DIY Lion And Tiger Halloween Costumes (Oh MY!)

** Apologies upfront. I meant to get this posted BEFORE Halloween and then totally forgot to take pictures.**

This year, when I asked Sean what he wanted to be for Halloween, he promptly yelled “I be a LION! RAWR!” When I asked Allie she blinked at me. The silence was too long, so Sean replied “Allie be a tiger, Mommy.”

“Allie? Do YOU want to be a tiger?” I asked.

“Rawr!” was her reply. And so I had to figure out their costumes.

Last year, Sean wanted to be a dinosaur. I spent almost $40 on a dinosaur costume at Target that he picked out. It has legs and suspenders and the head comes out of the tummy and the tail out the rear. He wore it long enough to get exactly 3 pictures on Halloween night then ripped it off and refused to put it back on. He went out in a sweatshirt instead.

At that point, I was really annoyed with Halloween.

Then, during the summer, day care had a circus dress-up day. Sean wanted to be a tiger. So I took one of his orange shirts, turned it inside-out, and glued black stripes and a tail on it. He was a hit with all the kids, and he wore the costume all day.

And that is how I got the idea for his lion costume: Modify a hooded sweatshirt so he can take it off if he wants and so I don’t spend a ridiculous amount of moolah on something he refuses to wear. Besides, he hates hats — so those elastic hood things on costumes that hug the face? So not going to happen with him. This means I’d have to make her costume too — because  I have to be fair.

So I asked the Internet: Internet? How do I make a lion costume?

And after a moderate amount of scrolling, I found my answer, via All You magazine. (link here) I modified the plan a bit, but this was my general guide. In essence:

  • A hooded zip-up sweater,
  • Felt for ears and a tail (I used one 12×12 square), and
  • Trim for the head, wrists, and tail. (I bought 3 yards, needed just less than 2. The lesson: Measure first.)

The boy already has brown pants and I am NOT sewing trim on those. I laughed when I saw the shoes/booties. So. Not. Doing that. I also had the trim lay the opposite way of the picture at left. You get the same look without the kid batting at his head all day/night.

And really All You? You think I’m going to put a safety pin on my kid’s costume? On his rear end? Cause that’s not begging for trouble? I sewed that sucker on. Or, I should say, my mother did. Because I brought everything down to her house to work on at a sleepover a couple of weeks ago and she laughed at me when I was explaining how I was going to use glue and hand-stitching to make the costume, turned on ONE of her many sewing machines, and had it thrown together faster than you can say “Bob’s cat just ate your uncle.”

Anyway, directions!

  1. Sew/glue fringe (facing down) along wrists.
  2. Draw 2 ears on felt, cut out, and sew them onto hoodie.
  3. Take more fringe, and sew/glue along the edge of the hoodie, with the fringe facing the back of the hood. Start at the front to create a layered look. We did two rows of fringe.
  4. Cut a long strip of felt 2x the width as you want for the tail. Fold in half and sew the edges together.
  5. Sew/glue fringe along the bottom of one end, the dangling side down.
  6. Sew tail (side without fringe) to back of the sweater (attach on the inside), making an X for support.
  7. If you used glue for most of the work, add support stitching, especially at start/end points on the fringe.

You’re done!

I’m going to state for the record that it is stupidly hard to find clothing without logos on the outside. RIDICULOUSLY hard. So I went on ebay, and found a sweater one size too big for the boy in the perfect color, made by Janie and Jack (!!!) for … (wait for it) … $3.99. First of all, insanely good deal. Even more insane if you’ve ever been inside a Janie and Jack store and know how much things cost in there. I so bought it. In all, Sean’s costume cost me about $25 — mostly because the fringe was the most expensive part and I bought way too much of it. If you actually measure out what you need, it’ll be cheaper.

But let’s go back in time to for a moment: Hubbs had the brilliant idea for me to take the kids with me to the fabric store to pick out trim, mostly so they’d be more likely to wear the finished products. Sean picked out the dark brown fringe for his costume and wanted “mommy make me lion now?” As in, still in the store “now”. I got him a glow stick to distract him.

Allie, in the meantime, saw a tutu on display after picking out her orange sparkle trim. “Momma? Me? Me?” So I added elastic and WAY too much orange and black tulle to my cart and now she will be a tiger wearing a tutu. We’re all about improvisation, folks.

I had to use the ole noggin to think up a tiger in a tutu costume. So it was a bit more scattered. Here’s what you need:

  • Orange onesie;
  • Black scrap fabric;
  • Black leggings (optional);
  • Tiger stripe legwarmers;
  • Black headband;
  • One 12×12 square of felt with tiger pattern on it;
  • 3/4-inch wide elastic;
  • 3 spools of tulle — 2 orange and 1 black sparkle;
  • Fabric glue and a paint brush or popsicle stick; and
  • orange sparkle sequin trim (optional).


  1. Find a plain orange onesie with long sleeves. Go ahead, I’ll wait. The only place I could find them (in early October) was on ebay, and they were hand dyed by some chick in the U.K. Including shipping, cost for the onesie was $15.
  2. Buy tiger stripe legwarmers. (I found mine on Amazon for $8.) Or, if you have them/can find them (I couldn’t), get plain orange leggings and glue black stripes onto them the same way you do for the onesie.
  3. Cut stripes out of your black scrap fabric. Fold the fabric in half and make triangles of varying widths (and with squiggly lines). I used 6 stripes on the sides and 4 on each arm, for a total of 16 stripes.
  4. Using the paint brush, put a thin layer of fabric glue on one side of the stripe, lay on the onesie and tap flat. Continue for both sides and both arms. Hang to dry overnight.
  5. Stitch through the side stripes along the waist for support.
  6. Stitch orange sparkle trim around wrists, if using.
  7. Cut two triangles out of felt and glue to black headband. I found a fuzzy black headband with cat ears on it at Target for $1. All I had to do was sew/glue the tiger felt design on it.
  8. Cut long strip of felt 2x wider than you want the tail. Fold it in half and sew ends together. If doing a tiger only, sew tail to back of black leggings or on the bottom of the onesie.

Tutu with tail directions.

  1. Measure your child’s waist, then cut a piece of the 3/4-inch elastic 1/2 an inch shorter.
  2. Sew AND glue ends together, making sure to overlap by at least 1/4 inch and sew an X into the band for support.
  3. Cut lengths of tulle from the bolt 2x the length you need. (This part takes the most time. I used about 3 bolts of tulle and didn’t get them on sale. Tulle cost: About $12)
  4. Put your leg through the elastic loop. (Or if you have a thick cylinder or back roller or rolled yoga mat, try that.)
  5. Lay elastic flat, and fold tulle piece in half, with the looped end at the top.
  6. Put looped tulle under elastic band.
  7. Bring loose ends up and through loop.
  8. Gently tug loose ends until tulle covers elastic but doesn’t bunch. (Called a larkshead knot — huzzah for Google!)
  9. Rinse and repeat a million times.
  10. With 2 colors, I did: 3 orange, 1 black and that worked for me. Go all the way around the elastic.
  11. Take 3 pieces of orange and 1 piece of black tulle. Make a knot halfway through the tulle, holding them together. Set aside.
  12. Get your tiger tail. On one end, loop about 1/2 inch over the back and sew the end to the tail.
  13. Take a piece of black tulle and pass through the opening you just made.
  14. Take the 3 pieces of orange and 1 piece of black tulle with the knot in half of them. Fold the tulle in half so the knot is the top. Stick the knot into the bottom opening of the tiger tail and sew the tail closed. Sew an X through the knot for stability.
  15. Place the tail on the tutu. Loop the loose black tulle under some of the rows, going both ways, then bring up and tie into a bow.

If your child has sensitive skin like mine, put the black leggings on before the legwarmers and tutu. And don’t forget to use your black eyeliner to paint on a nose and whiskers.

Happy Halloween!

Finished Products: Lion

Unfortunately you can’t see the tail …

And Tiger:

Refusing to stand up and pose at 7 a.m.

In retrospect, I wish I had glued more black stripes on the onesie (and made them go higher up so you can see them better. But overall, I thought it turned out adorable.

This entry was posted in Daily.

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