12 simple do-it-yourself costumes

Does your child dream of wearing the most elaborate Halloween costume on the block? Does she covet the creative trick-or-treating outfits put together by the neighbors’ moms each year?

Most parents don’t have the time to sit down at a sewing machine to whip up costume creations. So we’ve compiled an assortment of costume ideas that are not only adorable, but easy and fun for kids to help make. Your children will be proud strutting around the neighborhood in something they helped put together.

When brainstorming your own costume ideas, the best way to start is to combine your knowledge with your child’s inventive ideas. Together, jot down famous people, historical figures and fictional characters. After you get your creative minds flowing, start searching for materials. Whip out a little glue and leftover panels of felt. The most time-consuming part of your soon-to-be-fabulous costume is either a trip to the “attic store’-as we call it in our house-or the nearest Goodwill.

The ’50s couple

This part could be played by any couple, no matter the age or height. A parent and child could easily attend a costume party in this classic look. Until the poodle skirt and cardigan make a fashion comeback, this remains a great costume idea. You can use fabric paint to adorn an existing skirt with a poodle, or do as we did and get a pattern from your local fabric store, along with some glue, felt and cotton balls.

Butterfly or ladybug

For this costume to really take off, you’ll need a cape of some sort or a few yards of felt. The color can vary, depending on your favorite butterfly. Then, create a unique pattern for the wings, or make black dots for a ladybug. For the antennae, use a headband, pipe cleaners and pompoms.


This puppy started off as a plain white long-sleeved shirt and felt dots. Cut out oddly shaped felt spots and glue them randomly onto the shirt to make your canine the cutest of all the dogs on the block.


Pirates are eclectic characters, and their personalities really come through in their clothing. Stripes are popular, along with vests, belts and plenty of gold jewelry.


Not only is this costume very simple, it doesn’t require a landscaper-you’ll be one yourself by the time you’re finished. For starters, you’ll need a green sweat shirt and matching green sweat pants to serve as the stem of your flower. For the top, stitch felt petals onto a ski hat. The flower you make could be any of an array of colors. Two possibilities: a white daisy or a sunflower.


To be your own Bozo you will need one crazy wig, face paint and a personally decorated (with fabric paint) shirt. Color is key for this fun costume. To add to the amusement, you could try to learn how to juggle, make balloon animals, get an invisible dog on a leash-or just tell some jokes.

Army Dude and Uncle Sam

Our army dude wore an army print jacket and grunge jeans from a Goodwill store. He has an authentic helmet and canteen from Military& Police Supply, 7351 Madison St., Forest Park. Uncle Sam is wearing his own blue slacks and a sailor jacket from Goodwill. The red, white and blue flowers and ribbon for his bow were from a craft store-on sale after the Fourth of July.

Miss America

A glamorous role to be played by a true little starlet. The biggest necessity is the sash, although the flowers and crown are important, too. The hand wave should come naturally. A crown can be constructed in many ways, but we recommend gluing as much glitter and gems as possible to a foam cutout. The dress is the fun part: an old flower girl ensemble or a glittery Easter dress like this one we found at a Goodwill store will do the trick.

Indian and cowgirl

Most of the articles for these costumes can be found at a secondhand store. Our little Indian is wearing a leather shirt with fringe, a belt, a headband and feathers from Goodwill. Our cowgirl donned her own jean skirt with a collared shirt, bandana, cowgirl hat, boots and a horse on a stick. When you go looking, you must be ready to rummage around.

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