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How to make a Katniss Everdeen costume for under $30

Katniss Everdeen

The Hunger Games hysteria that gripped the universe last fall is very much still at large. With a little help from my closet, a quick trip to the thrift store, my keen hunting (well, shopping) senses and a modest $30, I transformed into Katniss -- the perfect look for this year's Halloween costume.
Katniss Everdeen Haloween costume

Hunger Games Halloween costume

What you need:

  • Proper mindset to "hunt" for bargains
  • Thrift store
  • Medium-sized piece of cardboard (I salvaged the box that my new dress from Gilt came in)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Safety pin
  • Paintbrush
  • Pencil
  • Gold acrylic paint
  • Drawing of original Mockingjay pin
  • Hair tie

What you need to hunt for:

  • Black hoodie
  • Dark olive-green or brown cargo pants
  • Brown belt
  • Bow and arrows
  • Black leather jacket (optional)
  • Leather boots (closet find)
  • Old backpack (closet find)

Step 1: Don’t waste.

The number-one rule of a hunter and survivalist is to never let anything go to waste, and that includes items in your closets. Don't spend unnecessarily when you already have what you need.

Before my first quest into the thrifting wilderness (a land I am admittedly foreign to), I decided to take stock of what I already had. Turns out I have a pair of weathered-looking brown boots from two seasons ago, and they will work perfectly for my night as Katniss. Most of us girls have a variety of boots at our disposal, so I recommend finding your oldest brown pair and borrowing them for the occasion. If you also happen to have a black leather jacket hanging around, feel free to throw that on once you have everything else on — it could add an extra Katniss edge.

After I had boots covered, I found in my garage the perfect backpack to add to my Katniss getup. While it wasn't orange, and my nostalgic nature wouldn't allow me to spray paint it, the backpack still added the perfect touch. If you don't have a backpack handy, someone you know probably has a few old backpacks from college, or their kids have some they don't want any more. Don't be afraid to search and ask!

Step 2: Go hunting.

Go to your local thrift store and go "hunting" for all your Katniss clothing. First, you'll need a black hoodie. I found mine in the kid's section for a steep $3.99; it's by American Apparel, and it works perfectly.

Next, I went hunting for the pants. This part was a bit tricky. While Katniss' pants are more on the olive-green side, I opted for a nature-inspired brown with a slight green tone. They were still ugly enough to look like a starving District 12 dweller would wear them, but still flattering enough to pull the whole outfit together. Only $5.99 for this Katniss-inspired find!

The next item I hunted for was the belt, which was super-easy and simple. This brown one with mega-huge loops (pictured above) was practical, as a hunter needs, and only put a $2.99 dent in my $30 budget.

You know you're a bad hunter when you can't find a bow and arrows easily. I had no luck at my local thrift stores, so I caved in and went to one of those pop-up Halloween superstores. Sure enough, and to my wallet's surprise, I found a semi-convincing set for $6.99

Make your own Hunger Games Mockingjay pinStep 3: Make a Mockingjay pin.

Katniss' key accessory through the whole Hunger Games series is her Mockingjay pin. Therefore, it's the only accessory you need.

Here is how to make a beautiful, DIY Mockingjay pin in five simple steps:

1. Print off a picture of Katniss' Mockingjay pin from the Internet, and put the picture in front of your work area for inspiration and accuracy. Then gather your cardboard, paintbrush, gold acrylic paint ($2.99 at a craft store), safety pin, glue and pencil.

2. With your pencil and piece of cardboard, outline three things: a hollowed-out ring, a mockingjay shape and an arrow.

3. Carefully cut out each of your outlines and set them aside.

4. Put a few drops of your gold acrylic paint on your remaining cardboard, and begin to paint the top side of each cut-out piece.

5. Allow pieces to dry.

6. Look back at your picture for inspiration, and start gluing the pieces on top of one another, as they appear on the original Mockingjay pin.

7. Once the completed cardboard pin has dried, attach a safety pin to the back so that the whole thing appears as a brooch.

8. Pin the completed piece to your black sweatshirt, across your heart or on your collar.

Step 4: Braid it up.

Katniss Everdeen is nothing without her signature braid. Obviously, this was her secret to winning the Hunger Games. I stuck with a simple-and-quick side braid, but SheKnows has a great selection of DIY Katniss hair looks that will add the perfect touch to your Katniss costume.

Congratulations, you can now feel confident that you would beat the people in The Hunger Games who spent $80 on a costume. Plus, I'm sure you’ll score some major compliments, candy and brownie points for saving!

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