Last year, I waited until the very last minute to decide that I wanted to make a Halloween costume for my daughter. Of course, my last minute project didn’t go so well. I won’t get into all the details, but lets just say that my attempt to make fairy wings was a fail. Tinkerbell would NOT have been proud. So this year, I decided early that I was determined to make a costume for my daughter. She initially wanted to be Minnie Mouse — an homage to our Make a Wish trip to Disney this summer — but I knew I had little chance of being able to make Minnie’s dress, given my less than stellar sewing skills.
I searched hundreds of homemade costume ideas, but couldn’t decide on one both my daughter and I liked that I’d actually be able to make. Until I downloaded a background photo of a peacock to my iPhone. Inspiration! I don’t know what made me think I could make a peacock, but I went ahead with the idea anyway. Pinterest and Coolest-Homemade-Costumes.com provided enough ideas for me to start sketching what the costume would look like and making a list of necessary supplies.
I’m a graphic designer, but I’m not very good with pencil and paper. Still, I could see the end result in my mind’s eye, and that vision was enough to get me going. I headed off to Walmart, Hobby Lobby and a couple of other places to collect my supplies:
Knotted, No-Sew Tutu
- 5.5 yards nylon tulle, Walmart (I chose to use several colors: 2 shades of turquoise, purple, green and black)
- 1 yard satin ribbon, Walmart
- Blue feather boa, Hobby Lobby
- 50 long peacock feathers, Hobby Lobby
- Scraps of blue & green iridescent fabric, Walmart
- Scrap cardboard
- 1 yard elastic sequin trim, Walmart
- Gold plastic craft mask, Hobby Lobby
- Beaded flip flop embellishments, Hobby Lobby
- Leftover tulle and feathers from the boa
- Turquoise Plastic Headband
- Turquoise stretchy headband
- Black feathers, Hobby Lobby
- Leftover blue feathers from the boa
- Turquoise long-sleeved leotard, Target
- Short peacock feathers, JoAnn Fabrics
- Purple tights, Target
- Hot glue gun
- Craft glue
- Measuring tape and ruler
Making the Tutu
I started with the tutu, because it seemed to be the easiest part of the project (and the part that required the fewest supplies). I started to buy a peacock-colored tutu from Etsy, but backtracked and decided to search YouTube for a tutorial. I’m glad I did. It turned out to be really easy to make! Seriously. I won’t rehash it, but watch the video below for a tutorial that’s extremely easy to follow:
Time Spent: 1.5 hours
Making the Tail
I won’t lie: I really splurged on the feathers for this costume. Before the feathers, I had spent about $25 for the other supplies. I wound up spending an additional $50 on feathers alone — and I would’ve spent more if I hadn’t gone to go to Hobby Lobby on a day when they happened to be 50% off. But I was determined to make this costume with real feathers and not with fabric. And I think it was totally worth it in the end!
Of course, once I bought the feathers, I still had no idea how I was going to turn them into a peacock tail, much less attach it to my daughter’s back. So I improvised. I held a piece of a cardboard box up to my daughter’s back so I could get an idea of the size I’d need. I drew a wedge shape approximately the width of her back (at the widest point) and cut it out. Next, I made 2 vertical cuts in the middle of the cardboard. I threaded the elastic sequin trim through the slot, planning to use it to make either a belt or arm straps. I glued the trim to the cardboard where it came out of the slots to make it extra secure.
Next, I simply started hot gluing the feathers to the cardboard in a fan pattern. It is worth mentioning that the “eyes” of the feathers (the pretty circle part at the top of the feathers that make peacocks so recognizable) need to face forward, toward your child’s back. This way, they’ll be seen from the front when they’re wearing the tail (see the front view above). I had to cut down some of the feather stalks since the feather lengths varied, but they were really easy to cut. I started gluing at the outside edges and worked my way to the middle, leaving a little space between each stalk. Once I had one layer, I started working to fill in the spaces between the first layer, to better fill out the fan.
The feathers were secure, but I needed a way to cover up the jumble of stalks, since all of this would be visible from the back. I cut a piece of an old folder in the same fan shape, and glued it on top of the stalks to cover them up. Lastly, I cut some blue and green fabric into “scale” shapes, and layered them on top of the folder — first a row of green, then a row of blue. I overlapped each “scale” to make sure the folder wouldn’t show between them.
You can see in the first photo of the finished tail how the “scales” worked once they were complete.
Voila! Done, and done!
Time Spent: 2 hours
I picked up a gold, plastic, masquerade-style mask on a whim, thinking it would be a great addition to the costume. I was right. I simply hot glued some beaded embellishments onto the mask. They are designed for flip flops, but they worked just fine for the mask. I had some scraps of tulle and feathers left over from the tutu, so I added a little around the edges to give the mask a little something extra.
Time Spent: 20 minutes
One of my favorite parts of a peacock (in addition to their beautiful tails, of course), are the feathers on their heads. I found peacock head plumage feathers online, but I didn’t want to wait for them to be shipped, so I figured I’d try to replicate them on my own. I bought a couple of stalks of black feathers from Hobby Lobby. They looked like tiny feather dusters at the end of a solid, but flexible wire.
I knew the wires would be too long, so I bent them at the length I wanted (about 4 inches). Next, I measured an additional 3″ and cut off the rest of the wire. I bent that additional 3″ section back on itself several times to create a makeshift base that I could hot glue to a headband. The headband needs to be hard (not flexible) and relatively wide for this method to work. But though it worked, but it wasn’t pretty. I had to improvise again. I used a flexible headband in the same color, also relatively wide, to cover up my handiwork. I cut the flexible headband open and glued it across the full length of the hard headband to cover the base of the feathers.
Finally, I grabbed some more leftover feathers from the boa used in the tutu and hot glued them in the center of the black feathers. Done!
Time Spent: 20 minutes
Ja’Naya would have to wear something under all these pieces, and I initially wanted her to wear a blue unitard. Those were all but impossible to find locally though, so I decided on a leotard and tights. I bought a sleeveless, crushed velvet leotard from Walmart‘s Halloween section, but I had to return it. It was really ill-fitting, especially in the underarm area, and I thought it would be a good idea to find an option with sleeves in case it’s really cold on Halloween. So I headed to Target and found a long-sleeved leotard in their Halloween section.
I initially planned to leave the turquoise leotard plain, but once I saw it all together, I knew the bodice would need some embellishment. I grabbed a couple of short peacock feathers from JoAnn and hot-glued them to the front of the leotard in a fan pattern. Then I cut a strip of ribbon to cover the bottom of the stalks.
Time Spent: 10 minutes — and 7 of those minutes were spent deciding how to arrange the feathers
The finished product!
I couldn’t wait to see all the pieces together, and I know my daughter was equally excited. So are you ready for the final reveal?
Here she is, my little peacock!
As I saw each piece of the costume come together, I knew the total package would be awesome, but I couldn’t anticipate how beautiful it would all be! We are both incredibly happy with the way it all turned out. After Halloween, the peacock fan will find a permanent spot on the wall in her room. So now I have to figure out how to outdo myself next year. And what shoes she’s going to wear. On both counts, I have no idea.
So what about you? Have you ever made a homemade Halloween costume? Are you planning to make any this year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Disclosure: I am a member of the Walmart Moms program. Walmart has provided me with compensation for sharing my DIY Halloween costume project with you. Participation is voluntary and as usual, all opinions are my own.