Introduction: DIY Octopus Costume

Picture of DIY Octopus Costume

This is an easy costume that a group of friends and I made for a costume race in San Francisco.  It can be accessorized in any number of ways - some of us wore the octopus legs over a tutu, some over leggings or shorts.  While we went with simple tank tops, you could also get creative and do something more fun for the top.  A lot of the DIY octopus costumes out there seem to have pretty shapeless legs, so I liked how we got ours to curl.  If you still don't have a costume for halloween, this is a quick one can be made in an afternoon!

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

You will need a glue gun and a sewing machine to make this, and the supplies are as follows:

Two contrasting fabrics for the top and bottom of the legs.  Joann's had a fleece fabric with circular indentations that was perfect for the bottom (not pictured here, this is just normal fleece as I documented this after the fact).  For the top, we all used different fabrics.  I had some watery batik laying around, and used that.

Feather fascinator/hair clip - I got this at a costume shop near me, and can't seem to find them online.  This is close, though.
Large white pom poms
Small black pom poms 


Step 2: Cut Fabric

Picture of Cut Fabric

Cut your 8 legs.  I did not document this at the time I actually made it, so went back and made a leg for documentation purposes, and it is a little shorter than the ones I used.  

I would recommend around 18" to 24" long, depending on the look you are going for.  Shorter will just curl up at the ends, longer you can start to get some curly-cue action going.  They are around 5" to 6" wide at the end.  You will end up losing any point at the top narrower than half an inch when sewing, so keep the end rounded.  I also found that the legs looked best when the bottom piece was narrower than the top, as shown.  

Step 3: Make the Legs

Picture of Make the Legs

Now for the bulk of the work.  For each leg, first attach the elastic down the middle of your top pieces.  I stretched it most at the end of the leg and less as I continued down, which created a nice effect with the curl focused at the end.  The tighter you pull the elastic, the tighter the curl.  

Once your elastic is attached, it's time to attach the bottom piece to the top.  Lay your bottom piece on your top piece, with the elastic facing down, as shown.  Start sewing a little, then stretch out your top piece to align and sew the edges on either side.  

With that, voila, your leg is sewn!  Turn it right side out, and stuff.

A note about stuffing: if you are making really long, thin legs, use very small pieces of stuffing to start and push them down with a chopstick or something similar.  I ran into trouble trying to stuff large pieces in at first, and it sped things up dramatically by just changing my stuffing method.  

Now just do that 8 times, and you're done with the hard part! 

Step 4: Attach Legs Together

Picture of Attach Legs Together

Some of my friends omitted this step and simply safety pinned the legs onto a tutu.  If you are in a pinch, this is a great option.  However I wanted to keep my legs as a separate piece, so I attached a waistband.  

To make the waistband, cut a 2" strip of your face fabric the size of your hips (or widest point to get this on), lay it down with the edge aligned to the closed tops of the legs.  Pin your legs evenly along the length of fabric, and sew.  

Sew the strip of fabric to itself, to form a circular waistband.

Then fold the strip around to the other side, fold under the edge, and sew again, leaving an opening to thread through elastic at the end.  Thread through elastic (you can use a safety pin to make this easy), sew the elastic together, and close up the gap.

This was actually a little more tedious than I expected, but it worked out great.  A slightly easier method would be to sew all the legs down to a ribbon and tie them on.  Lots of options here depending on what time you want to spend.


Step 5: Make the Hairpiece

Picture of Make the Hairpiece

This part is SUPER EASY.  Glue your pom poms together to make eyes, then glue them to your feather hair clip, and done!  The only thing to be aware of here is how your eyes are oriented in relation to your clip.  If you plan to attach the clip on top of your head with your hair pulled back, you want the clip to be inline/parallel with the eyes.

If you are having a hard time finding a feather hairclip, you may need to get creative and make the feather clip itself.  This would be pretty easy - buy some feathers, glue them to a circular piece of stiff canvas, and glue a clip to the other end.  

Step 6: Finished!

Picture of Finished!

Now pull it all together!  I wore shorts underneath and a matching top and fishnets.  This part is up to you - have fun and enjoy! 


MaryO45 made it! (author)2016-08-05

Made this for my daughter for a VBS skit where she is an octopus. Did some of it a bit different but copied your leg tutorial-- thanks!!

Natalina (author)MaryO452017-11-01

This is great! Thank you for sharing :)

nomnot made it! (author)2017-10-31

I used this tutorial for my Ursula Halloween costume this year! I flubbed up and put the elastic so that the tentacles curl inward instead of upward, but I'm still pretty proud considering I'm a complete rookie. Thanks for the tutorial!!

Natalina (author)nomnot2017-11-01

Yay that's awesome! I like them curling inward actually, it's a different shape and they turned out great. Thanks for sharing!

Mochicat6 (author)2017-01-18

I love the curliness!! I'm planning to make these for a tiny friend!

jamdel (author)2016-01-14

Hi Natalina - I came across this costume and love it! My daughter is a dancer and her dance school is doing a Finding Nemo Production. She happens to be the octopus so therefor I need to make her costume. I unfortunately don't sew. I was wondering if you would make the costume for a fee? Just thought I would ask.

dearwhitney made it! (author)2015-11-03

I made a hoodie instead of a skirt but I used your technique for the
octopus legs and I think that it turned out really well! Thank you!

Natalina (author)dearwhitney2015-11-04

Cool! Love the eye :)

DanieeW (author)2015-10-27

Thank you so much for this idea!! I'm having a villain themed birthday party and will be attending as Ursula from the little mermaid, but still pretty! This is a super cute idea, hoping to make the legs only for my costume paired with a black dress and Ursula-ish accessories! Thanks so much for the instructions

Natalina (author)DanieeW2015-10-28

You're welcome! Sounds like a great costume. Share some photos when you're done, I'd love to see how it turns out!

PuzzleJenn (author)2015-04-25

I haven't done it yet, but I finally got everything yesterday for this project. The outer leg fabric I chose is very thin, but absolutely beautiful, so I'm going to try doing the legs in three pieces of cloth instead of two. The fleece for the underside (went with the pink "mink dot" fabric much like what you have), a thick plain pink cotton to attach the elastic to, and a shell of the thin beautiful watercolor fabric. I'm hoping that by creating a sandwich of the three, wherein the elastic is attached to a firm piece of cotton that enhances the color of the overlay, I'll still be able to stuff between the thick cotton and the fleece, and make a smooth top for the legs. I'll take pictures and let you know how it goes!

I can't use feather boas where I'm planning on wearing this costume, so I'm going to use a piece of fun fur I got last year at Mill End fabrics in Reno that matches the color scheme to make the headpiece. Again, I'll take pictures and let you know. :)

shuey7 made it! (author)2014-11-03

thanks for the idea Natalina! I made this for halloween this year. took me a while and i couldn't get the legs to curl as much as yours, no matter how far i pulled the elastic. :(

i made my own headpiece.

1) i bought a boa and barrette from Joann Fabrics. the barrette already had a plastic bar already attached to the barrette

2) cut out a circular piece of stiff paper (maybe 5in round?)

3) staple one end of the boa to the middle of the paper

4) curl the boa into a spiral position, staple on the center rope of the boa

5) work your way around until the entire boa is stapled to the paper (i was able to fit the entire boa on the paper)

6) hot glue gun the paper to the barrette

7) i sewed the white pom for the eye through the middle of the pom and onto the paper but it didn't stay very well. don't know how to get it to stay better.

8) hot glued the googlie-eye to the white pom

it still turned out ok though!

Natalina (author)shuey72014-11-04

Awesome! I'm sorry you couldn't get the legs to curl more, I think it has a lot to do with how strong and wide the elastic is. But it turned out great regardless, thanks for sharing what you made!

shuey7 (author)Natalina2014-11-04

that makes sense... i used 1/4" braided elastic. in hindsight, i should have used wider thicker elastic! maybe recommend to people to use 1/2". also, i bought furniture circular felt pads that were supposed to be the suckers on the legs. i ran out of time to glue them on but i think they'd be a cool effect! i will work on it after my costume-making burnout has subsided. :P

april.marquez.92 (author)2014-09-14

Amazing! Tomorrow I'm going fabric hunting :)

Thank you for sharing, love the elastic idea.

gigi914 (author)2014-06-03

Girl, I'm making an octo-tutu for a parade this month and was wondering how I was going to make the legs curl - I would never have thought of using elastic like this! Thank you so much for sharing!

spunk (author)2013-10-24

I like the curly legs!
Thanks for sharing your technique!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a designer at Instructables. I have a degree in fashion design and like to sew, get crafty, and attempt to use power tools.
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