Little Kids

DIY dress-up

A pillowcase cape or a cardboard crown can open up a world of fun

By Cathie Kryczka
DIY dress-up

He was a fire-breathing dragon yesterday — today, a circus clown. Where will your toddler’s imagination take him tomorrow? These easy ideas transform things you have around the house into fun dress-up costumes. After all, even a simple pillowcase cape can add superpower to the average day!

Be prepared to help your toddler as much, or as little, as he wants as he creates his wearable crafts. He’ll end up with a unique getup either way.

Fairy ribbon skirt

Make a wish! Everybody needs a little magic.

What you need: • masking tape • ribbon, strips of lightweight fabric or pretty wrapping paper, or streamers (roughly cut into lengths extending from your child’s waist to just above the knee)

What to do: 1. Tear off a strip of tape a little longer than your child’s waist. 2. Lay the tape on the table, sticky side up. Tape both ends down so it doesn’t move. 3. You and your child can put one end of each piece of ribbon on the tape, the closer together the better. Don’t worry if some of the ribbons extend over the top of the tape; you can trim them later. 4. This job is for you: Lay another piece of masking tape on top of the first one, sticky side down, leaving a little extra for taping it around your child’s waist. Trim off ribbons that stick up above the waistband and the hem, if you like. 5. Now help your child dress up, using another piece of masking tape to keep the skirt on, if necessary. If you peel or cut it carefully when she gets undressed, it will be ready to wear another day. Knights of the Round Table


Make a crown and some armour for your aspiring knight.

What you need: • empty cereal box • tempera paints, markers • elastic • scissors, hole punch, glue • magazine picture (optional)

What to do: 1. The front and back of the box can be the armour. Cut off the sides and trim so you have two rectangles a little smaller than your child’s chest. Round the corners slightly. 2. Let your child paint his armour (any colour is great, but silver or gold tempera paint is so medieval). 3. If he likes, help him find a magazine picture of something special to him (dragon? dino?). Glue it onto the dried armour. Draw a series of U’s to look like mail. 4. Punch 2 holes near the top edge of each piece of amour. Thread 1 piece of elastic through 1 hole in the front armour and the corresponding hole in the back (knot a couple of times so it doesn’t slide through the hole). Do the same with the other side, so the elastic rests on your child’s shoulders, attaching the front and back pieces of armour. It’s ready to wear. 5. Use the sides of the cereal box to make the crown. Measure the cardboard to fit around your toddler’s head (add a couple of centimetres). 6. Staple it into a circle and tape over the staples so there are no sharp edges. You can cut some points if you like. 7. Help your child paint the crown. Add some glitter or stickers, or a few painted pasta jewels (small shells are very gem-like). Let dry. 8. Crown your little prince or princess — and go catch a dragon! Caped Crusader

Dressing up like a superhero or princess is a way for a little person to try on a big, powerful role. A cape is just the accessory to make it happen (airworthiness of this design not guaranteed!).

What you need: • plain pillowcase (a well-washed plain tea towel also works) • fabric markers or regular markers • masking tape • 2.5 cm (1 in) adhesive-backed Velcro tape, or 1 Velcro circle


What to do: 1. If the pillowcase is new, wash and iron it. Your child wears it lengthwise, with one narrow end at his neck, so try it out for length: If it’s too long, you’ll want to trim it. 2. Cover your work surface and spread out the pillowcase. Put a piece of cardboard or waxed paper inside, so colour won’t leak through. Tape the pillowcase down to keep it from sliding. 3. Let your child decorate the pillowcase with markers — maybe you can help him make a colourful border or draw a spider or a bat in the centre (or a big letter E for Evan). If your child likes, he can flip the pillowcase over and decorate the other side. (If you use fabric markers, follow the directions for setting the colour.) 4. Now attach the Velcro. Try the cape around your child’s neck and position a piece of Velcro on each side of the pillowcase so they attach comfortably in front of his neck. Stick the Velcro down firmly. Ruby Rigatoni

Jewels for your princess (or prince) right from the kitchen cupboard!

What you need: • dry pasta with a hole (rigatoni is big enough for little hands to string but, with your help, others may work, too) • tempera paint • fabric elastic, about 1 cm (½ in) wide, to string the beads on • small paintbrush

What to do: 1. Paint the rigatoni. If you hold a piece between your thumb and forefinger, your child can paint it (a foam brush also works well). 2. Set the painted pasta on a sheet of waxed paper. If your child is old enough not to put it in her mouth, she can sprinkle some glitter onto the paint while it’s wet to add a little sparkle. 3. When the beads are dry, wrap masking tape around 1 end of a piece of elastic (leave the elastic longer than you need for easier stringing). Tie a piece of rigatoni to the other end so the pasta doesn’t slide off, and help your toddler string the pasta. Once she’s finished, tie the ends together for a bracelet or anklet. Maybe there will be one for you, too! Fairy Garland

Here’s a pretty garland for a princess or a birthday girl.


What you need: • parchment paper • tape • craft glue • tempera paint • glitter or a small artificial flower (or a couple of paper ones from a magazine)

What to do: 1. Tear off a length of parchment paper a little longer than the circumference of your child’s head. 2. Softly fold the paper together side to side, like an accordion, into a long strip. 3. Twist the paper gently 3 or 4 times, then staple the ends together. Cover the staples with a couple of layers of tape. 4. Mix a bit of glue and paint together (half and half) and let your child use a paintbrush, foam brush or finger to put some paint on the garland — a lot or a little. 5. While the paint is wet, sprinkle on a little glitter, or glue on the flower. Let dry. 6. Now make one for yourself — so pretty!

This article was originally published on Oct 11, 2010

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