Easy Thomas the Tank Engine Toddler Costume
I didn’t know what I was going to do for my son Sam’s Halloween costume this year. Then I saw a Thomas costume online for $25 when I was out shopping yesterday. It felt really cheap and chintzy when I pulled it out of the packaging (especially the hat); not worth what they were charging. But I knew a Thomas costume would thrill my train-obsessed toddler. While there are some pretty fabulous homemade Thomas costumes on the site here, I wanted something comfy that he could wear and play in all day at daycare, that wouldn’t be an awkward encumbrance. So I started thinking, and came up with this easy Thomas the Tank Engine Toddler Costume that you see here. If you don’t already have some of these materials to hand or can’t find the clothing components at a thrift shop in the right colors and sizes for your child, this costume won’t necessarily save you any money over the store-bought costume (even if buying everything at Walmart like I did). But it was fun to put together, and I think any Thomas fan will love it, including mine. I’m saving it as a surprise for Halloween; I’ll update with a picture of him wearing it and with his face made up on the big day.
This could be easily adapted in the colors of Thomas’s friends like James (red with yellow and black striping, number 5, black wheels – good choice if you only have black pants) or Percy (bright apple green body and wheels, red striping, red/black base like Thomas, number 6) if your child prefers, or if you’ve got multiple Thomas fans to costume. And it sure would be cute for the adult who’s taking the child(ren) trick-or-treating to dress as Sir Topham Hatt.
- “Thomas” (peacock/sky) blue plain hoodie (if you can’t find a hoodie the right color in the child’s size, shorten sleeves of a larger fleece hoodie with scissors – leaves room for layering underneath in cold weather) – I got mine for $12 at Walmart in XS ladies’
- Red fabric paint – the 3-D or “puffy” kind works nicely for this
- Red pants that are intentionally about 6 inches too short for the wearer, and black pants in the child’s regular size or slightly longer
- Various round items for tracing wheels and little circular windows (I used 2 different-sized bowls, a small glass, and a pill bottle)
- Pen or marker that will write on craft foam or felt
- Yellow, black (or grey), and “Thomas” blue craft foam or felt
- Sharp scissors
- Black marker or fabric paint
- Something to protect your work surface (newspapers, large garbage bag, plastic sheet…)
- Permanent fabric glue (preferably not the spray kind – makes a mess if you’re not careful)
- 2 large black, grey, or silver buttons
- Needle and thread for sewing buttons
- Grey and black face paint/makeup
- Black eyeliner or makeup crayon
- Optional: black or “Thomas” blue stocking cap, or temporary hair color
If you can trace, cut, glue, and sew a button (and get your child to hold still long enough to apply makeup), you can easily make this costume!
- Use red fabric paint to draw outlines along front of hoodie (see picture). I just free handed, but you could use a ruler and a marker to make nice straight lines to follow if you like. I recommend you practice a little on another surface with the fabric paint before applying to the hoodie; it’s a little tricky to work with. If you have some black fabric paint, you can make a couple small black outlines also (see picture) – optional. Let dry.
- Layer the short red pants over the regular-size black pants. If you don’t have a short pair of red pants handy, you can cut off the bottom of fleece ones without having to hem. Alternatively, you could use red pants that are the child’s regular size or slightly longer, and glue, sew, or attach with iron-on fabric interfacing, an approximately 6-inch strip of black felt, fleece, or other fabric to the bottom; this might be preferable in warmer climates.
- Cut out two small (for the front) and 1 large (for the back) number 1s from the yellow foam or felt. I drew them (backwards) on the back using a ruler first, then cut.
- Outline the number 1s with the red fabric paint, and let dry. Red marker might be easier to use to outline the foam, but I don’t think the colour will be quite as opaque and vibrant as the fabric paint I used.
- Cut out two blue wheels from foam or felt, approximately 5-6” in diameter. I used bowls and a ruler to trace the shape on the reverse of craft foam, then cut with scissors. An exacto, cutting board, and small ruler might have been helpful for cutting out the little interior triangles, but I managed with scissors.
- Outline the outside of the wheels with black marker or fabric paint and let dry. I used the black fabric paint on craft foam, but I think black marker would have been fine here.
- Cut out two small Os from the yellow felt or foam; I traced a small glass for the outside, then a pill bottle for the inside.
- Cut out two circles from black or grey felt or foam, just a tiny bit smaller than the outside of the yellow Os, then glue to the back of the yellow Os with fabric glue.
- Once all pieces are dry, glue the 1s and Os to the hoodie as shown in the pictures. Sew the center of the wheels with a button to the outsides of the black bottom pant legs. If using felt wheels, you will also want to glue them in place, as they will be too floppy to stay vertical.
- Draw a circle around the outside of your child’s face with black eyeliner or makeup crayon. Paint the inside with the grey face paint/makeup. Paint the outside to the hairline and jawline with the black face paint/makeup. Draw triangular eyebrows with the black eyeliner or makeup crayon. If your child will hold still enough, you might trace the eyes with the eyeliner/makeup crayon for a bit of definition – optional. Safety first!
- Top with a Thomas blue or black cap if desired, or temporary hair color – optional. (I found some hairspray in just the right shade of blue and plan to use it because it will be ridiculously adorable.) If you’re feeling more ambitious than me, you might fashion some sort of black steam pipe to affix to the top of a black cap – maybe with some black paint and a toilet paper roll, canister, or something? A black hat with steam pipe would be closer to Thomas’s actual “face,” but I couldn’t resist the hairspray.
Can’t wait to see my little guy’s reaction, and post the picture of him wearing this!