Saturday, October 20, 2012

Native American Indian Costume {Easy Sew} Tutorial

Easy Sew Costume Tutorial

Another costume finished!  This year, Charlotte wanted to be a Native American Indain this year for Halloween.  I couldn't be more thrilled with how this costume turned out.  The best part is, it was SO EASY to whip up.  I promise... you do not need to be a whiz at the sewing machine to make this... no fancy sewing skills required!

Materials Needed
- 1-1/2 yards Cotton Knit Fabric, brown
- 1 yard Trim (for boot covers and bracelet)
- 2 yards Trim (for dress and headband)
- 1/4 yard Leather or Faux Leather (for belt and ties)
- 1/4 yard Elastic (1/2" wide suggested - for boot covers)
- Feathers (for headband)
- Hot Glue Gun & Glue optional

1. Make the Dress!
To create the dress, I used one that fits my daughter as a template.  I folded my fabric so that I could cut two pieces at once.  Make sure that you are folding your fabric along the grain (along the line the fabric is woven).  Once I had the dress in place, I used a pen to trace my lines, adding about an inch around the dress make room for the appropriate seam allowance.

Cutting the Neck:  I wanted the dress to come over one shoulder rather than over each.  To do this, I drew a line (again, make sure you are giving some extra fabric for the seam allowance) from the neck of one arm to the under-arm of the other side of the dress.  See the picture A below.

Cutting the Bottom:  I wanted the bottom line of the dress to fall into a 'V'.  To do this, I was sure to cut this part of the dress out last.  I folded the dress in half, lining up the left to the right side of the dress, and cut from the sides of the dress down to a point.  See the picture B below.

A.   B.

Time to Sew!  With right-sides together (if there is a wrong side), sew up the right and left sides and the top shoulder using a 5/8" seam allowance.

Finish the neck and the arm hole by rolling the fabric under twice and stitching it in place.  See the pictures below.

Add some Fringe!  I cut a strip of the dress fabric at 2-1/2" for the neck and the bottom of the dress for the fringe. In the first photo, you see the strip I attached by sewing along the neck.  This wraps all the way around the neck.  Once this is sewn into place, cut the extra fringe in about 1/4" strips up to the seam.  See picture A below.

I used a washable marker to mark a line 2-1/2" from the bottom on the dress.  See picture B below.  Then I pinned the front and back of the dress so they matched up properly, and cut 1/4" strips for the fringe up to the line I had drawn.    See picture C below.

Pin a 2-1/2" long strip of fabric to form a second layer of fringe along the bottom of your dress, front and back.  I lined the strip up with the line I had drawn.  See picture D below.  Sew this strip in place by sewing along the top of the strip.  Cut 1/4" strips up to the seam to form the fringe.

A.       B.                             
C.                  D.

 And here it is, full of fringe!

To finish the dress, add some trim along the top of the fringe.  Pin in place and decide if you can sew it by machine, or if it is best to hand sew.

2.  Make the Accessories!
Next we will make the headband, boot covers, a bracelet and belt.

To create these things, you need to need to cut the following: 

Headband: Cut a strip of the dress fabric approximately 4" x 24"

Boot Covers: You need to be a bit crafty here.  I created these to go over a pair of boots my daughter owns.  If you have a pair of boots, I'd suggest laying them down onto a folded piece of the dress fabric and tracing an outline (allowing for some seam allowance), and adding about 2-1/2" to the height to be cut into fringe.  I cut my boot covers so that the back of the boot was on the fold of the fabric.

Belt: Cut a strip of the leather or faux leather to make the belt, 3" wide by as many inches you will need to fit around the waist of the person wearing the costume.

Ties: Cut several strips of the leather or faux leather at about 1/4" to 5/12".  I used these for hair ties, a lace for the belt, a strap for the bracelet, and ties to wrap around the boot covers.

The Headband
Sew your headband fabric into a loop so that it comfortably fits around the head.  I was using stretchy fabric with a NON-stretchy trim... so I didn't want to allow for the band to stretch to fit or it would be too tight once I added the trim.

Once I had my loop, I turned the raw edges in and pinned them into place.  I then pinned my trim around to cover the raw edges, and sewed it in place along the top and bottom.  Add some feathers to the back (I secured them using a hot glue gun) and you're headband is finished!


Boot Covers
Sew the boot covers together as seen in the photo below.  Add your 1/4" fringe cuts to the top, as well as cut some notches in the sections that have curves.  See the photo below.

I sewed around the toe a bit so that it would hold tightly to the boot, but this will likely get torn up pretty quickly... so it is up to you if you want to even bother.  I also added a small strip of elastic (about 3" or so) to the bottom of each boot cover to prevent it from slipping off of the shoe.

Turn your boot covers right-side out, and fold the fringe down.  I pinned the fringe in place, then added some trim to the top of each.  Sew the trim to your boot cover.

Pull the boot covers over your boots.  Add a strip of your leather, wrapping it around a couple of times, and tying it in the back.  Your boots are complete!

I took an extra piece of the trim used on the boots to make a bracelet.  Cut a length slightly smaller than the wrist.  Either sew or hot glue the trim to a strip of leather to tie it around the wrist.

The Belt
I used small strips of the leather to create loops for the lace-up belt.  I chose to use hot glue, but you could sew this if you preferred.  First, I glued under each side.  Next I added the little loops.  When each side is finished you can thread through one of your leather strips, and it is finished!

 You are finished!  Time to put it all together!


Happy Costume Making!

Great places for Homemade Costume Ideas...

Check out the beautiful costume Astrid at Connecting the Dots made using my tutorial!  I LOVE how it turned out.  It is always so fun to see what others have done with your tutorials.... so THANK YOU Astrid for sharing!!  Click HERE to see this costume as well as another amazing costume made by Astrid!


  1. Ooh you clever lady, that is so cute!!

    Pinning it to my costume board!


  2. Gorgeous costume! Absolutely amazing and SO creative!

  3. SO adorable!! Thanks for sharing!! My 3-yr-old is going to be an Indian Princess & I was wondering where I could find cheap boots!! Duh! Never thought of the boot covers!! Awesome!!! :)

  4. Very cool!! This is such a good tutorial, I almost want a kid of my own just to make a similar outfit for!

  5. So cute and easy, too. I hope you'll consider adding this to the "Look! What We Did!" Link-Up. -Savannah

  6. I love this! She looks lovely. I've been seatching for a way to make my kids shoe covers!

  7. So next year when she wants to go as a Jew or a Black girl....what exactly will that look like?

    I'm sorry but My culture is NOT a costume or a job. You are by your own ignorance teaching your child racism. I hope you will take the opportunity to grow as a human and grasp that Native American culture is as deserving of respect and to teach your children that dressing up "Indian" is absolutely no different than dressing in black face or any other stereo typing racism.
    I understand that for some unknown reason the general population doe not get that racism against NAI's is alive and well and readily ignored as somehow different and OK. Imagine how my young children will feel seeing your non native child dressed in a way that to us is sacred and a part of our culture and religion. I know when I was young I cried a lot seeing that it was so acceptable to make fun of my people. Thank You for your time.

    1. I am sorry that you take offense to this. Perhaps I do not fully understand what it means to you, but I can promise you that this was created (and worn) with the utmost respect. The Native American culture is beautiful, and one that has always been a part of my life. My daughter was excited and honored to share some of that beauty with her friends here in China that may not know about it. She wore this dress with great pride.

      I am sure your experiences have not always been positive, and that makes me sad. I am American living and traveling the world. I am accepting of all people. All I can do is teach my children to love and respect people from all cultures and backgrounds, and that is what we do.

      So please, if you wouldn't mind, help to educate me (and others) as to why this is seen as offensive and not a way of showing our respect. Is it not ok in the Native American Indian culture for NON Native Americans to dress or create dress similar to what you/MY ancestors would have worn? And please do not take this in the wrong way... I am genuinely wanting to know and understand.

      And with that, is there anything that I can do to change my tutorial as it written to express that I me no disrespect?

      We are all one!
      Rachel @ SunScholars

    2. In general, many people find it culturally insensitive and offensive to reduce thousands of years of rich culture into a stereotypical costume. There really is no respectful way to dress your daughter that way unfortunately -- an idea that is new to me as well since I grew up in typical suburban white culture where it was simply fun.

    3. As a Cherokee Native American, I nor my family take any offense to your daughters costume! In fact I feel it should be celebrated as continuing our culture! I myself am looking for a costume for my daughter's small feast day at school! A day intended to be an educational event. While I'm sure the slaughter a persecution of the Native Americans will not be portrayed, it is my job as her mother to teach her our history and heritage when appropriate. I for one feel glad that your daughter has knowledge and respect for other cultures!! I'm sure no one has issues dressing their child as a ninja, Dora, Tiana or in another costume! Isn't this what being multicultural and American is all about??? Would a Native American dare allow their child to dress as Einstein? Superman? Mary Poppins? Where does it end? This is silly!
      Thank you for your interest in our culture and sharing it with your children! And through people like you, our culture will be spread to others!

  8. This costume is so sweet - in Denmark shrovetide is coming up and at this time of year the children dress up for the occasion. My daughter wants to be a native American, and your tute comes in very handy - thanks! :)

  9. I ended up making it too - thought you might like to see.
    Thank you again! :)

  10. I made this costume for my daughter as well and she LOVED it! Just wondering how to share a photo?


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