How to Make a Halloween Costume

Three Methods:Choosing a Costume IdeaPicking Your MaterialsMaking Your Costume

Let's face it, homemade costumes almost always win the costume contest at that Halloween bash you attend every year in your store-bought costume. Stop visiting those nausea-inducing Halloween stores to buy an overpriced (and underwhelming) costume-in-a-bag and hit the craft store instead. From scary to sexy, you can easily make a Halloween costume for yourself, your friends, or your family members by exploring some of the ideas below. You never know you might win!

Method 1
Choosing a Costume Idea

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    Search for ideas. If you don't already have a burning vision of what you want your Halloween costume to look like, explore various websites, browse Pinterest, and peruse old magazines to get ideas.
    • There are endless homemade costume ideas and templates floating around the Internet. Simply perform a Google search to find websites that offer costume ideas and templates. For the extremely crafty, check out to find elaborate guides for creating awe-inducing costumes.
    • If you have a Pinterest account, create a board specifically for homemade Halloween costume ideas to keep your online findings in one organized place.
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    Brainstorm your favorite characters. Make a list of your favorite movies, books, TV shows, plays, celebrities, or any type of media that contains characters. Fictional characters and famous people are a great place to start when coming up with ideas for a homemade Halloween costume.
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    Think about current events. Often the funniest costumes are the ones that touch on recent news stories, celebrity mishaps, or reference various aspects of pop culture.
    • Think about the most talked-about happenings of the past year or scour the Internet for lists of recent noteworthy events that could serve as inspiration for your costume.
    • For example, when Mitt Romney declared that, if elected, he would cut federal funding to PBS, the educational television channel that broadcasts "Sesame Street," during one of the 2012 presidential debates, he created an opportunity for a homemade costume. After Halloween, photos surfaced on the Internet of a partner costume in which one person dressed as Mitt Romney, and the other as a dead Big Bird.
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    Come up with a theme. If you can't think of any specific character or thing that you want to be, come up with a broad theme that interests you to start. Your theme could be the 1920s era, under the sea, or Disney movies, for example.
    • Once you come up with a theme, start to narrow down your options. For an "under the sea" theme, for example, you could be a fish, a mermaid, King Triton, a whale, or any other creature/object that you find in the ocean, fictional or real.
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    Decide whether you want to make an individual costume or a partner/group costume. Costumes that require multiple people can be fun and impressive if they are executed well.
    • A few examples of group costumes include: bands, superhero groups, celebrity couples, or a set of characters from a book, movie, etc.

Method 2
Picking Your Materials

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    Decide how much work you want to put into your costume. You can make a homemade costume without laboring very hard, or you can create elaborate designs if you choose to do so and have the resources.
    • Evaluate how much time you have to complete the project. If you are attempting to make a costume the day before Halloween, do not attempt too ambitious of a project.
    • A last-minute costume can easily be thrown together using items, clothing, and supplies that you already have lying around your house.
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    Brainstorm possible fabric materials that you will need to buy. Arts and crafts stores are great places to look for costume materials, even if you don't know exactly what you want before visiting the store.
    • If your costume requires you to sew clothing, you will want to pick a material that is easy to sew or piece together if you are a beginning crafter. Felt is inexpensive and can be glued together using a hot glue gun or even stapled together to create clothing. Basic cotton fabric is easy to sew with a sewing machine or by hand.
    • Make sure to take exact measurements of your costume before buying the materials that you need.
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    Visit a thrift or recycled clothing store. Secondhand clothing stores can be great resources for finding cheap, wacky clothes perfect for a costume. Often these stores actually have homemade costumes for sale if you choose not to make your costume from scratch.
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    Think about possible embellishments. To truly make your costume pop, you'll want to embellish it with the appropriate designs and accessories. Many accessories, from crowns and fake flowers to buttons and glitter glue, can be purchased cheaply at arts and crafts stores.

Method 3
Making Your Costume

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    Fashion a no-sew costume. No-sew costumes are great for allowing children or people without sewing skills or materials to create costumes of their own.
    • Felt pieced together with hot glue is a low-effort way to create clothing for your costume. Create a template on paper and determine the measurements that you will need to create your piece. Transfer the template to a piece of felt with a pen and use scissors to cut out the template before gluing together.
    • Use a glue gun to paste on objects or add embellishments to existing clothing. For example, you and a partner could cover a green outfit in real or fake leaves, wrap a toy snake around your neck, and hold an apple in your hand for a quick and easy Adam and Eve costume.
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    Sew a costume using fabric. If you're skilled in the sewing department, find a template online or create your own guidelines to make clothing for your costume out of fabric.
    • For pants, you will need the following measurements: waist, hip, crotch depth and full leg length from waist to floor.
    • For shirts, you will need the following measurements: neck, chest, shoulder width, arm length, armhole length and shirt length.
    • For shorts, use the pant measurements you have, only shortening the pant length to the desired length.
    • For skirts, you simply need waist and hip measurements. The length and fullness of the skirt will vary depending on what type of skirt you want to make.
    • Make sure that the material you choose to use is not see-through or itchy if you are making clothing as part of your costume.
    • Add embellishments to your costume only after you have completed all of the sewing.
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    Repurpose a cardboard box. You can use a cardboard box to place around your torso or your head, depending on the desired effect.
    • For your torso, simply a cut circular hole in each side of the box big enough for your arms to fit through and a hole in the top of the box big enough for your head to fit through. Give yourself enough space to move and stretch your joints and muscles. Then cut a shape in the bottom of the box large enough so that you can fit your entire torso inside the box. You will want the top hole to rest on your shoulders when you put it on.
    • To make a box to place over your head, simply cut a hole in the bottom of the box large enough to fit your head through. Cut out any other desired features such as eyes or a mouth before placing the box over your head. If your costume does not call for any facial features, still be sure to poke a few holes in the box so that you can breathe.
    • Box cutters work best for cutting through cardboard.
    • Examples of cardboard box costumes include: a robot, a clothes washer/dryer, a car, a bag of popcorn, a rolling die, or a television. Decorate your box after you finish cutting the holes.
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  • See what materials/items you already have that you can use for your costume to keep costs down.
  • If you are making clothing, be sure that it will not fall off of you or fall apart unexpectedly. You may want to wear clothing or spandex underneath your costume as a precaution.
  • Be sure to include seam allowances in your measurements when you make a fabric template if you are sewing your costume.
  • If you don't want to make a costume yourself but you want the homemade look, you can buy a homemade costume online from a website such as or check a recycled clothing store in your area for homemade costumes.

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Categories: Halloween Costumes