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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 DIY Fancy Dress Costumes

NYC Walk/Don't Walk Signals

Instruction for Sewing Projects

Mad Hatter DIY Costume

Creative Homemade Costumes

Gingerbread Man

The Classics - Information About Traditional Halloween Costume Choices

  • Halloween Mummy
    Mummy costume video tutorial.
  • Girl's Pirate Costume
    Video tutorial for a swashbuckling outfit.
  • Viking
    Awesome costume which is surprisingly easy.
  • Vampires
    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!
  • Ghosts
    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

handmade-diy-fancy-dress-costume-ideas

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

* Scissors

* 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.

- Finished!

* Bear in mind that you can change any of the colors above to suit your preferred tastes :) *

Creepy Winged Raven

handmade-diy-fancy-dress-costume-ideas

Costume made by Walkabout Wolf - Click here for a close-up of the mask.

Movie Character Costume Inspiration

Rollercoaster Costume

A fun idea - and you can act like you are actually on a rollercoaster too for added effect!

A fun idea - and you can act like you are actually on a rollercoaster too for added effect!

How to Make a Variety of Fun Animal Costumes

Transformer 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!

For mini transformer plans which you can use to scale up and form the basis of your plans, click here.

Fancy Dress Inspired By Books & Movies

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.

Medusa Fancy Dress

More DIY Props

Nintendo Gameboy

A retro blast from the past!

A retro blast from the past!

Turn Yourself into Inanimate Objects

Glow Stick Costumes

Glowstick costumes are possibly the most simple and ingenious of all costumes, because they are just so effective! You can buy pre-made suits, but I don't see why you can't just make a temporary one with glowsticks attached onto black clothes!

For more info, go here.

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

Umbrella Bat Wings

handmade-diy-fancy-dress-costume-ideas

Photo and costume by Lenore Edman.

Click here for DIY details.

Scary & Spooky Costume Ideas

Knife & Fork

Makes total sense to me.

Makes total sense to me.

Cute Outfits for Kids to Wear

Knight of the Realm

This fantastic costume is made with cardboard, altered clothes, paper mache and duct tape ...and the wooden swords are bought :)

This fantastic costume is made with cardboard, altered clothes, paper mache and duct tape ...and the wooden swords are bought :)

Geeky, Tech & Gaming Ideas

'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:

Nightmare Before Christmas Costumes

Fancy Dress Idea Galleries

Banksy Graffiti Costume

handmade-diy-fancy-dress-costume-ideas

This amazing costume is based on some graffiti art by the famous Banksy, and the costume was made by George Schnakenberg.

Oodles of Inspiration

Fancy Dress From a Comic Book

I'm a massive fan of Lichenstein pop art and comic book graphics!

I'm a massive fan of Lichenstein pop art and comic book graphics!

Click here and here for more photos and Lichtenstein inspiration.

Halloween Costumes for Children & Babies

Flying Spaghetti Monster Hat

handmade-diy-fancy-dress-costume-ideas

Photo and hat by Lenore Edman - Click here for a tutorial.

Fairytales, Comics, Myths & Legends

More Costume Making Videos & Ideas

Please Comment On My Lens!

Paris on September 19, 2014:

Ok in a dilemma, HELP please my daughter wants to be the traffic/walk sign costume can anyone suggest what size lights might have been used here.

girls4lookcom on August 19, 2014:

niceeeeeeee

Facundo on August 09, 2014:

the lens is awesome!

Tricia Deed from Orlando, Florida on July 29, 2014:

Awesome ideas. Love it.

Aladdinscave LM on April 12, 2014:

Just brilliant ideas, I love the family little mermaid the baby as the lobster is brilliant

teelover on February 20, 2014:

Great tips!

Halloween Cosplay on January 25, 2014:

Very creative costume ideas! I love it :)

Lorelei Cohen on October 19, 2013:

These are really cute costume ideas.

RoadMonkey on October 19, 2013:

My grandchildren want to dress up for hallowe'en. Some fantastic ideas here.

jefreywarner08 on October 17, 2013:

all were great.....personally I would love to go for Nightmare one....:D

anonymous on October 13, 2013:

I must say that all these halloween costume ideas are really good and I will also pick one of these to make one for myself.

NatureFan LM on October 13, 2013:

I like the Jellyfish and Medusa. The "Little Mermaid" family is a crack up! Adorable. Great ideas here.

anonymous on October 12, 2013:

so cute!

QualifiedExpert on October 11, 2013:

Great lens!! I will make sure to share this with some friends, spreading some love.

Cheers, Mike

Stanley Green from Czech Republic on October 11, 2013:

Wow! Some of those Halloween costumes are really funny! It was great fun to read your lens!

smbaughns on September 28, 2013:

Wow! I really appreciate the creativity of this lens in terms of variety of costumes--with bonus points for DIY instructions! Well done.

KamalaEmbroidery on September 27, 2013:

That mummy costume would scare anyone. What a lot of unusual costumes!

anonymous on September 21, 2013:

The eyes of that mummy costume... :o

Lydia Workman from Canada on September 20, 2013:

Some very cool costumes. I think I might like to try the medusa costume. I also liked the raven. Thanks for the help!

mariacarbonara on September 19, 2013:

@buildhealthtoday: The roller coaster seat was hilarious! Great lens

anonymous on September 18, 2013:

Oh, my word!!!!! What a surprise. I was actually at the Halloween party with the people wearing the Jack Skeleton and Sally costumes that you showed in your lens!!!!! Photographer extraordinaire Jesse Draper is my friend (he is the one wearing the Jack costume.) Small world in Halloween Town! Come visit me at my porch for some free trick or treat music.

buildhealthtoday on September 17, 2013:

Like your walking signs!

supersiva on September 16, 2013:

I would go for a halloween mummy costume which can be terrifying when you open your mouth 360 degree wide with that make over.

ghoststorylover on September 16, 2013:

Very cool, I love the Medusa!

Jackson Thom from West of Left South Lucky on September 16, 2013:

these are crazy. The sock puppet monkey is creepy, but awesome.

anonymous on September 16, 2013:

Great collection. iamthesupermotherbug

nonya222 on September 16, 2013:

Some of these are so very clever I had to go back and look at them again.

rhubarba on September 16, 2013:

Haha, I loved the Game Boy one!

Michelllle on August 28, 2013:

Love the jellyfish!

MissRubyStars on August 18, 2013:

I really liked the mummy costume.

BlowDryBar on August 09, 2013:

It's so much fun to make your own costume! Though it's sometimes hard to think of ideas you like.

SusanAston on July 31, 2013:

Great fun ideas.

anonymous on May 30, 2013:

These are all very clever and creative.

Underrated on April 22, 2013:

Great

mrsclaus411 on March 14, 2013:

This is a very very beautiful lens! Very great ideas for fancy dress costumes. :) The photos are really nice as well. Thank you for sharing

RosemaryLucas on March 13, 2013:

I love your lens, such creativity is very inspiring.

anonymous on February 27, 2013:

I'm selling one similar to that roller coaster costume on eBay right now, which I used on a high school charity Day, it went down really well!!

Please check it out :)

Search "Roller coaster Costume" on eBay UK :)

Amy Trumpeter from Oxford on December 30, 2012:

I really like the Mad Hatter and Nightmare before Christmas Costumes!

siennabrown1 on November 19, 2012:

Awesome lens, perfect for Halloween :))

Traveller579 on November 09, 2012:

funny images :)

Essentially Ind on November 09, 2012:

I really liked Impressive Mummy Costume..............:)

poorwendy lm on November 04, 2012:

Can't believe that the weeping angel is a costume. She could have been a statue.

anonymous on October 31, 2012:

great lens :)

jimmyboy88 on October 28, 2012:

very entertaining! nice creative costumes too

wilcher on October 24, 2012:

Great! Beautiful and excellent!

anonymous on October 23, 2012:

Amazing ideas! Thanks for a great lens :)

Donnette Davis from South Africa on October 19, 2012:

I absolutely love the desaturated Santa.... Stunning lens, love the novel ideas... thank you so much for sharing!

Totus Mundus on October 17, 2012:

Really inspirational ideas, love the desaturated Santa.

anonymous on October 16, 2012:

Fabulous video on the mad hatter costume - that is going to help SO much for the costume I'm making my son. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

anonymous on October 15, 2012:

@mariasconsulting: they have good ideas for hallween

anonymous on October 09, 2012:

Wow, this is a huge resource! Thanks for all the super ideas.

mariasconsulting on October 09, 2012:

Thanks for so many awesome ideas, time for me to start making a costume!

OldCowboy on October 08, 2012:

Some great Ideas! Love the variety you have gathered.

rvmom26 on October 08, 2012:

FANTASTIC!

ulapteva on October 07, 2012:

How creative, though I don't do it by myself, sure it's fun for kids! The process of making costumes - the most sweet part! :)

chidchan on October 05, 2012:

Great ideas! I love them.

MrsMcCraw on October 02, 2012:

Thanks for ur lens, it give me ideas :)

coolmom4kids on October 02, 2012:

love your ideas!

johnsja on October 01, 2012:

Fantastic lens! Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

Birthday Wishes from Here on September 30, 2012:

I love it!!!

Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on September 28, 2012:

These are great.

jazzd1 on September 28, 2012:

I highly enjoyed this lens.. Keep up the good work!!

MintySea on September 28, 2012:

how could i not like a lens with a weeping angel in it

Lee Hansen from Vermont on September 28, 2012:

Great collection of DIY costumes -- so creative!

Zeraton on September 27, 2012:

oh my word look at the length of this!

Zeraton on September 27, 2012:

oh my word look at the length of this!

Lou Martin from Atlanta, Georgia on September 27, 2012:

This is by far the best DIY Halloween Costume lens! Great job!!!

neotony on September 26, 2012:

you are so creative!

bwet on September 26, 2012:

Love the creative ideas you have in this lens! Well done!

MerlinFan on September 26, 2012:

A simply amazing lens! Great ideas and very well done. Thanks!

pollytoast lm on September 26, 2012:

These are really amazing, I totally love the grey santa one, really unique and yes it does look photoshopped, brill!

anonymous on September 26, 2012:

The Shockwave Costume took me back!! ;D

anonymous on September 26, 2012:

great ideas!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 26, 2012:

Love the pictures. Some ideas you have here.

ara-bella on September 20, 2012:

Wow, so many great ideas! I love the angel - so realistic!

Stacy Birch on September 19, 2012:

Awesome Costumes, just came back to bless your lens.

ShineRita on September 18, 2012:

Great ideas!

AlexBPearl on September 18, 2012:

Great stuff.

grahamcox lm on September 18, 2012:

These are some amazing costumes! Fantastic ideas

queenofduvetcover on September 17, 2012:

Cool lens! Loved the rollercoaster costume the most!

Hannah Writes on September 14, 2012:

My younger daughter wants to make her own costume this year. I have this lens bookmarked! Thank you!

Shannon Williams from Davisville, WV on September 13, 2012:

Oh my goodness!!! There are some very unique costumes here! Thanks for the great ideas!

dressygirlkouture on September 06, 2012:

Neat! Cant' wait to try!

lionessprotector on September 02, 2012:

Great lens. I'll be showing this to my kids tomorrow

SofiaMann on September 02, 2012:

Have some fun costumes. Congratulations.

psiloveyou1 on September 01, 2012:

So many fun ideas to choose from! It makes me want to go to a Halloween Party! Sending an Angel Blessing your way :)

BestRatedStuff on September 01, 2012:

This is an absolute treasure of a resource, for ideas and links to some really ingenious costumes. Like it very much, and bookmarking it.

wrapitup4me on September 01, 2012:

These are very impressive. I'm bookmarking it for when I have some time to actually try some of these. Thanks for the instructions. Bit help here.

nathangibbs lm on September 01, 2012:

This is such a great lens! I have always been a big fan of DIY projects, and Halloween is just another opportunity to show my DIY skills. Great read!

Natashalh LM on August 31, 2012:

I love the homemade costume ideas! I always had homemade costumes for Halloween when I was a kid, and there's no reason to stop as an adult! I love all the pictures you've found, too.

Madonaa on August 30, 2012:

these are some good costumes of Halloween thanks for this lens!

mouse1996 lm on August 29, 2012:

I love this unique take on Halloween costumes. I will never see costumes the same way again. Great lens.

swimminglessonsonline on August 29, 2012:

I love this Halloween lens! WOW WOW WOW!!! Thanks for Halloween ideas.

KandH on August 29, 2012:

Wow, what a cool lens... I don't what I like best you've given me ideas for years to come - thanks!!

abigailwaltersd on August 29, 2012:

These costumes are AMAZING! A bit out of my craft abilities and for that I am VERY jealous!

eccles1 on August 29, 2012:

Love all your costumes! The mummy is so good but the comic book girl is a big WOW !

Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on August 29, 2012:

What a lot of costumes! Not only great for halloween but for any dress-up occasion!

Brilliant lens! Angel blessings!

crafty23 on August 28, 2012:

Love this lens! I liked the roller coaster costume the most. TFS!

TamarWrites on August 28, 2012:

I love the roller coaster!

anonymous on August 27, 2012:

So you're saying that the grayed out santa...that girl is just naturally gray? No way that could be photoshopped right? Right.

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