When I was a kid, my mother always made Halloween costumes for my brother and me. Elaborate affairs that took weeks at the sewing machine. We’re talking E.T., Rick the Raccoon from Shirt Tales, a witch with a gorgeous fringed cape, an incredible Dutch doll with a hand-knotted yarn wig. This is the same woman who later stitched my prom dresses for less than we paid for the dyed-to-match shoes, and later still sewed my wedding gown from scratch, complete with a beaded bodice that I was all but sewed into.

For the cute jack-o-lantern costume at the top of this post, I used basic black sweats, some green ribbon left over from last Christmas, and black electrical tape on an orange T-shirt.  Because the shirt had a pattern on the front, I turned it inside-out before taping on the face.

For the cute jack-o-lantern costume at the top of this post, I used basic black sweats, some green ribbon left over from last Christmas, and black electrical tape on an orange T-shirt. Because the shirt had a pattern on the front, I turned it inside-out before taping on the face.

I share her zeal for saving money and creating memories at the same time, but am neither as gifted with a sewing machine as she is, nor as capable with organizing my hours around such time-intensive costume creation. Yet so far my kiddos and I have managed to come up with an assortment of DIY Halloween costumes that average around $10 apiece, and require only an hour or two to make. Best of all, the pieces generally incorporate stuff they already have in their wardrobes, or can easily reuse once Halloween is over with.

The first DIY Halloween costume I “made” for 9-month-old Kimmie, and later reused on 6-month-old Essie, was a jack-o-lantern. The inspiration came from an orange long-sleeved Tshirt my mom brought Kimmie during a pre-Halloween visit; printed on the front was a cute jack-o-lantern face. What I lack in speed at the sewing machine, I make up for with my crochet hook.  Using a simple pattern and a large hook, in one evening I put together an olive-green hat from a leftover ball of yarn.  Add black pants, and voila! – my little pumpkin was born.

Though a green or brown hat is a nice finishing touch for this costume, if you can lay your hands on one, it’s totally optional.  If you can’t find a shirt with a jack-o-lantern face on it, you can also make your own with a long-sleeved orange Tshirt, and some black felt or tape.  If the orange shirt already has a picture on the front, just turn it inside out; cover the tags with a green collar made of felt or ribbon, if you like.  Don’t worry about sewing the pieces on too securely, if you’re using felt or fabric.  Just baste them on by hand with big stitches, so you can easily reclaim the shirt for everyday use once Halloween is over.

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