Friday, October 5, 2012

DIY Toddler Truck Costume

Halloween Costume Tutorial Series, #1

DIY Toddler Truck Costume

Last year when my then two year old Sweetheart was really into cars and trucks, I searched the internet for costume ideas and from my searches I combined several images (which I no longer have, as it was way before my blogging days) to come up with a plan to make my little boy a Land Rover costume out of a diaper box I had on hand.  I chose the Land Rover Series 1, because my younger son was going as a lion, and I thought it would be cute if the older one would be "on safari" in his Land Rover.

original advertisement for the Series 1

This was a lot easier to make than I imagined it would be.  Here is what you will need to make a truck out of a box:

  • Small box not much bigger than the width of the child and about twice as long as it is wide.  A small diaper box is the perfect size for a toddler.  It is important that it's not so big that the child has a hard time moving around.
  • Sharpie
  • paper and pencil
  • Painters tape or masking tape
  • leftover primer, white paint or spray paint
  • Acrylic craft paint in your truck's colors (I used light green, dark green, black, gray, silver, white, yellow, red, tan... I think that's it.  All these paints I already owned, you could also use markers for the details if you don't have or want to buy so many colors of paint)
  • Scissors or box cutter
  • one inch wide grosgrain ribbon (one roll is more than enough)
  • 1/2 in. grommets (optional)

Step 1

Research.  Find a picture of the car or truck you want to make.  Find multiple pictures from different angles actually, since your costume is a replica.  OR if you aren't going for a realistic look of a specific truck, just have a picture on hand of a truck you like to help you with dimensions and keep you from forgetting some of the finer details.

What I did was sketch out my truck on a piece of paper first.  I sketched all four sides, and then did a 3D representation.  It helps to plan it out a bit before you take a Sharpie to your box.  

I know, you're jealous of my mad sketching skills.  Simmer down. 

Step 2 

With a Sharpie or other permanent marker, draw out the truck on all four sides of your box.  If there are parts of the truck that won't fit in the dimensions (for instance, a curved hood, or a bumper) leave that off the drawing and opt to make it later with another piece of cardboard.  

I forgot to take pictures of each individual step, but here you get the idea of what it looked like with the Sharpie outline before I painted.

Step 3

Cut out the truck on the lines you drew.  Cut a square hole in the bottom big enough for your child to stand in, but not so big it compromises the box's strength.  Cut out any other pieces you want to attach to the truck (i.e, curved hood, windshield, bumper).  Attach all extra pieces with painters tape making sure to tape all gaps and holes, and that tape is firmly affixed.  It is important that you use painters tape or masking tape because they take paint, unlike a plastic tape.  Curved edges can be made by making multiple creases along the length of the curve, and taping in place.

various views of my tape job

Step 4

Prime.  I had some left over primer in the basement from another paint job.  White paint would work too.  Spray primer would probably be the fastest though, if you have it on hand.  It is important not to skip this step unless you have a plain box with nothing on it.  My Huggies box was very bright and would have been very difficult to cover with just the craft paint I used.  Let the paint dry before proceeding to the next step.  A few hours should be fine unless you used an oil based primer then you should wait over night.

Step 5

If you used a sharpie to draw the details of your truck in the second step, you should still be able to see it under the primer.  You may choose to draw in the details with your sharpie again, or you can head straight into painting, like I did.  I used paint for all my details, using a darker color for the shadowing and outlining.  To make the metal parts more metallic looking I first painted them gray, and then went over them with a light coat of silver to make them shimmer.  I also chose to not cut out the bottom of the box so that it was more sturdy.   I covered it by painting grass at the bottom so that it looked like the Land Rover was off-roading.  You can also paint it black, gray, or brown to make it look like road or shadow or dirt.  Let your paint dry again.  

the Land Rover at various stages in the painting process

Step 6

Grab your ribbon, your truck, and your child.  With your child in the truck, hold the truck at the height you would like it to be and have someone help you measure with the ribbon from the front of the truck, over the child's shoulder, to the opposite back corner (I found that having the ribbon cross in the back helped keep it on my Sweetheart's shoulders).  Cut the ribbon a couple inches longer and use it to cut the other length of ribbon.  

Poke a hole in each of the four top corners with a knife or scissors (I suppose it goes without saying that you should remove your child from the truck before proceeding with this step? lol).  If you want, you can add grommets for extra stability for the holes.  Feed the length of ribbon through the holes, tying knots on the inside of the truck to keep them in place.  Remember to cross the ribbons in the back.

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of this part of the process, but here are a couple of pictures of my little boy in his costume to give you an idea of how it should look.

Your truck costume is ready for trick-or-treating!  Have fun!!

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