How to Make Storybook Character Costumes

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Whether you want to create an original Halloween costume for your child or you need a costume for a Read Across America event, take inspiration from some of the most well-known characters in children's literature. Allow your children to rifle through some of their favorite books to choose a character, and enjoy some creative time together crafting one-of-a-kind homemade costumes. With a few thrift store finds and some basic sewing, even beginners can tackle projects inspired by Alice in Wonderland, the Tin Man, Pinocchio and Little Red Riding Hood.

Alice in Wonderland

Inspiration for an Alice in Wonderland costume can come from the original illustrations by John Tenniel, from the Disney cartoon movie or from the Tim Burton version of the story. Begin with a basic blue dress with short sleeves, or a blue shirt and matching blue skirt. Wear a white apron that ties in the back, white stockings and black Mary Jane shoes. If you do not have long, blonde hair, wear a long, blonde wig with a black, white or blue bow in your hair. Carry a stuffed white rabbit for a clever accessory. To make the skirt stand out nicely, make a petticoat to wear underneath.

Things You'll Need

  • White half slip
  • 1 spool white tulle, 6-inch
  • Sewing machine
  • Matching thread
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Tape measure

Step 1

Lay your slip flat on your work surface. Measure vertically 6 inches down from the waist. With tailor's chalk, draw a horizontal line across the front of the slip at this measurement. Continue to draw horizontal lines across the front of the slip in 6-inch increments until you get to the bottom.

Step 2

Measure the first horizontal line you drew, and multiply this by 4. Cut a length of tulle that matches this measurement. Repeat for all of the lines on the slip.

Tip

  • Be sure to keep track of which strip of tulle matches up to each line on the slip.

Step 3

Gather the strips of tulle. Sew a straight line 1/8 inch from the edge, and sew another straight line 1/8 inch from the first. Hold the thread tails firmly in one hand, while you gently pull the tulle to gather it.

Tip

  • Use a long stitch length for gathering.

Step 4

Begin at the bottom of the slip. Pin the gathered strip of tulle to the horizontal line in front, and continue around to the back. Adjust the gathers evenly. Sew in place. Repeat with all of the strips of tulle.

The Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz

Things You'll Need

  • Black sweat pants or leggings
  • Black turtle neck
  • Black or white canvas sneakers
  • Black or white gloves
  • Silver metallic spray paint
  • Large kitchen funnel
  • Toy axe
  • 1 sheet red craft foam, 9-by-12-inch
  • Clock-face sticker, 3-inch
  • Hot glue gun

Step 1

Spray paint the pants, turtle neck, sneakers and gloves with silver spray paint. Apply several thin coats instead of one heavy coat. Allow the paint to dry completely between coats.

Tip

  • Craft stores sell metallic fabric paint, but it comes in small, expensive containers. You can paint most fabrics with ordinary spray paint.

Step 2

Spray paint the toy axe and the kitchen funnel with the silver spray paint.

Tip

  • If your funnel or toy axe are plastic, you might need a paint that is specially formulated for spray painting plastic.

Warning

  • When using spray paints, follow the label's directions, and use in a well ventilated area,

Step 3

Draw a 4-inch heart on the craft foam, and cut it out. Stick the clock-face sticker on the middle. Hot glue the heart to the shirt on the left side.

Pinocchio Costume

Things You'll Need

  • Red leggings or shorts
  • Yellow T-shirt
  • 2 yards red ribbon, 2-inch
  • 2 round yellow buttons, 1 5/8-inch
  • 1 sheet white craft felt, 9-by-12-inch
  • 1/2 yard blue ribbon, 2-inch 
  • Black vest
  • Glue gun

Step 1

If using leggings, cut the legs to length to make Pinocchio's shorts.

Step 2

Measure the vertical distance from your shoulder to the top of your shorts and add 1 inch. Multiply this measurement by 2. Cut two lengths of the 2-inch red ribbon to this measurement.

Step 3

Attach the red, ribbon suspenders to the front and back of the shorts on each side with the hot glue gun. Glue a yellow button on the end of the each ribbon in the front.

Step 4

Make the white shirt collar. Measure the circumference of your neck, and draw a circle to this measurement in the middle of the white craft felt. Draw a 3-inch larger circle around this. Cut out the large circle, and then cut out the inner circle. Cut a 3-inch section out of the circle in the front so it lays on your neck like a collar.

Step 5

Cut your 2-inch blue ribbon in half. Hot glue each length of ribbon to the front of the collar, and tie into a bow.

Step 6

Assemble the costume. Where the yellow shirt tucked into the shorts, and pull the suspenders over your shoulders. Lay the white collar around your neck, and tie in front with the blue ribbon. Top off the outfit with a black vest.

Little Red Riding Hood

Create a cape for Little Red Riding Hood from a red hooded sweatshirt, taking a cue from Martha Stewart. This is not only easy, but it's very practical for trick-or-treating on a chilly Halloween evening.

Things You'll Need

  • Red hooded sweatshirt
  • 1 yard red fabric
  • 3 yards white eyelet trim, 1-inch
  • Hot glue gun
  • 20-inch length of twine
  • Pencil
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Dinner plate
  • Red skirt
  • Wicker basket

Step 1

Using the hot glue gun, apply the eyelet trip around the edge of the hood on the sweatshirt. If your sweatshirt zips up the front, apply the trim on each size of the zipper.

Step 2

To make the cape, lay the red fabric flat on your work surface. Create a compass by tying a pencil to one end of the twine and your tailor's chalk to the other end. Put the pencil in one corner of the fabric, and pull the string taught. Draw an arc on the fabric with the chalk. Put the dinner plate in the corner where the pencil was and trace an arc for the neck.

Step 3

Cut out the cape, and trim the hem with the white eyelet.

Step 4

With the hot glue gun, attach the neckline of the cape around the base of the hood on the back of the sweatshirt.

Step 5

Finish the costume with a matching red skirt. Carry a wicker basket to hold treats.

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