I've been crafting fursuits on and off for roughly fourteen years at this point. I started, with the help of my mom, when i was sixteen years old. Rather than try and save up the couple grand for a suit at the time (from one of the maybe ten makers), I decided maybe I could make my own suit? And boy did I.
As most first suits go, it was pretty derpy to say the least. But man did I wear that suit. From earlier days of MFF in Shaumberg, to Anthrocon and MFM. I was hooked!
Flashforward about four years, the suit is old and worn out, and that young fox grew up (well, kind of). I needed a new suit to accomodate my more fitting shift to kangaroo. Once again I went back to the crafting table. Though at this point with all that time between now and my last suit, my style changed dramatically. This became a trend, with years between suits.
Then, I started conceptualizing an idea. What if you took custom character kigurumi pjs, made them more form fitting, and removed the legs and changed to short sleeves? As someone who overheated easily, this sounded great! Well, as it turned out no one I could find made, or would make something like that. The other issue I was running into was, while the kigu makers at the time were and are great artists, their price tags were too steep for me. Especially if you wanted a new idea entirely. Instead of pondering for long on why no one had ever made something like that before, I decided "Why not learn to make it myself?"
As I told friends about the concept, I noticed quickly there was a pretty solid demand for the idea. And while that idea started as a way to fill my own wants, it eventually grew into something I honestly never would have expected.
With the help of a good friend who funded some of my time and expenses for my first official commission, the snap-crotch kigu-onesie was concieved. In the beginning I was definitely eating the cost on my end with my time to dollar ratio, but I was okay with that because I was learning something new and gaining a lot from the craft. It certainly helped that my now husband and I were living comfortably enough. This allowed me to keep costs down for friends and later customers. The more I made, the faster I also then got, and the better my time invested per dollar became.
I went on to make over a hundred different kigus and kigu-onesies over the next four years, and really went full swing into things. After a while though, I began to burn myself out on kigus. This once again spurred my shift back to fursuits, and once again starting back at the drawing board on how I wanted to construct my suits going forward.
I always kind of wondered why very few makers made fursuits in two parts, top and bottom. This would allow for the legs (mostly digitigrade) to be worn seperately without the torso. This would aslo do away with the back/front zipper all together. I was never a fan of zippers to begin with.
I also started to work more with magnets. Neodymium magnets can be applied to eyebrows, ears, and tonges to allow removal or multiple levels of posability for entirely differnt expressions. Using bar magnets embedded in place where the eyebrows sit would allow for them to not just be placed in specific spots, but to slide into any postion along the bars. Magnets in the ears would allow for the ears to sit in multiple positions, as well as be removed. Also, with random magnets placed around the head (secured under the fur), you can easily apply props such as sunglasses and blush lines. You can also give yourself a fancy mustache and monocle for that quick yet effective disguise.
The thing that I started to realize was that I never tend to make things easy on myself. If I get something down and working, I find myself then looking towards newer ideas and even better construction techniques. This tends to mean that I do lack an overall familiarity with my builds, and they remain without an overall standard. I know that this will change as I start to solely focus on fursuits going forward.
With all that said, this brings me to my final reflective thoughts. I enjoy, so much, having the ability to give something back to a community that means so much to a lot of us. I will do my best to keep my overall costs affordable, as I have been doing since day one. I will keep looking to further advance the way fursuits are constructed, and how people look at them going forward. Finally, even in rough times or bouts of creative fatigue, I will appreciate and enjoy my craft. That not only makes so many people smile, but allows me a level of independence and enjoyment in my field of work.