I needed to make sure this is fairly weather-proof, so covering the foam core was my biggest hurdle to overcome. I didn't want to use paper or paint because I didn't do a super-awesome job creating that under-structure as you can see and I didn't want it to get all bubbly or melt in the rain. I decided, after much internal debate and facebook crowd-sourcing, to decoupage canvas. Why canvas? Because it was the only reasonably priced fabric I could find in that accurate color of mustard that U.P. engines are painted. It turned out to be a pretty great medium for the modge podge. I hid the fabric-color-change-seams with red grossgrain ribbon "stripes." I used some shiny vinyl for the windows and felt for most of the other details. I am very proud of free-hand-cutting the logos and all the letters. My husband and grandpa both asked me where I bought the U.P. logos! The lights are some wooden disks that I painted. The wheels are ribbon spools painted black. The whole thing is held together with a whole lot of packing tape, tacky glue and modge podge but it is amazingly sturdy. The straps are made out of woven nylon strapping and I attached them to the train with glue, tape AND brads (it would be tragic if it fell apart mid-festivities and he's got to wear it a few times).
I'm pretty impressed with the outcome. The little man loves it and whenever his little brother sees it, he points to it, giggles and says "toot-toot!"
Since I way over-bought fabric, I'll be making a matching treat bag too. Anybody out there need about a yard of mustard-colored duck canvas???