Halloween Costumes for Kids: Fun Girls' Easy-Sew Gypsy & Princess Costumes

I remember playing dress-up with my mother's fancy dressing gowns - one in particular, her favorite and mine, was a silky, deep turquoise with long bell sleeves, and two ruched panel-inserts in the front in a paler turquoise and cream that fell from neck to hem. The billowing skirt made a long train that flowed out behind me. I felt like a real princess as I paraded in front of the mirror and passed in stately procession up an down the hallway in her fluffy, low-heeled mules.

There was always something wonderful at the back of the closet - something that could be tacked up, pinned or basted into a smaller size to become a beautiful Halloween creation.

Gypsy Girl

Gypsy costume from thinktanktoys.com
Gypsy costume from thinktanktoys.com

From Gypsy to Hippy...

The best part of Halloween fun was always being allowed to wear make-up. For that one special night (and the one afternoon of the school costume party), we were granted admittance into that magical circle of women who wore make-up.

Magically transported into temporary womanhood, or so we thought at the time, our imaginations were set free as we floated as fairies queens, wafted as royal princesses or smoldered as a gypsy-girl temptress for that one exhilarating evening. We felt like movie stars with our kiss curls, tiara-crowned ringlets, lightly rouged cheeks and cherry-red lips. Some even sportted eye shadow!

Though we never achieved the effortless-seeming glamor of Carmel Myers, the silent film actress and Zigfield Follies girl pictured below, it certainly wasn't for lack of trying.

A generation or so later, girls were raiding the back-of-the-closet-collection of long skirts, shawls, peasant blouses, and head bands to recreate the Haight-Ashbury/San Fransisco hippy-dippy, love-child look.

Carmel Myers - Glam Gypsy

Carmel Myers, from encyclopedia.mitrasites.com
Carmel Myers, from encyclopedia.mitrasites.com

The Times, They Were A-Changin'

I remember attending a costume party while at college. I was wearing one of my mother's favorite skimmers from the '60s, a paisley print in bright, swirling colors - hot pink, orange, red, and dark green - one of the typically eye-popping color combinations of that era.

The dress featured long sleeves, that were gathered and full at the shoulder, then caught into fitted cuffs from elbow to wrist, each cuff sporting twelve self-covered buttons, in nifty button-and-loop closures. The dress had a Nehru collar, shoulder button-and-loop closure that matched the cuffs. The bright fabric was gathered in soft folds at the yoke, and fell in a soft drape to just above the knee - a fairly modest length for that time.

I teased my hair into a bouffant pouf, and pinned a flat bow in the crown. My smoky eye shadow, cat's-eye black eye-liner, and false eyelashes were "Twiggy-perfect." I had even found a pair of clunky-heeled sling-backs to complete the ensemble.

Feeling quite pleased with my efforts to recreate the Carnaby Street look, and in authentic clothing, I strolled through the party goers. Suddenly, a young woman stopped in front of me and touched my sleeve, fingering the material. Smiling, eyes wide, she exclaimed, "Oh, my God!"

My bubble of pleasure was quickly burst by the next words out of her mouth...

"Where did you find such an ugly dress?" she asked.

I tried to kindly put her words down to the drink in her hand. After all, alcohol has been known to loosen the tongue and cause one to blurt out unfortunate remarks one would never dream of saying when sober.

"It's so sixties," she continued. "Don't you just hate the sixties? They had such ugly clothes!"

"It was my mother's," I replied, conjuring up my best, insincere, 'nice-to-meet-you' party smile.

"How lovely for you," she replied and wafted off in a cloud of perfume and alcohol-laced fruit punch fumes.

So much for authenticity...

Gypsy Girl - little sewing required
Fairy Princess - some sewing required
Skirt - long, broomstick-pleated works best
Ladies dresses: two of the same or similar size, in complimentary fabrics, with full skirts, flounced or with crinolines
Blouse - white or bright printed peasant-style
(Out-of-style grad, prom, or bridesmaid dresses work very well for this)
Ballet flats or exercise slippers
Ballet flats or exercise slippers
Scarves - two large silky squares, one smaller print square
Jeweled tiara, fancy necklace and bracelet play set
Gold or beaded chains and necklaces, long, with or without medallions
Fairy wings
Single large gold hoop earring - clip-on style
Fairy wand

Fairy Princess:

Dress:

  1. Choose the dress with the best fitting bodice for your under-dress or base. Turn the dress inside out and fit it to your child, pinning it in place. The best way to size down a dress without making major modifications, is to make princess-style seams, one on each side, on the front and the back of the dress, from the middle of the top shoulder seam to the waist. This allows you to take in a large amount of fabric without having to deal with zippers and re-cutting sleeves.
  2. Cut the bodice from the second dress, leaving about an inch for a seam allowance.
  3. If the first dress has crinolines, or is the puffier skirt, attach the second dress skirt over top of the first dress. If the second dress has attached crinolines, attach it to the waist of the first dress, under the first dress.
  4. Cut the over-skirt up the center, and hem on both sides. Tack the over-skirt back so that the under skirt shows in the front.
  5. Wrap a long sash, or piece of silky fabric with the edges tucked under, around the your child's waist to cover any rough edges, and tie the sash in a puffy bow at the back.
  6. You can tack on small bunches of silk flowers on the under-skirt for a fancy effect.
  7. Add the fairy wings. Give the elastic straps a light coating of glitter glue and allowing them to dry. you may have to touch up a few spots after your child puts on the wings, but the overall effect will be enchanting.

Add the tiara, costume jewelry, ballet flats, magic wand, a touch of pink lip gloss, and your fairy princess is ready for her Halloween ball.

Gypsy Girl:

Skirt:

  1. Pin or baste the waist of the skirt to fit your child's waist. If the waist has an elastic in a casing, you can also simply open the casing near the seam, and shorten the elastic.
  2. Fold one large, square scarf in half, diagonally, and tie it around your child's waist with the points hanging down on one side.

Blouse:

  1. Raise the neckline of the blouse by pinning or shortening the elastic or ties.
  2. If necessary, tighten up the elastic in the sleeves so they fit snugly, but not too tightly, at your child's wrists or just below the elbows, whichever you prefer.
  3. Blouse may be worn tucked in or tied at the waist with the second large, square. Fold and tie the square the same as the first one, but tie it on the opposite side from the first scarf.

Head-dress:

  1. Fold the smaller scarf in half diagonally, tie it over your child's head with the ends to one side (like a pirate scarf)
  2. Drape one of the necklaces around your child's head so the medallion is in the center of the forehead - pin in place. You can tack the necklace in place with needle and thread if you prefer.
  3. If your child has bangs, pull out a few strands of hair to shape into a "kiss curl" and use hair spray to hold it in place. you can make several curls, or one on each side, if you prefer.

Ballet flats or exercise slippers complete the costume. You can add some sparkling, costume jewelry bangles, and then all your gypsy girl needs to be the belle of the Halloween party is a touch of cheek color and some red lipstick.

Very fancy princess from spirithalloween.com
Very fancy princess from spirithalloween.com

Pretty as a Princess

You can, of course, purchase a pattern to sew a costume, but the materials will cost almost as much as purchasing a costume online, and many of us don't have the necessary time build a costume from scratch.

It's much more fun to take your child along on your search. That way, she can be there for sizing, and she can help pick out the prettiest dresses. You can find some lovely and inexpensive second hand and out-of-style grad and bridesmaid dresses that can easily be cut down and pinned up into lovely costumes both you and your child will love.

© 2011 RedElf

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7 comments

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

I seem to recall being a princess one year too.


rosettaartist1 profile image

rosettaartist1 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Voted up. Great and seasonal information. Dressing up is all part of the fun. I'm often seen in old Irish costume doing my Haloween storytelling, or as a witch at bonfire parties.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Hi, Flora. Gypsy Girl was on of my favorites, and we moved every few years, so I could use it with a new group every couple of years.

Thanks, rosettaartist1! I would love to see that! Any chance you'll be posting a pic of you in costume for Halloween?


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

More absolutely fantastic costume tips, RedElf! And reading through your memories brought back some lovely ones of my own. Voted up, useful, and awesome!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, Simone! I have some wonderful memories of Halloween, and I think the costume building was always my favorite part - well except for the candy apples.


cashmere profile image

cashmere 5 years ago from India

Oh, I remember going as a gypsy one year for a fancy dress competition in school...came in third. LOL


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Good for you, cashmere. I never won a prize, but I sure enjoyed making the costumes.

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