DIY Halloween Costumes: Easy-Peasy Jack-o-Lantern

All you need to make a jack-o-lantern Halloween costume is an orange long-sleeve Tshirt, some black pants, black felt or tape, and scissors; the green ribbon collar and hand-crocheted hat are optional.

The first Halloween costume I ever “made” the girls was an accident. My husband and I were set to take our infant to an outdoor fall social event for his work. Since it was a few days from Halloween, I got out Kimmie’s black pants and a jack-o-lantern T-shirt. The night before the event, I realized she needed a hat – and that with the right color hat, she could make a super-cute jack-o-lantern. So I dug out some bulky olive yarn and whipped one up with my crochet hook. And our easy-peasy jack-o-lantern Halloween costume was born.

DIY costumes the hard way

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.

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.

Easy Fast DIY Costumes On the Cheap

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.

That 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 made it easy to crochet that stem-colored hat during an hour of video streaming with my hubby.  Add black pants, and voila! – my little pumpkin was born.

Make Your Own DIY Easy-Peasy Jack-o-Lantern Costume

  • 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 T-shirt, and some black felt or black electrical 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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85 thoughts on “DIY Halloween Costumes: Easy-Peasy Jack-o-Lantern”

  1. Oh my, so cute and easy! Do you have any tips for Ninjas? Our family is going to be ninjas this year and I can’t find anything small enough for my 19 month old.

    1. Hmm…Ninjas in general, no. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, if you can’t find a costume for him at a thrift store (or I dunno, I suppose you could find one new online?), you could dress him all in green and make a little black mask and a green circle out of cardboard/strap it to his back. I can try to remember to ask my girls tomorrow when they’re awake, since they like playing “ninjas” (their word – not TMNT, just “ninjas”) around the house. However, their version of “ninjas” looks a lot like practicing their moves from gymnastics class, with some jumping-off-the-couch thrown in, and they usually wear their gymnastics leotards – so, a leotard? Err, probably not! LOL Sorry I can’t be more helpful!!!

  2. I love the idea. It is very simple but it can be awesome and fun o do. Make you to been more creative. In my country we have traditionally something similar from after celebrating to make everything bad that happened in the last year to go away to be better in the New Year.

    1. That is a fascinating tradition, too! Yes, I have so much fun making the girls’ costumes every year from (as much as possible) things we already have around the house.

    1. And I have to admit, for this Mama, there is a certain satisfaction in making a cute costume on a shoestring budget LOL! Glad you liked it!

  3. So cute! I like to put together costumes for my boys rather than spending the crazy amounts on retail costumes. And you can usually use the pieces for more than one occasion, too.

    1. Absolutely! We’ve rarely spent more than $10 per costume (usually less) and the girls love them so much, they’ve reworn several over the years 🙂

  4. Such a great idea, especially for small babies! I have a 3 week old and while my 2 older kids have their Paw Patrol costumes all set, it’s killing me to spend money on a costume for this little guy when I know he won’t remember it and he literally looks cute in anything anyway!

    1. Congrats on your newest little one’s safe arrival! 🙂 This is seriously the easiest, cutest baby costume there is – so go for it! 🙂

    1. Ooh, last-minute changes are annoying for DIY costume mamas, aren’t they? At least my youngest’s current rumblings about changing her mind on being a witch = nothing more than maybe she’d like to repeat last year’s ghost costume instead – phew!

  5. This is the cutest costume! I love seeing little kids all decked out for Halloween in super adorable stuff, little kids are too young to be too scary!

    1. *thanks,* Roxy – and I totally agree, I LOVE cute costumes on kids vs. scary ones! Unfortunately for them, even when mine try to be scary (e.g. their ghost costumes last year), they’re still just downright cute 🙂

  6. That’s such a cute story about your mom and her sewing. So many memories. I wish I could sew too. And I love the diy Halloween costume you’ve made. I am sure your kids will have fond memories of this looking at the pics when they grow up.

    1. *thanks*, Nayantara! I finally figured out how to machine-sew just a few years ago, but I’m still not up to hours of machine-sewing. On the other hand, my mother’s homemade costumes are such masterpieces that she is now hauling them out, 30-40 years later, because my girls are finally big enough to wear some of them – my eldest is wearing the vampire cape that she made for my brother over 3 decades ago, and my youngest is planning to don my equally-ancient witch’s cape/dress/black wig!

  7. Angela

    This is such an adorable costume! I used to love making Halloween costumes when my kids were little!!

    1. I know exactly what you mean! – one reason I’ve worked hard to talk my girls OUT of “character” costumes over the years :)…

  8. Oh, this is super cute. I love DIY costumes, especially because the ones you buy in the store are generally really thin and don’t last long. I need costumes that are good for Canadian weather, so this is an idea I may have to try!

    1. Ooh, if you’re up north (happy belated Thanksgiving!), then yes, this is a good costume to consider. (I totally know what you mean about the flimsiness of store-bought ones!) One nice thing about all the DIY costumes I do is that you can easily layer on more underneath if needed – where we live, it’s been as cold as below freezing and as warm as shorts weather on Halloween in the 7 years since my eldest was born!

  9. What a cute idea! Costumes can be so expensive and complicated today. DIY costumes allow you to show your creativity and put the focus on the real cutie…Your little one!

    1. I totally agree, Brittany! You are so right about not needing a lot (or spending a ton) to show off your little cutie at Halloween time!

    1. Aww, thanks, Lara! I totally agree – it doesn’t take a whole lot to have a cute yet festive costume-outfit for the occasion! 🙂

  10. What a fun and cost effective Halloween costume. When kids are really little you don’t need to spend so much on their outfit, but that doesn’t mean that still can’t look super cute.

    1. I totally agree 100%, Cindy! (since it’s not like you can reuse those expensive infant costumes for dress-up play in the years to come!…)

  11. This is so cute. If I had a baby, I would totally make this costume for them – or get something close to this as I’m not very crafty. I love how you give ways to modify and simplify the directions. Helps for people like me who are prone to be intimidated in creating a costume.

    1. *Thanks* Erica! I’m really not all that handy at making things like this either, which is why I try to pin my kids down months in advance on their costume choices so I can figure out a way to make it super-easy 🙂

    1. Yeah, I was so glad I thought to throw that together the night before we needed it! Crochet hook and bulky yarn to the rescue! 🙂

  12. That is a super cute costume idea for little ones. I am always happy when I can make my own versus buying an expensive costume.

    1. Glad you liked it, Kassi! It seems I often find myself throwing together a quick hat to finish off a homemade costume 🙂

    1. You’re more than welcome, Halee! Do check out my other costumes in this series as well 🙂 – they’re all under $10 and only take an hour or two!

  13. Adorable idea! I can’t wait to make this for my baby next year and do all the cute photo opps at the pumpkin patch. Thank you

    1. Ooh, combining it with a pumpkin-patch photo shoot – now THAT’s a super idea! You’re more than welcome – I know it will be an adorable look! 🙂

    1. Well, if you can’t sew, there’s always the duct tape option for the face, and you can use safety pins to attach a collar to hide the tags – or you there’s always preprinted jack-o-lantern shirts 🙂

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