Jack Skellington and Zero Halloween Costumes

Last year, Peanut decided that she wanted to be Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas for Halloween. Twig, being 22 months old, was happy to dress up as Zero to be her little side kick. I always love making my girls’ Halloween costumes because I think it’s a lot more fun and interesting than buying something off the rack (not to mention cheaper). I also don’t like just dressing up in a costume that looks exactly like a character, but rather turning yourself into the character, if that makes sense. I didn’t keep track of the complete numbers, but I seriously think I spent less than $20 on the whole thing. I used a lot of materials we already had (which is always best!). I’m really happy with how they turned out.

I wasn’t thinking ahead (more like thinking about actually finishing before Halloween had come and gone!), so I didn’t take pictures of the stuff as I was going. I’ll try my best to explain what I did in case anyone would like to re-create any parts of the costumes.

First off, the hats. Both of the hats are from this Barley pattern, which is free on Ravelry. I knit them both in a white yarn I already had from my aunt called Bernat Satin Solids. The Jack Skellington hat is just straight from the pattern. For the Zero hat, I knit the hat first and then laid it flat and picked up stitches about where I thought the ears should be. I had to experiment with this a bit to find the right positioning. I picked up 10 stitches and always knit on wrong-side rows. I didn’t write out exact directions because there was a lot of experimenting and ripping back. I started off with decreasing (knit two together) on the second stitch and increasing (knit two into one stitch) on the second to last stitch, then later when I was increasing the actual size of the ear I would increase on both of those stitches or when one side increases more than the other I just increased on that side.

Next, for the Zero dress, I just took an adult size shirt (large I believe?) and shaped it for a toddler. I put it on her and pinned so that the arms were tight against her and the part under her armpits was tight. Then I went out in a diagonal line from the armpit to the point where the dress was as wide around as I wanted. I sewed that (leaving a little give so it’s not super tight) and then just folded the dress in little pleats around to make it a bit shorter and sewed those. I also had to create a new neckline just by cutting and then sewing it.

With Zero’s nose, I used this tutorial to make a clown nose and modified it. I didn’t have any orange paint, so I ended up mixing up some orange food coloring and then dipping the nose in it, which worked really well. The egg carton material just soaked the dye right up. Then I drew a jack-o-lantern face on it, poked holes in it and put a string in each side (I just used more of the yarn from the hat) and hot glued it to the inside. Then it was tied around her head (which stays on a lot better than just making a loop that goes around their head, IMO). Pair all this with some white tights and shoes and there’s Zero!

For the Jack Skellington shirt, I took the black button-up shirt I wore last year when we were Mythbusters and modified it. I did it in the same way that I did the Zero dress for the arms, but then the sides went straight down instead of diagonally out. I cut a straight line across the front and finished the edge. As you can see with the picture on the right, Jack’s coattails are all jagged and ripped. I just cut the coattails to match this as best as I could and then left them unfinished so they’d look ripped. I left the bottom buttons functional for getting the shirt on and off, but the top ones I sewed down in a flared out position since in the movie his is more like a deep v-neck. I took a white fabric marker and made stripes down the shirt, as well as down a pair of black pants she already had. The lines didn’t end up perfect and I was originally upset with that, but then I realized it gives more of the un-perfect feel from the movie, so I was okay with it.

Lastly, I took a scrap of back fabric left over from cutting up the shirt and made it into a ball with stuffing. I secured the ball and then drew a bat face on it, then held the ears pinched while I sewed directly below them to make them into little points. I took some pipe cleaners and used those as the support for the wings, which were also scraps from the black fabric. I just used three that overlapped at the bat head and then went in each direction. I cut the fabric to a bat wing shape and then drew the lines on it. I hot glued the pipe cleaners to the bat wings so that the cleaner was at the tip of each dip in the wing, if that makes sense. I cut off the excess and there we had bat wings. They’re even positionable! I also crocheted a chain to use as the tie for the bat necklace, just so it was more secure than a simple piece of yarn. Put on a white shirt under the black “coat” and draw on the face with face paint and Jack Skellington is done!

I had a lot of fun making their costumes this year and they loved it. Most people didn’t understand who they were (unsurprisingly, the general population of adults hasn’t seen The Nightmare Before Christmas, at least not recently enough to recognize the girls as characters), but they didn’t mind. They were just a happy Jack Skellington and his ghost dog Zero.


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