Homemade Fancy Dress Ideas & DIY Halloween Costumes
Creative & Unusual Fancy Dress Costume Ideas
It's always a struggle to come up with quick and easy, or clever and imaginative ideas for your fancy dress costumes, so I'm here to help!
I've listed a whole range of costume ideas which you can make yourself, plus prop making tutorials and fancy dress inspiration in a variety of themes with varying levels of difficulty.
Don't worry if you can't sew or you've never made anything before, because there are plenty of ideas that don't require much more than cardboard and sticky tape, or just toilet roll!
Of course, you could just buy a costume, but that's often more expensive and much less fun - plus you run the risk of turning up in the same outfit as someone else (the horror!). I hope the following list of how-tos helps you out :-)
Brilliant Illusion Costumes
Costume Making Introduction
I strongly believe that anyone is crafty enough to make their own costumes - all you really need is an idea - but if you aren't going to enjoy doing it then maybe it's not for you (unless the incentive is to save money, in which case homemade costumes are usually cheaper than bought ones, yay!)
When a Halloween party has a theme I find that it's so much easier to think of a costume idea, but when you have the freedom to dress as anything in the world....that's when it becomes tricky. So if you are struggling, think of:
- Your favourite movies
- Your favourite books
- Your favourite singers & bands (from any decade)
- Historical figures e.g. Napoleon
- Your favourite TV personality or celebrity
- Actors or actresses in the roles they are famous for e.g. Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys.
- Recent events and pop culture - you could parody a humorous news story or celebrity scandal
- Comic book characters
- A certain time from the past - and dress like a certain group of people from that time e.g. a Tudor King, a Viking, a Roman, a caveman, a pirate, 90s raver or 60s hippy.
- Infamous people from the past like Blackbeard or Dick Turpin
And failing that, go through the dictionary for inanimate objects you can become! The lists below should also give you plenty of inspiration too, as well as ideas and help for DIY techniques you can use.
Most ideas can be created with cheap everyday materials, methods and tools like: glue, tape, scissors, foam, paint, cardboard (a must-have), fabrics, Duct tape, paper mache, (news)paper, recycled packaging, plaster bandages, clay, faux fur and old/cheap clothes. You can also look at other more specialized materials on the market if you want to create more advanced costumes and props; such as electronics, resins, moldable plastics, latex and so on.
Impressive Mummy Costume
Awesome Pre-Made Costumes - For If You Run Out Of DIY Time!
If you run out of time to make a costume from scratch, there is a great selection of pre-made outfits to choose from. Or you could just browse what is available to give you ideas for your own creations :)
Awesome DIY Fancy Dress Costumes
- Ageing Showgirl
This is one of my all-time faves because the execution is so perfect.
- 1920s Flapper Girl
Dress in the roaring twenties style.
- School Mascot
Very useful tutorial for making a giant foam head.
- Paparazzi Costume
Creative and awesome idea.
- Spy vs. Spy
Such a cool idea for a pair.
- Steampunk Tutorials
Fun ideas for making Steampunk outfits for the whole family.
- Where's Waldo?
An amusing costume for fans of the popular books.
- The Hamburgler
Funny female costume with novelty tie and towel cape.
- Cardboard Lego Piece
Make a cute and instantly-recognizable costume.
- Kidnapped Mermaid
Awesome costume project.
- Windy Day
An original idea which is actually quite artistic.
- Lego Figures
Photos showing the making of Lego Minifigs.
NYC Walk/Don't Walk Signals
Instruction for Sewing Projects
- Halloween Costumes from 'Make It and Love It'
Mary Poppins, a lumberjack, Flynn Rider, a gumball machine, popcorn and more!
- Else Snow Queen Dress
DIY tutorial showing the details involved in making the Disney dress.
- 20-Minute Gnome
Easy felt costume which can be a dwarf or a gnome.
- Baby Dinosaur
Clever revamping of a plain grey jacket and sweatpants.
- Pink Flamingo Costume
Embellish a regular pink dress with a sewn feather collar and a fun hat.
- Fairies, Popeye, Lion & More
11 Costume sewing patterns.
- Tropical Bird Wings
Birds of a feather wings in lovely colour shades.
Mad Hatter DIY Costume
Creative Homemade Costumes
- Women's Pop Culture Icons
I love the Rosie the Riveter idea here.
- Pinata Dress
Clever and pretty costume using lots of crepe paper.
- Dia De Los Muertos
Fabulous examples that you can try to replicate.
- Cops and Robbers & More
Creative ideas like a beekeeper and a hungry caterpillar.
- Cardboard Ladies
Make OTT shapes in card, maybe of famous characters and people.
The Classics - Information About Traditional Halloween Costume Choices
- Halloween Mummy
Mummy costume video tutorial.
- Girl's Pirate Costume
Video tutorial for a swashbuckling outfit.
Awesome costume which is surprisingly easy.
Patterns for capes, plus advice on fangs, makeup and more.
- DIY Skeletons
Make up tutorials as well as instructions on making a spooky costume.
- Scary Witches
From the classic green witches to the Sanderson sisters in 'Hocus Pocus'.
- Egyptian Mummies
The original last-minute costume idea!
- Gross Zombies
Dress as a member of the undead, complete with really gruesome wounds...ew!
Quick and easy to make, ghost costumes can actually be more varied than you'd think.
- The Devil
Fancy dress info for everyone from little kids to grown-up devils.
How To Make Fairy Wings
A classic costume accessory for fairies and cute girl's costumes.
What you will need:
* 12 gauge wire; any galvanized steel or artistic wire capable of holding it's shape is suitable, and you could also use 14 gauge if you want something a bit easier to bend.
* Synthetic woven mesh fabric such as organza, which is semi-transparent.
* Wire cutter
* Pliers for shaping the wire
* Tacky glue capable of glueing metal and fabric (e.g. 'Aleene's all-purpose tacky glue')
* Black electrical/duct tape
* Braided elastic (in a color to match the wings) OR wide ribbon
* Needle and thread
* Spray paint for painting the wire in a color that matches the wings (optional)
* Any decorative embellishments you want to use such as fabric paint, glitter, ribbons, fur, feathers, sequin, incense sticks to make holes in the fabric etc.
* Newspaper (optional)
* Long stick lighter (e.g. the ones designed to light candles with); not vital but would be very helpful
* Rotary cutter and cutting mat (optional)
- Starting about 4" from the end of the wire, shape it with your pliers to create the upper part of one wing. It may help to draw your design out on newspaper beforehand to give you a template to work to. Also try and keep the wing shape flat as you work.
- When you have shaped the wing, cut the wire about 4" from the end of your shape.
- Repeat the same for process for the lower part of the wing, making sure once again you have a spare 4" of wire at each end.
- Now use these 2 shapes as the templates to copy them. This will give you symmetrical wings consisting of 4 parts.
- At this point you can spray paint the wire if you want to change the color to match your fabric for instance.
- Twist the 4" ends of the wire together for each shape to close the wire frames securely.
- Before you start covering the wings in fabric, make sure that the wire frames lie as flat against your work surface as possible.
- Cut out a rectangular-ish piece of fabric which can be folded over the first wire frame and leave a few inches to spare on each edge. It doesn't have to be too accurate, just make sure it's over 2 times the size of the wire frame.
- Spread glue onto the top of your first wire shape and lay your cut-out piece of fabric onto the top so that it is flat and has no wrinkles. Be sure to position the wire shape so that it is on one half of the fabric piece only.
- Do the same for each wire frame and then leave them to dry.
- Flip the frames and fabric pieces over and now spread glue onto the tops and outside edges of the wire frames.
- Fold each piece of fabric in half so that there is now a fabric layer glued onto both the top and the bottom of each wire frame, sandwiching it in between. Do this for all 4 wing sections and leave to dry.
- Cut around the edge of each wire frame to remove excess fabric. You can re-glue any loose bits after this if necessary.
- To tidy up the cut edges of the fabric you can carefully hold the flame of a lighter near to the edges so that they melt. Obviously try not to burn the fabric! Test it on the edge of some of the leftover fabric first to check it works on your chosen material. The fabric should shrink as it melts, neatening the edges and removing any loose threads.
- Take the twisted wire section of wing part 1 (see diagram) and that of wing part 2 and twist those together to create one full wing. Do the same for the other side.
- Use black electrical tape to join these wing halves together by wrapping it around the twisted wire sections. You can hide this tape later with ribbon/fur or similar if you wish.
- To strap the wings to yourself, you can either tie the center of 2 lengths of ribbon to the central rod (which is the part covered in electrical tape), and then wrap each ribbon around each shoulder/arm and tie in a bow OR you can make 2 loops in braided elastic to fit around your shoulder/arm by sewing the ends together but with an inch or two of one end left free. This excess braided tape can be fed around the central rod and sewn in place to make a loop which holds the elastic in place on the wings.
- You can then decorate how you wish with glue+glitter spirals, fabric paint patterns or embroidery for example. If you want to put holes in the material, use a lit incense stick or your lighter to burn the holes. Practice on a piece of scrap material first though to make sure it gives the effect you want.
* Bear in mind that you can change any of the colors above to suit your preferred tastes :) *
Creepy Winged Raven
Movie Character Costume Inspiration
- Minion Costume
Cute and fun costume inspired by the movie 'Despicable Me'.
- DIY Merida Costume
An elegant outfit just like the main character in the movie 'Brave'.
Insight on how to build the backpack and put the whole costume together.
With a make-up how-to.
- Buzz Lightyear
Detailed step-by-step for the Buzz costume.
- Ludo from Labyrinth
Impressive monster costume tutorial.
- Transformer Fancy Dress
- Dark Crystal Costume
Unbelievable costume which took a year and $2000 to make.
- Inspector Gadget
Hilarious costume, complete with head fan!
- Wall-E Costume
Fun cardboard fancy dress from the Pixar movie.
How to Make a Variety of Fun Animal Costumes
If you fancy a mechanical challenge, you can make your own cardboard transformer costume - and if it's anything like the ones in the video above, you're bound to get some 'oooh's and 'ahhhhh's from your audience!
Fancy Dress Inspired By Books & Movies
- Alice in Wonderland
How to put an Alice costume together.
- Frodo Costume
Lots of tutorials on how to dress like Frodo, from prosthetic ears to hair feet.
- Monk/Jedi Robe
With a hood and big sleeves.
- Willy Wonkas
Both versions of Willy Wonka.
- Wizard Of Oz House
One of favourite ideas, it's so original.
- Victorian Hogwarts Students
Interesting take on the regular Hogwarts uniform.
- Marty McFly & a Delorean Push Car
Seriously impressive and amusing toddler costume and vehicle.
- Addams Family Costumes
Ideas for how to dress like many of the hilarious 'Addams family' characters.
- Professor Umbridge
Dress as the evil witch from Harry Potter - pink and frumpy is the key!
The make-up is really where it's at with the Dark Lord.
- Paper Bag Princess
Nice idea for something inexpensive and last-minute.
Jellyfish & Skeleton
Halloween Costume Props
The following links are how-to projects that give instructions on making different props - from hats to claws - which you can incorporate into your overall fancy dress costume.
- Skeletal Hand
Made from card.
- Mad Hatter Hat
All about the Mad Hatter's hat and how to make one.
- Paper Claws
- Mad Moody Eye
For your Harry Potter themed party.
- Fairy Wand
Template for making yourself one out of card.
- Witch's Hat
With a few different options.
- Star Wars Style Helmet
Made from cardboard.
- Feathered Angel Wings
An amazing project.
- Articulated Wings
Impressive costume for the mechanically minded.
- Werewolf Stilts
So you can move like a realistic werewolf!
- Paper Wigs
Newspaper wigs are cheap, easy and fun to make.
- Costume Gauntlets
Essential accessories for an armored knight - for less than a fiver!
- Scary Mask
Get a great fit by using a mould of your own face.
How to make a suit of armour.
- Rubber Foam Gauntlet
How to make exciting costumes using rubber foam and superglue.
Medusa Fancy Dress
More DIY Props
- Devil Horns...
..and other Halloween props.
- DIY Fairy Wings
Made from coat hangers and stockings.
- Mold Your Own Props
And see how to make them look like real metal.
- Monster or Alien Feet
- Knitted Wig
Fun addition to your outfit.
- Fake Blood Squirter
Fun blood squirting effect.
- Fake Glass
Sugar glass, used for special effects.
- Diving Helmet
For adventures in the deep.
- DIY Wig
Using a hat and a feather boa!
- Ceremonial African Mask
Made using paper mache and paint.
- Frankenstein Hat
Fun felt hat to make yourself into a monster in an instant.
- Rapunzel Hair
How to make a super long braid out of yarn.
- Bumblebee Antennae
Adorable pom-pom hair clips.
- 'They Live' Masks
Alien masks from the movie 'They Live' for under $15.
Turn Yourself into Inanimate Objects
- Donuts, Macarons, Strawberries, Cake & More!
Loads of costume ideas...mainly food-themed!
- Giant Sandwich
Random but fun!
- Rubik's Cube
Fab for a retro theme.
- Toilet Roll
Funny idea for extroverts!
Mad and impractical - but hilarious!
Dress like the popular game.
- Green Army Man
A really cool looking costume.
- Tea Bag
Quite strange but amusing!
- Nike Trainer
For people who really love trainers.
- Disco Ball
Funky costume in the shape of a mirrored ball.
Glow Stick Costumes
More Random Objects To Dress Up As!
Desaturated Santa Costume
This is probably my favourite costume idea ever - and no it's not photoshopped!
Click here for an article written about this costume.
TV Character Outfits
- Weeping Angels
Challenging Doctor Who costume with awesome detail.
For beer-drinking fans of The Simpsons.
- Martian Yip Yip Costume
From Sesame Street.
- Funny Beaker Costume
From the Muppets.
- Quick Kermit the Frog
Quick and simple costume for last minute panic!
- Thomas the Tank Engine
Excellent replica of the famous train character.
Umbrella Bat Wings
Scary & Spooky Costume Ideas
Knife & Fork
Cute Outfits for Kids to Wear
- Gnome on a Toadstool
Very cute, especially with the beard!
- Wolf Pup
Cute and snuggly all-in-one for little kids and babies.
A sweet costume to sew for little kids.
- Ventriloquist Dummy
Hilarious idea for baby and dad.
- Last-Minute Mario & Luigi
Dungarees, caps and mustaches - and voila!
- Care Bear Costume for Babies
Adorable costume which is made from a real care bear.
- Vintage Strongman
Awesome kids costume with fake weights.
- Masked Baby Owl
An adorable Martha Stewart creation.
- Budget Baby Moose
Funny baby costume, made for only $4.
Knight of the Realm
Geeky, Tech & Gaming Ideas
- Death Star
Paper mache Star Wars costume.
- Chewbacca Suit
Amazingly realistic costume which must have required a lot of patience.
- 8-Bit Gary
Pixellated man costume.
- Tetris Group Costume
Great for a group effort.
- Light-Up Costume
Interesting technique for creating futuristic style costumes.
- Milk Jug Stormtrooper
Make an impressive Star Wars mask from a milk jug.
- Death Star Dress
For a girly sci-fi geek!
- Cool Art & Photo Inspired Ideas
I love the 8-bit and desaturated costumes so much!
- Krang & Shredder
Genius costumes from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show.
- Angry Birds
Fab pop culture family or group costume idea.
- Pacman Costume
Giant Pacman costume step-by-step.
- Pixelated Cosplay
This would be a fun cardboard DIY.
- An SLR Camera
That actually makes photos!
- Super Mario Yoshi Rider
Amazing construction, although not exactly a cheap costume.
- Pacman Couple
If you want a group costume you could add the ghosts too.
- Lego Men Heads
Make your own giant yellow head with this fab how-to.
'Little Mermaid' Fancy Dress for the Family
Collections of Costume Ideas & Inspiration
The following websites have lists of fancy dress ideas and photos to inspire:
- Amazing DIY Costumes and Props
With detailed instructions and photos.
- 20 Creative Ideas
For pure homemade humour.
- Ideas for Couples and Groups
Huge lists of costumes for 2 or more people.
- Last Minute Costumes
With funny results.
- Cheap Fancy Dress
Using plenty of imagination!
- DIY Halloween Costumes
Lots of detailed how-to's.
- 10 Cool Last-Minute Costumes
I love the spine t-shirt idea!
- Duct Tape Prom Outifts
The sky is the limit!
- Martha Stewart Favourites
Crafty handmade costumes for both kids and adults.
- Best of 2010
I especially love the 'Up' costumes - so sweet!
Nightmare Before Christmas Costumes
Fancy Dress Idea Galleries
- Costume Pop
Creative and funny homemade costumes.
- Awesome Projects
Tutorials for really unique costumes and props.
- Etsy Contest Winners
Photos of the homemade winning entries.
- 50 Unique & Weird Ideas
Funny and unusual fancy dress inspiration.
- Pet Costumes
Funny and imaginative fancy dress pets.
- A-Z of Costumes
Fancy dress ideas listed alphabetically.
- Craft Costume Lists
In many different genres.
- Easy Halloween Costumes for Kids
With links to costumes you can buy.
- 50 Funny Ideas
A huge list of quick ideas for some unique inspiration.
- Halloween Contest 2010
Including the rest room sign people and headless Harry Potter!
Banksy Graffiti Costume
Oodles of Inspiration
- Homemade Costumes
Including lots of kids ones.
- 9 Costumes Anyone Can Make
Awww-inducing kids fancy dress.
- HUGE Resource of Ideas
Including homemade and shop bought ideas.
- Halloween Instructables
Lots of DIY projects for Halloween.
- Costume Idea Zone
Brilliant range of unique ideas.
- Coolest Homemade Costumes
Lots of original ideas and photo examples.
- The 15 Coolest
With many you probably won't have seen yet.
- Halloween Fashion
Browse through for costumes including 'The Birds' and a mousetrap.
- 25 Kids Costumes on a Budget
A mime, a sheep, a cupcake and more!
- Crazy Celebrity Costumes
Heidi Klum has worn a series of fantastic bespoke costumes.
- Dollar Store Crafts
Lots of geek costume ideas - and all cheap to make.
Fancy Dress From a Comic Book
Halloween Costumes for Children & Babies
- Mutant 3-Armed Baby Costume
Funny onesie outfit with a fake doll arm attached.
- Lego Indiana Jones, Tinkerbell & More
11 costumes for kids including many classic ideas.
- Robot DIY
How to make a cardboard box robot costume.
- Rocket Man
Flaming jetpack for a kid's space party.
- 10 Clever Ideas
I love the Edward Scissorhands and the Ewok!
Flying Spaghetti Monster Hat
Fun Accessories For Your Costumes!
Extras, props and accessories are often more cost-effective to buy than make - such as latex masks, wigs, hats and specialized designs such as Quidditch goggles.
Fairytales, Comics, Myths & Legends
- Mythological Phoenix
Seriously impressive sculpted costume.
- Tooth & Tooth Fairy
I love the molar made of pillows!
- Lichtenstein Comic Girl
Amazing pop art costume and make up.
- Bigfoot Costume
A video how-to for dressing like the legendary creature.
- Snow White T-Shirt
Grown-up costume without going full-on princess!
More Costume Making Videos & Ideas
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More by this Author
If you prefer to dress up in the same theme as your friends rather than in individual fancy dress costumes, then this page should offer plenty of ideas and inspiration for you!
Whenever I'm invited to a fancy dress party, my brain goes blank and I find it very hard to pin down an idea - there's just so much choice! Hopefully this A-Z page of inspiration will help you out :)
If you would like to learn the differences between the larger members of the Cat family, please take a look at this page!