How to Make Homemade Zombie Costumes

How to Make Homemade Zombie Costumes

Oozing flesh and blood dripping, with a slack jaw, pale face and out-stretched arms, the zombie makes for a very convincing and scary costume idea, depending on the amount of make-up used. Instead of searching through stores for the perfect zombie costume, why not make one at home, customized to the zombie design you have in mind?
Some Halloween costumes are age-appropriate, like Little Bo Peep or Mickey Mouse. Some costume ideas are based on trends and fads. Blood-sucking pale immortals is 'THE' current hot costume idea, jewelry sporting pirates are a past trend. But one costume idea that remains a Halloween favorite, irrespective of the trends or a person's age, is the zombie or undead costume. Dressing up as a zombie may not be the most unusual Halloween costume idea, or the neatest, but if you want to disgust and scare people around you and crack a lot of brain jokes, then this is the costume for you. It is very easy and rather cheap to design and make your own zombie clothes for Halloween. You may have to spend money only to buy fake blood and zombie make-up.

Zombie Costume Ideas

The first step in making costumes is the design. You need to decide on your pre-zombie persona. Are you the undead sorority chick? Or a zombie doctor armed with virus-filled injections? Perhaps you were a mild-mannered carpenter or a truck driver. You could even dress-up as a high school student, zombie style, as an undead jock, cheerleader or nerd. Two popular zombie ideas are to go as an infected undead corporate worker or as a zombie housewife. Be as imaginative as possible, any profession or job will do, the more unique the better.

Zombies are known for traveling in groups or hordes. In fact, the large and immense zombie population is the scare factor in movies like Dawn of the Dead or the Resident Evil series. So try to dress-up as a group of zombies on the hunt for flesh. Dress-up as a zombie family, with undead Dad, Mom and kids, who got infected while camping. With friends, you'll can go in different costumes or dress-up as a group that got infected en masse, such as:
  • A dentist convention that was attacked by zombies, resulting in zombie dentists.
  • Cheerleading troupe
  • High-school class
  • Sports team
  • Construction workers
  • Hillbillies
  • Group of stockbrokers
  • A rock band
  • Barbershop quartet
  • Scout troop
How to Make Your Own Zombie Clothes

Costume Collection
Once you have come up with the costume's design, start collecting the materials. Based on what you have decided to wear as your base costume, collect clothes accordingly. Search closets, wardrobes and basements for old clothes that can be torn up. Or head to the nearest Goodwill store or thrift center and do some cheap clothes shopping.

To be as authentic as possible, you need to shop for or use the appropriate clothes. Say, you are dressing up as corporate zombie, get a nice suit or a smart shirt and skirt. Doctor zombies will need a shirt, tie, trousers and most importantly, a white lab coat. Nurses, police, deliveryman, for all such professions, get the right uniform. A word of caution, the clothes need to be ruined completely for the zombie effect.

Tearing and Ripping
It's shredding time! You need to make rips, tears, holes, scratches, basically your clothes should look like you have just crawled your way out of a zombie pit. The idea is not to destroy the clothes, but rather, to "zombify" them. Tattered, torn clothes are the key sign of a respectable zombie.

You need to render the tears artistically on the clothes. The best way to do so is to wear the clothes and then make the tears. You can do this yourself but for best results, get someone to help you. Use scissors to tear and cut the cloth up. To get a real jagged look, get pinking shears or special art jagged-edge scissors. Make tears in positions you are comfortable with. Avoid wardrobe malfunctions with rips and tears in inappropriate places.

Tears should be made in all the clothes worn, from the collar to the trousers. And they should match your zombie back-story. For example, the rips in your pant's legs were due to a clawing undead hand. Scruff marks on the pant's knees are from your frantic crawling attempts to get away. A torn sleeve and a huge tear on your shoulder, are when the monsters finally caught you. Tear off pockets and cut collars into jagged edges. If headgear is worn, make tears and rips in it as well. Belts can be cut in half messily and left hanging. Make bite marks on your tie with pinking shears.

The Color Effect
Once the clothes are torn to your satisfaction, they need a little color. Zombies ooze blood, plus at some point in tearing your clothes, they would have bitten you. So to look bitten and mauled at, your clothes need to be sprinkled liberally with blood splats, dots and splatter. Use fake blood or fabric paint to "bloody up" your costume. You can make your own fake blood or buy some from a store but make sure the color is a real blood-red and not pink! You can spray on blood in some places. Dip a paintbrush in fake blood and tap the stem or pull back on the bristles to splat blood onto the clothes. Try to line the tears and rips with blood, like a mild flesh wound. Dip your hands in the fake blood and make 1 or 2 hand-prints.

Zombies get dirty too, so rub some soil on your clothes for the dirt look. You can even roll around on the lawn for a while, to pick up grass stains. Rubbing ash onto your clothes, will also help. Tire marks on your clothes, make an awesome addition to your back-story (you were hit by a car full of zombies, who then climbed out and infected you!), so take the clothes off, lay them on the driveway and run your car over them once. You can even drag the clothes down your driveway, so they look worn-out.

Some off-the-wall ideas are:
  • Zombie superhero: Undead Batman or Spiderman to the rescue (or not!). Get a superhero costume and tear it up, then add blood and gory makeup.
  • Undead schoolgirl/boy: A very popular zombie costume. Use an old school uniform or rent a uniform costume.
  • Zombie chef: Chef's hat, apron, shirt and trousers, sprinkled with blood and torn in the right places. A giant bloody cleaver or a dish with fake bloody brains on it, make ideal props.
  • Zombie cop: Either patrolmen or biker cop uniform will do. Get a toy gun, holster and handcuffs and bloody them up for props.
  • Zombie Ninja: Get a ninja costume and tear it up right. Then add flesh wounds and use a fake sword or katana, dipped in fake blood.
  • Zombie surfer dude: Go shirtless with a lot of flesh wounds. Rip up shorts and get a surfboard as a prop. You can even make a foam fake surfboard and make jagged bite marks on it.
  • Undead surgeon: Get green surgeon scrubs, surgical mask and plastic gloves for this look.
  • Zombie FBI agent: Black suit, black tie, dark glasses, ripped and shredded. Weapons and bloodied badge are needed.
  • Zombie bride: An undead bride, her pristine white wedding gown, all blood-spattered and torn, a bouquet of bloodied flowers in her hand, with her veil hiding a hideously bitten face, indeed a very scary costume.
  • Zombie-hunter-turned-zombie: Shred a brown trench coat, fingerless gloves, cowboy hat, jeans and a T-shirt and smear bloody hand-prints on them. Use make-up to create a lot of flesh wounds.
  • Scout zombie: Get a boy or girl scout costume or uniform to turn into the best prepared zombies around.
  • Medieval zombie: Wear a knight's chain mail or armor costume and be very generous with fake blood and bloody make-up. Useful props include bloody axes, chains or maces.
  • Fairy-tale zombies: Instead of going as a traditional fairy-tale Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, go as the zombie version, with tattered dresses and flesh wounds! There's a whole universe of fairy-tale characters from Red Riding Hood to Aladdin, so 'zombify' whichever one you like.
Homemade zombie costumes are very easy to make as long as you have the right clothes and creativity. Along with clothes, you need to apply an appropriate amount of zombie make-up, face paint and hairdo. Remember to decorate yourself with flesh wounds and bite marks to look like a legit zombie. Props can be basic, like bloodied weapons or humorous like a corporate zombie with a mug of bloody coffee or a girl scout zombie selling "flesh" cookies. Zombie attitude is also important, stiff limbs and jerky walk, slack jaw and dull facial expressions and moaning and groaning sounds. Dress-up like the undead to be the center of attention at any Halloween get-together or party.
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