How to Make a Convict Costume

Written by kathy bellamy
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How to Make a Convict Costume
Prison uniform with stripes (convict image by Earl Robbins from

Horizontal-striped prison uniforms were commonly used the in the 19th and early 20th century. The distinctive attire made it difficult for an escaped inmate to avoid recognition and recapture in cases of escape. Later, when rehabilitation became more the goal than punishment, the uniform was abolished. Although orange scrubs or denim shirts and jeans are more common now, the stripes may be making a comeback. It is still the look most associate with the word "convict."

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Solid beige or light grey pyjamas
  • Large pieces of thick cardboard
  • Box cutter
  • 2-inch painter's tape
  • 2-inch white duct tape
  • Black marker
  • Black spray paint
  • Old newspaper or painter's tarp
  • Brown leather shoes

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  1. 1

    Cut pieces of cardboard to fit tightly inside the sleeves and trunk of the pajama top and legs of the pajama bottom with the box cutter. This will keep the paint form bleeding through to other side of the fabric.

  2. 2

    Slide pieces of cardboard inside the shirt and trousers.

  3. 3

    Run strips of painters tape horizontally across the shirt and trousers about 2 inches apart.

  4. 4

    Spread paper or tarp on an outside surface, like a driveway or sidewalk. Lay pyjamas flat on paper or tarp.

  5. 5

    Spray with black spray paint. Let dry.

  6. 6

    Flip pyjamas over. Run the tape horizontally across the shirt and trousers about 2 inches apart.

  7. 7

    Spray with black spray paint. Let dry.

  8. 8

    Remove the tape.

  9. 9

    Place a 5-inch strip of white duct tape over the left breast of the pajama top and write a random number on the tape.

  10. 10

    Wear with rough brown leather shoes.

Tips and warnings

  • You can get plastic a ball and chain prop from most costume shops to go with your costume.

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