Introduction: Paper Bag Princess

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch is a fantastic story. It has all the standard fairy tale elements:

  • A Prince
  • A Princess
  • A Dragon

but finishes up with the Princess realising that looks are not everything and in fact her perfect prince was nothing but "a bum" and not worthy of her time! The illustrations by Michael Martchenko are outstanding and the last image of the Princess dancing off into the sunset in her paper bag is pure gold!

The other good thing about this story is that it is a very easy costume to make as you probably already have what you need lying around the house. All up the costume took about 2 hours to make, and that was with a false start when I started with a garbage bag that actually fitted me rather than my daughter.... To be fair, everyone got a good laugh out of that (and I am not including those photos...).

Step 1: Supplies

  • Paper bag
  • Yellow paper
  • Headband
  • Duct tape
  • Craft glue

Step 2: Tailor the Dress

Select a paper bag that fits your princess. I initially tried a large rubbish bag but this was far to big! It turned out that a supermarket bag was just right although I did need to lengthen it (see below).

Add duct tape to the bottom of the bag and the surrounding edges. This adds strength and durability so if your princess does end up battling a dragon, the dress should survive. Add enough tape to cover where the arm and head holes would be. A ring of tape just above the bottom hem of the bag will stop any tears from getting out of control.

The level of duct taping required will depend on what the costume is for. If it is trick or treating (wearing for a couple of hours and not sitting down much) then you won't need to tape much beyond the description above. If you want it to be worn all day and not fall apart (it is a paper bag after all!) then you may need to line the bag entirely.

Turn the bag inside out. You need to be careful and not rush this step otherwise the bag will tear. I found the pushing the middle of the bottom resulted the the bag inverting relatively easy. The tape makes it harder to do this step, but the tape would be difficult to put on it you turn the bag inside out first, your choice on which is the lesser evil.

Cut the bottom corners off the bag. A 45 degree cut about 30mm in from the edge is sufficent. Once this is done, the bag can be folded flat. Use a dress as a rough pattern and mark out head and arm holes. Due to the shape of the bag, you will find that the holes are larger than the original dress.

A single bag was far to short so I cut the bottom off a second bag and glued it onto the first. Once the glue dried, duct tape was applied to the inside of the seam to make it stronger.

Step 3: Fashion the Crown

Fold a bit of yellow paper in half and draw up the outline of the crown. The dimensions that I used can be seen in the photos.

Small amounts of tape were used to hold the paper together whilst the crown was cut out. Only half of the paper is actually required but by cutting in this fashion, you don't get any pencil marks on the finished crown.

Roll the crown up and use glue to secure the seam. I used a large paperclip to hold it in place until the glue dried.

Once finished, tape the crown to a headband. Idealy the headband would be the same colour as the princess's hair but I couldn't find one and out of a stubbon desire to stick with not buying anything in order to make the costume, I used what was lying around.

Bend the points in random angles to give the look of a slightly battered crown.

Step 4: Accessorize

To finish the costume off, my wife gave me a hand and messed up the princess's hair with a bit of hairspray in order to give that "I have just kicked the butt of a dragon look".

For these photos the princess was only wearing a singlet under the paperbag; however, we will get her to wear a long sleeve top that is close to skin colour when going out as it isn't the warmest outfit!

Overall, this is a simple and cheap costume based on a book that has a message that every princess (and prince) should read!

Book Character Costume Challenge

Runner Up in the
Book Character Costume Challenge