Making A Custom Costume Using An Off-The-Shelf Costume As A Template - The Loresworn Order


Making A Custom Costume Using An Off-The-Shelf Costume As A Template

Many of us have done it – run down to the Halloween store at the last minute to buy something shiny that looks so great in the picture. But as soon as you get it home, out of the bag, and on yourself, it looks like a toddler stapled it together out of neon burlap. Never fear! You can still look fantastic for your costume party by using the of-the-shelf costume to make your own pattern for a custom costume that fits you perfectly!

For this project you will need:


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  • One off-the-shelf costume
  • New fabric/thread for your custom costume
  • Chalk or pencil
  • Pins and a seam ripper (Or scissors… but you will be happier with a seam ripper. I promise.)
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric scissors
  • Separate pair of scissors for paper
  • Wrapping tissue paper or newspaper
  • Your sizing measurements

Step one: Pick out your fabric


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You can pick something that matches the materials in the costume you bought, or you can switch up the texture a little bit. If you’re not sure about what to look for take a look at our video about choosing materials (

You will also want to pick up some tissue paper (white wrapping tissue paper works great) for making the pattern.

Step two: Label each piece


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Using sewing chalk or a pencil, label the pieces of the costume. This is really important for the next step so that you don’t lose pieces.

Step three: Unstitch


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Unstitch the box costume at the seams. Be careful not to tear the fabric or pull it out of shape. Usually, these costumes are made out of really cheap material that easily tears or bubbles. Torn or stretched out fabric will make it difficult to trace a proper pattern.

Step four: Draw the pattern


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Use the unstitched pieces of your costume to draw pattern pieces on the paper. Be sure that you label where needed as you did on the original costume before. At this point, the pattern pieces will likely have no proper seam allowances or correct measurements.

So as you cut the pattern pieces out, add and mark seam allowances and adjust to your measurements.

Step five: Pin the pattern


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Pin the pieces to your dress form [] to make sure that they lay correctly and will fit you properly. Make sure that you mark anywhere that will need a dart.

Step six: Pattern to fabric


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Lay the pattern pieces out on your costume fabric, mark the fabric with chalk again so that you don’t lose track of what is what, pin, and cut. NOTE: If there is a top and bottom to your fabric, be sure to lay the pieces so that the pattern will go in the correct direction on each piece. This may mean that you have to buy more fabric than you would ordinarily.

Step seven: Pin fabric together


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Pin the pieces together and then to your dress form [Link] to be sure that you have everything that you need and that the fit is right.

Step eight: Trim check

If you need to add any trim, consider adding it now before putting the pieces together. This way you can ensure clean seams and edges on everything.

Step nine: Sew


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Pull out your sewing machine and sew your pieces together.

Step ten: Wear!

Try the costume on, make any final tailoring adjustments, and get ready to be the belle of the costume ball.

About Chloe Elizabeth

Chloe is The Order’s drama queen. Since todlerhood she’s been organizing others into various story-telling ventures from theater to film. In college she founded a small non-profit that used film production as a youth development platform. Post college, and in between productions, Chloe advocates for arts education programs. She is currently loving life as an administrative assistant at Pop Culture Classroom, a private tutor, a moonlighting screenwriter and a some-time actor.

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