
Commissioning a Fursuit
This I know, having gone through the process myself. Like you, I knew what I wanted in a fursuit (a bearsuit inspired by—but not imitating—the ones in Disney’s “The Country Bears”), so I went online and looked at pictures of fursuits on FurAffinity. After a while, I zeroed in on a designer I really liked: Beastcub. Then I visited her website, which was excellent and contained information on how to commission a design. You can also visit a really cool site called the Fursuit Database (http://db.fursuit.me/). This thing is HUGE and searchable. Find a suit you like and it will list the designer and whether he/she is taking commissions.
Once you have found a designer and agreed on a price, there are a couple things you need to do before the designer can begin:
Send all of this stuff to your fursuit designer and wait. Be patient, these things take time. Ask the fursuit maker to tell you when they actually begin construction and an estimated completion time, but don’t harass the maker repeatedly for updates unless you really want to be annoying.
Once the fursuit is done, received, and paid for, you’re still usually not completely set. Often, you will need to make some minor adjustments here and there on the suit until you are completely satisfied with it. Before you have a contract with a fursuit maker, ask him or her whether and how many adjustments you can make after the final product is delivered.
It’s a good idea to get in writing from the fursuit maker what he or she promises to do, when they plan to do it, and for how much. In other words, get a signed agreement so that, if things don’t go your way (such as the fursuit is never delivered) you have legal recourse to get your money back.
This brings up another good point: look for and contact other furries who have had fursuits made by your designer of choice. Ask them if they were happy with the work and whether or not the designer was easy to work with. When I chose Beastcub, I knew she was a reliable designer. I also knew that I would need to wait quite some time before she was available to make the fursuit, so I was prepared for a long wait. But it was worth it!
Making Your Own Fursuit
It should go without saying—but I’ll say it anyway LOL—that if you are going to make a fursuit yourself you had better be a very good sewer. You should also know how to do other crafty things not normally seen in sewing clothes, such as how to make a fursuit head and paws.
There are a lot of websites out there with information you can read and view, but one that I like is on Matrices.net at http://www.matrices.net/fursuiting.asp. This excellent site has a ton of information and videos on making your own fursuit. Kudos to Sara Howard for making this available to aspiring artists.
Once you have your fursuit, now you need to know about performing in them and maintaining them. Fortunately! I have already written a column on that very topic here: http://www.askpapabear.com/letters/fursuiting-tips.
Hope that helps, Kaz and Mjay! Happy Fursuiting!
Illustrations on "Ask Papabear" are by Dan the Bear. Check out this talented illustrator on FurAffinity or send him an email.