How to Make Tentacles for a Costume

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If you're dressing up as an octopus or squid, an alien or perhaps some other fantastical be-tentacled creature from the depths of your imagination, tentacles are an essential element of a Halloween costume.

Easy to make from inexpensive supplies, tentacles require only basic sewing skills (substitute fabric glue if you prefer). Even the simplest DIY tentacles made from tights and stuffing look cool when attached to an octopus costume. Moreover, the same basic method allows for variations in size, color and embellishments for other costume ideas. The options for creative customization are almost endless.

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Make easy tentacles using tights

Since they're already tentacle shaped and have an opening for stuffing, tights are ideal for making tentacles. Plus, since you get two tentacles per pair of tights, simply purchase as many pairs as your costume requires. Tights, especially kids' tights, come in various colors and patterns, but plain tights work well too.

Choose thicker, opaque tights so the stuffing doesn't show through. You can sew your tentacles around the waistband of a skirt, tutu or pair of pants, attach them to a T-shirt, or create an entire custom costume using a cosplay pattern.

Things You'll Need

  • Thick, opaque tights

  • Scissors

  • Chalk

  • Sewing machine / sewing needle

  • Matching thread

  • Polyester stuffing

  • Felt or craft foam sheets

  • Hot glue gun

1. Cut the legs off the tights

With the scissors, cut off the leg parts of the tights just below the crotch or lower for shorter tentacles. Consider making tentacles in different lengths for variety.

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2. Taper the ends of the tentacles (optional)

Tapering the ends of the tentacles is optional, but it gives them a more realistic shape because it eliminates the recognizable heel and toe shapes of the tights. To do so, turn the cutoff legs inside-out and trace a rounded, pointed shape across the ankle area of each tight leg. It should resemble the shape of a bullet or crayon (or octopus tentacle!), but it doesn't need to be perfect.

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Sew along the chalk line using a narrow zigzag stitch on a sewing machine or a backstitch with a hand-sewing needle. Trim away the excess fabric and turn the tights right-side-out again.

3. Stuff the tentacles

Stuff the tentacles with handfuls of polyester batting until each one is firm but flexible. Try to distribute the stuffing evenly through the lengths of the tentacle by squeezing and rolling it into the desired shape as you work.

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4. Sew the tentacles shut

With a sewing machine set to a narrow zigzag stitch or by hand-sewing a backstitch, sew the cut ends of the tights legs closed to contain the stuffing. Leave a 1- to 2-inch seam allowance so that you can sew, glue or safety pin each tentacle to the Halloween costume as needed.

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5. Cut circles for suckers

Trace circles of varying sizes on the felt or craft foam to create the octopus suckers. The number and sizes of circles needed depends on the size of the tentacles and your particular design. For a realistic look, create larger circles for the suckers at the thicker, upper parts of the tentacles, making them gradually smaller toward the tapered end. Cut out the circles with scissors.

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6. Stick those suckers

To determine the best arrangement, first position the felt or foam circles along the tentacles before gluing or sewing them. Then, glue or hand-sew them in place only in the middle of the circle, leaving the edges loose. If using craft foam, be sure to use a low-temperature hot-glue gun because high-temperature hot glue can melt the foam.

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Techniques for more elaborate tentacles

The tights method is a quick and easy way to make tentacles for a Halloween costume, but many other ways exist to build upon the basics and create more elaborate tentacles, including:

  1. Wire hanger.​ Make pose-able tentacles by placing an unfolded wire hanger or length of craft wire inside the tentacles. Bend each end of the wire into a circle or insert it into a craft foam ball to prevent it from poking through the tentacle fabric. Pack the stuffing around the wire to enclose it in the center of the tentacle.
  2. Fabric.​ Use fabric instead of tights for your tentacles, which provides the option to use all kinds of cool novelty fabrics. Trace your tentacle shapes on the wrong side of the fabric and cut two matching shapes for each tentacle. Sew around the perimeter of the tentacle with the right-sides facing, leaving the wider end open until after stuffing. Turn the tentacle right-sides-out for stuffing.
  3. Suction cups.​ Purchase plastic suction cups in bulk to create more realistic suckers. Alternatively, cut up an inexpensive plastic bathmat and reuse the suction cups for suckers. Hot glue should be sufficient to stick those suckers to the tentacles.
  4. Get colorful.​ Add fabric paint, latex paint, glitter, buttons, beads, sequins and other craft supplies to make even more creative, elaborate versions of tentacles for your Halloween costume.

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