Show-stopping Headless Horseman Costume Tutorial for Kids
Today, I am sharing with you my greatest mom creation, the Headless Horseman!
I swear to you that the universe had a sick sense of humor when it blessed me with a boy. I was prepared to sew beautiful princess outfits, but I had no idea how to construct an Autobot, a Scuba diver, or a headless horseman.
This tutorial will take you through my entire process creating this show-stopping costume. Believe it or not, it starts with a simple corrugated cardboard box!
This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience. The small commission I earn if you make a purchase helps keep my blog up and running. Click here for full affiliate policy.
Recommended Costume Supplies:
Corrugated Cardboard Box
Red Jacket or overcoat
Black duct tape
Costume Plether or vinyl
Muslin (for pants)
Gold Rick Rack
Gold Spray paint
Empty prescription bottles
In order to create your Headless Horseman, you will need to find a box to fit over your child’s head for the body of the costume. Like the Optimus Prime tutorial, the sizing of the box is important and must be tailored to your child’s size. Box height should be measured from above the child’s head to just below the waist.
For width, I recommend measuring your child from shoulder to shoulder and add about 2 inches per side. So, if your child measures 15 inches shoulder to shoulder. You would have 15+2+2= 21 inches for your approximate box width.
For depth, you want to make sure that your child can easily get his arms in and out of the box while the box is on his head. So, with your child facing sideways, get a measurement of his thickest part and add about 4 inches.
Remember this is just a gauge to find a basic box to fit your child.
Once you have a box selected, you will cut off the bottom of the box and ensure all other seams are sealed shut. You may have to tape inside seams as well so that these don’t move around or poke your child while he wears his costume.
The hole for your child will be on the front center of the costume. I chose to make the opening large enough for my child’s whole face. This allowed him to easily see obstacles in his path and breath freely.
Next, you want to make holes in the sides for each arm to go through.
I was lucky enough to find a red jacket at the local thrift store. The key to finding the perfect jacket was looking at the collar. I did not want to have to greatly alter the jacket. I found one with an open collar and simply pressed the chest flaps open.
I then used fabric glue to attach the rick rack to the jacket. I decided to reinforce the rick rack by hand stitching area’s where it appears to not adhere well. The gold buttons were then sewn onto the outside of the rickrack. Please see the picture for detail.
Now, you will want to put your white turtleneck over your box. The turtleneck should give you the impression of the neck. (You know the one without the head!)
Cut your turtleneck at the opening for your child’s face. I recommend simply cutting outward from the center so that the remaining fabric can be secured with duct tape to the inside of the box. This step is for comfort as well as keeping the costume pieces in place.
You will then want to open the seams on the jacket from right above the elbow using a seam ripper. Make them just large enough that your child’s arms will fit through. Next, you will stuff the upper arms with stuffing. For the stuffing, you can use anything you have available from newspaper to old socks. Similar to a scarecrow, you just want to give the impression of the muscular upper arm.
Next, you will place your jacket over the box with the opening on the side where you made your face hole. You can use safety pins or adhesive Velcro to secure the jacket in place. When you child inserts his arms into the box, his arms should then be placed into the opening you created at the elbow of the jacket.
I then covered the neckline with an ascot made of white mesh. (Yes, the ascot like Fred wears in Scooby-Doo). The mesh was easy for my child to see through, but covered just enough to make the costume realistic.
Bottom and Boots
The most difficult part of the Headless Horseman design was the pants. We did not have any pants that were large enough to fit around the box. Since the costume waistline was far from my son’s natural waistline, I did not feel that his own pants would “sell” the look.
The solution was to sew a square of muslin to mimic capris. I sewed both outside edges in a seam. Then, in the center, I sewed a “V” shape. Lastly, I folded the top edge over, stitches this in place, and inserted an old shoelace as a drawstring in this upper fold. The pants were then safety pinned to the turtleneck once the costume was in use.
The boots were spats I created using leftover vinyl from a previous project. You can easily find costume pleather at a local fabric store though. In order to create the spats, I simply traced the upper area of my son’s shoes and cut it on the fold.
Measure the opening from the pleather shoe you created and note this. Next, measure from the top of your child’s shoe to just below his knee. Cut 2 rectangles from your pleather to become your boot.
Sew the rectangle to the top of the shoes with like sides together. I then created small holes in the back of spats and used old black shoelaces to secure them in place. These spats will cover your child’s everyday shoes which will allow him to remain comfortable all night.
Lastly, you will want to accessorize your costume.
I created a cross belt to hold ammunition by piecing together 3-inch strips of cardstock until it was the proper length. The cross belt is worn just like a cross-body purse. Once the length was right for my costume body, I covered the whole cross belt in black duct tape.
Next, I used gold spray paint to turn my empty medicine bottles into ammunition. The ammunition was then duct taped to the cross belt.
We then accessorized with a battle ax as it seemed fitting for a Headless Horseman.
While trick-or-treating this year, I can honestly tell you that every single person we passed complemented my son on his stunning Headless Horseman costume. I hope these instructions make it simple for you to create some incredible Halloween memories for your child. If you are hesitant to give it a go, please check out these pre-made costumes or some of my other DIY costume tutorials.