Just in Time for Christmas: Knitwear Fit for a T. Rex
Behold the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex — all swaddled in a cozy Christmas sweater.
The replica T. rex at the Natural History Museum in London is an enormous, ferocious-looking beast that was built to scale, standing about 60 percent the size of the 40-foot-long prehistoric creature.
The animatronic attraction, which features roaring sound effects, often startles visitors, but on Monday, the predatory edge was somewhat softened when visitors found the T. rex bedecked in a giant blue, red and green holiday sweater, replete with cheerful Christmas trees and snowflakes.
The turtleneck, created by a British company that has also dressed members of Parliament, fit snugly around the T. rex’s wide upper body and neck, then tapered into sleeves short enough to encircle the dinosaur’s wee arms.
“There is nothing more funny than a jumper fitted for a dinosaur that has the tiniest arms in the world,” said Carla Treasure, a buyer and product developer at the museum. “I think it makes it slightly less scary.”
But not for everyone, according to Snahal Patel, chief executive of Jack Masters, the knitwear company in Leicester, England, that made the sweater.
“A few kids were crying,” he said.
Still, most people were delighted, Mr. Patel said, and “in hysterics” as the animatronic creature, which responds to visitors through motion sensors in its eyes, bucked and turned toward the crowds.
The idea came to Mr. Patel in April, when he and Ms. Treasure were trying to come up with a sweater that the museum could sell in its gift shop that would cheer up the public and draw back crowds that had dwindled since the pandemic.
The museum has recently moved toward selling more sustainably made products, Ms. Treasure said. Mr. Patel’s company makes sweaters from recycled cotton and plastic bottles.
But Mr. Patel suggested going “a bit bigger” than just a gift-shop sweater.
“Let’s just put a Christmas jumper on a dinosaur,” he recalled suggesting.
Ms. Treasure proposed the idea to the museum’s board of trustees, which approved it. Ms. Treasure said she specifically recommended that the T. rex wear a Christmas jumper — a garish staple of the holiday season that self-deprecating Britons have come to embrace.
The entire process of knitting a sweater that would fit a dinosaur took about 100 hours to complete, she said. Mr. Patel said the first sweater was too large. Getting a turtleneck over the head of the dinosaur was also a problem, said Mr. Patel, who recalled trying to push and pull the material on.
They ultimately decided to add a zipper to the sweater’s back. During the fitting process, museum technicians were on hand to pause the T. rex’s movements while Mr. Patel and his staff measured the dinosaur using large step ladders and extra-long measuring tape.
On Monday, Mr. Patel and his employees arrived early at the museum to put the finishing touches on the sweater, which measured nearly four feet around the neck, nine and a half feet around the shoulders and just over 10 feet around the body.
On Twitter, images of the T. rex in the sweater met with gleeful reactions.
“Most heartwarming news story of the year,” one person wrote.
“The Jurassic Park / Home Alone crossover looks excellent,” wrote Michael Moran, a British tabloid journalist.
On the museum’s Instagram account, photos of the dinosaur in the jumper had more than 23,000 likes.
“This is the thing I never knew I needed in my life until this exact moment,” one Instagram user wrote in reply to the photos.
The sweater will stay on the T. rex until Christmas Eve.
Mr. Patel said he expected to get the sweater back. It will then be shredded into material that can be reused for something different, like carpet underlay. But Ms. Treasure said she was hopeful that the sweater could be converted into another product that could be donated to charity.
Mr. Patel said that after successfully styling an animatronic dinosaur, he felt equipped to outfit other massive animal displays with Christmas sweaters.
“If the New York museum wants to do something next year,” he said, referring to the American Natural History Museum, “we are ready.”