Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lego Ninjago Costume Tutorial

Today I have a treat for you!

My son is obsessed!
Obsessed with the new Lego Ninjago Collection.  This is apparently "the most powerful Ninjago"...
Sensei Wu
I'm taking his word for it.

I decided that as a crafty mother, I HAD to make my kids costumes this year (for the FIRST TIME).  When I was collecting ideas to share with you in my Homemade Costume Collection, I came across some pretty cool Lego Men.  No doubt, my son's costume was decided!

So here is my CRAFTY costume tutorial with lots of pictures.  Keep in mind that I am living in China, and my resources are limited (or at least challenging to find) so I have used what I have had on hand.  Therefor, I wasn't able to completely follow the tutorials for other Lego Men costumes.  I had to create my own!  Here it is...

Materials I Used
- Cardboard
- Paper Mache Supplies (paper strips and white glue)
- Masking Tape (wider is better)
- Acrylic Paint (I used grey, black, white and gold)
- Exacto Knife

- Water Jug (or other item to use as a form for the head)
- Paper Mache Supplies (paper strips and white glue)
- Masking Tape (wider is better)
- Card Stock (to make head form)
- Foil (to make head form)
- Acrylic Paint (I used yellow, black, white and orange)
- Exacto Knife
- Speaker Cover Fabric, black (3 small squares)
- Hot Glue Gun & Glue
- White Fleece Fabric (for beard)
- Old T-Shirt
- Poly-fill Stuffing

Costume Extras
- Rubber Gloves (yellow cleaning gloves)
- Pants, White
- Shirt, White
- Chinese Hat (Easy to make, but living in China, these are easy to find!)
- Wooden Staff


1) Make a Pattern!
My son is 7, and this is the size I felt this was a good size for him.  I folded the pattern in half to make sure my sides had the same curve.

2)  Cut Your Pieces!
Cut 2 pieces of cardboard for the front and back using your pattern.

Cut two side panels from the cardboard (mine were 22" x 10"), and cut holes large enough for your (child's) arms.  Cut a top panel (mine was 10" x 15"), and cut a hole large enough for your (child's) head to fit through.
Ack!  My head hole was WAY too big!
Luckily, I had the chunk I cut out... so I added some of the cardboard to make the head hole smaller. Perfect!

3) Build the Body!
Use masking tape to cover your raw edges around the arm holes, head hole, and bottom edges of the front, back, and side panels.  Next, tape your pieces together to form the body.

NOTE: Make sure you tape the pieces together with some space between them so you can easily fold the body together.  See the picture below for an example...
See the space between the two pieces?
Tape pieces laying flat, as shown here.
THEN, pick it up and fold it into it's proper shape. Finish taping your pieces together to finish the body.
Reinforce your "seams" by taping from the inside of the body as well.
Try it on and make sure it fits nicely.  Check!

4)  Make a Head!
Now, there are several ways people have gone about this.  HERE it is made from foam, HERE it is made from a cylinder cement form .. but these were not options for me.  Good-ol paper mache does the trick.  I happened to have a water jug that was pretty close to the right size, so this is what I went with.
ALMOST the right size... just too tall!
Since the jug itself was too tall, I used part of the jug as my head form.  First, I wrapped the bottom of the jug with foil, to keep the paper mache from sticking to the jug, and to help keep the shape.  Next, I added a 10" tall piece of card stock around the jug and taped into place.  

NOTE:  When all was said and done, I thought the head could have been a bit shorter.  I perhaps would have chosen to use a 8" tall piece of card stock instead.

NOTE:  Make sure you do not tape anything ONTO the jug!  You want to be able to pull the form off the jug later.

Then I added lots of masking tape to secure a nice form to begin to cover with paper mache.  Paper mache can be done in a few different ways.  You can find some details HERE.  I used what I had on hand (which was Mod Podge... way more costly than white glue), but I would recommend one of the methods in the link (flour or glue and water).  The Mod Podge leaves a strong smell that my son is not too impressed with.

Begin to paper mache over your form!  I recommend at least two layers of paper mache to give a sturdy form.  As noted in the paper mache link above, it is best to finish with a white paper layer so it is easier to paint over.

Not necessary, but I chose to paper mache over the body as well.  You'd only need one layer of paper mache here.

Allow all to dry before moving on.

5)  Finish the Head!
Carefully pull the paper mache'd head form off of the jug.  Now you need to make the form for the bottom of your head!  Cover the bottom of the jug with your foil, and secure it with masking tape as shown in the photo below.  Again, do not tape anything TO the jug so it can be easily removed.  I also recommend cutting off all excess foil around the bottom of the form.

Lift the form off of the jug.  Carefully cut a hole from the foil to be used as the hole you (your child) will put their head through.  Make sure you test that it is big enough!

Cover all of the foil with masking tape, wrapping over the foil edges so you aren't leaving sharp edges.

Place the form INTO your already completely portion of the head and tape into place (inside and outside).

Finish the head by covering this section with 2 or more layers of paper mache.  (More is better since this is the portion that is going to need to be the most sturdy!)

When the head is completely dry, sketch your face and cut out the eyes and mouth using an exacto knife.  I found it easiest to cut one eye and then use that cut piece to use as a template for the second.  I DON'T recommend drawing your stencil with a black Sharpie!  It takes lots of coats of paint to cover. ;)

6) Time to Paint!
I first painted the body white and the head yellow.  When dry, I sketched the designs using a pencil, which was very forgiving since it was easily erased with a white eraser.  I tried to create the body just as it was on Sensei Wu.  I think I did a pretty good job of it!  


Here are the finishing touches on the head...
I didn't do all the detail on the face since some will be covered by the beard.

7)  Make a Beard!
I cut a shape to match the beard (about 28" long and 12" at the widest point) out of some white fleece I had on hand.  I thought it would look better with a little more to it, so I decided to cut a second piece to glue to it.  Get your hot glue gun warming up!

I cut the top piece into three sections... one for the middle beard and the other two to make the mustache.  Start by gluing the beard section to your form.  I added a chunk of batting inside each section (cut a bit smaller) to give a little more dimension (see photo below on the left).

Do the same for the mustache pieces.  When finished, trim along the edges to make sure it looks nice!

And the finished product!
I added a "whole" for the mouth for some extra oxygen in the mask.

Now hot glue the finished beard to your Lego head!

8)  Finishing Touches!
Add some of this cool Glow Away paint that I used to outline the dragon and the Chinese characters for some added fun.

I also cut three small pieces of black speaker fabric and glued them behind the eyes and the mouth holes in the head.  Don't worry.. you can see through them still!

To better secure the Lego head in place, I added a "bumper pad" around the inside.  I just cut the bottom off of an old T-shirt, hot glued it around the side and back of the inside of the head, and stuffed with some poly-fill before gluing it completely closed.  This keeps the head from wiggling around too much, and in place.
The INSIDES of the head after the bumper pad and black fabric was added to the eyes and mouth.
Add your costume extras!  I couldn't find a pair of white pants so I had to make a pair.  I added the one Chinese character that fell below the body portion on Sensei Wu.  I'm still missing the hanging scarf below the knot on his body, but I may just leave that off.  I happened to find a hat (not quite the right size/shape, but I think close enough), and I have a rainstick that will make a perfect staff.  A white shirt underneath, and a pair of yellow gloves, and we're set!

Here is the finished costume, and one very happy boy!

Happy Costume Making!

Great places for Homemade Costume Ideas...

My Inspiration!  You can find more Lego Man Costume Tutorials at Instructables!


  1. That is AMAZING!!! I am so impressed. Your kids are truly lucky to have such a creative and crafty mom!

  2. Holy cow, that is really impressive! Nice job!

  3. Brilliant! I am SO impressed!!


  4. Pretty cool, wish I was handy enough to make one.

    Looks amazing.


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