How to Make a Shaolin Costume

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Color adds vibrancy to a Shaolin costume
Color adds vibrancy to a Shaolin costume (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

For centuries, Shaolin Budddhists have been renown masters of kung fu -- making the warrior monks superheroes to many children. Although purchasing an actual Shaolin kung fu outfit might be prohibitive at Halloween, it is a relatively simple costume to make. By adapting a ghi, or karate uniform, and adding accessories, you can achieve the same effect.

Things You'll Need

  • White karate uniform
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Orange Rit dye
  • Rubber gloves
  • Measuring cup
  • Spoon
  • Yellow satin fabric
  • White leg warmers
  • 2 yrds Black elastic
  • Safety pins

Choose a karate uniform one size too big, so that the costume will flow. Cut off the tunic's tie stings and move them up so they tie just under the right shoulder. At the bottom edge of the tunic, cut the slits so that they stop at the hip. Hem the edges of the slits.

Read the directions on the Rit dye tube or go to ritdye.com for sink and bucket dye techniques. Put on the rubber gloves. Fill the sink with enough hot water that the fabric can move freely. Fill a measuring cup with 2 cups of hot water and squeeze half of the bottle of dye in and mix. Pour the mixture into the sink and put the both the tunic and the pants in. Stir constantly for 10 to 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the uniform in hot water with laundry detergent. If the uniform color is not bright enough repeat the process. Put the uniform to dry.

Cut 1 to 1-1/2 yards of yellow satin 8 inches wide, depending on waist size. Hem the edges. The color yellow is important to the Shaolin monks. In the past the monks were the protector of the Emperor and were instructed to wear yellow, the color of his retinue. They still wear yellow today.

To assemble the costume put the karate uniform on and tie the tunic underneath the arm. Pull the white leg warmers on over the bottom of the pants. If you cannot find leg warmers, over-sized, thick white socks will do. Take the elastic and cut in half. Pin one end to the bottom of the leg warmer and wrap it around the leg 3 times up and 3 times down. Pin it to itself. Repeat on the other side. Tie the sash around the waist in a square knot.

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