How I Made Girly Dalek Costumes

When asked what they wanted to be for Halloween, our 3 and 2 year old girls said to our great delight, “Daleks!” To make sure they weren’t going to change their minds, I waited 2 weeks to start making the costumes (no one sells Dalek costumes for kids). They never wavered, but continued insisting on Dalek costumes.

I know what you’re thinking–our kids are awesome. Be jealous as you shank each other over the last Elsa costume in Target. In case someone else creates an awesome little girl who wants a girly Dalek costume, here’s how I did it.

The Dalek

The Dalek

First, I scoured the internet for ideas. My girls may be young, but they know what they want. So I presented them with two different options: this realistic, but cumbersome to walk in Dalek, and this girly interpretation of a Dalek. It was no surprise to me that they wanted the tutu version. Now the first problem with this design was that I can’t sew, and it’s obvious that whoever made our inspiration Dalek dress could sew. No problem some ribbon and hot glue couldn’t solve (I hoped). I wasn’t exactly sure how I would get it to stay together, but I decided to figure it out later.

Off to Michael’s we went, aimlessly wandering the aisles trying to figure out how we were going to create these things. I made sure to pick out strong ribbon so that it wouldn’t crumble under the weight of the tulle and Dalek balls. The 3 year old wanted to be a purple Dalek, and the 2 year old wanted to be a pink one, and of course they gravitated towards the glitter ribbon and tulle. Even though I knew the house and all it’s inhabitants would be covered in glitter for the next year if I brought that home, I decided to be a cool mom and said “Yes” to the glitter.

While wandering, I came across sheets of felt and decided that they would be the best option for the Dalek ball panels, because it would be strong enough to hold the balls, but not require hems to be sewn like fabric would (read: I can’t even sew a button on a coat).

For the Dalek balls, I had two options: styrofoam balls or plastic Christmas ornaments. I went with the ornaments because I didn’t want to worry about painting styrofoam. The ornaments that I found were made to open so you could put pictures inside, which saved me the step of cutting them; I already had a perfect flat bottom. Since spray paint is expensive, I made the executive decision to paint the Dalek balls the same color for both of the dresses. I was going to do silver, but then I found a glitter spray. I had already committed to the glitter thing–go big or go home, I say.

This whole thing was a learning experience because I went into it with a very vague plan that pretty much got thrown out the window immediately. I was making it up as I went along, so I’m sure there are things that I did that could have been done better. I’m not writing this trying to say that my way of doing things is superior. The whole time I was gluing these babies together I was praying they wouldn’t fall apart! I’m just sharing my process so that if anyone likes the finished product, you can take what I’ve done and put your own spin on it to make it even better. On that note, if anyone does make their own interpretation of my Dalek dress, please share it with me! I would love to see how someone else does it.

Once I brought all my supplies home, I tied the ribbon around the bust line of each kid and cut it. I tied a bow in the back so it would stay in place, allowing a fair amount of extra ribbon to hang so I could adjust the tightness if I needed to.

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Next, I wrapped another piece of ribbon around this base ribbon right in the middle of the chest. I wrapped it three times for security.

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wpid-wp-1414769788896.jpegI figured it would be stupid to hot glue the ribbons together while the 3 year old was wearing it, so I pinned the ribbon in place with safety pins so I would know where to glue it later.

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I then laced either ends of the second piece of ribbon over her shoulders, and through the back of the base ribbon. Again, I pinned them in place.

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Then I carefully took it off my wonderful model and hot glued my ribbon together, creating a halter.

Next, I measured for the length of the dress. This part is entirely up to the person making it. For the sake of not using more than one spool of tulle per dress because I’m cheap, I opted to make them hit just above the knee (although the 2 year old’s dress came out too short; wiggly subjects are difficult to measure). Then I cut a piece of cardboard to that length (I used the flaps of a diaper box). Next, I wrapped the tulle around the cardboard and secured it with rubber bands. I then carefully cut the layers of tulle on either side of the cardboard piece. I was left with pieces of tulle that were all exactly the same size, but I only had to measure once and cut twice.

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Then I folded each piece of tulle in half lengthwise twice, and hot glued it onto my ribbon halter one by one. To glue it, I folded each piece over the ribbon, gluing it on the back and front of the ribbon. I layered the tulle pieces on top of each other to create a pleat effect.

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The felt pieces needed to be 3 1/2 inches wide in order for the ornaments to fit. I only needed 3 felt panels for each dress, which I was able to get from one sheet of felt. This was my first time working with felt and I learned the hard way that it is extremely hard to cut. Do yourself a favor and buy sharp fabric scissors, because it took forever using my cheap-o paper scissors. Then I hot glued the panels on: one in the middle and the other two on either sides. I wrapped the felt around the ribbon like I did with the tulle, gluing it on the back and the front of the ribbon.

Next, I sprayed the glitter on the ornaments; they needed two coats to get full coverage. Then I sprayed them with spray Modge Podge to make sure the glitter wouldn’t budge. Unfortunately, it dulled the sparkle and dried in weird splotches. Don’t spray with Modge Podge if you try this. Once they were dry, I hot glued them onto the felt panels (which were already glued onto the dresses). The panels for the 3 year old’s dress required 5 balls each (15 total), and the 2 year old’s dress required 3 per panel (9 total). The ornaments were sold individually, so I ended up using 12 (because I used them as halfs).

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Then there was the issue of the Dalek’s head.

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Although I started working on these costumes at the beginning of October, I did also just have baby number 3 on October 20th. I was already biting off more than I could chew by choosing to make costumes this year, but there was no way I was going to steer them towards being princesses when it was THEIR idea to be Daleks. I knew that it would take shopping around to find a construction helmet like the one in our inspiration picture, plus I would have to paint them, which would mean buying two different colors of spray paint. Remember–I’m cheap. I chose to make the Dalek light ear thingys using a headband, electric tea lights, and Dixie cups. I knew that by doing this I wouldn’t be able to incorporate the Dalek eye, but we’re going for a cutesy interpretation, not a realistic copy.

These were super simple. I took my Walmart headbands and hot glued the tea lights on, making sure that the switch was accessible. Then I hot glued the Dixie cups to fit around the tea lights. Voila! Dalek ear thingys. Why blue Dixie cups instead of clear, you ask? Because Target only had blue and I just had a baby. You couldn’t even tell what color the cups were in the dark anyways. These headbands acted fantastically as flashlights so the kids didn’t get run over while trick-or-treating. Mom for the win!

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Of course the 3 year old decided to add her own touch:

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The last part to sort out were the Dalek arms:

dalek_series7_figure1-001Most people on the internet opted to send their kids out with a toilet plunger in one hand and a wire whisk in the other. I knew that my kids were not going to want to carry them all night though, and that for the time that they did carry them would be using them to hit each other with. But I really wanted to incorporate them in some way. Then I got the brilliant idea to make custom candy bags. I found a purple cloth one at the Dollar Store and a purple felt one at Walmart for $3. Then I spray painted halved styrofoam balls black that I got at Walmart for $.97 each. The spray paint did not cover the styrofoam very well at all. I gave up after the billionth coat and just hot glued them on.

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I couldn’t think of a clever way to attach the whisks, so I decided to just let them hold them and throw them in the bags once they were sick of them.

To complete the look, I put the girls in solid long sleeved shirts and pants (that they already had), color coordinating to match the purple and pink. It was the coldest Halloween in a decade, but luckily enough the girls had pink and purple jackets/scarves/mittens to match.

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The total cost for the supplies for each Dalek getup was $30. Although I didn’t save any money by making it myself, I didn’t really have a choice because no one sells Dalek costumes for kids. Honestly, I really enjoyed making my kids’ Halloween costumes. The girls were so happy with their costumes, which made all the work worth it.

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And there you have it! Girly Dalek costumes. Happy Exterminating!

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7 comments

    1. We may have had homemade costumes, but I definitely forgot to buy peanut butter. There was full on rioting & an emergency grocery trip especially for the coveted item. We’ve also been eating a lot of Chinese take out…

  1. Thank you so much for this tutorial! After attending a Doctor Who convention, my daughter has decided she wants to be a purple Dalek as well. And like you, I have no sewing skills. I am definitely using your design as a starting point! You did a great job!

      1. Well I haven’t gotten a posed picture with all the accessories yet, but a picture of my little Dalek made it onto the bottom a blog post: http://geekdad.com/2016/03/family-fun-for-whovians/

        I found a tiny purple whisk and made a tiny purple plunger for her to hold, but those weren’t carried for long. Because I wanted the eye stalk, in addition to the lights on top, I used a kids bicycle helmet covered in purple felt, with a dollar-store flashlight and tea lights glued on. But the bike helmet was too uncomfortable, so she didn’t wear it. The dress was a big hit at the Doctor Who convention, but the tulle bunched up something fierce. I’ll have to make some more modifications for next year. Thanks again for sharing! Although I didn’t follow your directions exactly, I definitely wouldn’t have known where to start without them!

      2. She looks adorable in her Dalek costume! I’m so glad that I was able to give you a starting point. Thanks for sharing your creation with me! The bike helmet sounds like a great idea for the Dalek eye.

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