how to make a cupcake costume the lazy way (aka no-sew)

(If you’re looking for actual instructions, you may want to click this link.)

Ellie's cupcake costume (licking the spoon)I have this annoying aversion to buying Halloween costumes.

Annoying, because that puts the burden of effort on me to make something, since the kids are too young to make their own.

Annoying, because I will spend just as much (if not more) on supplies to make said costumes than I would on a mass-manufactured, made-in-China number.

Annoying, because the kids could care less about the costume as long as they get candy.

In other words, this is a neurosis of my own making, and I know it.

Unfortunately for this neurosis, I don’t sew. I don’t even craft, when it comes down to it. Last year I basically glued some felt onto plain-color clothes and that worked.

Side note: Ellie kept telling everyone I was going to crochet a Halloween costume this year — not only for her, but for Gwen, myself, and Tim. I’ve never crocheted in my life, but I’m glad she still has that kind of faith in me.

Originally, Ellie wanted to go as Rapunzel from Tangled, and I was thisclose to buying the costume dress and calling it good. But then she asked if Gwen could go as Pascal, which started a frustrating chain of events that led to a new plan: Ellie and Gwen would both go as cupcakes, and I would make the costumes.

I have a tendency to approach these things full speed, head-on, with little planning and big expectations. Anyone remember my infamous gingerbread house experiment?

So, here’s how you, too, can make an adorable cupcake costume the lazy way, no sewing required. I can’t promise your kid will still talk to you when this is done, though.

How to make a cupcake costume, sanity not included

Gwen's costume from the front1) Don’t use a pattern — that would make too much sense. No, just take rough measurements of your kids while they’re squirming around — even better if they’re naked and coated in Crisco — and follow the detailed instructions that sound so simple in your head.

2) Buy fleece fabric at the store. Eyeball it, because you’re not using a pattern, so you don’t know how much you actually need. You have the money, why not waste it?

2a) Buy fancy, $9-a-tube fabric glue at the store, after being assured by the saleslady it will work. Get it home, realize it takes 24 hours to dry — screw that. Plug in the trusty glue gun.

2b) Also buy scissors, since you don’t have any that are sharp enough to cut through tissue paper, let alone fleece.

3) Attempt the hat design first, because it’s simple, in theory. Overcomplicate it by cutting out a series of isosceles triangles and spend an hour and a half gluing them together. Realize later you could have Googled “no-sew fleece hat” and been done in ten minutes. You barely have enough fabric for the second hat now. Feck.

4) Move on to the frosting part. Don’t make the smaller, easier infant costume first — that would be silly! Go big! So big, in fact, that you size the costume for a ten-year-old instead of a three-year-old!

5) Experiment with sizing. Bully your three-year-old into trying on multiple variations of the frosting to get the measurements right. If you have difficulty with this, bribe her with TV and candy.

Gwen's cupcake costume from the back6) Using a large needle, thread yarn through the outer edge of the cupcake frosting to gather it. Yarn will break and fray after you’ve spent half an hour with this. At this point, your significant other may want to bring the children upstairs, “until it’s safe to be around Mama again.”

7) Brilliance ensues. Substitute the frayed yarn for a spare shoelace! You are a crafting genius! Children are allowed to return to the room, Mama no longer a threat.

8) Cut out sprinkle shapes from colored pieces of felt and hot-glue them to the surface of the cupcake. DO NOT DO THIS WHILE YOUR CHILD IS WEARING THE COSTUME. Especially if she’s still coated in Crisco. Ahem.

9) Realize the frosting piece is stupidly huge. Cut it back to a manageable size, re-thread the shoelace for the third time.

10) Cut out a rectangle from the brown fleece, and poke holes along the top. Realize you have to re-thread the shoelace for the fourth time to connect the frosting and the base. Cry.

11) Put it all together. Force your child to try it on “just one more time.” (You may have to promise her a pony.) Put $20 in the therapy jar for good measure.

12) Step back. OMFG it looks like a cupcake! You did it! Now, where is the awards committee? What do you mean there isn’t an awards committee?!? Disappointed.

13) Realize this took five hours and you still need to make another costume. Cry.

Cupcake costume patternInstructions that might actually be useful

1) The image to the right isn’t so much a pattern as a general guide, but it will give you an idea of what the pieces look like. I made our costumes from fleece, since Halloween in Maine often involves cold and snow, but you could use felt or a lighter-weight fabric in warmer climates.

2) Cut out a large circle, the radius of which should be approximately the length of the wearer’s torso — this will become the “frosting.” Poke or cut holes along the outer edge of the frosting. As you can see from the graphic, I found a pattern of “thread hole, short space, thread hole, wide space” worked best.

3) Cut an opening for the head in the middle and arm holes off to each side. Err on the small side — you can always make these larger if need be.

4) Cut out “sprinkles” from colored felt and glue them to the frosting top. I used a glue gun, but you may want to use a permanent glue if you plan on washing the costume.

5) Cut out a rectangle to act as the base of the cupcake. It should be long enough to wrap around the waist of the wearer, with an extra inch or two for wiggle room.

6) Poke holes along the top of the base, following the same pattern as for the frosting. You don’t have to cut the same number of holes, though — I did about half as many.

Ellie's cupcake costume from the back7) Now it’s time to connect the frosting with the base, creating a cylinder with a gathered, puffy cupcake top. I used a shoelace to do this for Ellie’s costume, since hers is on the large side and needs to be cinched and tied in the back. Gwen’s costume has a more snug fit, so I used pink ribbon, since we won’t be tying it/untying it as much. Whatever you use, make sure it’s durable.

8) Thread the shoelace/ribbon through the holes in the frosting and the cake base, letting the fabric gather as you go. Glue the edges of the base together where they meet in the back, and use the remaining length of shoelace/ribbon to adjust and tie the costume around the middle.

9) With older kids, you can stuff the top of the cupcake with plastic bags, newspaper, or pillows to fill it out a bit. I obviously didn’t do this with Gwen. 🙂

10) For the cherry hat, do yourself a favor and Google “no sew fleece hat” and follow the instructions, minus the pom-pom tassle on top. Super simple! I used magenta fleece and the glue gun.

11) Cut out a leaf shape from green felt, and a “stem” from the leftover brown fleece. Tie a small knot at the end of the stem, and glue both leaf and stem to the hat.

12) That’s it! No, really! That wasn’t so bad, was it?


  1. Hah! I have an aversion to buying costumes, too. (We made a Sesame Street ones last year for my husband – Cookie Monster – and me – Grouch – to accompany my little girl’s “Frilly Elmo” store bought one.)

    I’m loving this cupcake idea (and your funny rendition of how you went about it.)

    Pinning it for this year. After all, my girl does love birthdays… she would be over the moon excited to be a cupcake! lol

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.