How to Make a Carnival Costume


Whether you're going to Carnival in Rio, Italy or New Orleans, you can create a show-stopping costume at home. Carnival costumes are extravagant and are typically reminiscent of fantasy theater or showgirl costumes. While this how-to uses rhinestones and feathers, you can use any type of shiny, colorful accessory you want!

Things You'll Need

  • Costume Base (pants, bra, skirt, dress, or whatever you are using)
  • Assorted Large Feathers
  • Beads or Rhinestones for Sewing (the type with a hole for thread)
  • 2 Yards of Shiny or Sparkly Non-Stretchy Fabric
  • Large Plastic Headband
  • Costume Wings
  • Needle and Thread
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Sewing Machine
  • Sparkly Costume Makeup
  • Measure your waist at the point just above the hipbone, and cut a strip of fabric about twice that long, then sew the edges down in a seam. Cut three to six strips of fabric in a triangle shape, about 1 foot long and 5 inches wide at the base. Seam the edges.

  • Now sew the triangle-shaped strips at intervals to the long strip. This will be the base for your belt, so attach the strips where you want them to fall around your hips.

  • Begin sewing rhinestones to the fabric. You can use as many or as few as you want, but try to put more near the ends of the triangles; this will give them more weight and movement when you walk or dance. You can attach feathers to the belt too, but if you are using large ostrich feathers, you should sew a heavier fabric or interfacing into the underside of the belt for support.

  • Measure your wrists and neck, and cut 2-inch wide strips of fabric about twice the measured length. Seam the edges, and sew on rhinestones or feathers. For the neck piece, try cutting triangle shapes as you did for the belt, and sewing rhinestones and feathers to them.

  • If you are using a bra or top, begin sewing rhinestones to it. For a bra, sew feathers into the shoulder straps and across the back and cups.

  • Get your costume wings. Use your biggest feathers for these. Sew or glue them in circular patterns so they create a halo when viewed from the front. If the wings become too heavy, reinforce the straps by sewing fabric into them.

  • Using hot glue, attach feathers and rhinestones to your headband. The more the better, just make sure that it will stay on your head.

  • Sew rhinestones to your pants, and attach feathers if you have any left over. For Carnival costumes, you really can't have too much!

  • Now put it all together! After putting on your pants and top, tie the belt to your waist. Next, tie on your wrist pieces and your neck piece. Now put on your headband, a lot of sparkly makeup, some flashy shoes, and you're ready to go!

Tips & Warnings

  • Sew feathers to the inside of the fabric. It's not as comfortable, but it prevents the ends from showing. If it's too scratchy, you can cover the ends with duct tape.
  • Use extra fabric to attach more pieces or even make a rhinestone and feather-covered cape.
  • Be careful using the glue gun; hot glue can easily burn you.

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