DIY Sheep and Cow Costumes for My Church's Christmas Recital. - Pretty Real

DIY Sheep and Cow Costumes for My Church's Christmas Recital.

7:00 AM

When my church's youth director asked for help making DIY sheep and cow costumes for the Christmas recital, I didn't hesitate! I love using my DIY skills for worthwhile causes. These costumes take some time but are really not difficult. And how cute would they be for a Halloween costume?! I didn't grab detailed shots along the way, but honestly you don't even need those detailed shots. This is EASY!  Here goes!

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For the Vest/Sheep body:
Glue Gun or Fabric Glue (I've read Fabritac is the best, however it's pricey).
Velcro or Ribbon**
Jumbo Cotton Balls- I lost track but I think I used about 150 to 200 per vest. 

For the Headband:
Needle + thread for reinforcement (optional)

**see 1b.

1. Visit this tutorial from Made to download a pattern and make your vest.
     1a) If I were to make these again, I'd use a stronger stitch for the shoulder seams.  The cotton balls and glue get heavy and I had to reinforce the stitches on one of the vests because I could see it starting to come apart.  Please note: If there's any category a level beneath "novice seamstress," then I'm in that one. You probably already knew to use a zig zag stitch or something. 

     1b) Add a ribbon to either side of the top of the vest to tie it.  This is another area that could use a stronger stitch. Or alternatively, use Velcro (which the recital director ended up doing after rehearsal).

2. For the headband, simply cut a small circle (about 3 inches in diameter) out of white felt, cover it with cotton balls, and then glue it to the center of the headband.

3. For the ears, cut an ear shape out of felt (flat across the bottom, curved, and then pointed at the top) in both black and white for each ear.  Then sew them together using a sewing machine.  At the bottom (the flat part) use a loose stitch and pull it to gather it so that the ears "pucker."  Sorry no photos of the ears prior to sewing them.

4. Next, glue the ears to the headband.  For 2 of the three headbands I also stitched them on as reinforcement.  I got lazy on the last headband. None of them fell apart so the reinforcement might not have been necessary.  Lastly, glue cotton balls around the ears to hide any glue gobs or stitches.
5. Optional: Add Velcro (or ribbon) to the bottom of the vest as well as the top.  The kids were sitting during the recital so keeping the vest closed would have looked a little "cleaner" than gaping at the bottom.

As you can see, the kids wore the sheep vests backwards to look more like a bodice.

Don't want to DIY? Just Buy!
If you don't want to make one my favorite sheep costumes are this girly one and this gender neutral one. Just adorable!

For the cow, follow the instructions from step 1. I purchased cow ears/tail from here (similar).  As for the cow shapes, I just cut them- free form style- from black felt. Place the shapes on the vest a few at a time (cutting new shapes as you go) so that you can see how they look together.  When you have them right, glue them on.

Look at this cute lil manger crew!

That's it!  I'm not sure if it sounds hard or easy. Of course after having done it once I think it'd be easier the second time around but overall it really wasn't hard.  I sort of just made stuff up as I went along.  And covered up mistakes with cotton balls. It did however take tons of cotton balls and gluing the cotton balls on does take a while--about 1 to 1 1/2 hours per vest.

Thank you MADE for giving me such an easy jumping off point for these costumes!

The recital was adorable!  All of the little ones did so well! Special thanks to Cathy Saller for giving up SO much time and energy to choreograph and organize such a fun kid's Christmas program!

This costume is highly flammable! I realized this while making it and did my due diligence to make sure the children wearing it would be safe! I've seen some tutorials suggest spraying it with flame retardant.  I'm not responsible for any incidents involving this DIY- please make sure your kiddos are safe and won't be near open flames.

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  1. Awesome costumes great job ��

  2. These are simply adorable. If someone who is not comfortable trying to sew or needs several "vests" in a hurry, you could also use pillow cases cutting open holes for the head and arms from the seams of the pillow case. These work well on average sized children about 8 years and younger.

  3. Thank you so much for this. Nearly finished it for my son's nursery nativity! How talented you are to design some thing so effective! X x

  4. Thank you SO much for sharing this tutorial! I've entered that stage of parenting where *homemade* holiday program costumes are needed, and this post just saved the day! In the spirit of the harried season, I'll be working on this over the next 10 days, along with baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping – all while clinging to my last shred of sanity. ;)

    SherryO @
    Not Your Average Super Moms ...

    1. I'm so glad I could help! It was a bit time consuming but not difficult at all!

  5. Thank you for sharing. My daughter looks super cute. This was a fast and a simple project, and she probably looks even better than if I would have bought a costume! Great job. I think I will try to modify it to make an angel costume for my son who is concerned about wearing a "dress" :).

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  8. I'm curious how well these sheep costumes held up. I am making some costumes for a Christmas play. These are adorable. I would like to have something that can be used again and am a little worried the cotton balls will not last long.

    1. we only used them that one time so I can't speak to that- but they held up great that night.

  9. How do you keep the cotton balls from simply falling off? I made this last night and the stage was a huge mess afterward. :( I used probably 15 sticks of glue just to adhere the cotton and now I feel like it was a waste. what did I do wrong?

    1. maybe not all glue guns are created equal? I used a glue gun and ours held up well. I'm sorry it didn't work out! I think I mentioned that I'd read that fabritac fabric glue is the best so if you dare try this again, maybe try using that?