My four-year-old son wanted to be Sponge Bob, and he told me he wanted to be him, not just wear a costume with Sponge Bob printed on it. I could not find any ready-made costumes that met his approval, so I decided to create my own. I kept thinking, how could my son actually feel like he was the character? Always wanting a challenge, this was my first time to make an elaborate costume, and I am happy to share it turned out very well!

I used chair and mat foam that is about an inch thick for the body. I cut the front, back, sides, and top, after measuring my son’s body dimensions. I favored using foam glue, but it is more expensive than craft glue, and probably not necessary. I also glued foam above the mouth cut-out, so it would rest on my son’s head and his face would stay in the opening of the costume. That didn’t work quite as well as I thought because he didn’t like having it sitting on his head, so I added some elastic shoulder straps for the costume to rest on his shoulders. I wanted the costume to be as comfortable as possible, so he would actually wear it.

I used scissors for most of the foam cutting, cutting out the face and arm holes before gluing it together. I also “shaved” some edges with an electric knife to soften the overall shape, making the squared edges less boxy. I spray-painted the entire body with a can of yellow spray paint. Craft foam was used on all features (e.g., eyes, mouth, shirt and tie), and I added some dimension to the costume by creating a tongue sticking out.

The cheek accents, freckles, and outlining were painted on with fabric paint. Sponge Bob’s three-dimensional nose was created with Crayola’s Model Magic foam I molded into shape and glued to the face after it was dry. I dyed two pairs of girls’ white cotton tights with yellow Rit dye, cutting one pair to create fingerless gloves for the arms. I couldn’t imagine what a mess painting my son’s arms and legs would have been, so I opted for as many kid-friendly choices as possible. This is another reason I made the costume where his head was in Sponge Bob’s mouth: no face makeup needed and better visibility for the wearer.

With fabric paint, I painted a blue and red stripe on a white pair of knee-highs for Sponge Bob’s infamous athletic socks. My son wore a brown pair of shorts, we happened to already own for the bottom half of Sponge Bob’s “square pants.” I wadded up small socks and taped one to the top of each shoe, to create the round toe on the character’s shoes. After I put my son’s shoes on, he wore a pair of adult’s black crew socks over his shoes. When I dressed my son up and we put on the “shoes,” he commented that they didn’t squeak like Sponge Bob’s shoes when he walked. I laughed at such a particular detail I had overlooked, yet my four-year-old had taken keen note of it. If I had ever noticed the squeaking shoes, I could have added a couple of pet toy squeakers to the shoe bottoms. I will definitely pay closer attention next time!

We also opted not to carry a spatula, but that was only because of his age and he wanted to carry his trick-o-treat bucket instead. Overall, the costume was a huge success. So much a success, adults and children alike ran up to him thinking he was part of one of the trunk-n-treat themes at the church. We never expected him to gain that much attention and it took several minutes for my son to calm down from all the excitement. After he comprehended how much he appeared as his favorite character, he worked the crowd well for smiles and laughter. Several booth operators commented, had there been a costume contest, he would have won. My son’s happiness was proof my costume building attempt was a success. I can barely wait for next year’s costume challenge!