Introduction: Wind-Up Doll Costume

About: Former Instructables employee CHECK OUT MY WORK

This wind-up doll costume is the perfect interactive costume for Halloween. Not only is it super cute, but THE KEY ACTUALLY TURNS! In this tutorial I will show you how to make the key mechanical or wire it up to turn with a button.

I had quite the battle with this costume. I went through 3 iterations trying to get the key to turn and ended up with the final version in the 11th hour (doesn't it always seem to work that way?). Read about my process of building the key and the two failed versions at the end of the Instructable.

My makeup was done by the lovely Kiriko Kikuchi. Tutorial coming soon!!

Step 1: Laser Cut Key

I laser cut the key head out of cardstock and the key base out of 3/8" plywood. I've attached the illustrator file so you can cut your own.

See the following steps for assembly instructions.

Building my #Halloween #costume with #lasers #instructables @p9workshop

A video posted by @carleyjacobson on

Step 2: Assemble Key Base

You will need the laser cut wood pieces, a servo, and 2 pieces of elastic (length: your waist + 5 inches for each). Refer to the last image in this step to learn the names of each part of the base assembly.

  1. Glue 3RINGS to the top of the MIDDLE piece and 3RINGS to the bottom of the middle piece. **
  2. Let that dry.
  3. Place the servo in the cut out rectangle on the MIDDLE piece then glue the servo to the MIDDLE piece.
  4. Note where the top of the servo is sticking out ---> this is the TOP of the base. The other side is the BOTTOM.
  5. Glue the OPEN RING to the RING on the BOTTOM of the base. Make sure the opening lines up with the wire attached to the servo.
  6. Thread the elastic through the BOTTOM piece.
  7. Glue the BOTTOM to the OPEN RING. Make sure the BOTTOM is oriented so the elastic doesn't hit the servo.
  8. Glue the TOP to the RING on the TOP of the base.

**If you have a bigger servo you may need to add more rings to make everything fit together.

Step 3: Assemble Key

  1. Cut a cardboard tube to 8" length
  2. Add the INSERT you laser cut to the tube and epoxy it in.
  3. Cut a slot in the tube about 3" down through the center of the tube. I used a small hand saw.
  4. Put the key head into the tube slit. Align the tube so it sits directly in the center of the key head.
  5. Super glue the edges of the key head to the tube.
  6. Spray paint the key and base. I used a white base then a metallic silver paint.

Step 4: Attach Key to Base + Creating Movement

Glue the key to the servo in the base. I used epoxy and it fell off. Then I tried hot glue and it hasn't fallen off yet!

To move the key you have 2 options:

1. Move by Hand - Mechanical: in this case you don't have to do anything! The key is attached to the servo and will move and make an awesome noise when people turn it.

2. Move Electronically: You can attach a battery pack to the servo using the wire hole in the base design. If you create a button people can press it and the key will turn!

Step 5: Attach to Body

Wrap the elastic around your waist. I tied the elastic in the front to get a snug fit, but you can add snaps or buckles.

I ran the elastic under my dress by leaving the dress un-zipped, wrapping the elastic around my waist, then just snapping the top of the dress. It worked surprisingly well and left no skin showing through the open zipper.

Step 6: Clothing + Accessories

Check out my Pinterest Boardwith inspiration for different wind-up doll looks. There are so many fun options!

Dress: I got super lucky and found this dress that fit perfectly at a thrift shop. I did get it steamed to give it a polished look. It has a tulle skirt underneath to give it volume. I was going for more of a vintage look. Some other looks include: robotic doll, rag doll, ballerina, fairy, and more!

Shoes: For this outfit I went with Mary-Jane style shoes with a wedge heel. The shoe really depends on the dress. I would also suggest ballet flats or ribbon lace up (gladiator style).

Wig: I found a really nice wig that can be styled with heating products. I wanted to have the option to do some curling + teasing. I ended up just styling it with two long braids. If you want more looks for hair styles I suggest looking at my pinterest board.

Step 7: Makeup Application

Here are some photos of the makeup. Separate tutorial to come soon!


I first attempted was to attach the key to a wind up toy mechanism. Although I had seen this done on the internet, I thought it looked flimsy but I still decided to give it a try. When I actually glued the key to the mechanism it completely fell apart.

My second attempt was to use the motor from a littleBits kit. This required a lot of structural build up around the littleBits to keep everything in place. I ended up having the same problem - the littleBits motor was too weak.

Halloween Costume Contest

Participated in the
Halloween Costume Contest