My oldest daughter is always challenging me with new Halloween costume ideas. She’s the one who wanted to be a jellyfish, and now she wanted a homemade spider costume. But not just any spider, a black widow.
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A little research on homemade spider costumes mostly brought up costumes where the spider legs dangled underneath the person’s arms and the wearer had to move their arms for the legs to be seen.
I thought it would be much better to have your arms and hands free and have the spider legs come above and around your body. I wanted this to be dramatic, where the spider costume would jump out at you even from a distance.
Spiders have eight legs, we already have two arms and two legs so I figured I only had to build a rig to accommodate four more legs.
I came up with this set-up on my own, and I ended up having everything in my garage already. That’s when it pays to have a husband with some tool hoarder tendencies and a good fabric stash from my own craft hoarder pile.
The rig is essentially a backpack and is very comfortable to wear.
And the result is positively spectacular, scary, and impressive. My girl ended up winning her youth group costume contest for “most creative costume”.
On Halloween night a group of kids halfway down the block screamed when they saw her but like the costume enough that they had to come over and check it out.
She adored seeing herself in this costume. Although she did say it was a little difficult to get to the snack table.
It took about an afternoon to make this costume, so plan ahead a little. Try to get everything ready and in front of you before you start.
Spider costume DIY rig materials:
- A flat rectangular piece of scrap wood. Mine was 8.5”x15”x3/4” which ended up being perfect for my daughter’s back (She’s 5’6”). Yours doesn’t need to be that exact size it just needs to fit from the upper back to about the waist and not be wider than the person’s back.
- Thick galvanized wire. (I used 12 gauge) You’ll need 4 times the length of your pool noodles plus a bit more
- 4 pool noodles, color doesn’t matter.
- 4 sheets of black cardstock or construction paper
- Black electrical tape
- A roll of black gossamer fabric. That’s what I had, so I used it and I really liked the look. You could spray paint the pool noodle black or make a sleeve out of regular black fabric. Heck, black duct tape would probably work
- About 1 yard of black stretchy fabric – I used a black cotton jersey (t-shirt fabric).
- Fiberfill stuffing. Could be from an old pillow which is what I used.
- 3 or 4 black adjustable straps – We had kept the straps from an old trampoline and that’s what I used. I needed 4 straps because 1 length was too short to go around my daughter’s waist so I had to use 2 for the waist.
- Heavy Duty Staple gun
- Packaging tape
- Wire cutters
- Craft glue
Spider Outfit, hair, and make-up list:
How to make the rig for the spider’s legs and back
Prepare the Spiders Legs:
Make a cone with a sheet of the black cardstock, secure it closed with some craft glue, and tape it to the end of a pool noodle.
Wrap the pool noodle and the cone in the gossamer fabric. Because black gossamer fabric is a bit sheer, I rolled the noodle several times so the color of the pool noodle would not show. Remove the excess fabric at the pointy end and secure with craft glue along the edges.
The cones didn’t yet have the look I was hoping for and were a bit flimsy. So we wrapped the point of the spider’s leg with black electrical tape and ran a length of electrical tape along the whole leg at the edge of the gossamer fabric to seal it.
Repeat for all four legs.
Prepare the Backpack Rig:
I didn’t spray paint my wood block black because when the costume is worn you don’t see the wood, but you could do that.
With your heavy-duty staple gun, staple two of the black straps towards the top of the woodblock. These straps will be the backpack straps. Of course, I didn’t’ take a picture of that step but here you can see where one of the straps got stapled to the wood. I stapled them to the side of the wood that would be in contact with the wearer.
Turn the woodblock over, and staple another strap towards the bottom of the woodblock. That strap needs to go all the way around the waist. I didn’t have a strap long enough so I hooked 2 together and stapled them. (I added the waist strap later in my process but it would have been better to do it now)
You now have a piece of wood that can be worn like a backpack over the shoulders with a third strap around your waist for security.
Cut 4 pieces of 12 gauge wire about a foot longer than the length of your pool noodles.
Staple the wire to the back side of the wood block (where the waist strap is stapled) so that 2 of the legs will come up above the shoulder, and 2 of the legs will come around the waist. (see picture)
Finish the Spider’s Legs:
Insert the pool noodles in the wire already stapled to the wood, trim the ends and use a pair of pliers to make a small hook to hold the noodles in place.
Bend the legs to curve up above the body and around the waist.
Make the Body:
You’ll need to make the abdomen first.
I don’t have exact measurements for the fabric I used, it was all very organic.
I gathered a rectangular piece of black fabric around a bunch of poly-fil, enough to make a nice big abdomen and I stapled it to the bottom of the wood rig on the outside below the belt straps.
Next, I used the filler of an old pillow to make the cephalothorax (Yep, I even learned the proper name for spider body parts with this project too!) and covered it with black fabric which I wrapped around and stapled on the other side of the wood stretching it around the legs.
Spider Costume Hair, Makeup, and Outfit
First, dress with a black pants and a long sleeved black shirt. I loved the fact my daughter’s shirt had a low neckline in the front because I was able to draw a cool spiderweb on top of her upper chest area.
I used my favorite hair comb to bring my daughter’s hair up to the top of her head and pinned her hair in a bit of a messy bun. I then used a bunch of plastic spiders I picked up at the dollar store which I simply attached with the wire that came with them.
The makeup was easy. I only used a black eye pencil for her eyes, lips, and the spider web on her chest.
I used glue dots to keep the different sized googly eyes on her forehead. It worked great and lasted all night.
The thing that distinguishes a black widow from all the other black spiders out there is the red mark on her underside. (Actually, it’s on the underside of the abdomen but it wouldn’t have been visible here).
So I cut the sheet of red felt into an hourglass shape and placed it on the shirt. I used double stick fabric tape but you could use adhesive backed felt or sew it on too.
Strap on the spider’s backpack rig and you’re in business.
This is one amazing costume and it’s sure to turn heads and get you noticed. Well worth the time to put it together.
I’d love to see the spiders that you’ve made! Please send me pictures of your creations so I can share them on social media! In the meantime, you might also enjoy all my other costume tutorials and all the Halloween ideas on this site.