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Friday 8 November 2019

My favorite Costume Making Supplies

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Ok, I hear you...

Halloween was last week. No more costumes!

But if you ask me, dressing up in costumes is for all year round - especially when they're easy to make accessories that can be worn with anything. Plus, I know that if I don't share these easy tips now while it's all fresh in my mind, I'll forget to share before next Halloween too! Shh... pretend I didn't say that!

You may have noticed through the years that our Halloween costumes are almost always made up of clothes and accessories that can be worn over and over and over. These are my favorite types of costumes as they reduce waste, can be worn by multiple kids (or adults!), and they encourage fun dress ups at any time of year. If you know Mathilde, then there's a good chance that you've seen her dressed as a coyote at random times. Oh look, there she is being a coyote on squirrel patrol - and it's not even Halloween!

So, today I'm sharing my favorite costume making supplies, including one very special "secret ingredient" that saves a ton of time and makes costume making easier no matter your crafting skills. Make sure you read through to the end for that one.

Primary.com Basics
The base to almost all of our Halloween costumes (and party dress ups) are pajamas, t-shirts or dresses from Primary.com. Primary is my favorite place for kids basics in solid colors. They have a great range of basics including leggings, t-shirts, shorts, sweaters, dresses, skirts and of course pajamas for babies through to size 12. Pretty much everything they make is available in their whole color range, which makes coordinating for costumes easy. Long pajamas are generally our go to. I've used them for our Pikachu, lobster, Minecraft creeper and panda, Bendy, coyote, robot, smurf and unicorn costumes over the years. Of course, they get worn regularly as pajamas too, and the quality is great so they can be passed down from kid to kid. Primary dresses have also come in handy when the kids dressed up as the Powerpuff Girls a few years back, Mathilde's Smurfette costume, Ava's Link costume this year, and Mathilde's Wild Kratts themed 4th birthday party. Shop the Primary range here.

Felt is my absolute favorite material to work with for costume accessories. It comes in a huge range of colors, is thick enough for accessories that need to hold their own, and can be easily glued when you don't feel like sewing. Plus it's thick enough to hide said glue! I use felt for all sorts of costume accessories. It's the perfect material for making ears on headbands, tails of all sorts, hats, masks, belts and decorations on t-shirts etc. I like that felt can be left un-hemmed unlike other fabrics, and there's no worry about it fraying on the edges. The other great thing about felt is that you can buy it small squares, so if you only need a small amount for an accessory there's little waste. Of course, for larger costume pieces Like Mathilde's lobster tail or Ava's turkey costume (that she wore for Thanksgiving one year), you can buy felt by the yard/metre too.

Yarn is my go to material when it comes to making hair for costumes. Sure, it's not the most realistic looking material, but neither are most of my costumes! I've used yarn for a long Elsa braid, a unicorn's mane and tail, and Smurfette's hair attached (but detachable) inside a felt Smurf hat. Even though I have no idea how to knit, I love working with yarn for costumes. It comes in a huge range of colors, is super soft, and is generally pretty cheap (unless you're going for high quality wool). Plus, you can make a LOT of hair with just one ball of yarn. For Mathilde's Smurfette costume I stitched lengths of yarn to a piece of velcro to be attached to the inside of a Smurf hat. I could have easily sewn the yarn directly to the inside of the Smurf hat, but I liked the idea of it being removable should Mathilde also like to dress as any other Smurf. You can see my Smurf costume DIY here. For Lola's unicorn costume I stitched wool along the middle of a felt hat that I made to create the mane, and stitched longer lengths onto a piece of elastic (that I then turned into a belt) to create the tail. For Lola's Elsa hair I plaited long lengths of yarn together into a braid looped over an elastic headband. I then wrapped yarn around the elastic headband so that it was the same color and blended better into Lola's hair - although you'll see in the photo below that Lola was in such a hurry to go trick or treating that she never actually let me put it on her head properly! You get the idea though. 

Headbands come in handy for so many different costume accessories. I mostly use them as a base for ears for animal costumes. In the past I've used headbands to make bat, cat, coyote and Pikachu ears, as well as those antennae things that lobsters have. A headband came in handy for the giant bow that Ava needed with her Powerpuff Girl costume too, as well as for securing the mini top hat in place for her snowman costume. The kids and I have also made lots of Mickey Mouse ears with them. Lola had a Mickey Mouse party for her second birthday years ago and I made Mickey ears for all of her guests. You can find the DIY here. We've also more recently made bejeweled Mickey ears using the same technique. One of the best things about headband costume accessories is that they can be worn over and over by different people for different costumes. See those bat ears I'm wearing in the picture below? I originally made those for Lola when she was a bat for Halloween years earlier. They also came in handy when I ran out of time and decided to be a black cat the following year! And those Pikachu ears that I mentioned? Both Mathilde and I wore those this year as she dressed as Pikachu at school (before changing into her Bendy costume) and I dressed as Pikachu for trick or treating in the evening.

Hot Glue Gun
A hot glue gun is an essential tool for so many crafting projects around here. It's a fast an easy way to apply glue and it dries fairly quickly. It can get a little messy at times and it is very hot, so I always make sure to supervise the kids when they're using the hot glue gun. I love that hot glue guns can be used with a wide variety of materials. I use my hot glue gun on felt, cardboard, plastic, yarn, headbands... Pretty much everything I've included in this post! You can even make things like wizard wands with a hot glue gun by applying layers of glue to a chopstick. We've done that in the past for Harry Potter costumes and parties. If you're not so sure about using a hot glue gun, craft glue works pretty well too, but it does take much longer to dry and hold which can mean that materials might slip.

Cardboard Boxes
Got Minecraft obsessed kiddos like mine? Then cardboard boxes are a costume making must have! Luckily I always have a fairly large supply of cardboard boxes in various sizes on hand thanks to online shopping, so this is a costume supply that doesn't require me to go out of my way at all to acquire. A walk to the mail box or recycling bin and I'm set! I've used cardboard boxes to make costumes the past three Halloweens include Mathilde's robot costume, Ava's Creeper costume last year and Lola's Minecraft panda costume this year. When working with cardboard boxes for costume making you'll want a decent utility knife on hand. This Olfa Knife is my favorite. A rotary blade knife like this one can also be handy as well as a nice big cutting mat for cutting flat cardboard. And don't forget a stainless steel ruler for measuring and cutting straight lines! When it comes to covering and decorating cardboard boxes there really are so many options. You can use paint or marker, glue on decorative paper or fabric, wrap in foil, or, my favorite (and the next item on my list), cover in duck tape. Cardboard also comes in handy for smaller parts of my costume making. Sometimes I'll use small pieces inside of felt ears to make them stand up, or fashion accessories such as signs, swords, or an evil arch nemesis like cardboard Amoeba Boys Powerpuff Girl Lola is holding below! I ran out of time to make myself a proper costume that year so I stuck the cardboard cutouts on my dress with stick on velcro dots, put on a black hat and went as the Amoeba Boys!

Duck Tape
Duck Tape is a material I've been using for a few years now and I've got to say, it's a huge time saver! Got a box that needs covering for a robot or Minecraft costume? Duck tape to the rescue! If you're using a dark color it covers up any printing on the box in one go (lighter colors might need two layers), the color is nice and even, making straight lines is easy peasy, it's great for making checkered patterns (hello Minecraft!), and it makes the costume stronger and water resistant! A little rain on Halloween might destroy a painted cardboard costume, but one covered in duck tape will stay nice and dry. Oh, and it comes in a huge range of colors so you'll almost always be able to find just the right shade.  I like that duck tape is easy to tear so you can get away with not needing scissors for the most part. If you do need to use scissors to make neat edges (or a cutting knife to trim it) make sure to give them a clean as the tape can gum them up a little. You can find a DIY for Mathilde's robot costume here.

Ok, you've read this far; now for my secret ingredient...

Temporary Basting Glue
If you're not familiar with basting glue think of it as removable fabric glue. It's generally used for crafting or sewing projects such as quilting when fabric needs to be held in place before stitching. It's like a liquid version of pins! I like using basting glue for temporary costumes. I used it this year for the Pikachu costume that Mathilde wore for the school Halloween parade. She needed brown stripes on her back like Pikachu but I didn't want to permanently attach them to her yellow pajama top. So instead, after cutting out the stripes in felt, I generously dabbed basting glue around the edges of the stripes and then stuck them down on the back of her top. After a few hours the basting glue was dry and the stripes were firmly attached. Once Halloween was over, I put the top in a bucket of soapy water to soak, removed the stripes, and then threw the top in the wash. A costume one day, and back to a pajama top the next! I also used basting glue for the white section of Lola's Minecraft panda costume. I simply glued a white rectangle of felt to the front of her black pajama top. Super easy! I first used this method to dress the girls up in Wild Kratts inspired outfits for Mathilde's birthday party last year. I stuck colored paw print designs to the front of plain dresses, and then when the party was over I simply washed them off. When working with basting glue (or any type of glue on clothing) make sure to place a piece of cardboard inside the clothing to prevent the glue from going through the front and back. You'd hate to have them stuck together! The cardboard will also keep the fabric nice and taut so you can glue the accessories on evenly. I like to use Roxanne Glue-Baste-It which you can buy on Amazon here.

And there you have it. My favorite costume making materials and supplies!

Wondering where to find my favorite materials and supplies? Check out the list below. You can click each item to shop:
Basting Glue
Hot glue gun
Cutting Knife
Rotary Cutting Knife
Cutting mat
Duck Tape
Felt squares
Acrylic yarn
Primary.com basics

I'd love to hear what you use when making costumes. Do you have any favorite materials or "secret ingredients"?

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