DIY Muscle Costume

*This post contains affilate links.  They are at no cost to you and simply aide in my craftiness.


 Every year I start brainstorming Halloween costume ideas early on. It’s no doubt my favorite holiday, probably because of the creativity involved and you can be anything you want!  Matching family costumes are freaking adorable so that’s always my plan. Although, this year my teenager didn’t want to participate.  His loss, because we looked amazing as the Family Freak Show!!  We went Halloweekend camping with family and friends (in September) so we got to test out our costumes before Halloween.  I’ll definetley be making some tweaks!


Past Handmade Halloweens

A few years ago we went as the cast of Back to the Future.  I constructed the entire DeLorean with cardboard, hot glue, paint and tape.  Most of our outfits were thrifted!  My floral jeans for Jennifer’s costume were perfect, buuuut about 2 sizes too small – so I added a panel up both legs to extend the size a bit.

We also did a Detective, robbers, and loot family costume.  I made my striped shirt, the masks and the entire money bag costume!

Last year my older boy wasn’t feeling the family theme and wanted to do his own thing.  Sad face.  He picked Spoderdude,  don’t ask.  Of course, my baby wanted to take after his older brother so he was Spiderman.  My man and I aren’t into characters but we still needed to coordinate.  I already had the bacon costume at home (thank you 75% off after Halloween sale from last year,) I just needed some eggs!  I taped flattened cereal boxes together to make a sturdy base and added foam and fabric.  BOOM!  Time for breakfast!

I also made my own Medusa costume, which is one of my favorites!  I spray painted snakes from the Dollar Tree and wired them to a headband.  Some were hotglued to bobbypins; I even made snake earrings too!  Here we are at another Halloweekend campground as The Bride of Chucky, Chucky, a Chucky Doll, and a weirdo in a mask HAHA!  I made or thirfted all of the costumes as well.


Anyway, this blog post is about this years costume – The Family Freak Show.  (I had to brag a minute about the others first!)

My fiance’ dressed as himself – The Tattooed Man, I was a Bearded Lady, and my toddler was The World’s Strongest Man.  Oh, we’re missing my teenager… he didn’t want to dress up AT ALL this year. Uhm, no.  Upon several threats and begging he obliged and wore a banana costume. I have no actual proof of this as he immediately removed the costume at the campground and disappeared with his friends.  Insert eyeroll.



I try to make all of our costumes simple, in that nobody wears face paint or masks and no props.  This year my fiance’ got off easy, he literally wore his usual clothes.  All the tattoos are real annnnnd he wore the septum piercing as a special request to make his “costume” authentic.  HAHA!!





My biggest task was to make the muscles for The Strongest Man costume.

I started with Pirates for Patterns YoHo Henley pattern.  I cut my sons usual size from Knitpop’s nude Double Brushed Poly so it would be snug over the muscles and really define them. For the lining (to hold the muscles in) I used nude power mesh I had on hand.


I had a piece of 1 inch open cell foam leftover from another project that I used for the muscles.  Using a muscle layout chart on Pinterest and uneducated guesses– I drew the muscle shapes onto the foam, making sure to number them along the way.  This helps to keep them in order and right side up.

Note:  I used regular fabric shears and they worked great.  I tried to use those cutter thingys in the photo and they were a NO.


Using a washable gluestick I attached the muscles to the mesh and placed the main body pieces on top, right side facing up.  Matching up all of the edges then pin/clip.  I even squished the muscles a bit and pinned those into place so they wouldn’t move while sewing.  Make sure to leave enough room around the edges for your seam allowance.

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Using a Zipper Foot (or whatever narrow foot you have) I sewed under the pecs first, down the middle, then down each side of the abs. Last I sewed the horizontal ab lines.

For the arms I did the same process with the gluestick/foam and sewed around each muscle indivuidually. Sewing between the muscles were by far the most difficult and time-consuming part!  But TOTALLY worth it.




The last step for the muscles is to sew up the shirt like the pattern recommends, making sure to catch both the lining and main fabrics!








Naturally, in September I couldn’t find any shorts to suit my needs so I copied a pair of store-bought my son already had.






The muscle tank was a loose variation of the YoHo Henley I used for the nude shirt.  I wanted it to be low-cut in the neckline and arms to display the awesome muscles I just created.  I decided to leave the edges raw and I love how it turned out!




The belt was cut from a scrap piece of marine vinyl.  I used permanent metallic gold marker to quickly write the words on – when I have more time I’ll redo it in HTV.  To attach the belt I added two rows of KAM snaps.

Add a fake moustache and The Worlds Strongest Man is complete!

I hope you enjoyed my excited rant about handmaking Halloween and more specifically the DIY muscle shirt!  Do you have and family traditions you love?  Share in the comments!

♥ Suzanna

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