Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: Totoro Costume!

Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: Totoro Costume!

Hey everybody, Adam here! I am about to embark on a One Day Build which, if I’m going to be honest with you, might actually take more than a day. It is a fairly intense build, and most of the materials for it are actually behind me on the work bench there. Earlier this year for San Diego’s Comic-Con, I decided to be the bear from The Revenant and drag around the carcass of Leo DiCaprio And to do so, I made a seven foot tall, furry bear costume. And it was awesome! I liked making it, I liked figuring out the character, everything about it. And so; in anticipation of New York’s Comic-Con, I am making another large, furry character. A creature… …that many of you know as “Totoro”. Your neighbor Totoro. My Totoro will be grey and white. But first up, I’ve got some drawing to do, some tracing, some circles to draw, and some math to do to make sure I have enough of everything and to get started and figure out how I’m going to get in this guy when he’s six and a half feet tall What I’m about to do will make it clear why I keep this whole shop on wheels. Well, it’s one of the reasons. So, I need some whiteboard and I’ve got it behind here. So, I’m going to… …move my stuff out of the way. That? That’s me. So what I’m going to do here is: I’m actually going to trace out my form so I can see it on the whiteboard. And then I am going to trace out Totoro’s form on top of that. I don’t need to go much further than this because Totoro is large and round. Really, all the support for the Totoro costume is gonna be here. Right on my shoulders. He’s kinda square… He’s cute! Now, I’m trying to make my drawing relatively bilaterally symmetrical because the character will be. But, you’ll see the… …the way I’m going to work out the dimensions of this costume and start to build its framework. My drawing doesn’t have to be perfect, I actually have some adjustability in there. But that– Oh! He’s leaning over to the side, isn’t he? That’s not good… Yeah, he’s a little taller than me right now. Totoro’s structure, inside will be created using a series of concentric rings. Picture a hoop skirt and that’s how I’m making Totoro. And the way I’m going to do it is I’m going to use a constant distance from ring to ring. This will make sense later in the process, but it also means that I’m going to be measuring along the outside of this. This right here. Where the drawing starts to get super marked-up, is actually one of my favourite parts about making stuff Is… …I don’t know. For some reason, a drawing that’s fully marked-up with measurements and multiple colours always makes me kind of thrilled. Why don’t you do evens and write them down there… and I’ll do odds. Clearly, what I’ve done, is I’ve measured across the diameters of each of the fourteen rings that will make up the structure of Totoro. I could have done it with twelve rings, twenty rings… I tried to go with a balance that it wouldn’t look too stepped once I’d covered him in batting and fur. I then took those diameters, multiplied them by 3.1… …415927… Pi, essentially. And came up with the circumference of each one. And now, the next step is to start making the rings. So I’m going to put back some of my shop and gather a brand new material which I have never worked with before for costuming or any other purpose, and start to make these concentric rings. This is the internal framework of Totoro. This is a natural product, as you might have gathered. It is wood. It is in fact, rattan. If you’ve ever sat in a weaved chair, this is what it was built out of. It turns out you can buy crap-tons of rattan for really not much money. I can’t remember what I spent on this, but I don’t think it but, I don’t think it was more than like, forty bucks. There’s a lot. There might be enough for a full Totoro costume right in there. So, I’m going to start making some concentric rings. I’m going to be tying them together with some some high-strength, really cool stuff. This stuff. This is– Anthony De Longis, the whip trainer on the Mythbusters Raiders of the Lost Ark episode, told me about this stuff. It is a syntheic, waxed material called synthetic catgut. Now when I first made my bear, I made a pair of test boots for him and I’m about to tear them up and use them to make Totoro’s feet Oh good god! Ah – come on, come on Two former bear feet, soon to be Totoro feet Now I’m actually assembling this all from little scraps of fabric because they’re the feet! They don’t need a tremendous amount of high detail and people aren’t really going to be looking at them unless they look weird so I’m just sort of going hell-bent for leather on these it’s totally fine. Let’s do that… I have to make a pair of tubes because Totoro’s got legs I think this is the last sewing I have to do on this project Oh right! Okay so he’s got the chevrons on his chest, that’s the next step he’s got whiskers – chevrons on chest, whiskers – and! Right – my ability to see. That’s the last step. Totora’s coming into his own! It’s time to start glueing on these chevrons So my solution for the whiskers is to actually utilize loop velcro it’s got the right kind of feel to it – um – and it gives me the ability to do the kind of – uh – slightly structural taper that I want. And its fast and easy Lets see how we do here That, that, THAT’s a nose! That’s a good lookin’ nose I don’t mean to get so verbal and verbose about it but hell’s bells thats fun to see that working like that I think he’s pretty much done I have to put on the legs put on the feet, put on my headdress and put on Totoro and I’m ready for Comicon. Okay I’m sure I’m missing something let’s see oh whoops, there we go that was the problem. Alright let’s see here Do you have it? Are you in it? okay let’s see if I can turn, I can That’s it! Hello! Okay, so, I don’t have fantastic control over – I don’t know why I’m yelling, the microphone’s right on me – I don’t have fantastic control over my arms, but that’s fine, I don’t have to use those arms walking is fine – Oh! I know what I forgot! I can’t see! I have no idea how to look out of this thing. Wow. I really have no idea how to look out. Alright, we’ll have to figure that out Alright, I’ve figured how I’m going to see outside of Totoro – this. A camera. This is the first time I’m trying a camera mounted vision system in a costume. I’m gonna mount this onto his head Okay here we go Okay, so Next up, I need a monitor So this framework I’ll be wearing inside, let’s see here This is my monitor, two nice big fat batteries, let’s see… Oh this is gonna be so cool I’m so into this. I probably won’t wear glasses inside of Totoro, that’s interesting Yeah, oh yeah, see, I’m near sighted. Oh and what’s this for? This is a little fan, this blows cool air on my face. Yep, totally necessary inside this costume. I’m not exactly sure how to put this on by myself, but let’s see if I can do it C’mon, c’mon Okay, alright Totoro, work with me here. There we go, okay, oh yeah It’s not bad in here, and the fan is blowing on my face, it’s quite nice Now I’m gonna hook up my monitor, let’s see here where is that that is the hdmi that goes into the right-hand side, and if everything goes right I should be seeing out front Dude! There we go! I can totally see outside of Totoro! This is really cool cause I have both my hands free inside of Totoro it’s actually kind a nice environment I like it in here! This is great, awesome, I’m gonna figure out a dance and everything Wooh! So, there is my one-day Totoro build. I am really, really ecstatic about him I am hoping that you are inspired enough to make your own paper lantern Totoro costume like this one I have forsee an army of Totoros! But now, it’s just this one for me And it’s off to New York Comicon

100 Replies to “Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: Totoro Costume!”

  1. Watch Adam walk the New York Comic Con floor in his Totoro costume here:

  2. Adam should check out Annika Victoria here on YouTube. She's helped me figure things out about sewing that I never learned in what would be considered 'home ec' in high school.

  3. … I just watched a 42 minute video about someone making a suit of something that I don't even know that much about.


  4. For future reference/any one who wants to make this: To make the change of fabric stretch easier to work with, sew a fabric with the same stretch as the least streachy fabric to the streachy fabric. In this case, felt under the cream fur. You can also use fusible interfacing if its similar if you dont want to sew. Also it was amazing to hear appreciation for seamstresses. I felt the exact same way for all my mentors

  5. I just wanna say! You are not only really adorable and super joyful -what made me smile and laugh along with you! But you are the type of sewer(?) and crafter I wanna be myself too! You draw around your arm and just sew it! And you just do it! You see something and your mind is working, I can see it through the screen. I just want to say, you are enlightening and encouraging me! You just became my personal rolemodel – for real! You are amazing!!! Thank you so so so much! ❤

  6. I So Love this guy….You are living the life I Dreamed…. Please keep living the Dream… if you stop I die. Bless you and your madness ^__^

  7. One of the biggest things I've learned that has helped across multiple facets of my life is that people who do well at anything don't avoid making mistakes, they learn how to correct them. Seamstresses, model builders, and woodworkers know this better than most, but it's applicable to everything.

  8. Hm, If you had added a 1-way see-through mouth, you maybe wouldn't have needed a camera sticking out of his head 😛 Still, just amazing at how this thing looks. It's so fluffy!

  9. You can’t tell me Adam isn’t smoking some nugs between takes. I’d love to burn one with Adam savage.

  10. every time i see Adam on the sewing machine, Cinderella's 'Bad Seamstress Blues' comes to mind.

  11. If you could answer my question or be of any help I would love you forever. Lbvs. I started on a cardboard transformer car. Then after three attempts I Finally worked out all issues, except one, I made it out of cardboard. 😭😭😭 this was my biggest mistake bc it’s still flimsy. I have bought bondo which is great but so hard to sand and get that nice smooth surface. I’ve also tried plaster but with my luck it’s cracking. Any ideas on helping to possibly make the card board stronger And durable? Or are there any other materials I can get other then cardboard? What can I use to help sculpt the corners to give them more of a round edge? Any advice would be very much appreciated.

  12. As soon as he put that big peace of fabric on the base and he saw what it his costume would like with the "skin" on and you could just see like all his worries on is this gonna look ok like melt away :D.

  13. "You're a handsome boy"

    Me: has a cat named totoro who is grey with a white tummy and just thinks about him dressing up my cat to be a handsome boy

  14. when he finally has the metal frame on and is struggling to get the full costume over and on properly… all i could think was trying to put an underwire type of bra on immediately after trying to dry off after a shower… its a battle…

  15. My goodness Adam, I can relate to you way too much! I get the same way about my projects as you do!

  16. Animal fur ALWAYS lays down so water will run off it and dirt will not collect in the fibers.  Just look at any REAL animal, cat dog, mouse, kangaroo, koala … small fuzzy creatures from Alpha Centuri.

  17. Firstly, thanks for this. Even after 36 years of mechanical engineering I'm still open to learning new ideas & techniques (even though "problem solving" was/is my main forte). I really enjoy watching your videos for this reason and your passion & enjoyment of the projects. I've been semi-retired for some time now and the engineering is now my hobby so i can enjoy it more.
    Secondly, I had never seen "My Neighbor Totoro " and although it may be a childrens movie I thought the way it was animated, how they gave "life" to the characters with all the little mannerisms (like the dirty knees) was brilliant and the story-line itself was really enjoyable. It made a refreshing change to watch something and get as invested in the outcome Totally Awesome…so thank you for that!>

    Lastly, last year i was going to build a MoonCake (from "Final Space") costume and i tried using 6mm nylon tubing, filled with epoxy resin and paracord core string (to stiffen it) to make the hoops. But it turned out far too heavy seeing as how the "equator" of the costume was 6 feet in diameter…so i scrapped the idea…if only ida thought of Rattan!?! (which i already use in some of my spider enclosures, so i already have a bunch) Oh well…maybe next year there will be a giant green alien at Londond CC

    Catch You Later…Cheers!

  18. Adam, your comments about clothing manufacturers is spot on…I had to make an outfit for a prop skeleton (think pirate). The pants and sash weren't too bad…the shirt…OMG…It turned out well, but after I finished I had a great amount of respect for the people who make shirts, suits, and dresses. They are masters in their craft.

  19. 20:40 is so adorable. Because I sew and get surprised when people find it so hard. Hes so pure and good ahhh.

  20. Me years later i would create Totoro Cosplay and just imagine myself my crush hugging me😁😍😍😁

  21. Thank you for putting this up!

    I've been having some tough days lately and this video helped me forget about all of it for a while. My father used to make me wonderful costumes when I was a kid- the standout was a working stoplight- and seeing this reminded me of the way he inspired me to make things, test out ideas, and have fun.

    It is wonderful to see the joy in the process, too! Seeing your "handsome boy" and your happy dance made my night!

    May there always be joy and new projects for you and your amazing team! ☂️💚🌱

  22. I’m building my own Totoro for a Halloween costume. I am using hula hoops for my rings and I have my largest ring at 36” diameter. I work at a Veterans Home and I still have to be able to use my arms so I put Totoro on a diet. I am also goin to incorporate a smile so I can see out. I have never done any cosplay before and I have never sewn before so this is all new to me but I know I can get it done. Any suggestions on how to build the harness for the costume or any other aspects of the costume?

  23. He is so comfy with his saws it freaks me out watching him use them bc i know i would loose a hand doing it like he does

  24. An easier solution to see would have put an actual "mouth" Totoro costum is missing that, BTW, would have be at the height of your eyes…

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