Let me start by saying that I am no DIY jedi. The Force is definitely not with me when it comes to crafting. I can sew, but I can’t sew, ya know? Yet when my son decided he wanted to be Kylo Ren for Halloween, something compelled me to decide that our whole family would dress in Star Wars costumes. Our toddler is being an Ewok. My husband found an adult-sized Chewbacca onesie from Target that he actually wanted to wear. So I decided to be Princess Leia. But when I realized that stores were charging $40 and up for what is essentially a white robe and oversize ear muffs, I decided to make a DIY No Sew Easy Princess Leia costume myself. Like actually by myself and without a step-by-step guide. The horror.
Though it seemed daunting at times, what I learned is that this costume is actually easy to make so long as you don’t sweat the small stuff, and much more rewarding than buying from a store. As an added bonus it’s an eco-friendly and money saving DIY project!
Here’s everything you’ll need:
1 old Queen or King size white flat sheet (If you don’t have one laying around, you can buy it from a second hand store or a similar-sized swath of white cotton from a fabric store. At around $10 or less, this will be your biggest expense!)
1 old silver ribbon just long enough to comfortably fit around your waist (I have tons of random pieces of ribbons in my wrapping paper box, but if you don’t, just ask around. I’m sure you have a mommy friend who’s got something you can use.)
1 package of Double-sided Peel N Stick Fabric Fuse Tape (costs about $4 at craft stores)
1 or more silver safety pins
A large floor space to work on
1-2 hours of kid-free time to focus on your work (probably the hardest item to find on the list)
Fold the sheet in half and lay out on the floor
I used an old queen size sheet that was earmarked for textile recycling at H&M anyway. Because of my height, I had to fold it diagonally to make sure it was long enough. I had no problem cutting the bottom corners off though so this was not an issue and saved me having to go out to buy a new piece of cloth. Note that you don’t need to line up the side edges perfectly since you’ll be cutting them off anyway!
Cut out the head hole
To do this, I laid a shirt down over the sheet with a neckline I liked and cut around it. I didn’t plan to make a proper hem for the neck, and luckily I didn’t need to since I was able to carefully cut a clean line. Then I tried putting it on over my head to make sure it fit and looked right. Success! An early confidence booster.
Make a rough first cut of the sleeve length
Here I enlisted my husband’s help, but it could be done solo too. I laid down on the sheet, placing my head over the neck hole, and stretched one arm out to the side. He folded the sheet to the end of my fingertips, and that is where I cut. (Yes this would be a long sleeve if it were the final cut. But I was petrified of cutting too much off so early, and decided I’d refine the length later.) I then folded the sheet down the middle and cut the other side to match, so that both lengths were equidistant from the head.
Cut the sleeve width and sides of the dress
This step took a few tries to get right. I didn’t want to over cut and end up with super tight sleeves and a snug body shape.
This is not a “hot Princess Leia” costume. This is a “comfortable Princess Leia” costume. It does not need to be form-fitting.
After cutting one side, I folded the sheet in half again and cut the other side to match. You don’t have to be super careful about cutting on a straight line here as the rough edges will eventually be hidden in the seam. After this step, I tried the outfit on to get a sense of how the sleeves and sides would look. Note that if you wanted to make a Friar Tuck robe or be Whoopi Goldberg from Sister Act, you could probably stop after the first attempt.
Finally when I felt it was not too baggy but also not yet too tight, I made a half inch diagonal cut into the armpit area to allow room for a small hem.
Cut the bottom length and the final cut of the arm length
Again I laid down and had my husband fold the fabric to just above my ankles. If you want to make a hem here then be sure to cut it a bit longer than the desired final length. Going with my philosophy of not sweating the small stuff too much in making this costume, I decided it’d take me less time to cut the bottom carefully, than hem it up with tape. Ditto with the arm length, which I finalized before taping the inside seams so that I wouldn’t have to do one bit of extra work with the fabric tape. And since I only plan to wear this Halloween costume a couple times and mostly in the dark, I didn’t think anyone would notice (and in fact, no one has).
Tape the arms and sides together
This step is much easier said than done, and was by far the hardest part of this DIY No Sew Easy Princess Leia costume. I admit I literally sweated a bit during this stage, until I realized that no one was going to see a slightly crooked or rumpled seam.
Remember, this is not Project Runway. No one is judging your craftswomanship. They will be too busy admiring the fact that you made this costume out of a sheet, like some kind of modern day Maria from THE SOUND OF MUSIC.
Do the arms first, from the armpit out toward the hand. I started with a small portion of fabric tape, like maybe an inch or two long, just to set the hem. I carefully folded up a quarter inch of the rough cut edge and patted the open side of the tape to it. Then, after folding in about an inch of the edge of the other side of the sleeve (enough to cover all the sticky tape inside the hem) and holding that in one hand, I carefully peeled the paper off the fabric tape and pressed the two sides together. As my first ever time working with fabric tape, this felt a bit like diffusing a bomb.
I repeated the process of laying down strips of fabric tape to one side of the sleeve (this time in longer pieces, like a few inches at a time) so that one side was entirely lined with tape. Then I went back and folded segments of the other edge, peeled back one portion of paper at a time, and pressed the edges together, making sure that all the sticky tape inside was covered by fabric. I tried it on again at this point to make sure it still fit and looked right. Though the fabric tape is super sticky, like glue, it is possible to peel the seams apart if you really need to redo them. If it fits fine, repeat on the other sleeve, and then both sides of the body.
This is where you really have to let your perfectionist instincts go. It doesn’t matter if the seam here gets a little messed up, so long as the sleeve is entirely attached. Please trust me: no one will notice!
I did make a tiny oopsie and neglected to cover some of the tape with fabric. This wouldn’t be visible on the outside, but could be annoying and stick to your body inside. Easy to fix though! Just cut a small piece of scrap fabric to fit, and voila, crisis averted.
Cut the ribbon “belt”
Once all the seams were taped, I put the costume back on and paraded proudly around the house in it. Feels great to make something with your own two hands! Then I returned to my work area and wrapped the ribbon around my waist while still wearing the costume, cutting it with a few extra inches to spare. Though I had originally planned to secure it with velcro tape, I couldn’t find said-velcro tape, so decided to use safety pins instead. I actually think that by hiding the pin heads on the inside of the belt, it ended up looking like an intentional style choice. In any case, no one noticed how I secured my belt!
By the time I got to doing my hair, I was pretty drained so I didn’t put a ton of thought into it. In fact, I did it in the car-ride over to our friend’s Halloween party. Just parted my hair down the middle, and made two buns above my ears. Each one took a few attempts to get positioned right. In retrospect, I could’ve wet my hair to keep the fly-aways from sticking out, or used bobby pins to get the buns to sit against the sides of my head. But, again, I wasn’t going for perfection. And standing next to three other people dressed up as Star Wars characters, no one mistook me for anyone other than Princess Leia.
Here I am with my little Kylo Ren. Can you tell my seams aren’t perfect or that I didn’t hem the neck, arms, or bottom? Didn’t think so. I felt great, was super comfortable, and got a ton of compliments on my DIY No Sew Easy Princess Leia costume. My favorite thing was telling people I made it using just an old sheet and fabric tape. For more eco-friendly Halloween ideas, check out this post on Eco Friendly Mama!
NOTE: Depending on how thick your sheet is, you may want to wear a white tank top and leggings underneath. At night this may not matter as much. But if you’re planning to wear this during the day, just be careful if the material is see-through. Also want to give a shout out to this blog post on making a child’s version of this costume, which served as my initial inspiration.