This is a quick and easy project that will take approximately 3 hours or less to complete depending on how detailed you want to make it.
We purchased the ½” thick green upholstery foam from Jo-Ann’s Fabric & Crafts for $11 a yard. Use a Jo-Ann's printable coupon from (www.joann.com/coupon) when you purchase the foam and it will only be about $6 a yard. The t-shirts we used are plain light blue cotton Fruit of the Loom t-shirts that can be purchased from Target or Wal-Mart for about $4 each.
Step 1: Materials Needed:
1. The upholstery foam is green ½ thick and “Jo-Ann’s Fabric & Crafts” sells it in 2.5 yard by 24” lengths/sheets (depending on arm length 2.5 yards is enough for a child’s size costume).
2. Low temperature hot glue sticks & gun (regular hot glue may be too hot and melt the foam).
3. A yardstick to use as a straightedge or a fabric cutting board to keep your foam cuts perfectly straight.
4. Two (2) color-matched cotton light blue t-shirts (one to cut/cover the upper foam arms & one to wear).
5. One (1) fine point felt-tip light green “sharpie” permanent marker to draw out your grid lines.
6. One (1) black & at least three (3) shades of green permanent markers or paint pens with large tips (bigger the tips the better) to color in the grid squares on the foam in a random green pattern.
7. Exacto-Knife or box cutter with new blades (dull blades will tear the foam and keep you from getting a clean straight cut).
8. (Optional) two (2) small pieces of black vinyl window screening or black nylon stockings to blackout the eye cut-outs from the inside the head.
Step 2: Getting Started
Let’s get started on the arms first –
Measure the child’s or the adult’s arm from the top of the shoulder to finger-tips and add one inch to that measurement. (This will be the length for the foam arms noted below.)
Choose child or adult size zombie arms and cut the foam using the following measurements:
“Child” Zombie Arms:
(4) 4”wide x (Childs arm length)”
(4) 5”wide x (Childs arm length)”
(4) 5” x 5” square foam caps.
“Adult” Zombie Arms:
(4) 6”wide x (Adult arm length)”
(4) 7”wide x (Adult arm length)”
(4) 7” x 7” square foam caps.
** Child size measurements were used for the following zombie arm assembly instructions.
To make each child’s zombie arm: cut two (2) 4” wide and two (2) 5” wide foam strips using the premeasured arm length (four (4) of each size are needed to assemble both arms). This is where you can use the yardstick as a straightedge to make your long straight cuts if you do not have a fabric cutting board.
TIP: Keep your blade as close to a right angle (90°) as you can while cutting the foam and be sure to use a new razor blade or Exacto-knife to cut the foam on a large flat surface. If you do not use a new blade the foam can tear creating jagged edges that could show later.
Cut out four (4) 5” squares. These will be used as the top and bottom caps for each child’s zombie arm.
Now with all the arm parts completely cut out. Take one of the 5” strips of foam, lay it flat on the table and with your “low temperature hot glue” line up and glue the 4” strip on the inside top edge of the 5” strip (not the outside edge). Your goal here is to make a 5”x5”x?” length arm when it’s all glued together NOT a 6”x4”x?” (See photo)
Step 3: Glue & Grid
Once you have completely glued the length of the first 4” strip repeat the process by gluing the next 4” strip on the top inside edge of the opposite side of the 5” piece that is still flat on the table. Once the second 4” side of the arm is glued down you can glue the next 5” strip to the top of the two 4” sides working the glue on one side at a time so the edges line up exactly.
Tip: Run an extra bead of glue on the inside seams to re-enforce the arms.
Next glue one (1) 5” square to the top and one to the bottom of each arm to cover the open holes. (Do not cut any openings in the arms just yet - it’s difficult to draw straight grid lines on the foam once it’s been cut open.)
Now that both arms are completely glued together, mark out the grid pattern with the fine point light green felt sharpie marker.
For the 5” square child’s arms: mark out the grid squares at 1.25” (that will give you exactly 4 across all the way around the arm).
For the 7” square adult’s arms: mark out the grid squares at 1.75” (that will give you exactly 4 squares across all the way around the arm).
Tip: To save time you will not need to grid all the way up the arm because it will be covered later with t-shirt material. (See photo)
*The photo shows a custom fit 6” x 5” x 32” arm size and is only used here as an example so you can see the process.
Please note that these arms were not the same size all the way around (as specified above). We ended up with 3 squares on the narrow side and 4 squares on the wider side of the arm needing additional calculations to keep all the squares a uniform size.
Recommendation is to just keep it simple and make your arms square (5x5 or 7x7) and use the supplied arm sizes and square grid measurement sizes.
Step 4: Grid Pattern
TIP: What we found to be the easiest and quickest way to draw out the grid lines for the arms and on the head is to put a small dot at the corners/edges of the foam boxes the pre measured distances. Then use your yardstick and light green sharpie pen to connect the dots one side at a time until the entire arm or head is marked with gridlines.
(The photo is of a scrap piece of foam just to give you an example of how we marked it out).
Step 5: Cut Arm Openings
Once the grid patterns have been drawn out; cut the openings for the arms. The arm openings are made by cutting a “U” shape in the side of the arm with the top of the “U” at ¾” from the top of the shoulder, the sides of the “U” ¾” from the sides of the arms and the bottom curved part of the “U” pointing down towards the fingers.
(See the picture for finished zombie arm with the fabric already glued in place)
Measure the distance from the child’s armpit to the top of their shoulder and this will be the total length of the “U” shaped cutout. Test fit the arm it should be a snug fit around the arm. When worn the top part of the zombie arm should lay flat, look square and not “bulge” upward when your arm is down at your side. If it bulges upward at the top just remove a little more foam from the bottom of the “U” shaped cutout before you glue the fabric in place.
Step 6: Cut Hand Openings
For the hand access have the child put on the arm. Mark where their hand sits inside the arm then be sure and take the foam arm off. Then cut a 3 sided “U” shaped flap your desired size. The hinge should be at the backside of the arm so as not to interfere with the child’s hands. (See photo)
Step 7: Cut & Hot Glue
Now you will need to add the t-shirt sleeves for the foam arms. Take your extra t-shirt and cut it in half from armpit to armpit horizontally across the chest and back. Discard the upper section of the shirt (neck / sleeves). This will leave a piece of fabric that looks similar to a tube. Cut down one side of it to make a large rectangle sheet of fabric with a factory seam remaining on one edge. The factory seam that normally sits at the waistline on the cut shirt will become the t-shirt seam on the foam arm sleeves.
(See photo of finished arm)
"No sewing is required just hot glue."
Take the lower part of the shirt material and line up how far down the arm you want the sleeve to go on the zombie arm. Starting on the inside of the arm just under the “U” shape cutout, hot glue the factory seam of the t-shirt to the foam arm one side at a time leaving a slight overlap of fabric at the starting point. Cut off the excess fabric and use it to repeat the process for the second arm.
Step 8: Trim, Glue & Color
Trim and glue down any excess fabric being careful to keep the top edge of the arm square and flat as you go. We folded and hot glued the fabric down to itself keeping it tight to the sides and to the top of the foam arms to create crisp square edges. (Similar to a “nurse’s corner” fabric fold)
Leave enough untrimmed fabric so that it can be tucked and hot glued “into” the opening of the “U” shape arm access. If done correctly no foam should show around the arm opening (See photo of finished arms).
This is what makes the arms “look like” they are attached to the color matched t-shirt. At this point start coloring in the grid squares with the paint pens or permanent markers in a random pattern.
TIP: Remember you don’t need to color in everything since the foam is already green!
Step 9: The Head
The Foam Head:
Adult and child foam head cutout sizes and instructions are the same.
For a 12” x 12” x 12” box pattern you will need to cut (with a new blade):
(2) 12”x12” foam squares (front and back of head)
(3) 11”x11” foam squares (top of head, inside support, bottom of head)
(2) 11”x12” foam squares (sides of head)
Step 10: Cut & Glue
This is similar to the arm construction.
Place one (1) of the 12x12 squares on a flat surface. Then place an 11x12 side at the top inside edge keeping the 12” sides together. Hot glue it down to the “top inside edge” of the 12x12 square. Once cool take the next 11x12 side and glue it exactly opposite of the 11x12 square you just glued down to the 12x12 square taking care to make sure you glue to the “top inside edge”. Once cool you should now have a “U” shaped piece of foam. Take the last 12x12 square and hot glue it to the “top edges of the 11X12 square sides” just like the other 12x12 square. If done right you will now have a 12x12 foam box with an 11x11 opening at both ends.
Take an 11x11 foam sheet and hot glue it inside of one of the openings flush/even with the top edge to close in the box shape.
Tip: Run an extra bead of glue on the inside seams to re-enforce the head.
Step 11: Head Support
Now it’s time to size the head support –
Since this foam stretches you will need a slightly smaller circle than the child’s or the adult’s head size. Find a bowl that is slightly smaller than the wearer’s head. Place it upside down and centered on one of the unused 11x11 cut foam squares. Mark the circle with your green sharpie and cut it out with your razor. This piece will become the head support hot glued inside the box you just created.
Test fit the head with the support inside BEFORE you hot glue it in so you will know how far down to adhere it inside the head. It should be close to 4” down from the top (small children about 5”) but not so far down that the person’s chin protrudes out the bottom opening of the head. Once you have this measurement hot glue the support into place working one side at a time until you have all four sides glued down.
TIP: If you find that you have cut the head support circle too big and the person’s head hits the top of the foam box create a loop of foam and hot glue it in similar to the picture for the necessary adjustments.
Creating the bottom opening of the head –
Your last 11x11 foam square will need to be cut before you glue it in. This will essentially be creating an 11x11 two inch wide frame. Measure in 2” from each side of the 11x11 square and cut the center portion out. Then glue in the bottom frame flush / even with the bottom edges of the head. (See photo)
Step 12: Grid the Head
Time to grid pattern off the head before you make the cuts for the eyes-
Grid the head with 1.5” squares using the same light green sharpie marker you used on the arms. This will give you 8 squares across and 8 down. The square count will make the face very easy to center on the head. (See photo)
Step 13: Face Template
Once the grid pattern has been drawn out on the entire head locate a side with the solid 12”x12” foam square. This will be the side used for the face since it will not have seams at the sides.
Now on the face side count down 4 squares (for small children use 5 down) from the top left front corner and then move over 1 one square to the right; mark that square to be cut out and move over 1 more square to the right and also mark it to be cut out for the left eye. Skip the next two squares to the right. Then mark the next two squares to be cut out for the right eye. Now you should be left with one square on the right side of the head which matches the left.
Drop down one line of squares and mark the two squares to color in the nose dark green. The nose will line up with the two squares you skipped between the eyes. (See the 8x8 square face template photo)
Step 14: Cut & Color
Cut out the marked squares for the eyes. Once the eyes are cut; carefully use a black magic marker to color in the inside edges of your eyes – be sure to stay on the inside edges not the outside front (see photo) this will help give the eyes a dark look.
*(Optional step) Once the inside edges have been colored in take two small cut squares of vinyl window screening or black nylon stockings and hot glue them inside the head behind each eye cutout. This will black out the eye cutout area the rest of the way yet the person wearing the head can still see out. (See photo)
Color the grid pattern in any random way you want with green markers or paint pens and you’re done! Typical Minecraft Zombie heads are darker green on the top for “hair” and have a dark green nose but be creative! Again, remember you don’t need to color in everything since the foam is already green!