We need to talk about fancy dress

No one warned me. No one.

No one warned me that having a toddler means producing a succession of fancy dress outfits with little or no warning.

I’m not a last minute person, so Halloween worked out fine. I knew it was coming. And I knew we had not one, not two, but three occasions when Halloween fancy dress was called for. I’d thought maybe I’d buy something because I like the idea of building up a dressing up box and so far we have, er, nothing. But then I floated the idea of dressing my toddler as the incey wincey spider and it seemed like fun to assemble our own costume.

So here’s how to make a spider costume for whenever the hell your toddler feels like wearing one.

Please note, I am not an accomplished seamstress. I’ve never successfully made any item of clothing. I have no sewing machine but can sew messily by hand. Many of the things I’ve sewn here could be just as happily be glued if you have fabric glue (I don’t – yet).

Here’s what you need.

  1. One black top that you don’t mind not being able to use in the future (I bought a cheap polo neck from H&M).
  2. Some old black tights. I had some ready to be sacrificed.
  3. A packet of pipe cleaners (Poundland)
  4. I also bought some sort of black furry headband to cut up and embellish the spider legs (Poundland, but not essential)
  5. Some black pompoms (they were reduced at John Lewis. I can’t remember how much – less than a £1)
  6. A small amount of Velco (bought from Sew Amazing off Roman Road)

First the decoration – I sewed the pom poms on the shoulders and down the sleeves, plus a bit of furry material that I found at home.

Plain black polo next embellished with black pom poms and furry thing.
Plain black polo neck embellished with black pom poms and furry thing.

Then I made four spider’s legs (to make eight in total with my toddler’s own arms and legs!)

Spider's legs made from tights, pipe cleaners and fur headband.
Spider’s legs made from tights, pipe cleaners and fur headband.

I cut and sewed short lengths of tights, wrapped together 6 pipe cleaners and put them in each legs, along with the spare bits of tights. This meant the legs could be bent into shape. I used velcro to attach them to her top (I was thinking I could remove them if she refused to wear it and attach them covertly later).

To finish off the outfit, we had a pair of sparkly black tights (H&M) and a cobweb skirt (also H&M and will probably fit a few Halloweens to come).

Incey wincey spider outfit.
Incey wincey spider outfit.


I’d love to tell you my toddler couldn’t wait to wear it, but that would be too easy. She was having none of it, but managed to keep all but the cobweb skirt on most of the time.

I was barely over Halloween when Pirates and Princesses day was announced at the nursery. My little girl stated a preference for being a Pirate, which was music to my ears.

We bought a great pirate’s hat from a well known online delivery service that I hate and bow my head in shame at having used.

Pirate's hat.
Pirate’s hat.

And re-purposed a stripey top. I didn’t much like putting a skeleton on her, so I cobbled together this design after a bit of goggling (it’s a cat pirate instead, although you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a rabbit pirate).

Cat skeleton cut out of felt
Cat skeleton cut out of felt

I drew it out on paper, then cut it out of white felt (big pack from Poundland) and tried to glue it onto black felt. But I still have no fabric glue and had to sew it instead.

Finished cat pirate top.
Finished cat pirate top.

Author: Aline Reed

I am a freelance copywriter.

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