How to make circus costumes for kids

Written by ruth o'neil
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Circus characters are timeless for Halloween and costume parties. The crazier the fabric the better when you are making costumes for circus clowns. Clown costumes work well for either boys or girls, but the tightrope walker costume is only for girls. Have your child help you when choosing the fabric and making the costume, as this will make her more proud to wear it. Add some silly shoes or have your child wear Dad’s shoes to complete the clown costume.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • 3 yards of 54-inch wide fabric
  • Chalk
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Hooks and eyes
  • 1 yard of stiff tulle
  • ½ yard of satin
  • Leotard

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Measure your child's height. Multiply that by 2½ to figure out how much fabric you need. Keep in mind that the three yards of fabric works for kids up to about 4 feet tall.

  2. 2

    Fold the fabric in half so it measures 1½ yards. Lay the folded fabric on the floor and have your child lie on top of it with his arms slightly spread away from his body. Make sure his head is at the folded part of the fabric.

  3. 3

    Use the chalk to draw around your child’s arms, starting at the shoulder next to the neck and working all the way around each leg and the other arm to the opposite shoulder. Draw four or five inches away from her body to make sure you have plenty of fabric for a loosefitting costume.

  4. 4

    Put eight or 10 pins through the layers of the fabric to hold it in place. Cut out the fabric along the chalk lines. Cut out a half-circle at the folded edge as a hole for the head.

  5. 5

    Lay the two pieces of fabric with the right sides together. Use pins to hold in place. Sew all the way around the outside edges, leaving the neck hole and the holes for the feet open.

  6. 6

    Cut a slit in the back of the costume starting at the neck and going down eight inches.

  7. 7

    Turn under the fabric at the ankles to hide the raw edges and make a hem. Use pins to hold the fabric in place. Sew around both hems.

  8. 8

    Cut another piece of coordinating fabric that measures eight inches wide by 24 inches long for the neck ruffle. Turn under the raw edges on one of the long sides and sew a hem.

  9. 9

    Put gathering stitches in the other long side of the neck ruffle. Pin the right side of the ruffle to the wrong side of the neck edge of the costume. Pull the gathering threads to make the ruffle fit around the neck. Sew in place and flip the ruffle to the outside of the costume.

  10. 10

    Sew the ruffle to the back of the costume at the slit. Hand-sew a hook and eye to the corners at the back of the neckline.

  1. 1

    Buy a leotard for your little-girl tightrope walker or elephant trainer. Use the sewing machine to put gathering stitches across one of the long sides of the tulle.

  2. 2

    Measure around your girl’s waist and add three inches. Cut a piece of satin to this measurement by 3 inches wide.

  3. 3

    Fold the satin in half lengthwise with the right sides together. Stitch just the short ends.

  4. 4

    Pin the tulle to the wrong side of one of the sides of satin. Pull the gathering stitches and adjust to make the tulle fit the satin. Use plenty of pins to hold the fabric in place. Sew straight across.

  5. 5

    Flip the satin over and turn under the raw edge. Hold with pins and sew straight across. Add two hooks and eyes to the satin waistband to complete the tightrope walker costume.

Tips and warnings

  • If you feel really creative, make your clown costume two-tone. Use two different fabrics layered together and cut out. Then cut the two pieces in half from the crotch to the neck. Rearrange the pieces and sew mismatched fabric together from the crotch to the neck.
  • Add fabric glitter to the leotard to make it prettier. Complete the tightrope walker costume with ballet slippers.

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