Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spooky Ghost Costume Tutorial

Hi all! It's been awhile but I wanted to pop in and share a quick Halloween tutorial with you. Are you ready for Halloween? We haven't even purchased a pumpkin yet, though I can say that we have bought the Halloween candy and I have already broken into it! Bad job me. We live on quite a busy road and only got a handful of tricker treaters last year so I don't feel too bad eating some of the candy prior to the big day :)

This year, my four-year-old nephew decided he would like to be a ghost for Halloween- a scary ghost! My sister-in-law asked if I would sew him a costume and I was honored to be able to participate! I know you hear ghost costume and think, you just need to cut eye holes in a sheet, right? Sure, that works- but I wanted to make him something that would fit more like clothing and not get in the way/slow him down while he was out scoring boatloads of candy (to hopefully share with his aunt later)! I found this costume online and used it as my inspiration for the costume design:

 I wanted to do the costume as two separate pieces: a mask and a gown. I got my nephew's basic measurements (~3.5 feet tall, 20 inch head circumference), then set out to JoAnn's to hunt for fabric.  I knew I wanted some sort of knit so that the costume would be stretchy and easy to fit to him. I found a cool shiny white knit fabric but as soon as you stretched it, the fabric looked distorted and cheap. I settled on a basic white stretch knit cotton and purchased two yards. I then grabbed a 1/2 yard of some AWESOME black mesh fabric that had silver spider webs painted on it (similar to this) to line the mask with.

Next, I set out to make the mask. I first made a prototype that might have fit an infant and then made one that would actually fit my nephew! Before making the mask, I allocated half of the fabric for the gown. To do this, I just folded one corner of the fabric to make a square (one yard squared). This is where I should show you a picture, but I didn't take one so enjoy my awesome powerpoint diagrams instead.

[ 2 yards of stretch knit fabric ]

I folded my fabric along the dotted line and then cut out the giant square (36x36 inches). Because my nephew is only 32.5" from his shoulders to his toes, I knew this would be plenty of fabric. You will need to adjust this accordingly based on how tall the person is that you are making the costume for.

[ fabric after I folded one square yard]

[ after cutting the gown (purple), you are left with another yard to make the mask (blue) ]

To construct the mask, I folded over a large corner of my remaining fabric. 
[ Fold over a large portion of the remaining fabric to make the mask ]
My nephew's head has a circumference of 20 inches. I found a large frying pan in our kitchen that had a 12" circumference (room for seam allowance) and used my washable marker to trace a circle:

[ tracing a circle for the mask ]
I did not trace a complete circle, but rather left it open at the bottom so that I could add some fringes/points.  I also pinned the fabric into place so it wouldn't shift around too much.

[ after tracing the circle, I added fringes/points to the bottom of the mask ]

Next, I traced a face onto the front of the mask. I used a silicone cupcake mold to make oval spooky eyes. I free-handed the nose and mouth. 

[ tracing the face onto the mask ]

After tracing the face onto the mask,  I cut out the mask around the outer line I had drawn and then cut out the facial features.

[ Cutting out the mask and face features ]

I waited to cut out the points on the bottom of the mask until after I pieced the front and back pieces together. After cutting out the facial features, I wanted to avoid raw edges around the eyes and mouth so I folded the fabric from the right side to the wrong side of the mask and tacked down the edges using a scant 1/4" seam.  Because the nose hole was so tiny, I didn't bother finishing the edges.

[ tacking back the raw edges of the eyes and mouth ]

After finishing the edges around the eyes and mouth of the mask front, I backed it with the awesome shiny spider web mesh fabric. I pinned the mask front to a piece of the black mesh fabric of similar size/shape. The mesh fabric frayed and left tinsel like pieces everywhere when cut so I knew I wanted the edges of it far away from my nephew's eyes/mouth!

[ mesh pinned to mask front ]

I then top-stitched around the eyes and mouth, following my original seamline from finishing the edges so that the mesh was nicely attached to the mask front. 

[ top stitching around the eyes and mouth ]

After top-stitching the mesh to the mask front, I then stitched the mask front to the mask back, sewing about three-quarters of the way around the circle, leaving the bottom open so that it could be slipped on. I also then cut the points/fringes at the bottom.

[ mask after being pieced together ]

At this point, I tried the mask on myself. And, while it fit, it was tight and I was worried it would be hard to adjust to my nephew's smaller head to ensure he could both see and breathe out of it. My brilliant husband suggested I cut a slit up the back of the mask. This made it so that two of the fringes/points on the back could be used as ties to fit the mask to anyone who wanted to wear it.

Next, I made the gown portion of the costume. I wish I had taken pictures of this part, but sadly, I did not. So again, I resort to my powerpoint illustrations. After folding my square yard for the gown into a triangle, I trimmed the height and wingspan to ensure it would fit my nephew and not drag on the ground and allow his hands to effectively grab candy. I then traced a half circle centered at the top of the gown to make a neck hole. I cut around this hole and finished the edge off with a 1/4" seam (white dotted line at top of gown). I then added 'sleeves' by sewing a straight line a few inches below the top of the gown for about 12" on the left and right sides so that the gown wouldn't spin while he was wearing it (solid yellow lines on the diagram below).
[ gown construction ]

After adding sleeves, I cut out fringes/points along the bottom sides of the gown. At some point during the sleeve-sewing, my gown got a little wonky/asymmetric but I wasn't too concerned- I think it made the ghost edgier (or so I am telling myself). 

[ ghost costume ]

My nephew came by tonight to try on his costume for the first time and to my delight, he loved it and it fit! He had a blast sneaking up on various family members to make spooky noises and scare them! He insisted on wearing it multiple times while we were gathered for dinner, which gave me great joy!


  1. Looks great, lady! And we have already broken into our candy, too ;)

  2. Scarily creative - I have to remember this one in case one of my grand daughters(!) wants to be a ghost one day!