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Homemade Fancy Dress Ideas & DIY Halloween Costumes

Updated on October 22, 2017

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


NYC Walk/Don't Walk Signals


Mad Hatter DIY Costume

Gingerbread Man


How To Make Fairy Wings

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

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

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! | Source

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.

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


Nintendo Gameboy

A retro blast from the past!
A retro blast from the past! | Source

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.

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.

Umbrella Bat Wings

Photo and costume by Lenore Edman.

Click here for DIY details.

Knife & Fork

Makes total sense to me.
Makes total sense to me. | Source

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 :) | Source

'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


Banksy Graffiti Costume

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

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! | Source

Click here and here for more photos and Lichtenstein inspiration.

Flying Spaghetti Monster Hat

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

More Costume Making Videos & Ideas

Do you usually dress up for Halloween?

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Please Comment On My Lens!

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    • profile image

      Paris 3 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      girls4lookcom 3 years ago


    • Facleu profile image

      Facundo 3 years ago

      the lens is awesome!

    • Tricia Deed profile image

      Tricia Deed 3 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      Awesome ideas. Love it.

    • Aladdinscave LM profile image

      Aladdinscave LM 3 years ago

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

    • teelover profile image

      teelover 4 years ago

      Great tips!

    • Halloween Cosplay profile image

      Halloween Cosplay 4 years ago

      Very creative costume ideas! I love it :)

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      These are really cute costume ideas.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 4 years ago

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

    • jefreywarner08 profile image

      jefreywarner08 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      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 profile image

      NatureFan LM 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      so cute!

    • QualifiedExpert profile image

      QualifiedExpert 4 years ago

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

      Cheers, Mike

    • Diaper Bag Blog profile image

      Stanley Green 4 years ago from Czech Republic

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

    • profile image

      smbaughns 4 years ago

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

    • KamalaEmbroidery profile image

      KamalaEmbroidery 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      The eyes of that mummy costume... :o

    • Zola Mars profile image

      Lydia Workman 4 years ago from Canada

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

    • mariacarbonara profile image

      mariacarbonara 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      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 profile image

      buildhealthtoday 4 years ago

      Like your walking signs!

    • profile image

      supersiva 4 years ago

      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 profile image

      ghoststorylover 4 years ago

      Very cool, I love the Medusa!

    • boneworld profile image

      Jackson Thom 4 years ago from West of Left South Lucky

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great collection. iamthesupermotherbug

    • profile image

      nonya222 4 years ago

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

    • rhubarba profile image

      rhubarba 4 years ago

      Haha, I loved the Game Boy one!

    • Michelllle profile image

      Michelllle 4 years ago

      Love the jellyfish!

    • MissRubyStars profile image

      MissRubyStars 4 years ago

      I really liked the mummy costume.

    • profile image

      BlowDryBar 4 years ago

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

    • SusanAston profile image

      SusanAston 4 years ago

      Great fun ideas.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      These are all very clever and creative.

    • Underrated profile image

      Underrated 4 years ago


    • mrsclaus411 profile image

      mrsclaus411 5 years ago

      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

    • profile image

      RosemaryLucas 5 years ago

      I love your lens, such creativity is very inspiring.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      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 :)

    • amytrumpeter profile image

      Amy Trumpeter 5 years ago from Oxford

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

    • siennabrown1 profile image

      siennabrown1 5 years ago

      Awesome lens, perfect for Halloween :))

    • profile image

      Traveller579 5 years ago

      funny images :)

    • Essentially Ind profile image

      Essentially Ind 5 years ago

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

    • poorwendy lm profile image

      poorwendy lm 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great lens :)

    • profile image

      jimmyboy88 5 years ago

      very entertaining! nice creative costumes too

    • profile image

      wilcher 5 years ago

      Great! Beautiful and excellent!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Amazing ideas! Thanks for a great lens :)

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 5 years ago from South Africa

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

    • Totus Mundus profile image

      Totus Mundus 5 years ago

      Really inspirational ideas, love the desaturated Santa.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @mariasconsulting: they have good ideas for hallween

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

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

    • mariasconsulting profile image

      mariasconsulting 5 years ago

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

    • OldCowboy profile image

      OldCowboy 5 years ago

      Some great Ideas! Love the variety you have gathered.

    • profile image

      rvmom26 5 years ago


    • profile image

      ulapteva 5 years ago

      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! :)

    • profile image

      chidchan 5 years ago

      Great ideas! I love them.

    • profile image

      MrsMcCraw 5 years ago

      Thanks for ur lens, it give me ideas :)

    • profile image

      coolmom4kids 5 years ago

      love your ideas!

    • profile image

      johnsja 5 years ago

      Fantastic lens! Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

    • happy-birthday profile image

      Birthday Wishes 5 years ago from Here

      I love it!!!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      These are great.

    • jazzd1 profile image

      jazzd1 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      MintySea 5 years ago

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

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 5 years ago from Vermont

      Great collection of DIY costumes -- so creative!

    • profile image

      Zeraton 5 years ago

      oh my word look at the length of this!

    • profile image

      Zeraton 5 years ago

      oh my word look at the length of this!

    • Louidam1 LM profile image

      Louidam1 LM 5 years ago

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

    • neotony profile image

      neotony 5 years ago

      you are so creative!

    • bwet profile image

      bwet 5 years ago

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

    • MerlinFan profile image

      MerlinFan 5 years ago

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

    • pollytoast lm profile image

      pollytoast lm 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The Shockwave Costume took me back!! ;D

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great ideas!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Love the pictures. Some ideas you have here.

    • ara-bella profile image

      ara-bella 5 years ago

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

    • Stacy Birch profile image

      Stacy Birch 5 years ago

      Awesome Costumes, just came back to bless your lens.

    • ShineRita profile image

      ShineRita 5 years ago

      Great ideas!

    • profile image

      AlexBPearl 5 years ago

      Great stuff.

    • grahamcox lm profile image

      grahamcox lm 5 years ago

      These are some amazing costumes! Fantastic ideas

    • queenofduvetcover profile image

      queenofduvetcover 5 years ago

      Cool lens! Loved the rollercoaster costume the most!

    • profile image

      Hannah Writes 5 years ago

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

    • wvclaylady profile image

      Shannon Williams 5 years ago from Davisville, WV

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

    • profile image

      dressygirlkouture 5 years ago

      Neat! Cant' wait to try!

    • lionessprotector profile image

      lionessprotector 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      SofiaMann 5 years ago

      Have some fun costumes. Congratulations.

    • psiloveyou1 profile image

      psiloveyou1 5 years ago

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

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 5 years ago

      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 profile image

      wrapitup4me 5 years ago

      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 profile image

      nathangibbs lm 5 years ago

      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 profile image

      Natashalh LM 5 years ago

      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 profile image

      Madonaa 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      mouse1996 lm 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      swimminglessonsonline 5 years ago

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

    • KandH profile image

      KandH 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      abigailwaltersd 5 years ago

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

    • eccles1 profile image

      eccles1 5 years ago

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

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

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

      Brilliant lens! Angel blessings!

    • crafty23 profile image

      crafty23 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      TamarWrites 5 years ago

      I love the roller coaster!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

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