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DIY: 6 tips for making your own Halloween costume

DIY Halloween costumes
Kelsey MacDermaid of YouTube DIY duo, The Sorry Girls, channels Furiosa from "Mad Max." . YouTube, The Sorry Girls

The countdown to Halloween is on. And 23-year-old Kelsey MacDermaid and Becky Wright have everything you need to create your best costume yet.

Since graduating from college in Toronto last year, the two “do it yourself” pros now work full-time on their “Sorry Girls” YouTube channel. They launched it five years ago this month.

“Back then, YouTube didn’t have any ‘DIY’ Halloween costumes,” explained MacDermaid. “Now YouYube is kind of the go-to place if you want to find Halloween ideas.”

Canadians flock to the site more than Americans this time of year, according to Google Search TrendsHalloween makeup, especially “sugar skull makeup,” are among the top searches. More people are also looking for Halloween nail art. MacDermaid and Wright’s bread and butter, though, are the costumes.

They start planning for next year as soon as Halloween is over. This year, Katy Perry’s Super Bowl performance inspired one of their first costumes: Left Shark (perfect for awkward dancing free-spirits who want to stay warm this Halloween).

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Here are the girls’ top tips to get your homemade costume-making adventure started:

1. Start early

Canadians tend to be procrastinators when it comes to their Halloween planning. Half of costume and decoration searches don’t happen until five days before Halloween, according to Google Search Trends.

Last-minute shopping always tends to cost you more in the long-run. Plus, the final product may not be as awesome had you just put in a little time and effort earlier on.

First, check to see what you have around your house that could be useful. Then start to drop in on some second-hand stores.

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“You’ll be able to get things together for cheaper rather than having to go to the mall at the last minute and getting a red shirt that you may have to pay $20 for,” MacDermaid said.

2. You don’t have to spend a lot of money

Most of ‘The Sorry Girls‘ costumes cost under $50.

“We definitely like to keep the costs down. You don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars for just one night,” MacDermaid said.

“I think that with children you definitely don’t want to buy their Halloween costume just because they’re usually made of the cheapest material, they’re going to end up having the same costume as somebody else, and it’s going to cost you $40-plus.”

If your daughter wants to be a ballerina for Halloween, for example, it’s super easy to make a tutu. Bonus points, though, if you dress your kid up as an adult character. Those are MacDermaid’s favourite.

3. Thrift stores are your friend

“A lot of people tend to dismiss them or think there’s nothing good there, but you would be surprised,” Wright said.

The two try to get most of their supplies from thrift stores as well as dollar stores.

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4. Can’t sew? No worries 

There’s definitely still hope for you, the girls say.

Fabric glue works very well, Wright suggested, as do glue guns and pins.

“There’s hacks for everything.”

In fact, their Left Shark costume didn’t require any sewing.

If you do use fabric glue, MacDermaid offered this pro tip: “Let it dry fully before you even try to put on your costume. Otherwise it’ll fall apart…You have to leave it overnight. I know it’s hard to wait when you’re so excited about something you’re making, but just let it dry. You’ll be so much more thankful in the end when it holds up.”

And even if it doesn’t hold up, it’s not the end of the world. Halloween is only one night, after all.

5. Make a day out of it

If you get your little one involved in the costume-making process, they’re sure to love it and have way more fun than if you just bought them a costume from the store.

For those doing a couples costume, if one of you goes the ‘DIY’ route, both of you should. Otherwise you’ll look mismatched, according to YouTube stars.

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You can turn the DIY adventure into a date. Or at least a bonding experience.

On a side note: the girls prefer the “punny” costumes for pairs.

6. Impressive is better than skimpy

Too many people do the skimpy look on Halloween, Wright said.

“It’s too easy. We like to do the harder stuff and I think it pays off.”

“If you put some effort into your Halloween costume…the feedback you receive from your friends is so amazing.”

“It’s kind of what fuels us every year. It started with our friends being really impressed with our Halloween costumes, now it’s the whole Internet.”

This year, the two have already created Furiosa from “Mad Max.” They’re also working on Harley Quinn from “Batman” (which can make a great couples costume when paired with The Joker), as well as Ruby Rose from “Orange is the New Black” (also good for Canadian fall weather). And the Dress; though you’ll have to wait to see if it’ll be blue and black or gold and white (or both).

They release a new video each Tuesday. In the meantime, you can check out some of their past work in the playlist below.

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