Ask Holly

Tuesday, Oct 19, 2010 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (13)

I love Halloween!

I also love it when a child comes to my door for Trick or Treating with a homemade costume. I don’t care if it is made with tin foil, cardboard, poster paint, held together with gum.  Maybe it’s because I was one of those lucky kids whose mother would make me the Halloween costume of my choice every year. I’ve since been fortunate enough to continue this tradition with my own children. We have made costumes like a purple flower fairy, a Monarch butterfly, a black-eyed Susan, and this year an owl and a Luna moth.

One of my goals this year was to make my children’s costumes under $25, no sew and and from materials purchased locally. A fantastic store that helped me with this is called I Have a Notion located in Watchung Plaza, Montclair.  Though tricky to find, it was well worth the trip. They carry satin and velvet ribbons in every color, giant rick, rack buttons, fabric dye in a variety of colors and all kinds of wonderful fabric. Best of all they are wonderfully helpful and local! It is a great place to take elementary school age children and get inspired.

These are my results :

The owl costume is made only with a brown hoodie, felt, hot (warm) glue and ping pong balls I painted. It cost less than $25 to make, an hours worth of time, as well as being warm and comfy. The luna moth was much more involved. It was made with wire, felt, hot glue, bias tape, paint and faux fur and me muttering “I need to get a life” over and over again. It cost about $30 (excluding the price of the booze).I would really love to see more and more home made costumes in Baristaville this year. One issue some people have with making home made costumes is that they don’t know where to start.  Help is on it’s way! Here are some tips I have come up with after many trial and error costumes:

  • Felt is your friend. It is inexpensive, it does not need to be sewn, it holds hot glue like a charm and you can paint on it!
  • Tulle (that net-like sort of fabric) is great. It also does not need sewing or hemming and is great for skirts and capes.
  • Get a glue gun. No need for that hot blister-giving glue gun that we used when we were kids. Now they make them as warm glue guns that  are safe to use have around children.
  • Wire comes in all sorts of gauges and even wire hangers make wonderful forms. The best way I have learned to hold it together is with plain old duct tape.
  • Fabric dye comes in every color so if you are looking for tights in green or yellow and cannot find them at the store get inexpensive white ones and dye them.
  • Places like Yahoo image search is a wonderful place to get inspiration.

If you are looking for ideas for making costumes or even just the props please post your questions and I will be happy to help!

Just Ask Holly!

(Photo (top): Flickr/L. Marie)


  1. POSTED BY samanton107  |  October 19, 2010 @ 11:02 am

    I agree, home made costumes are great. These costumes and Holly’s tips are such inspiration!

  2. POSTED BY krissy  |  October 19, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

    I love this article…. So fun. I have always wished I could make a costume for my kiddos, but I don’t have a sewing machine. Any ideas for sprucing up a plain black dress and making it a witch costume?

  3. POSTED BY harrisonslugger  |  October 19, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

    LOVE homemade costumes as a kid and now as a dad… and keep writing; it’s nice to see what “real” people say and think around here!!

  4. POSTED BY hollykorusjenkins  |  October 19, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

    I think the cutest thing I have seen to dress up little girl witch costumes is a pettiskirt but they are very $$$.Here is a cheap easy way for a similar look: get tulle or netting (the fabric tutus are made of) in purple, green, black and orange a yard of each. Have your child stand while you gather the tulle around her waste and decide (or let the child decide) how they like the colors layered. Lay the fabric on the floor and take a needle and thread (strong thread works best) and weave in and out along the top of the layers. Then just pull to make the gathers. Don’t forget to hold the end of the thread! Measure to the right width around the child’s waste. Then hot glue the tulle in the middle a 4′ wide long piece of black felt for the waist band secure with velcro or hot glue a piece of ribbon on to tie in a bow.

    This netting fabric is fun and forgiving you could even cut it in vertical strips for a fun look. Remember this is not prom this is Halloween it does not have to be perfect!

  5. POSTED BY jennanyc  |  October 19, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

    Looking forward to some ideas for unique Christmas decorations. Love this column. Or, in the words of the great sages a/k/a The Beastie Boys, “She’s crafty! And she’s just my type!”

  6. POSTED BY flowinglotus22  |  October 19, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

    I always loved the costumes my mom made for me and my brother. I have been the statue of liberty, a box of candy, a court jester, a butterfly, and my brother has been an inmate with ball and chain, r2d2, a gingerbread man, a Christmas present, and a disco ghost (but that is a much more involved story).

    I remember the costumes being so unique and, since my mother couldn’t sew, there was alot of glue and tape involved. It was a project we got to be a part of and it was always fun to get asked by the adults about the costumes.

    I know time is always tight for people, but I guess it comes down to what you choose to spend your time on. Spending time on those costumes really made a bunch of great memories.

  7. POSTED BY krissy  |  October 19, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

    That sounds perfect. I think you have convinced me I can do this! Thanks.

  8. POSTED BY hnl122  |  October 19, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

    I LOVE homemade costumes!!!! I made my daughter a Medusa costume last year, this year I am making her a fortune teller. After seeing your picture of your son’s owl costume, my 3yr old wants to be a bat. Any suggestions?

  9. POSTED BY hollykorusjenkins  |  October 20, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

    For a bat I would start like the owl with a black hoodie. Measure the child across the back from wrist to wrist for the amount of black felt you will need.

    I would cut the felt in 3 scallops on each side down to the lowest point in the middle where it would come to a point about a foot from the ground. Search yahoo images bat costumes to get ideas.

    I would do purple felt on the front part for color as well as it will make the wings a bit stiffer. Hot glue the purple and black peices together and glue to the back of the hoodie.

    If you want to get fancy with it you can glue wire between the layers of felt where the bats bones would be. I like painted ping pong balls for eyes and a layer of black felt for the lid but you could just as easily cut yellow felt circles for eyes. Cut large triangle peices for ears with purple inlays and white fangs that will hang over the childs forehead a bit. Hope that helps!

  10. POSTED BY ladyjustice028  |  October 23, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

    I LOVE your creativity! And, all with no sewing — even better! Now, if you could give me some ideas for adult costumes, we’d really be set!

  11. POSTED BY montclair1928  |  October 23, 2010 @ 11:08 pm

    Ok now I’m determined. Between these adorable costumes and your totally creative decorations, you’ve got me hooked. I don’t think I have the ability to make a complete costume from scratch but I’m going to do a ‘semi-homemade’ version. I can do this, I can do this, I can do this … 😉
    Looking forward to your next creation …

  12. POSTED BY hollykorusjenkins  |  October 24, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

    For the record, I am very crafty but my spelling ( particularly while I have two small children tugging me as I type) has much to be desired… is waist not waste 🙂

  13. POSTED BY dmcnewyork  |  November 15, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

    Love all of your projects, and especially the latest Pilgrim Hats…you are so creative! I can’t wait to make all the clay pot sizes for my Thanksgiving table. Keep up the good work!

Featured Comment

I'm struck by how much attention is being paid to the details of a parking lot, as opposed to the attention paid to the future impact of the monstrous projects being planned.

Tip, Follow, Friend, Subscribe