Tips and Tricks for Being a Plague Doctor




About: I am a jack of all trades and, dare I say, master of a couple. A self proclaimed maker of all things and avid pyrotechnic.

Welcome to my first Instructable. I have been working on this costume for some time now and thought that this would be the perfect way to share it with the world.

**WARNING**This is not a perfect step by step guide on how to make a Plague Doctor mask. This is merely a guide on how to go about creating the entire costume. I have broken the costume into layers for your viewing pleasure and ease of description.

If you are unfamiliar with the Plague Doctors, I recommend that you do a little research. Here are some helpful links.

Plague doctor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Plague doctor costume - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Plague Doctor | The Love of History

Tom Banwell Designs

TomBanwell - Etsy

After skimming those, start to sketch out the rough details of your costume. Anything in specific that you like, add to a list.

Step 1: Layer One

Layer One

  • Mask/Face Mask
  • White Shirt
  • Black Pants
  • Belt
  • Dress Shoes
  • Leather Gloves

Mask/Face Mask

  • 4-5oz leather
  • Waxed Twine
  • Leather needles
  • Two Prong Diamond Stamper
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Plumbing fittings
  • Plexiglass

This is one of the most challenging parts of this costume. I made mine out of 4-5oz. veg. tan leather. Black waxed twine for the stitching. The eyes were plumbing fittings with plexi glass lenses. I used E6000 to glue them in. I used an overhead projector and some paper for the pattern. I started off of a google images pattern, then edited to my liking. Acrylic paint soaks into leather very nicely, and it is very cheap. I just used a couple coats before stitching and then after. After all the stitching, soak the inside of the mask with water (I just used a spray bottle) and form it to your face. The mask was very personal to the doctor and was made from whatever was around. I could have made straps for the mask, but I found it to be most efficient to use a nylon face mask to hold it on. And if all this seems to daunting to you, feel free to purchase one.


The underwares of the plague doctors were very unspecific. You can really wear whatever you see necessary to keep out the Black Death.

Step 2: Layer Two

Layer Two

  • Coat
  • Hood


The coat is just a cannibalised lab coat. It was originally navy blue, but I dyed it black (I know it isn't black, I have to re-dye it.) I removed the two bottom snaps, and replaced all the others with buttons. Take it in, in the back to make it look more like an overcoat than a lab coat. Undo the collar for a more traditional look, or don't, it's your coat. I dyed it with a cheap black dye, it took about 6-7 hours. Let it air dry, do not rinse or machine dry it.


The hood was made out of a thick ,woven fabric. I picked it up at Walmart, it is very cheap. I tried to take the best picture of it as I could, so you can use it as a pattern. Just remember to allow room for seams. It clasps with a hook and eye, but you can use a button and a loop or a button and button hole.

Step 3: Layer Three and Closing Remarks

Layer Three

  • Staff
  • Hat


The staff was used for prodding dead bodies, so make it light and straight. I cut down a small tree and cut it up. You can whatever you would like.


The Hat is not necessary. I bought mine at a local Renaissance Festival. You could make one, but purchasing one is your best bet. Scour etsy, I'm sure you will be able to find something.

Closing Remarks

There are many variations to this costume, every doctor had his own garb. Feel free to add things, like white chalk or little vials on a belt. Please send photos, vote, favorite and comment with any questions. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed my first Instructable!

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    12 Discussions

    I always find these costumes so gorgeous, but they also give me the creeps! So bascially this is awesome! Thanks for sharing!

    The coolest thing in life is drawing plague doctors all day . Does anyone like steampunk plague doctors?


    3 years ago

    i made one too, but i found very hard to breath trought the mask because the glasses started to get all sweaty :'(

    Daemon Rinke

    4 years ago

    Its the best plague doctor mask i've seen in a while, great job my friend....

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    :-( this costume looks like the medieval variant of the Ebola doctors' garb...
    (Also, you forgot to include the fragrant spices, herbs and hay in the mask ;-) )

    1 reply