Quick, inexpensive DIY Halloween costumes

Save time and money by making your own Halloween costume (WTOP's Rachel Nania)

WASHINGTON — Put away the overpriced catalogs and close out the web browsers. This Halloween, there’s no need to spend a lot of money on store-bought costumes.

Allison Lince-Bentley, sewing instructor and owner of Tilden House Studio, said making your own costume can be quick, easy and inexpensive.

“If you’re a parent raising kids in the D.C. area, you probably don’t have either a lot of money or a lot of time, so I try to focus on ideas that you can achieve without having much of either,” Lince-Bentley said.

Best of all, no real sewing skills are required.

“As long as you can squeeze a bottle of glue and use a pair of scissors, there are all kinds of things you can do,” she added.

Here are some of her best tips — from materials to purchase to ideas to execute — for DIY Halloween costumes.

Although many stores sell ready-made kits for certain kinds of decorations, they're often expensive, and it can be a lot more fun to simply make them yourself. Here are six simple Halloween decoration projects you can take on. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Materials Dreading a trip to a big craft store? Lince-Bentley said you can find almost everything you need to make a costume at the grocery store or drugstore. Paper plates, balloons, headbands and felt can transform an ordinary outfit into something magical. (A simple snip of a paper plate and you have angel wings; a headband is the perfect mount for ears or horns; and balloons can turn a child into a bunch of grapes or a jar of jelly beans.) A good pair of scissors, a bottle of tacky glue and some safety pins will also get you far. “Honestly, I think you can do a $5 costume; I think you can do a $0 costume if you really want to,” Lince-Bentley said. Quick tip: Save plastic bags and cardboard boxes leading up to Halloween. Lince-Bentley has some creative uses for both. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)  (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Masks In need of a mask? Just do a quick internet search. Lince-Bentley said there are tons of templates you can print out and use as guides to make a mask out of cardboard, paper plates or felt. Slit holes on the side of the mask and thread elastic through the material. Use glue or a stapler to secure the band. Make sure if you staple the band, you cover up the sharp edges so your little trick-or-treater doesn’t get hurt. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)  (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Look in your own closet When Lince-Bentley’s son was little, she had a rule: She didn’t want to spend more time making his costume than he was going to spend showing it off to the neighbors. One year, he had a foam giraffe hat leftover from a birthday party. So to turn him into a full giraffe, Lince-Bentley went to his closet. There, she took a yellow sleeper onesie and stuck a few orange felt pieces to it. She hand-sewed a felt tail to the back of the outfit, and the costume was complete. When the evening was over, Lince-Bentley removed the felt pieces and her son was able to go back to wearing the pajamas. Lince-Bentley said hoodies are another great “base” for any costume. “You can take them and put ears on the top pretty easily — again, with just little pieces of felt or other scraps of fabric,” she said. A fuzzy scarf and a pair of ears on the top of the hood can transform an ordinary sweatshirt into a lion costume. When the evening is over, it can be disassembled and folded back in the drawer. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)  (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Cardboard costumes A plain cardboard box comes in handy around Halloween. Use it to turn your trick-or-treater into a robot, a Lego, or a button — which is exactly what Lince-Bentley’s daughter is dressing up as this year. Lince-Bentley took a pizza pan and used it to trace circles onto a piece of cardboard. Then, she used cups to cut out four small button holes and “threaded” the button with some leftover fabric. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)  (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Stuffed socks make great ‘legs’ Lone socks in the house with no match to be found? Save them and stuff them with plastic bags. Lince-Bentley said these make great insect legs for spider costumes, alien costumes and octopus costumes. Simply safety pin the stuffed socks to the side of a sweatshirt. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)  (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
The ‘no-sew’ cape If you have a sweatshirt and a pair of scissors, you can have a cape in under five minutes. Cut away the front of the sweatshirt, leaving the collar and the back area intact. “And then on the back of it, you can use it as a canvas for some kind of decoration,” said Lince-Bentley, who added that felt stars or a superhero symbol are easy to do. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)  (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Scales and tails If you do know your way around a sewing machine, Lince-Bentley said there are some great online tutorials for tails. A little material and some felt for scales are all you need to turn your kid into a dinosaur. Similar to the insect legs, save money on filling and stuff the tails with plastic bags. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)  (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
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Although many stores sell ready-made kits for certain kinds of decorations, they're often expensive, and it can be a lot more fun to simply make them yourself. Here are six simple Halloween decoration projects you can take on. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)

Looking for more ideas? Follow Tilden House Studio on Pinterest


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