DIY a Mane + Tail (in an hour!)

I don’t know about you, but I love a good craft.  Usually I make stuff for our home or for my kids, but on my own schedule, and without much of a deadline.  Now that I have a kid in school, I find myself crafting for her on a deadline–sometimes a tight one!

My poor daughter fell sick with a high fever for the second time in a month.  I wasn’t sure she was going to be well enough to go to school for an event that she was really looking forward to, so I didn’t make her costume in advance since she was home sick.  (By advance I mean three days before the event.)

The event in question is her school’s annual book character day.  At her school, this is for kindergarteners only to dress up as a book character, bring along the book to read to their class, and then have a parade through the school.

Unicorns are real if you make them yourself!
Unicorns are real if you make them yourself!


I was relieved when she finally began to get well, but then I panicked–I had been so focused on taking care of her and unsure if she would be able to go, that I put off making her costume until the night before!


The character that she had picked out is Uni the Unicorn from the book of the same name.  If you haven’t read it, it is a fun story about a unicorn who believes that little girls are real.

Well, as luck would have it, I already had a unicorn horn that I had crafted her for her 5th birthday party many months ago.  Uni has a blue horn, but the white horn we had worked just fine.

We were also able to stop at two thrift stores and get a white shirt and white pants.  Whew.

The only thing missing was the beautiful purple mane and tail of Uni.

So what did I do?  I made one, and it only took about an hour.  I already had all the supplies on hand, which was lucky, but even if you had make a run to the craft store, this won’t eat up too much of your time, and you can even make it while watching TV–multitasking of the finest sort!

Here is what you need:

Yarn (I used two skeins of two different shades of purple)


Barrette of some kind to anchor the top of the mane. (You can even repurpose one you already have.  I think a butterfly clip would also work.)

Hot glue gun.



Here is what you do:

Start heating up your glue gun.

Measure the top of your soon-to-be horse (or unicorn) head from the top about an inch behind the forehead.  I simply held the end yarn on top of my own head.  Gently pull the yarn (do not stretch it!) until it is a few inches past the nape of your neck.  Cut yarn at that point.

Cut two more lengths of yarn the same length. (The lengths do not have to be perfect, just close.)

With these three strands of yarn, tie all three in a knot on one end.

With your hot glue, glue that knot onto your barrette.  Let it dry, then add another layer of hot glue on top of the knot to better secure it.

Don’t be impatient like me and burn your fingers.  Let the hot glue cool before moving onto the next step!

Now, anchor your barrette.  I actually clipped mine onto a pin cushion, but you use anything that will keep it in place.

Once anchored, braid the yarn.  When you get to the end, tie all three strands into a knot.  It is ok if you have a tail of a few inches.  That will simply blend into your mane.

You just made the base of the mane.  Next, add the “hair.”

Measure a length of yarn.  I made mine about 26 inches long.  I also pulled yarn from two skeins of yarn at the same time to speed the process.

Using the first length of yarn, I used that as a guide to cut dozens more lengths of yarn.  This part is monotonous, but I find it works best to get about 20 lengths cut, then add them to the mane, then cut more as needed.

With your barrette still anchored to something (and a human head is not ideal at this point because the hair will get in the way), take four strands of yarn together (I used two lighter purple and two darker purple in each bundle).

Keeping the four strand in a bundle with the ends roughly even, pull one end of the bundle under your braided base.  When you get the center of the bundle under the main, pull the ends together to make sure each side is even, and tie them in a knot to attach them to the base.

Push the bunches towards the barrette as you tie them on.

Do this over and over and eventually you will come to the end.  I recommend having Gilmore Girls on because this really doesn’t take any thought. 🙂

As you fill in the mane and get down to the final knot, simply make sure that you bunch the bundles together so that you get a nice, full mane.

And that’s it for the mane!

To attach it to a head, simply use the barrette to anchor it near the hairline.  My daughter has bangs, so it was easy to simply clip it there.  If you only attach it there, it will be uncomfortable to wear and swing around, so you’ll have to attach the base of the mane to the wearer’s hair using a LOT of bobby pins or small hair clips.

My daughter didn’t wear this all day, but it only had to last until mid-morning.  She also insisted on wearing it with her hair down.  For our purposes, bobby pins worked just fine–but I had to use lots.

If you needed to wear it longer term, I would recommend braiding your hair in a French or Dutch braid and attaching the mane to that with bobby pins (again, LOTS!).  A braid would give it more hair to anchor to.

Of course, no mane is complete without a tail.  I didn’t realize this until about fifteen minutes before we left for school.  Oops again.  But the tail took about three minutes to make.  Easy peasy.

Cut a length of yarn long enough to wrap around the future horse’s (or unicorn’s!) waist, plus about a foot.  Set aside.

Using two strands of yarn, hold the ends in the fist of your non-dominant hand.  For me, that means I hold them in my left hand.  Don’t let go!

Now, with your dominant hand, wrap the yarn down the length of your forearm, under your elbow, and back up the other side of your forearm.  Wrap the yarn over your thumb as you continue to hold the end with your other fingers.

Do this about 20 times until you get the thickness you like.

To turn these loops into a tail, DO NOT LET GO WITH YOUR NON-DOMINANT HAND.  Slip the loops off of your elbow.

Use your dominant hand to pick up the long length of yarn you already cut.  Wrap this around the section you are still holding three or four times, and pull taut.  Tie 2-3 times so that it will stay.

Using sharp scissors, cut through the loops that were wrapped around your elbow.

Voila!  Tie that tail around the waist of whomever is wearing it.

This is easy enough that older kids could make it with some direction.  I could easily see a few of these as costumes at a My Little Pony party.

If you make one of these, please let me know!  I’d love to see a picture!





Read on, my friend...

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