Did you think, for a moment, of going the DIY route for your kid’s Halloween costume this year — only to start googling and become immediately overwhelmed by the myriad of complicated, step-heavy, and oddly expensive costume DIYs out there? Don’t panic. Step away from the stapler, and read on.
The truth is no one wants to look back on photos of Halloween costumes past and remember the struggle — the last-minute late-night hours spent agonizing over having created a monster. Of course not; instead, you want to remember the trick-or-treating, the giggles (and maybe a few screams) and the inevitable candy hangover the morning after.
But you can still dive into DIY this Halloween — yes, even if sewing machines terrify you and the craftiest thing you’ve ever done was staple Beanie Babies to an umbrella for an “It’s raining cats and dogs” costume. We tapped the folks at Primary — experts in all things baby basics — for their tips on how to make silly-easy DIY Halloween costumes from stuff you already have.
Try focusing on a single color scheme that only needs a couple of extra decorative details or additional items to make a complete costume.
Just add ears
Looking to be a crazy creature? Easily create your look with some ears, a tail and a comfy, solid-colored top and bottom. It’s all about the attitude, anyway.
Use household items
If you don’t have a specific item you think you need to complete your costume, don’t fret! Chances are you have something lying around the house that will do the trick just as well. Angela Goleme, chief creative officer at Primary, has this advice: “Don’t have a craft closet? (Who does?!) If you don’t have card stock, use paper plates. Don’t have Poly-fil? Use newspaper scraps or torn up tissue.”
Ditch the headache
No one wants to be stuck with a heavy thing digging into their scalp all night. Make a hat or sweatshirt hood your cozy headpiece instead and get rid of that mask you can barely see out of. Then, “attach ears, horns, eyes, beaks or whatever else our creatures need to the hood with safety pins or fabric tape,” suggests Goleme.
No sewing skills?
No problem. Use something that allows you to easily hide mistakes — like fabric tape, Velcro, hot glue or safety pins — costume-making magic. Pro tip from Primary: If your costume has hot glue strings all over it, blast it with a blow dryer and they will disappear.
Felt is fantastic
Felt is an amazing fabric that is cheap, light, comes in every color of the rainbow and is pretty easy to mold, cut, roll, bend and fold into whatever your heart desires. “From ears to tails to spots (and even rolled up to create 3-D ice cream sprinkles!), felt works equally well with hot glue and fabric tape,” says Goleme.
Tape: Not just for fixing things
Use tape for creating incredible designs, stripes or patterns on your costume. There are so many different types of tape with amazing qualities — electrical tape, washi tape, duct tape — and they all come in a myriad of colors.
Your kitchen is your toolbox
Any shape you could possibly want is in your kitchen. Circles, triangles, ovals of all different sizes — just use cups and bowls for tracing. “And remember,” suggests Goleme, “if you’re cutting symmetrical shapes like a heart, fold fabric in half to trace and cut, which will ensure two even sides.”
Don’t make things harder for yourself
Check out your local craft stores before diving into your project and spending all day cutting out 50 teeny-tiny stars for your flag costume. Look for pre-cut designs or shapes, which is a huge time-saver and will spare your hand hours of cramping.
Two heads are better than one
If you’re feeling defeated, if you accidentally glued your fingers together or if you’re just in need of some fresh eyes to see just what your costume is missing or ask a family member or pal — or you can even call a costume hotline (yes, they exist). After all, Halloween is all about having fun, getting a little spooked and maybe eating too much candy. So don’t stress; just phone a friend.
A version of this story was originally published in September 2017.