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Best Ever Kid’s Costumes (Paperback)

by Vinilla Burnham, published by Collins & Brown 2009.


Kids love dressing up! It gives them a chance to make up and act out stories and, as every parent and teacher knows, stimulates their imagination through play.

This book contains 20 imaginative step-by-step costumes, ranging from a delicate, ethereal fairy to a ferocious, fiery dragon; a fluffy, cuddly bunny to a spooky, spiky Martian. The accompanying CD contains all the patterns you need, in a range of sizes to suit different ages.

The step-by-step instructions explain exactly how to make the costumes, using basic dressmaking techniques as well as more unusual methods that are used by professional costume makers in the theatre, film and television industries. These include making masks in foam, making wings, and ‘distressing’ and dyeing costumes to make them look ‘lived in’, as if the character has a past. There are also some special costume effects that have been invented especially for this book, such as the foam ‘nodules’ on the  Martian costume on page 59 and the mermaid scales for the Mermaid on page 133.

I have tried to incorporate materials that are readily available in craft and art shops as well as in general household and hardware suppliers. I’ve also given suggestions for buying materials and clothing such as second-hand dance wear and embellishments inexpensively on Internet auction sites. Throughout the book, you’ll find a wealth of useful tips and shortcuts for those of you who are short of time.

My hope is that this book will inspire and encourage the whole family to get involved. Costume making can be a great introduction to creative craft and design skills for children, as they can help to choose materials and colours. It’s their costume after all, so their opinion matters! And even if they’re too young to wield a pair of scissors or a needle and thread, they can help to colour things in or stick on sparkly beads. Grandmothers with craft and sewing experience – and perhaps a little more time on their hands than busy young mums- can help with the time-consuming elements such as sewing on sequins and scales. Dads and uncles with DIY, mechanical and model-making skills will love to help make projects such as the Space Man (page 50) or the foam head of creatures such as the Fiery Dragon on page 106.

I’ve given suggestions for fabric colours and accessories, but of course the final choice is yours. Feel free to adapt and decorate the costumes in any way you choose. You could, for example, transform the Dragon on page 106 into a dinosaur, simply by changing the colour and making different sizes and shapes of spines – or, if you leave off the mane and choose a patterned fabric, the Lion on page 36 could become a leopard or a tiger.

Whether you’re making a costume for a special birthday party,  a fancy-dress competition, a school play, or for your little ones to go ‘trick or treating’ in, I hope that you’ll have as much fun making them as your kids will have wearing them!