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A member posted a question about "where to find costumes" so we've created this permanent topic about it. Your suggestions welcome!

Question: We are starting WoRM this September and are starting to set up our rooms. We are in great need of more costumes, and I am wondering if anyone has a good (inexpensive) source for them.

Alternatively, what do you use instead of formal costumes? Is there a certain type/size of material that can be used to fake costumes?

My sewing skills are non-existent, but I'm sure someone at the church would love to make some costumes for us. What are the most used / most versatile costumes to have?

Thanks so much!

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
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Where to find costumes?

Check online for pre-made Bible costumes for kids.

  • Amazon has lots of Bible costumes, beards, wigs for kids and adults.
  • Oriental Trading Co has Bible costumes.

Make your own using patterns (if you sew) or by just collecting pieces of cloth you can wear over your head and around your shoulders.

  • Simplicity and McCalls both have patterns for costumes for Christmas and Easter pageants. Or you can do something much more simple with a tunic with seams only up the sides and an open front and rope to tie it with.
  • For really simple, buy some remnant cloth in various colors to turn into tunics (slit a hole in them) or headdresses. 
  • Grey and brown fun-fur can make some fun hair and beards.

    Amy Smile


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Last edited by Neil MacQueen

You may want to consider going "simple" at first with costumes. If the costumes are too elaborate they take up a lot of time with on and off etc.

Large squares or colorful fabric with a stretchy elastic headband to keep them on are easy and quick and don't take up a lot of room. Children will respond well to a simple headpiece to suggest the character, or even start collecting hats.

Old bath robes (garage sales, Goodwill,??) also make good Biblical costumes.

Have kids make "costumes" from grocery bags: Invert the bag (open end down), cut out front panel of the bag. Cut a neck opening in the "bottom" of the bag. Decorate the bag with whatever. Cut arm holes in the sides of the bag. Kids wear the bag as a sort of "vest"

Also, you can contact your local schools, community theater, community college, etc to see if they have things they are ready to recycle.

Last, put a plea in your bulletin/newsletter and ask your congregation for help.  There are still people out there who love to sew.

Jan Snell

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
We made costumes from fabric in a similar manner to the paperbag costumes described above. Decide how long you want the costume to be and double the fabric. Cut a neck hole on the fold and sew up the sides leaving it open toward the top for armholes. I pick up free fabric from our church rummage sale twice a year. Fabric remnants and old sheets with biblical looking patterns work great! This required very little sewing skill, and our volunteers also made matching headpiece squares and ties.
We have several costumes that are no sew and work great. Get remnants of upholstery fabric, cut a rectangle so that it goes elbow to elbow and double shoulder to knee, fold in half and cut a slit for the neck/head, you can even do a T cut Use some rope or more strips of cut fabric to make a belt. Make the girls longer almost to the floor and use a lighter weight and more colorful fabric. Cut squares of fabric and buy some head bands at the dollar store to secure them an make the girls bigger and pin under their chins. Very simple and no sew. You might even check if you have any upholstery stores, they might have remnants they will give you that aren't big enough to upholster. Make several sizes to cover children.


A wonderful book I've found is My Bible Dress-Up Book by Carla Williams from Cook, 9780781434362 is out of print, but amazon still has it.  Simple, easy to make costumes from normal stuff.

Do a search there for "costumes" and you'll find many other resources too.

In my experience though, kids have much better imaginations that we adults, so having a variety of materials may be just as important, or more so, than proper costumes.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Postings regarding costume ideas consolidated from another topic:

McCalls and Simplicty have patterns

Posting by ‘dana’ - posted July 23, 2001
McCalls and Simplicty have patterns for making "biblical costumes" - JoAnn fabrics usually has one or the other on sale for a dollar or so -especially now when people are starting to think about making Halloween and Christmas costumes.. This is a great way to get those people who sew in your church involved in workshops! Just put out the word.

Posting by Joyce Kline - posted January 03, 2002
It is very hard to find the children's pagent patterns but you can order them on line from Simplicity.  It was very easy and much faster than going back to the fabric store time and time again.

Posting by Holly Hitchcock - posted July 29, 2001
I found that McCalls has a great pattern for both Easter and Navitivy clothes for Kids the come S-M-L-XL. There simple to make, a few straight seams and you are done. I find the L and XL fit most kids. Put a belt on to make shorter for the younger children.

Using choir gowns or church robes

Posting by Holly Hitchcock - posted July 29, 2001
Also I use the children's choir robes. Why spend all that money for use them may be once a month. Old Acolyte robes work good too. We also have a living Nativity, I happen to be the director. Use a lot of their props and costume, why have something that only get use once a year. Also I started with a set of kid Nativity Costume, again why only use once a year.

I church has a new idea we are one, so we should share all we have with each other. Look and see what other groups have in the church.   Hope this is helpful.

Making simple robes

Posting by Jan FPC Napa - posted July 24, 2001
Making simple robes - Rather than robes, we opted for a simpler style. Take a long rectangle piece of fabric, fold in half (putting the 2 shorter ends together), cut a V shape for the neck hole. You can hem or zigzag stitch the 4 sides and the neck area if you want. The length of the fabric depends on how tall your kids are ... we did a variety of sizes. Then use rope for belts or make belts using a long strip of fabric. It's more of a tunic style but a whole lot simpler to make. I made about a dozen in a couple hours.

Posting by Jamie Derden - posted July 26, 2001
Your tunic idea also would make it easier to keep your costumes hung up in an orderly fashion. Seems I spend about 30 minutes every week rescuing costumes from the bottom of our closet. Kids hang them up, but they slide right off the hangers! From now on, we're doing tunics!

Posting by Jan FPC Napa - posted July 30, 2001
Mary, if you need lots in a hurry, don't do any hemming on the sides ... the kids will never notice! You can always (over time) take care of the frayed edges. For now, just cut those holes for their heads and get some soft rope from Home Depot for belts. We even ended up with some yards of fabric pieces that we never got around to making into costumes and the kids like to just use them as "wrap-around" style costumes! Kids are much less picky than we adults!   Jan

posted by Amy Crane - posted September 10, 2001
Another reason for tunics and sleeveless robes is there are less complaints about being too hot with a costume on over church clothes.

Making simple head coverings

Posting by Barbara in Portland - posted September 07, 2001
This may be too late, but for head coverings, we use old panty hose to hold a piece of fabric on the head-shepherd style. Just cut 3 legs and braid, tie together. Nice and stretchy and easy to get on and off. Even if a child does not have a robe, a headpiece is helpful.

posted by Amy Crane - posted September 10, 2001
For holding on headdresses, go to Walmart or any discount store and buy stretchy elastic headbands. They are much easier than trying to tie something, even for preschoolers.
If you can, hang a full length mirror in the classroom so everyone can primp! Smile

Last edited by Luanne Payne
Idea excerpted from a discussion of drama/scenery:

Posting by JCarey
posted December 18, 2001 10:24 AM
As for glue guns work wonders in this area. They are kind of like duct tape-the solution to many joining challenges. I sew very little anymore for church costumes and the glue guns work great for animal costume construction or some of those other odd ball ideas that crop up.


A great source for headpieces and also when you want a simple costume element for Readers' Theater are the following books by Pat Newbold & Anne Dibel, especially the first two:

Hat Patterns to Help Teach Bible Stories
Hat Patterns for Noah's Ark|
Birds Hat Patterns and Activities
Ocean Animals Hat Patterns and Activities
Farm Animals Hat Patterns and Activities
Forest Animals Hat Patterns and Activities
Insects and Dinosaurs Hat Patterns and Activities
Zoo Animals Hat Patterns and Activities

"Hats" are headpieces made out of construction paper (or colored posterboard for durablity -- you can even laminate them).

Last edited by Luanne Payne
If you purchase Simplicity or McCall's patterns, don't be surprised at the "sticker price."

However, it's worth making a list of the patterns you want and waiting for a sale at your nearby fabric store. Periodically throughout the year, patterns go on sale for 99 cents and $1.99 each.
With all the "just for Halloween" stores springing up in empty storefronts, it seems like they might have close-out sales on costumes after the holiday. Might get some fun things there -- especially hats, props, and so forth.
reposting information from Help I'm just getting started


Amy Chung
'Exchange WoRM'
posted October 30, 2003

QUESTION ASKED? I'm not sure how wide in the chest area they should be?


Lisa M.
posted November 01, 2003

I recommmend measuring a few kids.

I just bought a costume pattern for my kids -- they were having Halloween sales so it was only 99 cents. The sizes were 4-6, 7-10 and I think adult. You can shorten or lengthen the pattern and there are only a few pieces.

Make at least one costume that will fit an extremely overweight child, too, even if you don't have any currently in your congregation -- you never know when you'll have the next visitor.

julie burton
Exchange Volunteer
"Worm Saint"
posted November 02, 2003
A very, very simple way to make costumes is to take a length of fabric (a couple of yards), fold it in half and cut an opening in the center for the head to go through. Leave the sides open and just tie them with a belt. That way you don't have to worry about the costumes fitting or not, whether a child is small or large.

Jaymie Derden
Exchange Volunteer
"Blessed WoRM-o-naut"
posted November 08, 2003

Yes, tunics are the way to go for the majority of costumes -- if you watch, you can find knit fabric on the $1.00 per yard table at Wal-Mart and make a bunch for really cheap.... another little hint though -- when you cut out the hole for the head -- it works best to cut two slits that intersect (like a + sign). That will give kids plenty of room to slide their heads through, but the tunics will stay on the hangers in your costume closet! I also am always on the lookout for some really cool fabrics in nice lengths (1 1/2 to 2 yards) such as embroidered fabric, gold and glittery fabrics and other slinky, fancy stuff that can really jazz up these plain costumes.

'Amazing WoRM'
posted November 09, 2003

Our costumes have evolved over a number of years, but the favorites of the kids are the tunics and the ones with some trims.(tough for kids to realize folks back then probably didn't have the color choices or care about matching stripes or not) I recommend the jacket style so that it can fit all sizes or special needs (wheelchair/braces), and then if you put one on backwards, it's like a tunic, put another on over and have many "belt" ties available and make that the difference for each character! We also have many fabrics for headpieces and ties for that too.
Our costumes are the ever-popular big ol' pieces of fabric with a hole cut in the middle for the head. I am a person with absolutely NO sewing skills, and I can accomplish this much! A little rope, twine, etc. for belts and headbands, and you're good to go. We just fold our costumes and store in bins rather than hang.
Thrift stores are your friend! I have costumed entire shows from thrift store clothing (and it looked fabulous, if I do say so!). Look for props such as baskets, clay jars, brass and wooden pots and bowls, etc. at thrift stores, as well. Good luck! JOY

Pillowcase Costumes

Another simple and inexpensive costume.

Take a pillow case, cut up the center, which will be the front, and then along the top seam a few inches. For arm holes cut from the top corners down about 6"- 8" . You can use these to top a basic T tunic or layered with your poncho rectangle panel, or on their own. A piece of thick cotton cord or another strip of fabric works for a belt. We used King sized pillow cases for the taller kids.

We made a bunch of these when we studied Joseph (we found some bright stripes and patterns) and also have used them for Christmas and just this week as we started studying Holy Week, we used them in our Pathway Playhouse for our tableau.

YOU can find instructions for making basic T tunics by doing an online search.

I've cranked out large quantities of these for Christmas plays (hint for angels find white ruffled curtains and put the ruffles at the hem line).

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Making Tabards (with velcro to attach felt letters indicating character)

We've been using tabards for ages - like the tunics but with tie sides rather than sewn up, so you've only got to edge the neck hole and all round the sides and bottoms. They generally fit any size of child. We use velcro to stick on felt letters indicating the character. A big J usually for Jesus, JB for John the Baptist, P can be pharisee, priest and so on. The older children are reluctant to "dress up" but are perfectly happy with a tabard and a letter. The great thing about tabards is that they can also be used as aprons for cooking or painting.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

And don't forget to accessorize!

Check Oriental Trading - you can find all sorts of miscellaneous things at good prices. For example:

crowns (this is one example of many - you can take simple cardboard ones and dress them up with stick-on jewels if you need something to keep hands busy while you talk about King David or Queen Esther or Jesus: King of Kings)

Wigs and beards (this is from the Nazareth VBS section of their site - all sorts of useful stuff there!! have fun browsing)

Shepherd's crook- useful for Good Shepherd as well as David and Goliath, Psalm 23, Moses and the burning bush, Jacob.....:




And look - costumes! All sorts of what they call "nativity gowns." There are also headdresses (called "nativity hat").


And a multitude of other things that you can be creative with. Wander around the site  - you may just be inspired! (donkey can be used in Balaam's story, as well as Mary and Joseph traveling. Spy costume for Joshua and Caleb and spies []. Angel wings for a variety of stories!)

Good costume selection available at Oriental Trading. Scenery too!

They are described as being for nativity pageants, but much of the current stock could be used as general Bible-times costumes and backdrops  







check them out in the Fun & Faith catalog or here: 



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