The grim reaper is a myth that began with the Black Death in the Middle Ages. Whether preparing for cosplay or a Halloween costume, the black-shrouded escort to the afterlife needs a hooded robe and scythe to properly portray the medieval legend.
Unisex, plus size or child-size costume, all need that classic grim reaper robe and cape.
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Making a grim reaper costume: the black cloak
Your unisex grim reaper portrayal needs a black hooded cloak to pull off the scary persona. You can purchase a pattern and fabric or use a simple method that needs little or no sewing.
To make a half-circle Halloween cloak with a hood, you'll need black fabric, preferably 60 inches wide, though 45 inches will do for a child or short person's cloak. The fabric should be at least 120 inches, or 3 1/3 yards. Use black percale, velvet or fleece.
- Unfold the fabric and lay it flat; it may need a quick touch up with an iron to take out the original center fold.
- Then, fold it in the other direction with the right sides of the fabric together to make a 60-inch square. If you're making a larger cloak, consider using two pieces of 45-inch-wide fabric that's 180 inches long.
- Sew the sides of the two pieces together to make a 90-inch-wide, 180-inch-long piece and then fold it in half to make a 90-inch square.
Cutting and sewing the grim reaper halloween costume
Use a fabric tape measure clipped to the folded corner of the fabric like a compass to make an approximately 60-inch, one-quarter circle with a marker. Repeat the process to mark a 7- to 8-inch quarter circle in the corner for the neckline. Cut along the marker lines and set the body of the cloak aside.
Use the large leftover corner for the hood.
- Cut the fabric. Cut a roughly trapezoid shape that is 12 inches by 22 to 24 inches, which will be the neckline and front edges of the hood. Cut as deep as the fabric allows and then down at an angle to the back edge of the neckline to make the back part of the hood.
- Connect the pieces. Pin and sew or glue the top and back of the hood with a half seam. Turn it right side out and then pin the 12-inch flat to the curved neckline, right sides together, and sew the two pieces together.
- Secure the cloak. Finally, add a tie or brooch at the neck to secure the cloak when you put it on over black pants and a long-sleeve shirt.
Designing a no-sew robe costume
When life is busy and the event is quickly sneaking up on you, you can still assemble an adult costume by ordering online or purchasing the elements locally.
- The Robe. First, peruse the hooded bathrobes. A full-length black hooded robe fulfills the soul-taker image of the outer garment. In addition, most bathrobes come with pockets, so you have a place for your wallet or clutch and keys.
- Black Clothes. Underneath, black jeans and a long-sleeve black T-shirt or hoodie covers you and keeps you warm if you're canvassing the neighborhood with your trick-or-treaters. Alternatively, if you're indoors, black leggings and a camisole or even a short, sexy dress with fishnet or lace pantyhose helps keep you comfortable during a Halloween party.
Adding the costume accessories
When choosing a mask to go with your hooded cape, you might select a solid black mask with eyeholes or a scary Halloween skeleton mask.
If you're going for a sexy reaper costume, consider using a black lace or mesh veil. Another alternative for a sexy reaper is a lacy Mardi-Gras-style half mask. Put on your palest foundation or white Halloween face paint and then add black eyeliner and mascara, red lipstick and other details to enhance your natural beauty.
Other grim reaper costume accessories include:
- The Scythe. Don't forget the scythe; it's an essential part of your costume. You can find a plastic scythe online or at a local Halloween store and dress it up or down as you prefer. Spray paints formulated for use with plastic allow you to change the color, add a silver sheen to the blade or paint mysterious symbols down the handle.
- Jewelry. Make your own or look for silver and black jewelry at a thrift store to add to a steampunk or fancy dress-up Halloween cosplay costume.
- Finishing Touches. Finish your grim reaper cloak with black gloves and black sneakers or high heels to complete a deluxe outfit.