Glitzy Upcycled Princess Costume

Upcycled Princess Costume
Does your little princess want an over-the-top Halloween costume this year and have you wondering how you'll afford it?  When one of the princesses in my household got her heart set on a certain storybook character, I decided to compromise between a cheaply made retail costume and something extravagant.

We shopped together at a thrift store that offered a selection of evening gowns.  My eye was looking for glitzy fabric, maybe sequins.  I wanted abundant fabric, but I didn't care about the cut of the dress, because I would be reworking it.  We found a dress loaded with beading and sequins, in a shade of blue that my daughter liked. Luckily for us, the beading had started to fall off in a few places, and the store was willing to mark it down a bit. We still paid $30.  Yet, this amount of beaded material could easily have cost three times as much in a fabric store.

Original Evening Gown
I decided that we could work with the existing halter neckline, but we needed a modest cover-up to go with it.  So I cut surplus lining fabric from the bottom of the dress and used it to construct a shirt.  I used one of my daughter's t-shirts as a pattern.  

Hook and Eye Fastener on Shirt Back
Hemmed Wide Pants

I  stitched together the plunging front and back of the dress until they became sufficiently modest for our project.  I shortened the skirt and divided it into wide pants.  I added an additional beaded overskirt taken from the bottom edge of the original dress and thus using its original finished edge.  This density of beading demanded extra sewing machine needles to replace the ones that could easily break, plus a fair amount of hand-stitching for finishing hems and other edges  When I found loose strands of beads I knotted them off and clipped the thread.  I used scrap fabric to create a coordinating headband.
Beading Detail

If you don't feel confident sewing with beaded fabric, you might find some satins or other shimmery fabrics befitting a young princess.  If you don't want to do precise fitting and fasteners, a looser costume could slip over a coordinating t-shirt and leggings.  A flowing, women's-sized skirt contains enough fabric for some children's costumes.  It's rewarding to find a vintage item that costs a fraction of the same amount of new fabric.  

Super homemade costume for our other special trick-or-treater!

(We purchased our vintage dress at a thrift store run by the Domestic Violence Shelter in East Tennessee.  All of those dollars will go to help women and children in need.  If you'd like to help the shelter, you can contact Executive Director Jackie Jackson at  Please consider supporting a domestic violence shelter in your area.)

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