Cute and easy costumes for children

Decking your child out in the latest fancy dress costume can be tricky if you're trying to watch your budget, so why not make it yourself?


The choice of outfits is almost endless, and with your child's help, you can encourage them to get creative with you by being hands-on and using their imagination.

You don't need sewing, design or crafting experience to knock up a great outfit - all you need are easy-to-source cheap materials, some spare time and a good pair of scissors - plus your little one's spare hands!

So whether your child fancies being a cupcake, Little Red Hiding Hood or a robot for the day, we've taken a few inspiring ideas from the new book Cute and Easy Costumes for Kids by Emma Hardy (Cico Books, £12.99). Emma has handy techniques and ideas on how to look outside of the box when it comes to dressing-up time.

First up is this rather cool cowboy design for your budding Woody!

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The full patterns and instructions for all the designes shown can be found in Emma's book.

Cut the waistcoat

1) Cowboy and Horse

To make your cowboy, you'll need:

  • 38x17in (96x44cm) each of corduroy and lining for the vest (waistcoat), and matching thread
  • Two 51⁄2x3in (14x7cm) pieces of fake suede or felt, for the fringe
  • Brown and beige felt for the hat and belt
  • Brown embroidery floss and needle
  • Gold felt for the badge and buckle, and matching thread
  • Five small buttons and safety pin
  • Three cardboard boxes, approximately 24x13x10in (60x33x25cm) for the body, 7x7x81⁄2in (18x18x21.5cm) for the neck, and 12x7x5in (30x18x12.5cm) for head
  • Craft knife and metal ruler
  • White glue and tape
  • White and brown water-based paints and paintbrush
  • Scraps of fabric
  • Two buttons
  • Two 34in (85cm) pieces of ribbon 11⁄2in (4cm) wide
  • Jeans, neckerchief, and shirt (to complete costume)

Make the waistcoat

Cut out the vest (waistcoat). For the fringe, make 2in (5cm) snips all along both fake suede or felt pieces. Pin, then stitch the fringe onto the front of the vest.

Make the hat

2) Make the hat

For the hat, cut a 223⁄4x3in (57.5x7.5cm) strip of brown felt for the sides and a 223⁄4x11⁄4in (57.5x3cm) strip of beige felt for the band.

Overlap the short edges of the brown strip by 3⁄8in (1cm), and use running stitch to sew them together.

Create the hat rim

3) Create the hat rim

Using pattern pieces 46 and 47, cut the hat brim and top from brown felt. Sew the brim to the bottom of the sides using overhand stitch and embroidery floss.

Wrap the beige band around the sides, overlapping the ends by 3⁄8in (1cm) and holding it in place with a few small stitches.

Sew the hat together

4) Sew the hat together

Pin and sew the top of the hat to the sides using overhand stitch.

Make your sheriff star

5) Make your sheriff star

For the badge, cut out two stars from gold felt using pattern piece 48. Sew them together with running stitch, and sew a button onto each point.

Sew a safety pin to the back of the badge.

Make your cardboard horse

6) Make your cardboard horse

To make the horse, cut the top off the largest box, and in the bottom (near one end) cut a hole large enough for the child to fit through.

Turn it upside down so the hole is on top. On the medium box cut one side so it’s 2in (5cm) shorter than the opposite side, and cut a 2in (5cm) triangle off the top of each adjacent side; turn it upside down and glue and tape it to the large box.

Glue the small box upside down on the medium box. Cut two ears from cardboard scraps and glue them to the top of the small box.

Paint your horse

7) Paint your horse

Paint the whole horse with white paint, and leave until the paint is dry.

Decorate your horse

8) Decorate your horse

8) Paint brown splodges on the horse to make the markings.

Make a strap

9) Make a strap

Tear 11⁄4x14in (3x35cm) strips of fabric for the mane, and 11⁄4x16in (3x40cm) strips for the tail. Cut a slit in the body and push the tail strips through it, taping them in place inside the horse. Cut four slits for the straps 2in (5cm) outside the hole in the top of the body.

Thread the ends of the two ribbons through them, so one ribbon is at each side of the hole. Secure them in place with knots on the inside. Glue button eyes onto the top of the head. Glue the strips for the mane in place.


To make the horse, ask your local stores to put aside empty boxes for you. The measurements given here
are just a guide—use any boxes of a similar size that you can find!

Cupcake costume


Turn your child into a walking, talking sweet treat with this fabulous cupcake outfit. All you need is is some plastic craft sheet, ribbon, gingham fabric and velcro.

Robot costume


Transform an old cardboard box into a fun robot costume! This striking outfit can be made by using two old cardboard boxes, cotton wool balls and lashings of red paint.

Little red riding hood costume

Little Red Riding Hood

Create your very own red caped outfit for your child using red gingham fabric, ribbon and your imagination