Supplies for making costumes and their accessories for a five year old
December 16, 2017 10:47 AM   Subscribe

My 5-year-old nephew is really into making costumes right now. In particular, he enjoys making all the accoutrements: for a recent knight costume, he had a lot of fun making the sword, shield, and helmet. I’d like to give him raw materials that will be helpful to him as supplies for this sort of thing. My sister already has plenty of construction paper, cardboard, tinfoil and tape. What other supplies would make for great materials for helping his imagination flow?
posted by ocherdraco to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Styrofoam. A lot of movie props are made from it.
posted by clawsoon at 10:50 AM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

cardboard in costume quantities gets too heavy for tape, even heavy tape (ask me how I know - Halloween night trauma.) Maybe add some brass brads for fastening cardboard together.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:55 AM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

duct tape comes in many colors and can be great for crafting (ie creating a mutli-color design on a cardboard prop)
posted by supermedusa at 11:02 AM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I came in to mention brass paper fasteners. When I was an armourer for grade-school knights errant the fasteners made wonderful rivets and hinges for visors and helms. Duct tape was useful, especially for reinforcing cardboard swords, and since it comes in silver/grey, looks good, too! I think some light, silvery fabric for a billowing cape and a wide belt on which to hang a cardboard scabbard are also de rigeur. Also a few hanks of elastic in different widths, for securing breastplates, shields, etc. Some velcro dots might come in handy too .
posted by angiep at 11:09 AM on December 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Aluminum tape (normally used for HVAC purposes) is great for making things look metallic. Here's a video of Adam Savage using it to good effect. You could probably get a lot of other ideas by watching his videos, but the aluminum tape idea is the one that springs to my mind.
posted by smcameron at 11:09 AM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Large sheets of craft foam (not Styrofoam), preferably the thicker variety if you can find it. Easier to cut than cardboard, also more flexible. Great for prototyping and pretty easy for kids to work with.
posted by Knicke at 11:16 AM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I make a lot of costumes with my kid. He FLIPPED OUT (in a good way) when he discovered I’d been stashing toilet paper and paper towel rolls for our projects. Also gift wrap rolls make good swords and crutches and horses, and empty oatmeal canisters are great. We use tons of washi tape and Velcro.
posted by sestaaak at 11:21 AM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

They actually make rivets especially for cardboard , which may require some adult help to use, but can really take cardboard construction to the next level!
posted by itsamermaid at 11:33 AM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Brown kraft paper on a roll, magic dough for sculpting (there are also a ton of DIY recipes online), paint/markers. Armor idea.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:40 AM on December 16, 2017

Maybe a stash of fabric that doesn't need hemming, like felt, fleece, or doubleknit? Old blankets from the thrift store might be good, too. With supervision, a kid could cut out capes, tunics, belts, hoods, and things that don't need sewing.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:42 AM on December 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

Some kind of tool for cutting cardboard that will be safe for him to use. I found this one by googling, don't know what users think of it. Someone on StackExchange said a dull serrated steak knife was his tool of choice as a kid.

If you get the craft foam, also get a hole punch and some yarn so the little guy can sew pieces together.
posted by lakeroon at 12:04 PM on December 16, 2017

PVA glue (Elmer's glue in the US) - good for sticking cardboard together that's going to be painted as paint doesn't always adhere to sticky tape.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:43 PM on December 16, 2017

This has been a BIG hit with my 5-year-old for building all kinds of things out of cardboard; the tools are great for cutting and screwing and the rivets are strong enough to make creations that will withstand, well, a 5-year-old.
posted by ThatSomething at 1:13 PM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

For hinging cardboard parts so they really move you can use Chicago screws but look in a hardware store first. Btw they have another name.
posted by Botanizer at 1:25 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried to make a costume out of this, but I have gotten a fair bit of it in packages recently, and it seems like it would make good faux-mail armor and tape together well: bubble wrap, especially some of the more exotic or fancy kinds you'll occasionally see. It can also be used for painting patterns, e.g. the background in this example. That could make a great chain-mail pattern on cardboard.

Also, this makes me think of no-sew T-shirt necklaces. He might have fun cutting up old T-shirts and making royal "jewelry," scarves, or tunics out of them (as long as he can be made to understand that we don't cut up new T-shirts, haha, only old T-shirts set aside for this purpose).
posted by limeonaire at 1:26 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

paint, craft foam, foamcore (lighter than cardboard), old sheets, plastic canvas, beads, sequins, scraps of fancy trim and rick-rack, fake fur, yarn for sewing and plastic yard needles, that MakeDo kit from ThatSomething's comment, everything else that has been suggested, go to the Goodwill and look for unusual upholstery fabrics and stray costume pieces like masks and bags and belts, belts and cord in general

Ok, I need to stop now but the point is that there are simple basics and then there are the special details that catch the imagination. Buttons or magnets with flashing led lights can inspire a robot costume, a wizard's staff, or a miner's hat. I did so much with sheer curtains and pieces of ribbons and rope. You really can't go wrong! You are a good Aunt.
posted by irisclara at 1:42 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

pool noodles
posted by RoadScholar at 3:00 PM on December 16, 2017

Re the pool noodles - already an awesome sword or light saber or other thing but can be cut into armor, shields, antenna, extra limbs, decorations, and so much more. Fun colors, inexpensive.
posted by RoadScholar at 3:13 PM on December 16, 2017

newspaper for paper mache

bubble wrap
posted by BlueHorse at 6:34 PM on December 16, 2017

Hit the trim aisle at the fabric store and pick up stuff like ricrac, gold and silver bands with different patterns, fringe, braid that could be a soldier's epaulets, ribbon in various colors, pompom trim, faux fur trim, and so on. It can generally be applied with glue -- fabric glue for fabric, any strong glue for cardboard -- or staples. And while you're in the aisle, pick up some elastic too.

Hit the remnants bin for pieces of fabric as suggested above, it's so much cheaper ... since you're just after stuff that'll spark his imagination, you'll find lots of stuff because you don't need red fleece with a small-scale print specifically, you just want whatever's interesting and fun.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:30 PM on December 16, 2017

Dropping in to talk about a fun family Christmas tradition: all the kids turn the post-presents opening wrapping paper/now mess into elf costumes.
posted by wowenthusiast at 7:53 AM on December 17, 2017 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Because I needed to order online, I ended up with the makedo kit, brass brads, duct tape in assorted colors, aluminum tape, and craft foam sheets in assorted colors. Thank you for all the suggestions!
posted by ocherdraco at 9:57 AM on December 18, 2017

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