Goblins, witches, armored knights, storybook characters. Look through books and magazines for an amusing or frightening character, then combine parts of several commercial costume patterns-or design your own-to fit the character. Keep the garment comfortable and easy to move in. The hem should be short enough to keep the wearer from tripping, and the mask or headdress should provide good visibility.
Salvage fabric from old items you have around the house, such as towels, curtains, tablecloths, sheets, or clothes (you can buy old clothes at a thrift shop). Or purchase unbleached muslin, felt, nylon netting, or fabric lining. Dye the fabric if it’s the wrong color. Use shirt-weight cardboard wrapped with aluminum foil to simulate metal for armor and decorate it with poster or acrylic paints.
To make a basic mask, cut a pattern from newspaper and make size adjustments. Use the pattern to cut a mask from cardboard or colored mat board. Decorate the mask with poster paints, glitter, sequins, or a crepe paper ruffle. Punch a hole in each end of the mask and glue on the type of hole reinforcers used for loose-leaf paper. Tie on a length of elastic.
Makeup and hair
Makeup adds a final touch. Use women’s street makeup, burnt cork, or theatrical greasepaint. If you use greasepaint, apply it over a base of cold cream that’s been rubbed into the skin, then lightly blotted. Use an eyebrow pencil to create beard stubble, mustaches, or sideburns. To gray your hair, dust it with cornstarch or talcum powder.
Make a “bald” wig by painting a swimming cap flesh color; cut out holes for your ears. Add hair, if you like, by knotting lengths of yarn through holes cut into the cap.