Making Costumes

Pocahontas-Inspired Girls' Halloween Costume

Making costumes can be fun and easy. Today there are many resources available to help you create original costumes, from intricate sewn costumes to those of the simple and no-sew variety.

Deciding Which Type of Costume to Make

Deciding which type of costume to make is part of the fun. Classic costumes take on a new twist when they are handmade, and you also have the option of completely one-of-a-kind costumes when creating one yourself. The type of costume will also vary depending on the user (child, adult, male, or female) and occasion (Halloween, costume party, pageant, dress-up drama, etc.).

If you're stuck when it comes to ideas, browse this site for suggestions, or consider likes and dislikes to spark a costume idea. Favorite snacks, drinks, toys, activities, colors and more may bring something to mind.

Making No-Sew Costumes

Making no-sew costumes still offers a huge range of options. This is a great way to recycle materials, as many household items can easily be transformed into creative costumes with the addition of a little paint, fabric, or embellishment.

No-sew costumes can also be made with materials such as felt that don't require sewing. For many no-sew costumes, you can create the design on your own, but there are also many Internet templates and instructions that can help, such as the following:

Depending on the materials and adhesives used, no-sew costumes may be quite sturdy and reusable, or they may be best for a single-occasion use.

Sewing Costumes

You don't have to be an expert seamstress or tailor to make a wonderful costume.

Costume Patterns

Many pattern manufacturers today offer patterns that allow making costumes easy for a novice sewer. Simplicity's costume patterns offer hundreds of options, from angels to period costumes to Disney favorites -- and even pet costumes. Their It's So Easy pattern line, although mainly clothing, does offer a few great options for a variety of costumes, such as eared capelets, easy tunics, poodle skirts, and aprons.

McCall's costume patterns also have some unique options, including stroller-cover costumes and dual children and adult sized costumes so mom and daughter or dad and son can dress alike.

Repurposing Old Clothing into Costumes


Keep in mind you can also make costumes by sewing a little embellishment onto pre-made clothing. A simple skirt can turn into a princess dress with the addition of a ruffly blouse and sewing strips of colored tulle into the waist of the skirt. Tack stitches, which are a few stitches placed strategically to hold the material in place, are easy and a great options for those without sewing machines.

This type of costume is a great way to reuse clothing that is too small, or you can purchase apparel inexpensively at thrift stores and modify it as needed for the costume. You can often use old clothing to create costumes with no sewing at all. A few simple ideas for making costumes repurposed form clothes your family already has include the following.

Ideas for Making Simple Costumes from Clothing

  • Hairdresser: A simple tunic dress with shallow pockets can serve as the basis for a girl's hairdresser costume. Wear a white blouse underneath. Add a name tag, place combs and a toy hairdryer in the pockets, put up hair into a cute 'do, and voila, a stylist!
  • Bumblebee: Start with a yellow shirt and black sweats. Use black electrical tape to make the bee's stripes on the shirt, and affix pipe cleaners to a headband for antennae. A cone-shaped cardboard birthday hat covered in black felt can be fashion as the stinger.
  • Cowboy/Cowgirl: Jean overalls or a denim skirt paired with a plaid shirt form the basis for this costume. If your child doesn't have western boots, any plain colored boots will do. Add a bandana at the neck and an inexpensive hat to complete the look.
  • Patchwork quilt: Cut usable squares from colorful old clothing and glue onto two large cardboard sheets. Affix cardboard together at shoulders to complete the costume.

Costume Clothing Bases

Items to look for at thrift stores and on sale to be used as a basis for making costumes include:

  • Leggings: for a pirate, Olympic runner, under a skirt for a retro pop-star, there are many costume options with leggings!
  • Aprons, capes: storybook and cartoon characters.
  • Scarves: gypsy, witch, fashionista.
  • Colored sweat suits: can form the basis for animal and many other costumes.
  • Scrubs: doctor and nurse costumes.

Tips for Making Costumes

  • Choose a costume pattern or template based on your level of experience or craftiness to keep it easy and fun.
  • Allow plenty of time (at least one week more than you think you need) for making the costume prior to the event, Halloween, or other holiday.
  • Consider the occasion when working with sizing. If the costume is needed for trick-or treating, for example, will it need to be large enough to fit over a child's coat or jacket?
  • For dress-up play or costumes that will be re-used: consider fabric or materials that can be easily washed or wiped clean.
  • Have an easy back-up plan in place to minimize stressing in case something goes awry with the initial costume-making efforts.

Whether it's an adult masquerade, a child's recital, or a family dress-up affair for Halloween, there are many options for making costumes that are easy and stress-free.

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Making Costumes