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Making the Case for Handmade Halloween Costumes

Oct 21, 2013

by Chappell Ellison handmade and vintage goods

With the big lead-up to Halloween, several blogs have been posting vintage photographs of costumed children. One such post comes from i09, featuring a crop of kids in homemade Star Wars costumes, photographed in the late 1970s and early ’80s. Most of the costumes are completely haphazard: tin foil helmets adorned with construction paper and pipe cleaners, robes and headdresses cut from bedsheets. But each child is beaming, proud of the costume he or she made with the help of a creative parent.

Aside from some creepy plastic masks, mass-manufactured costumes simply weren’t available prior to the 1980s. Halloween was the ultimate DIY holiday — if you wanted an R2-D2 costume, you had to make it yourself. Today, prepackaged costumes line the aisles of big box stores, ranging from Batman to Snow White. Even with sparkly sequins and bright neon fabrics, there’s something sad about those costumes, hanging lifelessly from display racks.

There are a few good reasons to buy a mass-produced costume. It usually comes down to the limited spare time of a stretched-thin parent. “Although the image of the made-by-mom Halloween outfit is a pervasive one, it exists largely in the same alternate universe that houses Norman Rockwell paintings and fairy tales,” writes Maxwell Tielman for Design*Sponge. “In reality, the act of obtaining a Halloween costume usually involves exhausted, overworked parents slogging to the local drugstore, sometimes mere hours before the big day.” The instant, costume-in-a-bag has become more prevalent these days, and many kids are just happy to have any excuse to wear a mask and cape. But the special care and love found in homemade costumes is undeniable.

Most of us have a recollection of a creative Halloween costume from childhood. One year I was a piece of notebook paper, thanks to a bed sheet covered with evenly spaced red and blue chalk lines. Another year, I was transformed into a slice of swiss cheese, thanks to my mom and several bags of cotton stuffing. More than a sugar-loaded opportunity for future cavities, Halloween provides a chance for families to be creative and silly together. For parents, it can certainly be intimidating — not everyone can be like the dad who built an almost movie-quality Iron Man costume for his son. Fortunately, kids don’t care about perfect stitching or impeccable execution. They’ll only remember the time they had the coolest costume in the whole neighborhood.

Will you be wearing a handmade costume this year?

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4 Featured Comments

  • TheLittleRagamuffin

    Jenny from TheLittleRagamuffin said 7 years ago Featured

    I will never forget the best costume I ever wore -a scarecrow, handmade by my mom. She stitched a flannel shirt and a pair of old blue jeans onto a stuffed "wooden" beam. One of my legs was the bottom of that beam, the other was in one leg of the blue jeans. From my arm she attached a string that connected to my stuffed fake jean leg. Each time a neighbor's door opened I was so proud to shout "trick or treat" while hopping on my beam leg, lifting my jean leg, arms, and fake leg in the air while hopping in a circle. It looked like magic. People cheered with delight at each house. It wasn't just my Halloween that mom made special, she made it a special night for all of the people who got the chance to see her handiwork and vision in action. Thanks Mom!

  • slathered

    Sharon Moores from slathered said 7 years ago Featured

    I'm an exhausted, over-worked parent, but I make my daughter's costume almost every year. I just think it's more awesome than a store-bought costume. I don't always succeed -- one year there was a horrendous, time-consuming mermaid costume that almost made me swear off Halloween for good. But this year she wants to be a cat, thankfully -- she's been a cat for half of her 6 years, so I can whip that costume together quick. Chenille pipe cleaner tail, black clothes, felt ears on pipe cleaners glued to a headband, makeup nose and whiskers. Boom, done.

  • tippleandsnack

    Tipple and Snack from tippleandsnack said 7 years ago Featured

    I still remember the year my mother forgot about Halloween. Her last minute costume fix for me was a "towel rack". She tied two towels to a yardstick, threw it over my head, and sent me out the door to trick or treat...!

  • glusk

    Tara Galuska from GluskDesigns said 7 years ago Featured

    My little sister in law is 13 and has been working for weeks on her handmade Halloween costume! Her creative use of materials and enthusiasm are so inspiring and I think that is what it is all about.


  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 7 years ago

    My kids are going as Jack and Sally from the Nightmare before Christmas. Its our favorite movie! I made my own Jack hat and armwarmers to keep with their theme. I love handmaking our halloween costumes! My mom always made costumes for my sister and I. One year we won a contest in our local halloween parade for dressing up like christmas trees, lights and all. My mom is so talented and I am guessing she has passed that onto me :)

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 7 years ago

    Well, at least it's not like Mardi Gras yet, with custom made costumes! My alleged children always had a mix, store bought and plucked from the cupboard.

  • shawnstpeter

    Shawn St.Peter from shawnstpeter said 7 years ago

    We have no time to make a costume and Halloween isn't really a big holiday in our house. It is cute to see my little girl dressed up as a lion or bear though.

  • lapetiteposy

    Becky from sojoshop said 7 years ago

    Love handmade costumes.. they are always the best! And you are right- they make for the BEST memories :)

  • TheBeautyofBoredom

    Gracie from TheBeautyofBoredom said 7 years ago

    Two of my friends are making their costumes, and they are doing awesome jobs! Mine isn't homemade, it is just made from a bunch of things in my closet. My pirate outfit consists of my black high heeled winter boots, a tattered silk scarf, a bandana, a white ruffly blouse, a corset, and a black skirt. It all looks really good together though!

  • ThePattypanShop

    ThePattypanShop from ThePattypanShop said 7 years ago

    I love the DIY costumes the best. A lot of them are so creative!!! Thanks for the post!!!

  • tmsAdornments

    Toni Sylvia from tmsAdornments said 7 years ago

    I'm the "Halloween Grandma" for my grandchildren. Although there have been years when time did not allow, I usually make all the costumes - fun for them and for me!

  • AtomicLuLu

    LuLu from AtomicLuLu said 7 years ago

    I've made my daughter's costumes every year since she was born. Even now that she's 18 she asks me to embellish or create something for her. On Monday I posted 18 yrs of costume pictures to Facebook. It was such a terribly sweet and amazing memory.

  • jorgensenstudio

    jorgensenstudio from jorgensenstudio said 7 years ago

    I made my teen daughters Alice in Wonderland costume last year because when I saw what the tenn costumes looked like - I said no way. When all three of my kids were small I kept a giant rubbermaid bin of costumes we had made and bought so they could be recycled and used for new ideas each year. This year I made a bustle skirt for halloween - not for my kids but for me!

  • guext65

    JW Lin from JWPersonalShop said 7 years ago

    Love handmade costumes.

  • anflorence

    Alessia Nencioni from AnHandmade said 7 years ago

    Hi Chappell Thank you for this lovely article. Growing up I never had a premade costume, my mom alway made one from cratch for me and my sister. often in the spare time after dinner , when we were in bed or on sunday. Needless to say that we had the most unique and original costumes every year. My daughter this year is going to be a peacock, and it is going to be the first costume I ever made. ( last year my mom made one for her). I'll send you pictures of my little peacock after Halloween. Cheers Alessia

  • laurastark

    Laura Stark from laurastark said 7 years ago

    My daughter is going as Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family. I'm thrilled at her choice to go as someone quirky. Though I have to kick it into high gear, as I am sewing the costume!

  • CelesteCraft

    Celeste from CelesteCraft said 7 years ago

    I make at least one costume every year. I'll be going to one party as sushi, inspired by the onesies that I've seen here on Etsy. Another night I'll make a grown up size version of my corn-on-the-cob hat, wear a yellow t-shirt dress and green tights. I'll hopefully be the only Corn on the dancefloor!

  • arainydayplay

    Cassidy from arainydayplay said 7 years ago

    I always had GREAT homemade costumes growing that I'm the mom I REALLY appreciate what it took for my mom to get them all done in time. I'm working away on costumes for my four little dears (and I've got about 4 hours to get them done before our church Trunk or Treat tonight!)...I'm pretty sure my kids would be happy with storebought costumes, but nothing beats that warm glow of seeing your child squeal for joy when they put on something that YOU made!

  • Kamiann

    Kami from Kamiann said 7 years ago

    We never had money to buy the store bought costumes when I was a kid in the 80s. My mom was so creative, though. One year, maybe 2nd grade, She dressed me in one of my prairie skirts, a blouse and neck scarf. We were country, so I wore my cowboy hat and boots, too. Add my brother's toy rifle and voilà! Annie Oakley! I remember having to write her name on a piece of paper so I could remember it. :)

  • Kamiann

    Kami from Kamiann said 7 years ago

    Of course, now, no kids can dress up for Halloween at school, let alone take a toy rifle. It's a shame. Even if I do hate guns.

  • JillianReneDecor

    Jillian Carmine from JillianReneDecor said 7 years ago

    My mom handmade my costumes every year when I was a child... Rainbow Brite, Funshine Bear, Snow White, the list goes on... Thirty years later, the sweet little lady (that owned the fabric store where my mother purchased her supplies) is still raving over how beautiful they were. I can still remember her staying up til the wee hours of the morning trying to finish them up before the Halloween festivities began. Those costumes and the memories the hold are priceless. I hope I have a little one someday that I can share these memories with too! Cheers to handmade Halloween -- Great article Chappell!

  • fbstudiovt

    Laura Hale from FoundBeautyStudioArt said 7 years ago

    My family and I are going as "Our True Selves". It's the ultimate DIY. We are wearing whatever we love most, that we feel most ourselves in, that truly expresses how we see ourselves, and hitting the town. I will be wearing all of my favorite eccentric artist clothes that I never get to wear these days when I have to look professional 90% of the time!

  • suburbanbelle

    Stephanie from suburbanbelle said 7 years ago

    Yes! Homemade costumes are the BEST! I love the ones I had as a child and i place a priority on making costumes for my kids now. Halloween is my busiest time as an Etsy seller. I love making costumes and Halloween things and I guess it shows. ha. I am closed to Halloween orders now so I can get my own kids' costumes made. First Halloween event is tonight, and I only have one kid's done. My 3 yo is Blueberry from Strawberry Shortcake, and my 5 year old wants to be a green ninja, but he may have to be a red ninja tonight since I made that one a few months ago. :-)

  • designlab443

    Tracy from designlab443 said 7 years ago

    I love making costumes with my girls... this year we are making an indian costume and a bat costume. So much fun and much better quality than store bought!

  • SoulRole

    Nancy Campbell from SoulRole said 7 years ago

    We always had home made costumes.I remember my mom spending hours at her sewing machine when I was in kindergarten making me a bat costume,and another year my dad making this elaborate shoe out of wood and paper mache so my big sister could be the "old woman who lived in the shoe"(I was one of her kids!).It saddens me each year when I go to my children's school and they are usually the only kids with homemade costumes.It is almost a stigma now to NOT have a mass produced slutty or gory walmart piece of crap!I am off to make an organic elephant costume for my daughter right now :)

  • mrichards7171

    Mary from folklove said 7 years ago

    I'm so glad my mom made my sister and I make a DIY costume each year! I distinctly remember showing up to my second grade Halloween school parade as an iguana. I had donned a dark green sweatpants suit, painted my face green, and strapped a "tail" I made from green fabric and cardboard to my little seven year old rear end. (This was the early 90's, and a lot of people thought I was impersonating Reptar from the Rugrats series). I had a great time doing it, and the looks I got from the popular girls all dressed in the same Limited Too princess costume were pretty priceless. Good times!

  • thevillagecrafter

    tammi from thevillagecrafter said 7 years ago

    i always made my kids halloween costumes, oh the memories of the work that went into them, but now as adults they are so creative themselves it makes a mom proud

  • GoddessEngraving

    Joanna Alley from GlassGoddessNgraving said 7 years ago

    My 12 year old is going as a teen witchwith one of the big fancy witch hats I make, and the others are Zombies. I facepainted for years so it's as simple as old clothes , fake blood , and time at moms makeup table. :)

  • GoddessEngraving

    Joanna Alley from GlassGoddessNgraving said 7 years ago

    The teen witch is going to be modern though, she rides a swiffer. :P

  • minouette

    Ele from minouette said 7 years ago

    I have happy memories of costumes my mother made me. By the time I was about 11 I had taken over, to make my own and the costumes of my younger brothers. Parents are not doubt very busy, but I think that it is possible to make a clever costume without spending a lot of time or money or buying a mass produced plastic items.

  • HelloShoes

    HelloShoes from HelloShoes said 7 years ago

    Our costumes are handmade. Well my husband will be a monster drink with horns . I wiil be a redbull with wings..My little though store bought Dorothy from the wizard of oz:) Cant wait..I tried saying o.k day of the dead dorothy but shes not going for it:)

  • connash1

    Connie Nash from OldStones said 7 years ago

    My daughter is 32 and I'm still helping her make Halloween costumes. We also now make costumes for her husband. Last year he was Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, and she was a period vampire. Great fun! And her closet of costumes is growing. Plus, we make a lot of good memories in the process.

  • mattyhandmadecrafts

    Matejka Max from NattyMatty said 7 years ago


  • TheLittleRagamuffin

    Jenny from TheLittleRagamuffin said 7 years ago Featured

    I will never forget the best costume I ever wore -a scarecrow, handmade by my mom. She stitched a flannel shirt and a pair of old blue jeans onto a stuffed "wooden" beam. One of my legs was the bottom of that beam, the other was in one leg of the blue jeans. From my arm she attached a string that connected to my stuffed fake jean leg. Each time a neighbor's door opened I was so proud to shout "trick or treat" while hopping on my beam leg, lifting my jean leg, arms, and fake leg in the air while hopping in a circle. It looked like magic. People cheered with delight at each house. It wasn't just my Halloween that mom made special, she made it a special night for all of the people who got the chance to see her handiwork and vision in action. Thanks Mom!

  • newarts1

    Lori from newarts1 said 7 years ago

    When growing up, and with my own kids, costumes usually consisted of stuff around the house that could be adapted. However, I do remember when my boys were very little, I was experimenting in sewing and made a Tigger, a Dalmation, and a Cowerdly Lion costume, these were re-used year after year until the boys out grew them. In fact, I am saving them for my grandbabies. The most fun was when my youngest wanted to be Nevil Longbottom for halloween one year, that was terrific putting together, and he looked soooo perfect. No Harry Potter for him, lol, it was Nevil who was his favorite. My oldest, his best costume was Ash and Pikachu from Pokeman. I wish everyone a wonderful, homemade halloween!!

  • coffcat

    coffcat said 7 years ago

    My mom hand sewed a costume for me every year. I was Pierre the Mime, a pink clown with huge yarn pompom buttons down the front, a leopard (she made a leopard fabric onesie with feet, the "claws" were black pipecleaners), a cat ballerina (I couldn't make my mind up so I was both, lol) and I was even Raggedy Anne with red yarn hair. My most favorite of them all though, I was a French Chef, she even made the chef hat and drew huge curlicued mustache on me. I carried a big mixing bowl and wooden spoon instead of a candy bag. She'd always dress up too, Minnie Mouse, construction worker, a witch with a green face with the required big mole on her nose. I love my mom for many wonderful memories.

  • PotatoFace

    Sarrah Riddle from PotatoFace said 7 years ago

    Love this. Especially love seeing the star wars costumes as that's what my children all decided to be this year. And we have had so much fun making a chewbacca hat and belt and princess leia's dress as well as finding an adorable yoda hat here on etsy. We have even incorporated tin foil in our homemade costume madness. Fun all around.

  • Mberry85

    Megan Berry from LoupEsprit said 7 years ago

    My son insisted on being Batman, with a storebought costume. :( I had hoped to make his costume myself and make him unique, but he wouldn't have it. Maybe next year... I made my own werewolf costume from scratch: Jeans, button down plaid shirt, furred gloves and yarn tail, and a headpiece complete with ears made from an actual fox head partial pelt. I even bought some snap-in fangs to complete the look. My husband is going a bit more 'manly', with the same type gloves, simpler faux-fur tail, and a store bought mask with operating jaws paired with bloodied jeans and too-big plaid shirt.

  • iowajewel

    julie macneil from iowajewel said 7 years ago

    i want to be a gypsy, i have everything i need but no party invites :(

  • LostInTheValley

    LostInTheValley from LostInTheValleyPhoto said 7 years ago

    My mother always made my Halloween costumes. She'd toil for hours making the most elaborate made to perfection outfit for me! I hope that someday when I have my own children I'll continue this tradition!

  • Musclesandcrafts

    Melanie from merVazi said 7 years ago

    My daughter gets the best of both worlds. We buy the main part of the costume so she gets to be what's hip and cool, and all the accessories are made by her and I in the month leading up to the big day. She gets to have the costume that she dreams of from her favorite character, and I get to make it her own. She has already asked if she can use the accessories after halloween with her regular clothing (she has a very unique style of clothing, so most costumes use a lot of what she already wears).

  • tiffinibyars

    Tiffini Byars said 7 years ago

    It IS a lost art! My husband and I have always loved making our costumes usually accompanied by a massive party. Our children are 3 and 1 and we are now in a phase of re-prioritizing the holiday. So our efforts are going into a "family costume" of garden knomes. It was a bit tough convincing my son to be a knome instead of a super hero he hasn't ever seen or even an adorable pre-fab dinosaur from last year. And my littlest one WOULD be more decked out in something precious from the store, but she gets a big red collar to go as our mushroom instead. they have lots of dress up to play with all year round. it was fun coming up with the plan, executing it with my 3 year old model, and now walking around as a family. Thank you "Knomeo and Juliet" for making knomes a worthy dress up object!

  • CiarraiStudios

    Kerry Gauthier from CiarraiStudios said 7 years ago

    One year, my niece went as an acorn while her sister was a pumpkin. I made an acorn hat and a pumpkin hat, found brown and orange sweaters for them to wear so they were comfy and warm and got a squirrel plushie to peek out of my little acorn's trick or treating basket. Very cute. This year, I am going to a Halloween themed wedding as a vampire. Most of my costume is just regular stuff I had around (red tuxedo shirt and black slacks) but I am making it vampiric with handmade jewelry and accessories like this:

  • CiarraiStudios

    Kerry Gauthier from CiarraiStudios said 7 years ago

    One year, my mom forgot about a halloween party until the day off and had to scramble. So she ended up getting some red oaktag. She dressed me in red jeans and a red turtleneck, cut two arms holes in the oak tag, wrapped me in it and stapled it closed. Then she took a sharpie and drew a big oval with the word: Crayola in it. And then wrote: red on one side. Made me a cute little hat and I was a crayon. It was totally brilliant except the oak tag was too tight for me to walk all that easily and it wouldn't bend so I couldn't sit or anything. She ended up lying me down on the sofa at the party, watching all the fun, until the costume contest at the end of the evening. It was one of the best and worst Halloween costumes of my life but now 30 years later, I think it is funny and I am amazed at how creative my mom was.

  • MyDisgustedCats

    Joanne Harper from MyDisgustedCats said 7 years ago

    I love the idea of homemade costumes, but where are you getting the notion that mass-produced costumes didn't exist before the 1980s? I was born in 1957 and that is all we ever had was boxed costumes from Collegeville and Ben Cooper.

  • MyDisgustedCats

    Joanne Harper from MyDisgustedCats said 7 years ago

    Why would you delete a comment that said we did have mass-produced costumes in the 1960s? That's just plain silly.

  • slathered

    Sharon Moores from slathered said 7 years ago Featured

    I'm an exhausted, over-worked parent, but I make my daughter's costume almost every year. I just think it's more awesome than a store-bought costume. I don't always succeed -- one year there was a horrendous, time-consuming mermaid costume that almost made me swear off Halloween for good. But this year she wants to be a cat, thankfully -- she's been a cat for half of her 6 years, so I can whip that costume together quick. Chenille pipe cleaner tail, black clothes, felt ears on pipe cleaners glued to a headband, makeup nose and whiskers. Boom, done.

  • shiphrah99

    Suzan Wachs Katzir from shiphrah99 said 7 years ago

    I always made my own costumes when I was a kid, and then I made them for my kids - at least until they thought they were too cool for costumes. After Halloween (and Purim, too), the costumes went into the Dress-Up Box and were used throughout the year for random fun. Now that all the kids are grown & scattered, I've been retired from costume-making. :-( Happily for me, a young(er) friend's daughter wants to be Doc McStuffins and mommy couldn't find anything ready-made - so I'm knitting a lavender & white sweater for the little would-be vet. And pleased as all get-out that blond-&-blue T has no notion of race!

  • PatternsAndPlans

    PatternsAndPlans from PatternsAndPlans said 7 years ago

    Yeah, homemade! Creative, family fun!

  • PolishMeFreddy

    Alfredo Ramos from PolishMeFreddy said 7 years ago

    Awesome story, I love homemade costumes. This year I'll be making my own Honey Boo Boo costume. I'm going to be using her pink pageant dress she wears in the TLC commercials as reference to make my own adult size pageant dress. Its going to be AWESOME. I might just even carry a plush piggy with me and name it Glittzy. <3 I'm excited to be Alana for a day, I love her.

  • cowboysanddaises

    Sarah Mahan from CowboysnDaisies said 7 years ago

    I have so many memories of my mom making all of my costumes when I was little and this year my boys are finally old enough to go Trick or Treating and I'm excited about making their costumes for them. No store bought for us! My oldest will be 3 in January and my youngest is 18 mon. Last year Joseph was obsessed with Woody from Toy Story so I made him and his best friend costumes so that they could be Woody and Jesse. They looked so much cuter than the store bought ones. This year Joseph is all about The Incredibles, so I'm taking red sweats, painting the incredibles logo on the front of the sweat shirt and taking black felt to bottoms of the sweat pants to look like his boots. And Patrick, I'm making him a body suit out of orange fleece and painting a Jack - o-lantern face on the front so that he can be my "little pumpkin".

  • peonylovespink

    peonylovespink from peonylovespink said 7 years ago

    Love the article! This year sadly my kids want the store bought. But they still play with the homemade ones and constantly ask about making other things. Which I think is great because it allows them to think outside the box and they can see that the process of creating is something special.

  • grandmae1

    Ellen said 7 years ago

    I have made costumes for my children and grandchildren...things like the tooth fairy, complete with gold "coins" to hand out to the other children, and "super me-me" with a very girly cloak and double m belt made with gold ribbon and purple beads. The young girl you show in the picture above is not in a very well thought out costume, however... too many child molesters around for little girls to get dressed that way! :(

  • Retrospectshop

    Retrospect from Retrospectshop said 7 years ago

    I always had homemade costumes. My dad's mum sewed and I'd go and pick out a pattern and the fabric. I taught myself to sew (by hand) and make my own pattern when I was 16 and wanted to be the Queen of Hearts but couldn't find a costume I liked. I ended up designing my own and while it wasn't the best-made costume, it was amazing (big stand-up collar, lots of lace with little hearts hearts, big puffy skirt and sleeves). I still have that costume (and the original design drawing) along with my HUGE, labor-intensive, no-pattern-sewn-by-hand, yards-upon-yards-of-tuelle-petticoats Scarlett O'Hara curtain dress costume I made for Senior Dress-Up Day in high school (that one I'm especially pround of :) ). A few years later, here I am in school for design and loving it, thanks in part to those homemade Halloween costumes.

  • Shalotte

    Naomi from Shalotte said 7 years ago

    I remember a Halloween that included black tape, black plastic sacks and a cardboard cat mask. Its my only memory of dressing up and I think I was about 6

  • reginasstudio

    reginasstudio from reginasstudio said 7 years ago

    Different times now, I was privileged to "trick or treat" in the 1950s

  • LiSoCards

    LiSoCards from LiSoCards said 7 years ago

    My mom and dad were born in the early 40s and I've seen childhood pictures of them with their friends at Halloween in store bought costumes (masks and dress-like costumes that covered their clothes). I don't think the author's comment about the recent availability of store bought costumes is accurate.

  • bedouin

    Nicole from Crackerjackarma said 7 years ago

    I had a favorite cowgirl costume as a child in the early 1960s. I wore it every year until it didn't fit anymore. I have fun pictures of my daughter at Halloween too, always an animal.. a cat, a rabbit, a puppy ... something in animal form was her 1st choice. Tooo cute

  • ChocolateRoseMint

    Tracy B. from ChocolateRoseMint said 7 years ago

    Loved making my own costumes ! My 2 most favorites: dressing as a cat character from the play 'Cats' --a black unitard with fake fur glued down the front, homemade tail and ears, whiskers attached with spirit gum, lots of makeup. The 2nd. was dressing as Edward Scissorhands. I used an entire tube of super strong hair gel and upcycled 5 black belts and a large cardboard box for the scissor hands. Great fun ! This year my costume is quite simple: 'troll face' --wearing all black including toque and making up my face. Really looking forward to this one because the last 4 years I've been doing the same costume, a grumpy woman with curlers, cracking face cream mask, thick red lipstick, fake cigarette sticking out of my mouth, ugly junk jewelry, ugly pajamas, giant bathrobe, knee highs, big fuzzy slippers with stuck toilet paper and a giant ugly purse ( sometimes filled with candy which I like to share around ). Our son has gone homemade for almost 17 years: ninja, zombie with sword through his back ( cut plastic sword in half and stick each end to the front and back of a shirt, paint on 'blood' ), toddler Zelda ( large green sweatshirt from thrift shop, cut, sequins and fake jewels added, foam sword, thrift shop sneakers spray painted gold ), a hanged person in ghost form ( white sheet, rope around neck ), etc.... I have to admit, those giant sumo wrestler costumes are a hoot !

  • gildedingypsy

    gilded in gypsy from gildedingypsy said 7 years ago

    I for one love the thought and detail that goes into handmade costumes. You really see how creative people can get with them. My daughter is wearing a mad hatter costume that she put together with items that were already in the house. I think that is a better costume than a store-bought one, because it makes you unique!

  • vintagetogoetsy

    Kennedy Miranda from vintagetogoetsy said 7 years ago

    I think it's a little ironic- back in the day when we all had homemade costumes year after year, we, especially my brother, wanted the store bought ones with a plastic mask with a disposable outfit. Now his kids get store bought and I prefer homemade! Thank you Chapell for another nostalgic article. Loved your last one too, "The Problem with Folk Art."

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 7 years ago

    I enjoy creative homemade costumes -- I remember being "a pile of laundry" one year. And two years ago, I went to a "WICKED"-themed costume party as "The Emerald City". Imagine that.

  • JoyceAlice2

    JoyceAlice from JoyceAlice2 said 7 years ago

    I would like to see the witch on a swiffer! ha ha Really cute ideas. When I was a kid, we could not afford store-bought costumes. Once or twice we got a plastic mask, but they were so hot and stuffy you always wound up taking them off. We ALWAYS went as either a gypsy or a hobo. The gypsy got to wear a full skirt of my mom's, bright scarves, costume jewelry and lipstick! the hobo got to wear old pants of my dad's, baggy old shirt, and dirt on the face! We loved dressing up --- each year our costume came out of the "grab bag" so it was cheap and easy --- but so much fun.

  • FalconandFinch

    Lynelle Miliate-Ha from FalconandFinch said 7 years ago

    When I was a kid, my mom made all my costumes - including a red yarn wig for Raggedy Ann, a muslin dress with copper snake details for Cleopatra, and an entire head to foot Care Bears suit that took weeks of late nights to sew. This year, my husband made my costume - a black t shirt with an iron on decal of the Death Star over my 8 months pregnant baby bump; he was Darth Vader, of course. DIY COSTUMES FOREVER!!

  • vintagebutterfly94

    Vanessa Ryerse from TheClassicButterfly said 7 years ago

    When I was a kid, my parents became born again Christians and Halloween was deemed Satan's holiday and therefore tabu. I recall two halloween costumes before their conversion: a witch and a hobo, both handmade by mom, just like everything was in my life, from my underwear to the jelly in my pb and j sandwiches. Now that I have three trick-or-treaters of my own, I am living my costume dreams out with them. I don't hand made nearly as much as my mom did over the years, but I make their costumes each year from thrift store finds. They are generally much more uncomfortable and flammable than their big-box counterparts, but they look adorable in the pictures.

  • beadbooty

    Tricia from beadbooty said 7 years ago

    Some of my fondest memories of childhood revolve around the costumes my Mom put together for my sister & me. She was so creative!

  • tippleandsnack

    Tipple and Snack from tippleandsnack said 7 years ago Featured

    I still remember the year my mother forgot about Halloween. Her last minute costume fix for me was a "towel rack". She tied two towels to a yardstick, threw it over my head, and sent me out the door to trick or treat...!

  • murphymae

    Murphy Adams from MurphyAdamsStudio said 7 years ago

    I loved making costumes for my kids (who are now 20 and 17) I set a deadline every year of October 1 for them to decide, once the choice was made they couldn't change it and i spent the rest of the month creating something fabulous. Best of's: Felix the Cat, Albert Einstein, the verizon guy (can you hear me now) and zombie Steve Irwin. So much fun and great memories!

  • BambuEarth

    Amber from BambuEarth said 7 years ago

    My mom always made my costumes too. I remember sewn orange fabric stuffed with batting all around my four year old body. I was the cutest pumpkin ever.. .if I do say so myself. Since I was old enough to, I've always made my own costumes. I love the creative aspect of halloween. To be honest, it's really one of the only parts of halloween I like. ♥

  • nadene

    Even Howard from nadene said 7 years ago

    I love how even the last minute costumes that are described in the comments were DIY~ there's an interesting conundrum around glorifying handmade and then taking it to a point where it isn't fun or creative anymore and just becomes another societal pressure and a marker for love. The precious stories of the fun that was had when being a towel rack or Annie Oakley with found objects around the house demonstrate that one of the joys of halloween is making use of what we already have and seeing our world and friends through new eyes.

  • lilbabybumble

    Dee from LittleBabyBumblebee said 7 years ago

    This is my second year making my son his halloween costume. I'm really excited and have all the boxes, paint, tape, and lights ready!

  • leeannasjewerybox

    Leeanna from LeeannasJewelryBox said 7 years ago

    I'm going as a photo booth enthusiast. I made all the props myself. As a youngster my all time favorite costume was the one my mom sewed for me, she hand made and angel outfit. Handmade is the way to go.

  • GenXNostalgia

    Christy W from GenXNostalgia said 7 years ago

    I've made the kids costumes every year (with the exception of one)....they are 16 and 13 now, still love dressing up, but my younger one just told me *today* that her favorite costume was a spider princess dress "because we actually went out and bought it from a store that year". AHH!! Maybe by the time grandbabies come along they'll appreciate my labors of love!

  • bloopbloops

    Michelle M from PenelopeandLala said 7 years ago

    My daughter is going as Minnie Mouse this year, she was so excited that I was making her dress and kept coming to chek on it. It was cute. We bought the ears. But the rest I made. My mom always made me a costume or we repurposed things from around the house. It's fun to be creative in a new way.

  • 3GirlSparkle

    Lori McAsel from 3GirlSparkle said 7 years ago

    I have always made my kids costumes. Four kids, four costumes. My two oldest have outgrown dressing up but thankfully my two youngest still enjoy it. I know my years of creating costumes are numbered so I'm taking my time this year and enjoying the process more than before. I have a bride and a cowgirl and I will have fond memories of every bit of tulle and leather we're using!

  • littleyellowcanoe

    Katrina Mason from CuttingPixels said 7 years ago

    I can't stand the store bought costumes. Too expensive, flimsy, and trashy.

  • glusk

    Tara Galuska from GluskDesigns said 7 years ago Featured

    My little sister in law is 13 and has been working for weeks on her handmade Halloween costume! Her creative use of materials and enthusiasm are so inspiring and I think that is what it is all about.

  • BanannieB

    Annie Bushka from BanannieB said 7 years ago

    I have wonderful memories of Halloween! As kids, my sibs & I had a "magical" old trunk in the attic. It contained all sorts of costumes our Mom had made over the years – Indian princess, Indian brave, Roaring 20s flapper, hobo, sailor, Cinderella, to name a few. We younger ones always chose something we hadn't worn before; Mom made new costumes chosen by the older girls, so the trunk got fuller every year. What a great childhood!

  • iammieCLAYshop

    iammieCLAYshop from iammieCLAYshop said 7 years ago

    I wish I could join a Halloween party!

  • NicoAndMooMoo

    NicoAndMooMoo from NicoAndMooMoo said 7 years ago

    Yes, handmade... dias de los muertos themed! :D

  • kathyjohnson3

    Kathy Johnson from kathyjohnson3 said 7 years ago

    I loved making the kids' costumes when they were little, they still talk about it, something to treasure!

  • Megan1331

    Megan Vass from NorthShoreTreasury said 7 years ago

    One of my favorite childhood costume memories- (and probably the cheapest Halloween costume you can imagine!) was the year my parents bought a couple bags of purple balloons, taped them all over our jackets, and my sister and I were "GRAPES" for Halloween. In all my life, I've never worn a store-bought costume. I won't be dressing up this year, haven't done it for the last couple years because I had nowhere to wear my costume to. I always mentally imagine costumes through out the summer/fall though. My last costume was as 'Where's Waldo?' with a hat I knitted myself! Happy Halloween to all!

  • NikNakNook

    Susan M from NikNakNook said 7 years ago

    I've 'vintaged' my son's costumes for years - I start a couple months in advance, and i've managed to put together some great costumes from the thrift store - Woody, Indiana Jones (with a whip), a knight with chain mail, the Blues Brothers (for him and a friend, with an authentic 1960s suit) and this year, Rorschach from the Watchmen - although I did have to order the heat activated color change powder from an online source. It's fun, and his costumes are, if I may say so myself, spot on and always better than anything you can buy ready made - and cheaper.

  • JennasRedRhino

    Jennifer Boaro from TheCatBall said 7 years ago

    A DIY Halloween costume is the best way to use the boxes you get at Costco!

  • juln

    juln from LievanoGlass said 7 years ago

    My mother made all the most awesome costumes... Leopard, Pink Panther (zip up suits complete with tails and hoods with ears!), a full on cow suit... My favorite might have been the sparkly space man outfits with giant belts and capes. Oh, and the 11 year old girl dressed as a prostitute is an interesting choice of photo.

  • neulanen

    sylvi from sylvitaimi said 7 years ago

    how is that glamorous '20s girl a prostitute in anyone's mind?

  • DanielHensley

    Daniel Hensley from HoundsofApollo said 7 years ago

    Heck yes! DIY all the way! My best homemade costume yet was when I was 18 and only had about an hour between getting home from work and catching a ride to my first adult halloween party. I ran home, pulled all the tubes out of the toilet paper rolls, painted them red, and mounted them in groups of three around an old army vest. I took green twisty wire for the garden and made fuses for my homemade dynamite sticks. The fuses curled up and culminated at my shoulder where I taped them to the back of a digital kitchen timer that was ticking down. I put on mascara, cried over an onion, put duct tape over my mouth and went as a hostage. It was perfect! A little dark, but people were cracking up all night. I love DIY Halloween!

  • BuyMeLove

    Karyn and Chelsea from BuyMeLove said 7 years ago

    The effort my mom put into all of my costumes, whether for Halloween or a school play, is part of the reason I still love to dress up! You know those plush dragon and dinosaur tails that are popular for play time? Imagine the full dino suit. I've been everything from a dino to a sunflower to a purple princess, and as soon as I was old enough to start making my own costumes, I realized the immeasurable amounts of love my mom poured into all the work she did to make sure I had the coolest costume. Many of my own costumes are combinations of altered dollar store and thrifted items with retail-bought or made from scratch. I think my favorite so far has been my mermaid costume (complimented by my husband's pirate costume!) I made the tail, using a skirt as a reference but no pattern, the "shells," purple felt overlayed with iridescent fabric, and the fins all from scratch! I meticulously sewed beads and sequins to the tulle by hand, and found a cheap red wig. I handed out "bubbles" (glass vase filler plucked from a pouch full of glitter) to the kids who could guess which hand they were in, as my pirate husband guarded the "treasure," (candy in a homemade treasure box.) Oh, and I created a giant shell from foam board, acrylic paint, glitter, a lick and a promise, to place in my trunk to give the illusion I was sitting inside. The best compliment I got was from a friend's daughter, who said, "Mom, I really liked that mermaid. She was better than Ariel, because she gave us bubbles and didn't just sing." Best Halloween ever!

  • BuyMeLove

    Karyn and Chelsea from BuyMeLove said 7 years ago

    Oops! Sorry, that url didn't end up where I meant it to.

  • KarlitaCat

    Karla Curry from KarlitaCat said 7 years ago

    We're not big on Halloween so I refuse to spend a lot of money on cheap costumes, but I do making things myself. Since my daugther likes to dress up anyway I know she'll get more use out of her costume. Last year I made her a long tutu that I gathered at the bottom for a mermaid's tail. I made a barette with a starfish and pearl and she had simple sparkly makeup. She wanted to be a butterfly this year so I sewed some butterfly wings from a play silk. We've come up with some cute things for theme birthday parties, too - my daughter was Jessie from Toy Story (painted a cowboy hat red; she has red hair but I made a long red yarn braid; little sewn chaps and cowboy boots) and my then-infant son was Sid with a painted onesie and a wooden rocket.

  • ebkriley

    EBK Riley from DeeAndFee said 7 years ago

    Good to read this as I work on costumes for my daughters! Thanks for the post.

  • ansluasi

    ansluasi from OnceUponABookshop said 7 years ago

    One of my friends with older kids insists that they make their own costumes with items they thrift or repurpose, with only a tiny budget for purchased embellishments. Every year they come up with the most creative ideas, and have gotten their friends on board as well. I definitely plan on using this idea with my own daughter when she is older. For now, I am very thankful for plain color sweatsuits, yarn, felt and fusable iron tape. They allow me to be a creative fashion genius, if just for one day:)

  • RizzyRau

    RizzyRau from TheCraftyYena said 7 years ago

    My dads work is gonna be themed the wizard of oz and he got to be the lion. being short notice, me and my mom tossed together a headband of plastic canvas with looped yarn for a main and we braided a tail. Simple and fun! not to mention saves a lot of $ and way more original!

  • sunshyn76

    sunshyn76 said 7 years ago

    I don't see what is so wrong with store bought or second hand store bought costumes! We do both.

  • sunshyn76

    sunshyn76 said 7 years ago

    1977 R2D2:

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery said 7 years ago

    I dont think halloween is that big a deal here in the UK much, its fun but I sometimes think its mostly for adults getting dressed up or people having parties at home since trick or treating is deemed a bit too scary for halloween!

  • FeltHappiness

    Juliane Gorman from FeltHappiness said 7 years ago

    Growing up in the 70s I had homemade non-sewn costumes (as my mom was imaginative but not with a sewing machine). I've continued that in the same way for my kids - bin bags & tape make great bat wings! Usually everything has been done on the quick and cheap (which is half of the challenge/fun). Alas, this year my boys have gone the 'store bought route' : the eldest with a cool fabric mask off Etsy ( & the youngest insisted on a store bought hatchet (which as I surmised needs a bit of diy to make it comfortable on the the challenge continues!

  • sbanghart

    Sheena Lewis from BeautifulAgainBridal said 7 years ago

    My most memorable Halloween costume was a sparkly pink Glenda the Good Witch costume my mom made for me when I was maybe 5 or 6 (Wizard of Oz was my favorite movie for quite a few years). She even made me a matching hand sequined wand that I used for many years after that to do magic all over the house.... No bag costume will ever inspire those memories... thank you mom :)


    LaECLECTICa from Laeclectica said 7 years ago

    My children and I always made their costumes together. That was the best part of Halloween!

  • ribbonflowers

    ribbonflowers from Ribbonflowers said 7 years ago

    Well said! Please keep handmade costumes alive!

  • FreakyPeas

    FreakyPeas from FreakyPeas said 7 years ago

    Our house only allows creative hand made costumes!!!

  • QuitePoshHomeDesign

    QuitePoshHomeDesign from QuitePoshHomeDesign said 7 years ago

    I think handmade costumes are the best!!! Original. Creative. And a fun moment to share!

  • QuitePoshHomeDesign

    QuitePoshHomeDesign from QuitePoshHomeDesign said 7 years ago

    I think homemade costumes are the best!!! Original. Creative. And a fun moment to share!

  • funnygurll

    Amy said 7 years ago

    I make my daughters' costumes every year.. its the best part of Halloween! I didn't even realize so many people DIDN'T hand make them. I guess being a 70s-80s kid.. I think the fun is in the creativity and my mother ALWAYS made my costumes.

  • KiraArts

    Kira Sinclair from KiraArts said 7 years ago

    In 1999, the year Star Wars Episode 1 came out. I was in high school, and still loved dressing up for Halloween (I do to this day!). I had received comments from friends that thought I looked a bit like Natalie Portman and my mom and I decided I should dress up as Queen Amidala for Halloween. My mother, the woman who claims she "doesn't sew", sewed the main robe along with the decorative overlay parts from red velvet and faux fur, using glitter paint to do the gold filigree work on the front. The coolest part about the gold filigree was that she wrote my name in cursive, and then mirrored it. She put halves of clear plastic Christmas ornaments along the hem and placed glowsticks inside. To make the headpiece, she took a pool noodle and stuck each end onto the ends of a wood dowel, and then glued hair extension pieces to it. ( It goes down in my book as the BEST handmade costume ever. I won every costume contest I entered that year. And Mom still has the costume and will wear it on occasion if she has a Halloween party to go to.

  • Deadbydawn2007

    Dawn Odette from Deadbydawn2007 said 7 years ago

    My parents would not take me to buy a costume, so every year I would make & build my own! Like a giant pumpkin made from cardboard & paper mached with orange streamer paper & the face cut from black paper. It turned out really good back then for a 10 year old! To this day I still make my own costumes for Halloween, its more fun & unique.

  • nativestrandsjewelry

    Rachel from PeppersJewelry said 6 years ago

    I think that the homemade costumes have the capacity to be really creative.

  • greyghost

    Stacy Keenan said 6 years ago

    I've pieced my Halloween costume together two years running with the help of ETSY, by buying vintage clothing, shoes and making some accessories (with materials I can glue gun together, as I have limited sewing skills... ;) I wore them to work at a haunted attraction and received lots of compliments. It is a very affordable option, not very time-consuming and looks authentic!

  • recycledwares

    Nerrissa W from RecycledWares said 6 years ago

    For the past four years I have made "handmade" costumes for my stepson. I usually thrift shop for the clothing and alter it myself. The fun part is doing the make-up. Dracula, zombie, mad's so fun. This is his last year to trick or treat because he will be 13 next year. I'll miss it.

  • lmouer

    Lynsey from lmouer said 6 years ago

    Interesting read. Thanks for sharing!

  • fairyrealm

    Rima from fairyrealm said 6 years ago

    My kids used to come up with some very unusual ideas for their Halloween costumes. My challenges included a grocery bag, an abstract painting and an Egyptian mummy.

  • SmithCufflinks

    Jo Smith said 6 years ago

    Growing up the most memorable costume was when I went as a pumpkin. My parents bought an enormous balloon that was as tall as my whole torso. You had to blow it up by somehow using your vacuum cleaner on reverse. Once it was blown up we papier-mache'd the whole thing and painted it orange with a face on it. We cut out a whole on top for my head, hole on the bottom for my legs and two arm holes. I wore a green hat as the stem. More than one person whose doorbell I rang that night asked me to wait while they got their camera. I love Halloween. Last year we had 119 kids come to our door trick-or-treating - this year I'm hoping for even more!

  • agebo

    Ann Cosgrove from acbcDesign said 6 years ago

    As a kid I always had the store bought costumes out of a box. I loved them (even though those masks made my face kinda sweaty). I had a blast with them. As I got older, I then discovered how fun it was to make your own costumes. Rummaging though the local resale shops to put together the perfect outfit. Either way you go, Halloween costumes are tons of fun.

  • DarburyCottage

    Rosemary Wascher from DarburyCottage said 6 years ago

    Oh, I will be wearing my own hand sewn out fit. having a Halloween party with a theme of sleepy hollow. I am making a colonial dress to wear.

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 6 years ago

    Making the costume is most of the fun~

  • ikabags

    IKA PARIS from ikabags said 6 years ago

    oh Formidable !

  • jenstilley

    Jen Stilley from ArtfullyYoursByJen said 6 years ago

    Growing up, I was extremely lucky that I had a mom that loved to sew and was good at it. I always had some amazing handmade costume. I have no problem with purchasing a store bought costume but you just can't beat the quality of a handmade one and the love that goes into making it.

  • ideafillme said 6 years ago

    Love handmade costumes! :)

  • worksofwhimsy

    worksofwhimsy from worksofwhimsy said 6 years ago

    The most extravagant costume I ever made one of my kids was a cheetah costume/puppet like from the Lion King stage play. My kids always found a way to challenge me--peacock, Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas, Katy Perry....but I usually really enjoyed the process. Now that those years are passed, I'm little bit relieved and a little bit sad.

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat from mazedasastoat said 6 years ago

    My earliest memory of dressing up was in a group of kids with a "Wizard of Oz" theme. At about 4 or 5 years old, I was the youngest & got to be Toto the dog... complete with a sheepskin rug sewn onto the back of a cream onesie made by my talented mother. The only problem was, the kid who was Dorothy was a bossy little madam & every time I opened my mouth she said "Be quiet Toto, bad dog" & everyone else thought it was funny. :-/

  • lkdKids

    Laura Ducommun from lkdKids said 6 years ago

    My mother made the best homemade halloween costumes with us! I have such great memories of going through the house to find supplies or raiding my aunts fabric salvage piles (she worked at a fabric store!) and finding just the right scraps to make a cool costume. Clowns, belly dancers, hula girls, angels (coat hanger and Christmas tinsel halo anyone?), puppy dogs, cheer leaders, raggedy name it and we created it at home. I have two children now and make their costumes as well. Could I easily buy something pre-made? Of course, but taking the time to make something is so much fun and it is something we get to do together as a family. I wouldn't give that up for the world! This year: wonder woman and superman! I love hearing about everyone else's fun ideas and childhood family memories! Thanks for the post!

  • monstergilbert

    monstergilbert said 6 years ago

    YES! I committed to making my son's costume from his first Halloween, and now have to make two. I've twice the kids and half the time this year, but I am determined. Anyway, it gives me an excuse to work my creative muscles. Something I rarely have time for anymore.

  • richdon1

    Rich and Dona from TheCottageMouse said 6 years ago

    Love hand made anything. This post was marvelous.

  • byAngeline

    Angeline Crowder from byAngeline said 6 years ago

    My best Halloween memory was in 5th grade. I told my Mom I wanted to just "be love" for Halloween she made me a giant red stuffed heart complete with arrow. I still display the pic of me in that costume proudly! Two years ago my daughter wanted to be "love" for Halloween so I sewed two giant stuffed hearts one pink one purple and we both went as "love" together. My sewing machine broke so I am having to be more creative in making her a dog costume this year. My kids prefer homemade and they are better costume designers then I am!

  • LetterKayDesigns

    LetterKayDesigns from LetterKayDesigns said 6 years ago

    I remember my first handmade Halloween costume was a poodle skirt :)

  • heidibg

    Heidi from heidibg said 6 years ago

    I LOVE making my son's Halloween costume each year. I think I get as excited as him. This year he'll be Mr. Peanut.

  • starlightwoods

    Lisa DiSciascio from starlightwoods said 6 years ago

    Our standby is a nerd mixed with a little punky brewster, we can pull that together out of whatever is in our closets :)

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 6 years ago

    Never say never!

  • bedouin

    Nicole from Crackerjackarma said 6 years ago

    I had a great cowgirl costume I wore every year until I couldn't fit into anymore. Love that sweet illustration at the top ~

  • paperlovespen

    paperlovespen from paperlovespen said 6 years ago

    going to try! Love the quote from Maxwell at Design Sponge!

  • Themissingtagvintage

    Caroline and Brandon Matey from TheMissingTagVintage said 6 years ago

    My mom made our costumes for many of our childhood years. So grateful for those memories and her craftiness. Someday I would like to sew halloween costumes for my future little one. :)

  • efflorescentmetals

    Katie from efflorescentmetals said 6 years ago

    Growing up the best part of Halloween to me were the costumes which all the women in my family would help make from witches to medieval ladies I loved it all. I hope to do the same with my own daughter so she can reminisce when she grows up!

  • TwinsFromOz

    Jeanette Stone from TwinsFromOz said 6 years ago

    Over here in Australia the 'Halloween' concept is still emerging and until recently Aussie kids could only wear fancy dress costumes to the rare 'Costume Party' that would come their way. When I see the mass produced 'costumes' on offer it makes me feeling like weeping as they are awful! Full marks to the mums and grandmas and the occasional dads for whipping up an outfit from material on hand. My twin sister who lives in the US convinced me to start making Handmade costumes (as she does) and the feedback from other mums here has been very encouraging. So 'Halloween' is now on my calendar every year for my grandsons and they love !

  • birdie1

    Laurie from BirdinHandVTG said 6 years ago

    My mom always sewed our Halloween costumes. My little sister and I were wee witches with orange yarn hair hanging from a pointy black hats appliqued with a big felt pumpkin. Another year we were leopards in one-piece suits. Our biggest fear was that the Chicago weather would be such that we'd have to cover our beautifully-made costumes with a coat!

  • NaturelMistik

    Naturel Mistik from NaturelMistik said 6 years ago

    I am rather sure that I enjoy making the costumes as much as, if not more than, my daughter enjoys wearing them. Several years back Spookly the Square Pumpkin was made from a box and assorted shades of orange crepe paper. Last year she went as the corpse bride - long dress from Goodwill doctored up with organza and spray paint. When I was young my mom made me a leopard suit - I would wear it all day and do cartwheels in the front yard. Halloween is the best!!

  • snippetsandstitches

    Karen Relfe from MakeMinePatchwork said 6 years ago

    The best costume I ever wore was a joint effort between my mom and myself. I must have been 10 or 11. I wanted to be a butterfly. We searched local thrift shops and found a gaudy red and orange silk dress that my mom cut down for me. I made wings cut from a cardboard refrigerator box. They were taller than I was. I covered them with red foil Christmas wrap and decorated them with sequins, paint, buttons, fabric, anything I could get my hands on. We made a Lone Ranger style mask out of fabric and put black pipe cleaners on it for antennae. That costume won two awards. What a great memory! My only regret is that somehow not one photo of that costume still exists.

  • ShoeClipsOnly

    kathy johnson from ShoeClipsOnly said 6 years ago

    I loved making the kids' costumes when they were little, I really miss that but luckily I have grandchildren (just had another grandson on Saturday!!) I think it means a lot to them and even my step-daughter still talks about the pretty costume I made her when she was 10!

  • HabitNation

    Rebecca and Daniel from HabitNation said 6 years ago

    Two years ago, I made the kids pirate costumes out fleece. They each wore black vest with red trim and skull and bones on the back. My son had a pair of outgrown green pants that I cut in a zig-zag around the knees to make into shorts with camo long johns underneath. They each had a black belt with "gold" buckle and red head wrap. My daughter had a red skirt, black leggings and brown boots. It was so much fun to see them dressed like this and they still pull out the vests every now and then! This year, I plan on making an Indian costume (think Pocahontas) for my daughter, who's now 7, and explorer costume (think Lewis and Clark or Daniel Boone) for my son (now 4)!

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 6 years ago

    Look forward to Halloween each year...It really is our favorite time of the year.....So many fun things happen during this time....Some of our favorite gatherings and festivals....

  • anorth90

    Ashley Sturgill from StarandArrowDesigns said 6 years ago

    My favorite costume was this HUGE fluffy kangaroo my mom sewed (breaking dozens of sewing machine needles in the process). I don't know much about sewing but I am attempting my first sewing project by making an Ewok costume for our 3 month old. Seems I will be carrying on my mother's tradition. Homemade costumes are the best type of costumes.

  • snowflakesara20

    Sara from UrbanFarmhouseTampa said 6 years ago

    Homemade costumes are great. I am not one who can sew - except for basics but I have put together several fun costumes by hand. A little creativity goes a long way.

  • CrochetUniverse

    Crochet Universe from CrochetUniverse said 6 years ago

    I'm making a costume this year:) I think its much more fun than buying one:)

  • cheezgoddess

    Keira from StampCards said 6 years ago

    Thats an important part of the process, The costume is just the end result of the fun it took to create it. Make it your own!

  • sarahkdesigns

    Sarah from sarahkdesigns said 6 years ago

    I've had homemade costumes since I was a toddler. My Mother made me a bunny, a fairy princess, a leopard, a roll of lifesavers, a bag of M&Ms. My sister and I dressed up one years as punk rockers. When I was 8 or 9 I was a newspaper - because Cyndi Lauper had a skirt made out of newspapers and I had to have one too. I was a hippie when I was a teenager. My last childhood costume was to be the grim reaper. My Mother made the robe. I still dress up for Halloween, although as an adult I wear the same costume every year. Long black dress under a long robe with plastic lizards and frogs and spiders sewn to it. My Mother sewed the garments, I attached all the animals. I wear this get up when I hand out candy... to various reactions. It goes over quite well with the teenage boys. Small children? Maybe not so much. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.

  • FlutterbyeNotes

    Amie Jones from FlutterbyePrints said 6 years ago

    I LOVE making Halloween costumes. It is so fun to see what you can piece together to make your creation. One year as a child I was a gift-wrapped present (my arms and legs poking out of a large box, and a bow on my head) and my best friend was Marge from the Simpsons. Her mother made that tall blue hair out of egg-crate style bed foam painted blue. This year my son begged me to make a wizard costume - so we went shopping together, found an old graduation gown I modified and spent an hour in the fabric store for pieces we needed for the hat. At home, he ran outside and found a large branch for his staff. It was a special day for him. A previous year, he was obsessed with 'The Grinch', so I stitched up a grinch costume for him, and a Cindy Lou Hoo costume for his little sister. He wore that costume all year, even in the summer - and it was a furry jumpsuit with a hood!

  • houseofmark

    Salpie and Karena from HouseOfMark said 6 years ago

    Love original handmade Halloween costumes. My mother would make ours every year when we were repeating that tradition for my son. Actually have been for my and my husband's costumes for the past years. It's unique, original and the process is so much FUN.

  • babaluccia1

    Babaluccia-FATTO con AMOre from Babaluccia said 6 years ago

    Even my kids are trying qualsoca old closet to be original even if we are in Italy .. fancy dress parties are always special for them

  • YearsAfter

    Sharon from YearsAfter said 6 years ago

    I always loved Halloween! I would take my mom's old dresses, cut the hem and use 2 rhinestone brooches to pull it together so it looked like it fit. My brother and I used to make our own Trick or Treat bags. It was such a creative time for us! Creating your own with vintage jewelry has such a unique look!

  • Powerofflower

    Lorena Balea-Raitz from LorenasInkDesigns said 6 years ago

    Such a fun time... love to see everybody in great costumes!

  • cardboardcollect

    cardboardcollect from cardboardcollect said 6 years ago

    We have made a celebration of creating our own costumes every year for Halloween here in Tokyo. Since we have limited space and we care a great deal about the environment, we started making our costumes out of cardboard so that they can be entirely recycled. I have posted pictures of our costumes and other tips and tricks as part of a cardboard costume challenge on my blog. If you'd like to get inspired, come have a look! Last year I made a cardboard mermaid costume and this year I'm working on cardboard luna moth and grasshopper costumes.

  • iammieCLAYshop

    iammieCLAYshop from iammieCLAYshop said 6 years ago

    I'll be wearing my handmade vampire costume this year. :)

  • GeorgieGirlLLC

    D George from GeorgieGirlLLC said 6 years ago

    I always loved the westerns and the saloon girls, never really understood what there job was at the time, but I loved their dresses!!

  • SewforYou

    Cynthia from SewforYou said 6 years ago

    Halloween involved making many special memories by picking out material and making the costumes with my children. We would do it in August before the busy school year began when we needed a summer project. Now that the kids are all grown up, I create costumes for my Etsy site. It's so much fun to think about who will be wearing them as I put them together. Someday I hope to have grandchildren to sew for and carry on the tradition.

  • PennyBirchWilliams

    Penny Birch-Williams from PennyBirchWilliams said 6 years ago

    Great stories here! Love this creative community. My mom made wonderful costumes too. My favorites were Raggedy Ann & Andy costumes that my sister and I wore. She also made me a 17th century ladies gown when I was in my late teens. I've made costumes for my kids, including a pink tabby cat, fairy, hippie, & Cap'n Jack Sparrow. I still love dressing up too!

  • ashcorbail

    Ashley B from NewUsedVintage said 6 years ago

    i too am making my sons costume, i do every year as well, this year he is a viking and last year was a pirate. he is only 5 but loves handmade ones, they just seem more authentic and realistic., it takes some time but its worth it. no run of the mill costumes at my house :) Happy Halloween

  • SherisSoapOpera

    SherisSoapOpera from SherisSoapOpera said 6 years ago

    I am going to a party with a lot of graphic arts people and I usually don't even try, they are so good...this year, had a fun idea . I am dressing like a #2 PENCIL. Yellow top,yellow sweatpants with #2 written on the side, black boots, pink knit hat, and silver ribbon around my neck. Only thing I'm worried about? Wearing yellow sweatpants, ewwwww! Growing up, my mom really didn't get into making costumes, but I still had a great time wearing my "Mini Queen" plastic mask with the elastic band that always broke.

  • neonpinklemonade

    Ali Collier from CharmingMagic said 6 years ago

    Yeah! My parents made the best costumes for my sisters and I. My favorite was when I was the cowardly lion... until it rained on us then it was the heaviest costume in the world to wear around. These days my friend Paula and I keep the tradition going by making costumes for us and our husbands. They are going to be Shrek and Fiona. My husband and I will be the dragon and donkey. Just simple masks and funny outfits but I never have an excuse to use glitter so I'll take it where I can get it!

  • crazyartsmake

    Dickson Lee from newjewelryarts said 6 years ago

    I really admire you that all of you could enjoy Halloween, Christmas...In China, massive real societies custom, the national tradition and the folk knowledge have disappeared. What a terrible thing.

  • birose

    Rose from BigIslandRoseDesigns said 6 years ago

    When I had little kids I did a lot of quick and dirty costumes. It was always fun. One year I saw a pattern in a craft magazine for a butterfly costume. I made it for my daughter. The day of Halloween I didn't have anything for my baby, then it hit me. I had this ugly green sheet. I turned it into a caterpillar costume for him, it was great. Another time my daughter wanted to go as Snow White so I found some scraps and old clothes and made her a gown. I made her brother into Prince Charming. Even recently I had to make my 30 year old son some dog paws and hat. This year I had to make a gnome outfit for my grandson. Homemade costumes are the best especially last minute ones!

  • KitKatCabaret

    KitKatCabaret from KitKatCabaret said 6 years ago

    I made costumes in my very early years, many from up cycled vintage clothing, I made an I dream of Jeanne costume from a blue peignoir robe, and gown and folded cardboard around in a circle to make a Jeanne hat then gently sewed the Diaphanous blue materials around the hand made hat togo around the wearers chin, I had to hand make (SEW)The costume for the little bathing suit type bloomers I had to hand make and also sew the pretty blue sheer leggings materials onto the swim suit like pants so the costume was complte I am working on a very pretty gothic witchy costume for my own and alo have a kitty costume I made

  • KitKatCabaret

    KitKatCabaret from KitKatCabaret said 6 years ago

    This year my costume is a kitty

  • bonbonoriginals

    Bonnie Pelikan from BonBonOriginals said 6 years ago

    One year (about 1950) my sisters and I went as Indians. Our "buckskin" dresses were brown grocery bags with holes cut for the arms and head and fringes cut on the bottom. We colored in "beadwork", inspired by the colored pictures in the enclycopedia. I remembere that costume so fondly that I had my girls do the same in the 1970's.

  • ThomasHouhaDesigns

    Tom and Patty Houha from ThomasHouhaDesigns said 6 years ago

    Great memories of my Mom sewing lovely costumes for Halloween.

  • CrochetKnit30

    CrochetKnit30 from CrochetKnit30 said 6 years ago

    Every year I make my daughters costumes! They are grown now and I still make them :) It's great trying to figure out what they're going to be and how we can accomplish making the costume. Very fun and fond memories all the time!

  • secondNCG15

    MA from FoxgloveHillDesigns said 6 years ago

    Every year until just recently, my Grandma made hand-sewn costumes for my sister and I. The first Halloween I remember, I was five years old and my sister and I wore matching Clifford the Big Red Dog suits with our names and ages sewn into the red cap with yellow thread. My birthday is in September, so every time my Grandma came to visit, she would take our measurements and ask us what we wanted. I have been everything from a kangaroo to the Statue of Liberty to a St. Pauli's Beer Girl. I managed to fit into my St. Pauli's costume three years later at a Ren fair! I only wore commercial costumes once or twice, and it just wasn't the same. My sister and I haven't done Halloween for the last few years, as we're out of touch with our suburban-dwelling friends and quite a lot older than your average Trick-r-Treating crowd, but we'll always have that special experience of handmade costumes.

  • akikojenncosplays

    Jennifer from CosplaysbyAkikoJenn said 6 years ago

    I love handmade costumes. I make my own, my niece and nephews. I get so many complements.

  • carrieroot

    carrie root from therootstudio said 6 years ago

    My ultimate homemade costume when I was a kid was a ghetto blaster. My dad took me to the dump where we picked through old tvs to find buttons. Then he duck-taped a old recorder to the inside of this box that I was wearing, so you could actually put a tape in and play music. I won best costume, but I'll never forget how fun the trip to the dump was or the fact I my arms couldn't reach each other so I couldn't put candy into the trick or treat bag! I still dress up and make my own costumes as well as my kids. Love Halloween.

  • thebeadgirl

    lisa lehmann from thebeadgirl said 6 years ago

    my kids love and remember the most...our handmade costumes. yes, it's a lot of work...but we do it together and the joy comes in the creating! it's more than a's an experience!

  • lapisbeach

    Lauren from lapisbeach said 6 years ago

    I agree - growing up it was elaborate homemade costumes all the way ( we felt sorry for the store bought costume kids)- but maybe it was because the store bought costumes were sad themselves....all plastic and terrible looking.....It is a dying tradition - making your own costumes. Yay for all the people above keeping that tradition alive!

  • sweetmountainlaurel

    Cathy Pack from sweetmountainlaurel said 6 years ago

    My girls wore handmade costumes every year they went treating. It was a yearly ritual going to the fabric and hobby stores to find everything needed. We had so much fun together. Precious memories.

  • Motleycouture

    Motleycouture from Motleycouture said 6 years ago

    Brings back memories of the costumes I made for my children. I enjoyed it and I hope they did too! Lots of fun! Great feature!

  • BambuEarth

    Amber from BambuEarth said 6 years ago

    My mom always made my costumes growing up. Either she stitched them, or we got creative and put pieces of clothing and accessories together to make epic costumes. Loved it. ♥♥♥

  • jenniferadventures

    Jennifer Hales from BugAndBoy said 6 years ago

    My mom always made my costumes growing up. And since I have been out of the house I have always tried to make something home made. It may not be completely some times where I had accessorized with costume pieces I had to buy. But I am a firm believer that the best costumes are the ones that I had made myself.

  • kfelt

    Felt K from feltk said 6 years ago

    So nice,love your pictures!!!

  • theuncommonevent

    theuncommonevent from BlueLaceBoutique said 6 years ago

    It is my daughter's first Halloween this year and I want to make it extra special by designing her costume myself. It has been a very exciting process. This may become a yearly tradition!

  • VintageLoot

    Jennifer Johnson from VintageLoot said 6 years ago

    My kids insisted on mass produced costumes. It was nearly impossible to talk them into wearing one I made! The 2 times I made them costumes, they won contests with them!

  • mattiereadsabook

    Mattie Adam said 6 years ago

    My mom was an amazing DIY costumer, since she didn't believe in store-bought costumes. My personal favorite creation was matching jellyfish costumes for my sister and I. She took some cheap sombreros, stuffed them with newspaper and covered them with shimmery fabric (stapling it in place), then stapled bits and pieces of found ribbon dangling off the edges to act as the tentacles. Pair with leggings and a homemade poncho of similar shimmery fabric, and you have a one kick-ass, no-sew jellyfish costume!

  • WackyWanitas

    WackyWanitas from WackyWanitaDesigns said 6 years ago

    I got to help my friends' kids with their costumes this year and they are so excited! Between parties at school and trick-or-treating, they're going to have several opportunities to share their homemade costumes with friends and neighbors, and I agree: the enthusiasm that is spilling out of them on all sides wouldn't be the same if they'd grabbed something off the rack in the shop. Kids get special attention on Halloween, and they earn it if they have a part in their outfits. It is a great holiday.

  • SaMTRoN666

    Nico Peralta from SkullDezign said 6 years ago

    somewhere down the road we lost ourselves to not-so-great pre-made costumes from chain stores. Making costumes is time consuming but so much more rewarding and fun! Not to mention being almost anything you want.

  • DetectivBrunette

    Jenelle from DetectivBrunette said 6 years ago

    My mom was Etsy and Pinterest WAY before they ever existed :-) She would have been addicted just like I am. I always had handmade costumes made by Mom. I think her crowning achievement was a medieval empire-waisted gown of shining green silky material complete with gauntlets over flowy fabric sleeves, with a panel of green velvet in the front which happened to be heirloom velvet from my great-grandmother. It was trimmed in twisted gold piping and an antique jeweled brooch and I felt every inch a prosperous medieval maiden. She never did anything halfway and even though we were always watching our pennies (I don't know HOW she afforded the material for that gown!!), she always made the very best. I still gleefully make my own costumes every year and am SO looking forward to making them for my kiddos. I'm due with my first in January. :-) Halloween's always been my favorite holiday because of Mom's boundless creativity.

  • alimartin467

    Ali Martin from JustIzzyDesign said 6 years ago

    lol, my little guy is barely three months old, but I cant wait to put his halloween costume together. I have such fond memories of my mom calling me into her sewing room to try on my costume again and again to make sure everything fit just right. Hand made costumes are a big part of what makes Halloween so much fun!

  • glendalee

    glenda puhek from glendalee said 6 years ago

    I want to share a Mom-made Halloween costume story. When I was about 8 years old, mom saw a playing card with an illustration of a "little old fashioned girl"…strictly Victorian, all pastel with a hooped ruffled skirt, ruffled pants, big brim had with ribbon ties and flowers, and a cape. I didn't know she was making it. So on a very chilly October Saturday my mom dressed me up, and we went to a costume contest at a local park. The judges plucked me and about 7 other people from the crowd to be assessed by the crowd. The costume, which won first place, was a bride and groom who seemed to be either adult or college aged. They kissed for the crowd and sold their costumes. The judge asked me what I was…I had no idea. Panicked, I looked at my mom from the small stage we were all standing on. She smiled and said "Tell him you are a little old fashioned girl". He gave me a prize but I don't remember what it was. I appreciated everything my mom sewed over the years, but that was the most surreal experience of my younger life. I guess I was sort of my mom's living doll…so it makes sense that we are making doll clothes for Barbie now on Etsy…clothes for my mom's doll collection.

  • mandymoomoo

    Mandy Crawley from WorthensMercentile said 6 years ago

    My mom made our costumes every year, and of the 5 years I've been a momma she has either carried on the tradition of making my kiddos costumes or letting them pick one out of the big bin of costumes from Halloweens past. now that I've quit my "day job" (my shop remains my moonlight gig, the kids are now my day job) I hope to make their costumes one of these years! It just never even occurs to me to buy one at a store, I agree that there is just something sad about them, I have such awesome memories of planning costumes as a family!

  • sharonwhite831

    Sharon White from PitchsStitches said 6 years ago

    I love Halloween and every year I would make home made costumes for my 2 children. Some of the highlights were Bo Peep (my daughter) and her sheep (my son), a car complete with headlights, dinosaur with 4 foot tail, a golf course, and the energizer bunny. I actually cried the year that they decided that were too old to go out trick or treating. Well, this year, I have a new grandson and I am making him a Lobster costume (LOL) and once again enjoying being creative and using my sewing skills. If I have time this year, I am planning on making costumes for my dogs - how fun!!

  • TreasuredMemoryLane

    Sujata from TreasuredMemoryLane said 6 years ago

    It was fun making Halloween costumes for my kids for years. I made all kinds of costumes for them. Their first question after coming home form school used to be be "is it done mom"? or when you will complete it. It was so fun.

  • jdvstone2008

    BabyHatIsland from BabyHatIsland said 6 years ago

    I made my son a fried egg costume with a bacon hat. It turned out great, something ill want to add to my shop next year!

  • TealPoodle

    TealPoodle from TealPoodle said 6 years ago

    I just love handmade costumes, that's what Halloween is really about.

  • HalfDressed

    Christine from HalfDressed said 6 years ago

    I love costumes and dressing up. When I was a kid, there was a neighborhood Care Bare costume that almost every kid wore when they reached the right size. It was home made by one of the mothers. As I grew older I made my own costumes, usually out of stuff that was around the house. This year my husband and I were Mary Poppins and Bert, all items were out of our closet.

  • dominna

    Katrina Dzerkale from Dominna said 6 years ago

    This year i had my first Halloween in USA :) Was amazing !

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