I am, at my core, a person with amazing intentions. I intend to take my kids to the store to let them pick an off-the-rack, no-fuss costume. And I intend to make them make a firm decision more than 48 hours before they need a Halloween costume for school or trunk or treat with a friend. I intend to write these things down, so I remember them year to year. Well. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. As they say, I can probably walk to hell, heaven, and the andromeda galaxy. Those are my credentials. I am a well-intentioned, creative, but forgetful mom/human.
Because I am the way I am, and there seems to be no undoing that, I have some experience pulling together last-minute costumes using items around the house. We have a fairly extensive dress-up box of clothes that we supplement year to year with end-of-season Halloween costumes, thrift store finds, and assorted cast-offs from other years. If you have time, this is a valuable source of last-minute Halloween costuming. I’ve still got you covered if you have nothing like a dress-up box.
You will need:
- One black ballet leotard or one solid black t-shirt
- Solid black yoga pants/athletic pants
- Mascara/black skin safe paint/ black makeup of some sort
- A black sheet or, depending on the size of the child, a black fashion scarf (the wide kind)
- 1/2 foot square of Black cardboard/felt/cloth
- Dark headband
- Hot glue or fabric glue
- Gold glitter or yellow felt/cloth cut into the bat signal shape, or if you have neither thing, print this one out a few times.
- Wide black belt or several smaller black/dark belts
Or, if your little superhero girl is into DC Super Hero Girls, the above can be swapped for Batgirl‘s purple outfit. The character in the cartoon has an adorable hoodie. If you live in a colder climate, a hoodie is an excellent piece of clothing that almost everyone has. So, if you think your child (or yourself) won’t die of heat exhaustion, look for a solid purple or black hoodie.
The first thing you need to do is see if you can find all of those things. I’ve learned this the hard way with both costume design and baking. Learn from my mistakes.
Off the top of my head, I know all of these things exist in either the dress-up box, my kid’s closets, or my closet.
- Lay the black leotard or hoodie flat on whatever surface you work from. I monopolize our dining room table for this sort of thing. Follow your muse.
- Hot glue or sew a bat shape on the front center of the hoodie/ or leotard.
- Cut four 4-inch tall by 2-inch wide triangles from the felt/fabric/ cardboard. Either glue or sew two triangles together. Do the same to the other two. This is to make the ear more rigid. If you’re using thicker cardboard painted black, you’ll only need two triangles total. Attach the ears to the hoodie or a headband
- Have your child put on the leotard or hoodie and yoga/athletic pants. Put bat ears on their head.
- Use mascara or other makeup/ paint to make the mask directly on her face. You can make it whichever way seems best to you. If you’re going for the cartoon version, you’ll need yellow instead of black. There are a few dozen different takes on this, so do what you think works for you.
- Using the remaining black felt/cardboard make rectangular shapes and stick them around the front of the belt. Glue a bat shape onto the front of a piece of cardboard about 3 inches x 4inches (or whatever size is appropriate proportionally to your child) and attach it to the front and center of the belt.
- Tie a black sheet/fabric/scarf around your child’s shoulders.
Voila! You have a batgirl.
If Batgirl isn’t your thing, are you into Jedi? My girls were obsessed with Rey and Star Wars for a hot minute. And her costume is fairly simple to pull together.
You will need:
- A white or brown T-shirt
- A white or beige/tan/brown bedsheet
- Ace wraps or tan cloth
- Several toilet paper rolls and tape or a pool noodle, or a toy light saber.
- White or tan yoga pants
- Wide brown belt or brown fabric
- Safety pin/ hook and loop dots/ hot glue
- Several ponytail holders or rubber bands
- Dress your child in t-shirt and yoga pants. (if the shirt is too big, this is fine, maybe even better) This is just the first layer, so it’s no big deal if it has an emblem or something.
- Take the bedsheet or fabric and fold it in half (if your child is small, you may need to fold it in half twice.) wrap the sheet over their shoulders at the center point. Wrap the ends around their back, then back around their front, then crisscross around the front to the back again at their waist.
- Secure it all with a belt around the waist.
- Use the wide strips of cloth or the ace wraps and wrap them around the child’s forearm. Secure by tying or velcro or safety pin or glue.
If you have some more brown fabric lying around (maybe the pillowcases that go with the sheet?), wrap them from knee to ankle, so they look like tall boots. Safety pin them in place. A light saber seems essential for this outfit, and you can go a few ways with that. Instructables has a great how-to here. If your little wannabe Jedi will tolerate it, you can do the iconic Rey hairstyle by following along here. Otherwise, you’re good to go.
The Batgirl costume can be made for almost any superhero if you can scrounge the right color clothes. Supergirl is blue and red, and swap the bat sign for the Supergirl symbol.
Here are a few other options
- Hermione can be pulled together with a gray sweater, gray skirt, and gold and maroon scarf. Add some big hair, and there you go.
- Robots are easy and fun, even just for dress-up playtime. See some examples and a great how-to here.
- This last one is honestly not incredibly nerdy but was too cute not to share. If your child is a ballerina or has a frilly twirly dress she loves, have her put that on, do her makeup and put her hair in a ballerina bun. Using cardboard or cardstockCut a foot-tall “key” and paint it a solid color. Punch holes through the base and thread a ribbon through. Tie the ribbon around the waist. Or you can hot glue or duct tape the key to her back. And now you have a clockwork ballerina. If you have more time or patience than me, you could use pliers and a few wire hangers or some pipe cleaners to bend a fancier-looking key.
This article was written by Chrissy Gochnauer.
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