How to Make a Costume Fit

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Yay! After raiding every costume store for that Halloween costume that's making the rounds on social media, you finally found and paid for it. Unfortunately, to your dismay, it arrived in the wrong size, and now you have to figure out how to make a costume fit. Gosh, those Etsy costume designers!

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But guess what? Whether yours is a terrifying Halloween costume that's too small or an oversized Cinderella cosplay shipped by Amazon, you can always tweak it to fit like banana skin on a banana. That's right—you don't have to think up new costume ideas or revisit the thrift store. By learning how to make a costume fit, you can save a lot of brain work and give yourself last-minute solutions.

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Even better? This sewing project will challenge your creative side in a fun way, and you won't even have to lose your sanity. All you need are a couple of tools, basic sewing skills, a few hours of commitment, and our complete and easy step-by-step tutorial on how to make a costume fit.

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Things You'll Need

  • Scissors

  • Seam ripper

  • Additional fabric

  • Tape measure

  • Water-soluble pen, tailors' chalk or fabric pencil

  • Safety pins

  • Sewing machine or needle and thread

Identify the Problem

Dear first-time DIY tailor: You already know whether your costume is too large or too small. However, it's essential to identify the specific areas that have problems. If your costume is too large, the side seams should be your area of focus. Similarly, if it is too short, you should focus on the hems at the bottom. However, if there is extra fabric in the hem, all you have to do is unfold it, but if there isn't, buy a similar material to extend your costume's length. Use scissors and seam-rippers to do this safely.

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Tip

A seam is a stitched line where two or more layers of fabric are held together.

A hem is the folded edge of a piece of clothing.

Remove all embellishments

Feeling like a costume designer already? Well, this is the easy part: taking off the costume's embellishments to make it super easy to work on. Before you do this, take pictures of your outfit as is so you remember what goes where at the end of the job.

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Warning

Remember to be gentle throughout this step; some costumes rip easily.

Take and mark measurements

Well done! You've just unveiled the area that needs fixing on your Halloween costume. The next task is to take your measurements with a tape measure. This allows you to compare the current size of the costume with what it needs to be. Get it?

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Grab your fabric pencil to make distinct but temporal markings on your fabric. Carefully mark the spots where the new seams and stitches need to go or where the extra fabric will be added.

Tip

If you don’t have experience with taking measurements of a person, measure their newest clothes instead. Remember that it's much easier to measure twice and cut once than to measure once and cut incorrectly. Take your time to be extra sure.

Mimic seams with pins

Don't jump right into sewing just yet. Use safety pins to mimic the stitching you will soon need to do. This allows you to test your planned adjustments and get a clear view of how your sewing project will turn out.

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Doing this also allows you to edit your measurements before it is too late. Remember to conceal the pointy end of the pins in the fabric. That way, they don't stick out and poke you when trying on your pin-riddled costume.

Warning

Working with safety pins can be risky. If your outfit is too tight or it belongs to kiddos, we suggest you skip the testing phase while it has pins on it. Have good faith in your measurements instead.

Sew along markings

If your fitting is a success, you are ready to begin sewing. Resist the urge to remove all the pins at once; instead, replace each pin with stitches as you go for accuracy.

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Retest your costume

Finally, it's time to try it on. If you measured twice and used pin markers, you're less likely to have made a mistake. But remember to take out any safety pins you might have left in the costume.

Tip

Your embellishments are the perfect tool to hide sewing flaws. They can fix a lousy hem or seam and hide many hand-sewing flaws.

Remember to have fun

Unless you have extensive mending experience, chances are there will be an error or two in the process of resizing your Halloween costume, but that's fine. A costume, after all, is what you make it, and there's no such thing as a perfect one. In addition, costumes are all the more special when they have a personal touch.

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