Olivia Poor has been blowing us away with homemade Halloween costumes for her three littles for a few years now. Here, she shares her best tips to help you get crafting in time for trick-or-treating (not to mention some seriously swoon-worthy inspiration).
Start with the basics.
For a costume base, look through clothes that your kids have just outgrown or simply don’t wear anymore. It’s much easier to make alterations to a garment than it is to create a piece from scratch. The dress for my mini Marie Antoinette was an old favorite. I changed up the shape of the neckline, added fabric poofs at the hips, inserted boning to make a hoop skirt, and tacked on lace trim to the bottom. None of the alterations were particularly difficult or time consuming. I’m far from a seamstress, and took some shortcuts like pinning and gluing when sewing was challenging.
If you don’t have anything at home that works as a base, source basic t-shirts, leggings or onesies at a local clothing store. I have twice relied on the same unitard I purchased on Amazon, once in green for a cricket, and again in beige for my alien. It’s a sweet silhouette that frames the face, and holds up to frills and add-ons.
Choose materials wisely.
If you decide to try your hand at a fully homemade costume, think through the fabrics and techniques that will save time. Felt is no-fail, hides imperfections, and can be purchased in almost any color you can think of. It’s easy to work with, too. Enlist the help of the kids by choosing a thick needle and embroidery thread or even pre-punching holes they can lace through.
The kids might also enjoy cutting up strips of newspaper and dunking them in a mixture of equal parts flour and water to create paper mache elements, like we did to make the horns on one of my forest people. The paper mache should be draped over a form made from balloons, tape or wire. It dries light and can be attached to a headpiece without weighing it down.
Use found items.
Think outside the box when it comes to the small costume details. The alien’s feet are dishwashing gloves and I once made a spider girl headpiece from bent hangers, affixed to one another using a hot glue gun, and covered with tulle and furry spiders from the Halloween aisle at the drug store. Craft paint can transform even the most unexpected household items.
When in doubt, go oversized. Though it may make pushing to the front of the candy line a bit more challenging, costumes are a lot more fun when you think big. Use wire to get extra height in a headpiece, or a crinoline and hooping to give dresses some body.
Don’t forget the details.
The most exciting part of making costumes is shopping for embellishments at craft stores like Joann’s and Michael’s or specialty shops like M&J Trimming in New York. These stores have aisles of patches, ribbons, faux furs, feathers and flowers to add some flair to Halloween. You might have to look further afield for some details, like I did for the glass eyes I used in the alien head, but the search is half the fun!