Dragon and dragonslayer costumes diy halloweenThis year H asked if I could make her a dragon costume for Halloween. Given that I’m usually banned from using contrasting thread for  top stitching because it’s too jazzy I was pretty thrilled by her choice. Initially S wanted to be a dragon too but once she realized a dragon slayer costume would come with a sword and a helmet she was keen to swap her allegiance.

H and I searched pinterest for inspiration and after both doing a couple of sketches we decided on a scaled hooded cape with spines and detachable/optional horns for the main part of the costume. Dragon costume diy

To make the cape I used exactly the same method as I did to make owl/bird wings for my nephew last year. (The tutorial is available here) The only difference was that once the scales were all sewn on I finished only the top edge with bias binding. The middle edges were sewn straight on to a 3-piece spined tail. Then I cut a semi-circle in the middle of the top edge to attach the hood.DIY dragon costume with cape

The wings are made from black polycotton and the scales from 3 different shades of shiny polyester. The tail is made from an odd piece of coated black jersey which I printed with fabric paint scales and stuffed with wadding. To create the printed scale effect quickly I used a sponge to apply paint over some mesh foil to create lots of little circles.

I used the same material to make the leggings. I drafted the pattern to create spines down the backs of the calves by drawing round another pair of leggings and moving the single leg seam to the back of the leg, adding in triangles along the seam which were stuffed with wadding after construction.DIY dragon costume with cape

H printed the scales on a slightly-too-small long-sleeved black t-shirt using the same method described above. We made the cardboard horns together by cutting out small strips of corrugated card, creating a series of tubes decreasing in size and sticking them together using a glue gun. We then wrapped the whole thing in masking tape, pierced two small holes in both horns (for threading with elastic later) and painted. The trick to giving them the illusion of more texture is to paint them a darker colour, leave them to dry and then over paint in a lighter colour with very little paint on the brush so it is only picked up by the raised surfaces.DIY horns how to

When the horns were finished we strung them on a piece of elastic so they could be worn like a headband. To attach them to the hood of the cape I added 4 buttonholes so the elastic could be threaded in and out of the hood.DIY horns made from cardboard and masking tape

Dragon slayer or warrior viking costume diyS’s costume was a pretty simple make by comparison. The tunic part of the costume was made quickly using a lengthened version of a Rowan Tee and some quilted silver knit fabric. Initially I made the neckline in the same fabric as it was quite stretchy but as it turned out, nowhere near stretchy enough for S’s large head, so I cut the neckline wider and used super stretchy grey cotton ribbing instead. One set of curved triangular shoulder armour was inserted in the shoulder seam, with the other set in slightly and sewn on by hand.

Dragon slayer or warrior viking costume diyThe helmet gave me much more trouble and ended up tighter than I would have liked. The construction was actually fairly simple using the 4 pieces shown below but applying the stretchy silver lame over the curves proved frustrating. The felt horns were sewn on by hand at the end.helmet costume pieces

For the sword, I cut the basic shape out of hardboard and then handed it over to the girls to collaboratively argumentatively apply papier-mache and paint.
DIY dragon and dragonslayer costumes for halloweenHappily both girls loved their respective costumes and their play fighting didn’t get much more hostile than a leaf fight.
Dragon and dragonslayer costumes diy halloween

Dragon and dragonslayer costumes diy halloween


36 thoughts on “Dragons

    1. Oh thank you. Funnily enough I’ve always thought that one of the reasons I love costumes so much is because I’m such an impatient sewer. I love the creative bit about sewing but not the fiddly bits required by making garments for everyday wear. With costumes the finish doesn’t have to be so good and no one notices the wobbly seams and puckers!

  1. These are amazing costumes. Great job! I am working on some costumes for our church play and I will be using your tutorial for owl wings and bird wings. I hope mine turn out as good as yours. 🙂

  2. Ah-may-zing! Thanks for linking up to the Top Stitchers sew along! What lucky kids to have a seamstress Mom like you!

  3. This is absolutely amazing. I have been trying to find an awesome dragon costume for my 9 year old girl, and I just can’t, until I came across yours. I know it’s two year later, but I was wondering if I could either buy this from you or I buy some sort of clear instructions and patterns? I have only made a blanket in my life, and it was a lot of sewing, but I don’t know enough to know how you pieced and sewed everything together.

    1. Hi Amanda, thanks for your kind words. I have no idea where you lived but if you were UK based I could offer to lend the costume but I’m afraid I wouldn’t sell it as my girls like it too much (plus I would find it difficult to put a price on it!). If you were to have a go at making something similar yourself I would suggest simplifying the pattern is you are fairly new to sewing…perhaps make the wings and a hood separately. There are instructions/patterns for both of those things elsewhere on my blog – the wings you could find in a post https://madebytoya.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/a-gift-of-wings/ although I know there are similar (and maybe more thorough instructions on other blogs too). I also have a pattern for an animal bonnet in my patterns and tutorials page – hopefully this could be adapted to make a dragon?

      1. Thank you so much for getting back to me. I understand not selling especially when something is so sentimental and your girls still play with it. Unfortunatly, I may live in a somewhat similar climate, but i am from Washington State, USA. Little bit far for a car ride, however, your suggestions do help, and I have started sketching ideas for construction. I think I got it down, finger crossed.

      2. I know washington state quite well (the only bit of the USA I have visited plus Oregon) as my brother and his family live there. I miss them and wish I could visit more often! Good luck and do get in touch if you get stuck in case I can help…

  4. Love this! My 4yo wants to be a dragon this Halloween and this is fabulous inspiration. Can I ask how you constructed the cape spikes? You mentioned the cloth but I’m having a hard time figuring out how to make them. Is it three strips of fabric? Like a triangle?

  5. Thank you for the inspiration! My daughter wanted to be a dragon for Halloween this year and as soon as she saw your costume she was hooked. We are almost finished the wings and ready to move on to the tail. I am just wondering how you attached the tail to the wings? I can’t for the life of me figure out a way to do it without having an external seam.

    1. I’m not sure I remember but I got it out and looked at it and I have managed to enclose all the seams so I can only imagine I managed to neatly roll up the wings inside the tail while i sewed it up burrito style. If that doesn’t work for you I don’t think an exposed seam would be such a big deal on the inside of the costume. You could always bind it with a strip of bias binding to neaten it up. Hope this helps!

  6. Thanks – that worked! I didn’t think about rolling the wings up. The costume is done and just in time for Halloween! She didn’t want a hood so I think we’ll have to pin it to her shirt to keep it from falling down. I’ll have to send you a picture. Thanks again for the help, and the inspiration!

  7. Hello Tonya, firstly thanks for the great inspiration for this costume. I have completed the wings, but am having a problem with the spikes at the back, I have made the 3 pieces and stuffed the spikes, however the spikes wont stand up, they are falling to the sides. Any suggestions ??
    Thanks so much

    1. Hi Galit, Sorry you’re having trouble. Perhaps the spikes are floppier because of the fabrics you’ve used? Ideas that could help might be…
      1) interfacing the fabric first?
      2) Putting more stuffing in? This is probably the most likely to be sucessful
      3) perhaps once adding the stuffing you could make horizontal stitch lines between the spikes? this might help hold the shape??

  8. Hey Toya so my daughter had her heart set on this costume wondering if you have a business and make and sell this costume if so interested in purchase the costume

    1. Hi Tacha, I’m sorry I don’t make costumes/clothes to sell at this time. My children are my only clients (which I’m hoping they appreciate) due to work and family commitments. Hope you can find something that she likes.

  9. I love this dragon costume — I can’t imagine you are selling it anywhere by chance? I’m looking for one that is fairly intact for my 10 year old since I don’t really sew well. I came across this, and I think my daughter would like it. Just thought I’d ask! thanks for your consideration.

    1. Always worth asking! I’m afraid I won’t be selling it though, partly as it’s looking a lot more worn these days, but also I think most of it would be a little too small. I made it for my daughter when she was 7 or 8 and she was very petite. I’m very flattered by your request and wish you lots of luck in finding something that works for you.

  10. I feel like I won the lottery! I bought the fabric first and then realized I don’t k ow what I’m doing to make a dragon costume! I bought 100% shiny polyester, though the edges fray. Did your polyester edges fray on scales?

    1. actually it hasn’t frayed much at all, although I wasn’t too worried about a little bit of fraying as it might look more natural. But we’re 3 yrs down the line and it’s still in pretty good shape!

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