Making a Russell Costume



There are a lot of great Russell costume tutorials out there already, so I’ll point you at a couple that I used and pass on some shortcuts of my own.

The hardest part of Russell for me was getting the colors of the shirt and hat right. I must have purchased and returned about eight hats and six shirts. In the end, I found a hat the right color and then dyed a shirt to match. The hat I used was this one from Amazon: Lemon Washed Polo Style Adjustable Low Profile Baseball Cap

I used Rit Lemon Yellow to dye a white polo shirt from Kohls: Marc Anthony Military Polo. If you are searching for shirts, try searching on “military polo” to get ones with the button-down pockets. For the shorts, it was easy to find brown cotton cargo shorts with an elastic waist. You could certainly do brown running shorts instead.

The sash looks intimidating to make and you can go as crazy as you want with how detailed to make it. I was super-impressed to find Charles Armstrong’s instructions for how to cross stitch the badges. Since this was for a running costume that would mostly be seen from a distance, I didn’t need that level of detail. So I went with a variation of Chariot of Ire’s technique. She printed the badges on transparent sticker sheets and attached the cut out stickers to felt furniture pads (shown below).


I did almost the same thing, but printed on white sticker paper as I thought the transparent sheets made the badges look a bit washed out. I probably could have just used stiff white paper, since I ended up using hot glue to make sure the badges stuck to the pads. The advantage of Chariot of Ire’s technique is that it is probably more water-resistant than mine. If I needed to, I could put clear Contact film over mine. I used the sticker layouts shown below. The space is for the Ellie badge, I bought one from an Etsy seller.


Once you have the badges ready, it is easy to hot glue them to a piece of felt cut in a sash shape. The furniture pads have adhesive on them, but again, I wanted to make sure they were stuck down tight. You could also use a Brownie sash if you are not a sewer. Although honestly, there is really not mush sewing talent needed to cut out a piece of felt!

I used the same print-and-glue technique to make the other parts of the costume. The Wilderness Explorer logos and the flag arm badge were printed out, cut out of the sticker paper, and hot glued onto felt. The diamond-shaped badge was done the same way, only hot glued to cardboard. I put sticky Velcro on the back of that badge to attach it to the shirt. The scarf ring was made from a short section of PVC pipe with a sticker for the logo.


For Russell’s backpack, I looked on Amazon for a cheap orange backpack (yellow works too). I also shopped for a small mess kit with a cup, a plastic trumpet, and a loop of rope. I secured them to the backpack with cheap carabiners and plastic cable ties. I ended up duct-taping the mess kit shut so it would not rattle. Having a backpack as part of a costume turned out to be great. We kept our emergency costume repair supplies in it, including duct tape and cable ties. Luckily we didn’t need them.


The flag was cut on the fold from orange felt. I used a dowel for the flag pole. I made the flag stiff by putting a piece of plastic canvas inside before I hot glued the flag sides together. You could use cardboard too. Rod ended up having to carry the flag because I didn’t attach it to the backpack very well and it fell off barely into the race. Lesson learned. Thank you to the kind runner behind us who picked it up and ran up to us to give it back!


For the final touches, Rod pulled out a pair of his hiking-type socks and we put orange laces in his running shoes. I cut a triangle of orange cotton for the scarf. then we attached a baby Kevin (bought on ebay) to one of the backpack straps and he was ready to run.