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Kid's Costumes: Historical or Fantasy

Updated on July 6, 2015

Groovy 70s Jeans

Wild flared pants were all the rage in the seventies.
Wild flared pants were all the rage in the seventies.

Children's Costumes for Party, Stage, or Just for Fun

Community theater, school plays, and history class projects offer children (and adults) a chance to become something or someone else. You can make a fun costume that can have a life beyond a single production or Halloween party--just look at the groovy seventies jeans I made right here!

Many costumes can also become outfits for special school spirit days, dress-up playtime, or historical re-enactments. I will suggest ways to make some basic costumes that can be accessorized in a variety of ways and used more than once for different historical periods or dramatic purposes.

Costumes from Literature and Movies

Hogwarts, Middle Earth, or Star Trek

The students at Hogwarts dress like most other English schoolchildren, with a few disinct differences. Over the sweaters and neckties they often wear their wizard robes and hats, for instance. In winter, they are bundled up with scarves in their house colors: Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Slytherin, or Ravenclaw. Knit a special Harry Potter item to turn regular clothes into a magical costume. Don't forget a wand!

Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies brought Tolkein's characters to the big screen with some of the best costumes I have ever seen. Turn your own child into a hobbit, dwarf, elf, or wizard with a little help from a colonial or medieval pattern. Add a sword, battle ax, bow, or staff to complete your character.

Does your child prefer thinking about the future? Use a colorful T-shirt and black pants as the base for a Star Trek uniform. For girls, a short knit dress will do the trick. These items can come from the child's regular wardrobe and be worn proudly even when it's not Halloween.

Eighteenth Century Style

navy colonial dress
navy colonial dress

Costume Ideas from History

Choose a Century or Decade

The pattern counter at your local fabric store has some standard patterns for historical costumes available year round. Most patterns include a basic long dress with several variations, as well as accessories to make that dress look like a certain period:

  • apron, pointed collar, and Dutch cap for a pilgrim;
  • apron and sunbonnet for a pioneer; or
  • mob cap for a colonial lady.

A good basic patterns is Simplicity 3725.

For the twentieth century, several of the major pattern companies are now offering some patterns marked "vintage" in their collections. A full-skirted dress with a fitted bodice can make a great retro homemaker costume when worn with heels and fake pearls. Check with older relatives or friends to see if they have patterns from decades past. Create a flower child, a disco queen, or a flapper with a vintage pattern. The groovy jeans shown above were my own creation without a pattern--just an old pair of jeans and a couple of rectangles of bright fabric.

(Photo shows a colonial dress made for my daughter portraying Abigail Adams for a school project.)

Colonial Costume Idea Book - Patterns Included

Tidings from the Eighteenth Century
Tidings from the Eighteenth Century

This is the best book on authentic costume for the French and Indian War through the Revolution. Beth Gilgun tells how to make things just the way our ancestors would have done. Designs are based on American clothing at the time of the French and Indian War and American Revolution.

 

Homemade or Store-Bought

Which way do you go for kids' costumes?

Another Pioneer Costume

Another Pioneer Costume
Another Pioneer Costume

What costume are you creating this year?

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