Everything You Need to DIY a Halloween Costume, According to Expert Crafters

    No sewing machine or pro skills needed

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    craft glue, scissors, and felt squares on a black and purple background Photo: Aleene's, Fiskars, Flic-Flac

    The spookiest day of the year is creeping up, so consider this a sign to dig your art supplies out of storage.

    Spoiler alert: You don’t need to be a DIY pro to make a costume. All it takes is a good idea, a few crafting staples, and some tips from the pros. Luckily, we might just be able to help with all three. 

    We turned to a handful of creatives for advice and inspiration on how to whip up a great Halloween costume with the essentials they always have on hand. Here’s what they had to say. 

    (Check CR’s tips for carving a Halloween pumpkin masterpiece.)

    Glue

    Eclectic E6000+Plus Multipurpose Adhesive

    When glue is quite literally what holds a costume together, it’s important to ensure you’re using the right one. Before you start creating, confirm that what you have is compatible with the fabric or surface of your costume, says Kathy Cano-Murillo, founder of the blog Crafty Chica

    “For example, hot glue will not work on non-porous surfaces!” Instead, Cano-Murillo suggests using a glue like E6000, which is a waterproof adhesive that works on a wide variety of surfaces and materials.

    Shears

    Fiskars Fashion Scissors Tabitha Sewer

    Emily Steffen of the blog Oh yay studio! is no stranger to DIY-ing creative Halloween costumes—LaCroix fans and chocolate truffle enthusiasts, take note. Her secret? A great pair of scissors. 

    Sharp shears are often overlooked, but they will give you the perfect cut, whether it’s for lettering or details on your costume, says Steffen. It’s also the key to a professional finish. “A good pair of sharp shears will cut through anything—fabric, felt, foam, vinyl, leather, and everything in between.”

    Fabric Paint

    Tulip ColorShot Instant Fabric Color, Variety 3-Pack

    Like glue, paint is another DIY medium that needs consideration when crafting with certain materials. “Regular craft paint on fabric will crack, so make sure to use paint that is made for fabric,” says Cano-Murillo, who recommends this Color Shot fabric spray paint.

    Felt

    Flic-Flac Assorted Color Felt Fabric Sheets

    Felt is the material of choice for blogger Mikyla Miller, of Mikyla Creates, because it’s easy to work with and sewing is not required because the edges of the fabric won’t fray. A staple for almost all of her DIY costumes—including this love letter—Miller finds that it looks better than using paper, is relatively affordable, and is removable to boot. 

    Puffy Paint

    Tulip Dimensional Metallic Fabric Paint, 6-Pack

    When you’re looking to give your costume a little 3D flair, puffy paint is the way to do it. Cano-Murillo recommends this version, which can be prime for adding dimensional detail and outlining. Bonus points: It comes in a wide range of colors, as well as neon, glitter, and more.

    Tacky Glue

    Aleene's Original Tacky Glue, 2 pack

    DIY blogger Jamie Smith’s favorite Halloween costume-making material is cardboard. “You can turn a cardboard box into anything, from a chocolate chip cookie to a cassette tape,” and the best part is that it’s free and can be delivered to your front door, she adds. 

    And when making costumes out of cardboard, Cano-Murillo considers tacky glue a must. The craft adhesive can even be put into a small bottle with a precision tip, for more nuanced applications.

    Glow-in-the-Dark Vinyl

    Shoyisi Heat Transfer Vinyl

    Here’s one way to make your trick-or-treater stand out: a glow-in-the-dark costume. Not only is it a great safety measure for the little ones (picking them out from a crowd can be easier) but it will also give them plenty of cool points on top of it. Cano-Murillo recommends glow-in-the-dark vinyl sheets, which can be cut and easily incorporated onto just about any costume. 


    Anna Kocharian

    Based in New York City, I'm a shopping editor for Consumer Reports, writing about home, tech, and everything in between. Previously, I covered interior design and market trends as the digital editor of Domino, which shaped my multidisciplinary background in lifestyle journalism. When I'm not seeking out the everyday essentials worth investing in, you may find me perusing my favorite bookstores, cooking, or wandering around the city.