How to Make a Mardi Gras Costume

Mardi Gras mask

Mardi Gras is a time of fun and celebration, and making your own costume is the ultimate way to show your enthusiasm for this popular holiday. Whether you're attending a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans or simply celebrating at a party wherever you live, you can get in on the act with these fun and easy costume projects.

Mardi Gras Bead Flapper Dress

Nothing says fun and celebration like a flapper costume, especially when it's decorated with Mardi Gras beads. You can channel the roaring '20s with this awesome costume idea.

beaded Mardi Gras dress

Things You'll Need

  • Simple black zippered dress from a thrift store
  • Two yards of black ribbon
  • Six yards of black double-folded bias tape
  • Lots of strands of purple, green, and gold Mardi Gras beads
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Hand sewing needle and strong thread
  • Sewing machine and black thread
  • Measuring tape, pins, and scissors

What to Do

  1. Begin by measuring around the widest part of your body, usually either the hips or the bust. You'll make strips of beads to this length and then trim them as needed to get the perfect fit.
  2. Cut the bias tape to the length you measured. Using the sewing machine, sew a line of stitches about 1/4 inch from the fold of the bias tape.
  3. Cut the Mardi Gras beads into six-inch sections, sorting them by color.
  4. Open up the open side of the bias tape and finger press it to keep it open while you work. Apply a line of hot glue to about 12 inches of the bias tape, right in the seam you made in step 2.
  5. Take a small section of Mardi Gras beads and press one end into the hot glue. Continue pressing sections in until you have covered the area with glue. Add more glue and more beads, working in sections, until you've completed that piece of bias tape. Set it aside to dry.
  6. Repeat with each piece of bias tape, using one color of beads at a time. When you're done, you should have enough beaded fringe to cover the dress.
  7. When all the pieces are dry, pin the first piece of fringe to the hem of the dress. Locate the seam in which the dress' zipper is installed, and begin pinning from that point. Sew the fringe in place just above the line of stitching you created in step 2.
  8. Add another strip of fringe about six inches above the first one, and continue to add strips all the way up the dress. Trim the excess bias tape and beads as needed to accommodate the narrower portions of the dress.
  9. Use the black ribbons to embellish the straps of the dress. You can simply topstitch the ribbon over the straps for a fancier look, or you can add bows to the shoulders.

Jester's Hat and Cape

Jester hats are popular for Mardi Gras, and you can make your own with these easy instructions. Add a festive cape for a complete costume.

Things You'll Need

  • Four pieces of stiff craft felt in green
  • Four pieces of stiff craft felt in purple
  • 1/4 yard of purple or green felt
  • Gold craft bells
  • One yard of purple satin fabric
  • One yard of green satin fabric
  • Two yards of gold satin fabric
  • One yard of wide satin ribbon in purple, green, or gold
  • Sewing machine and purple, green, and gold thread
  • Scissors, tape measure, and dressmaker's pencil
  • Pins and hand sewing needle
  • Regular lead pencil and a 36-inch piece of string

What to Do to Make the Jester's Hat

Mardi Gras hat
  1. Start by measuring the circumference of your head, keeping the tape snug. Add one inch to this measurement.
  2. Lay out your 1/4 yard of felt fabric and mark a rectangle that is three inches tall by the length you found in step 1. Cut out the rectangle.
  3. Make a mark half an inch in from the end on one long side of the rectangle. Repeat on the other end of the same long side. This will allow for a half-inch seam.
  4. Using the craft felt in purple and green, cut several long, thin triangles. The should be about four inches wide on the bottom by about eight inches tall. How many you need will depend on the circumference of your head.
  5. Starting by one of the marks you made, pin the short bottoms of the triangles to the back of the long felt strip. Alternate colors as you go around the band. Adjust the spacing as needed to make it even. Stop when you reach the other mark you made.
  6. Sew the triangles in place and remove the pins.
  7. Sew a half-inch seam to connect the two ends of the band. Try the hat on to make sure it fits, and adjust as needed.
  8. Finally, hand sew gold bells to the end of each triangle.

What to Do to Make the Cape

Mardi Gras cape
  1. Lay out the gold satin, folding it in half with the short sides together. Tie one end of the string to the lead pencil and one to the dressmaker's pencil.
  2. Place the point of the lead pencil on the fold of the gold fabric, right near the top edge. Have someone hold this pencil in place while you pull the string taught and draw an arc across the fabric. Cut out the arc.
  3. Spread out the green satin without folding it. Place the folded gold satin on top of the green satin, and use it as a pattern to cut the same arc in the green. Repeat with the purple.
  4. Unfold the gold satin with the right side up to create a semi-circle. Place the green satin right side down on top of one side of the gold, and pin it in place along the top. Place the purple satin on the other side, pinning it the same way.
  5. Cut a shallow dip in the middle of the cape to accommodate your neck. You'll use a ribbon to tie this, so it doesn't have to be exact.
  6. Sew the top seams of the cape using a half-inch seam allowance, stopping when you reach the neck hole.
  7. Hem the open front of the cape and the circular bottom hem, using the appropriate thread color for each color of fabric.
  8. Fold the wide satin ribbon in half, finger creasing it. Insert the raw edge of the neck hole into the folded ribbon. Pin it in place and topstitch.
  9. Try on your cape and enjoy.

More Fun Mardi Gras Costumes You Can Make

Try one of these fun costume ideas to create or enhance your look for Mardi Gras:

  • You can make a Mardi Gras mask to go with your costume or to dress up a simple outfit. This is a perfect choice for anyone who needs an easy, last-minute look for the holiday.
  • You can also make your own masquerade mask to give any costume a little extra mystery and flair. Find patterns to make your masquerade ball gown to complete your look. This is an elegant choice for ladies.
  • Create a clown costume for Mardi Gras this year. Clowns are perfect for this light-hearted holiday, and you can choose from an elaborate costume to a simpler look, depending on the tip you have available.
  • Homemade pirate costumes are a popular choice for Mardi Gras, especially since the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Add ropes of Mardi Gras beads for even more flair.
  • If you're looking for a different style, make your own Greek goddess costume. Some of Mardi Gras' origins can be traced back to Greek and Roman times, so a goddess costume is a fun choice.
  • Take your inspiration for the Mardi Gras Zulu Parade and make a grass skirt to wear. This makes an easy and inexpensive costume.

Get Creative

At its heart, Mardi Gras is about fun and celebration. You can't go wrong when you make your own creative costume that keeps these ideas in mind. Whether you choose to be a flapper or pirate, you'll fit right in with the rest of the party-goers.

How to Make a Mardi Gras Costume