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Original Three Clowns in One Optical Illusion Costume

I created this Three Clowns in One Optical Illusion costume for the first time with only two clowns about 15 years ago. Then I re-did it completely, adding the top clown. These photos are of me in our local Multicultural Parade in 2006. The reaction is awesome; everywhere I go in it, people just stop and laugh… then they laugh more when I wiggle around, especially if I pretend to be tripping (I’d clasp my hands over the bottom clown’s eyes, as if he couldn’t see and then wobble all over, balancing on one foot). It’s even funnier when I walk up stairs (not an easy feat!) because anyone behind had a very interesting view of “my” behind.

I chose clowns because I wanted to avoid sewing as much as possible (animals require too much work). I bought all the clothes at a second-hand shop, looking specifically for large print patterns and crazy colors. I used a long piece of wood as a frame, and stapled bent wire to it as support for the top clown’s arms. This costume requires the help of a 2nd person to get it on and to make sure the “blue pants” butt is fluffed up properly for the best effect.

Clown #1 (Top):

This clown has a full set of clothes, even high-top sneakers that I sewed on to the pants. The clothes are stuffed with newspaper and plastic bags. The legs dangle over my shoulders. The head is made from a white nylon stocking stuffed with cotton. I used iron-on patches for the blue part of the eyes and the lips. He is held upright by a long piece of wood, and his arms are supported by bent wire stapled to the wood. The wire worked well because it allowed the arms to bounce slightly when I walk, making him seem more life-like.

Clown #2 (Middle):

This clown is made up of my head and torso, as well as a pair of pants wrapped around my waist with the legs stuffed and dangling in the front. My jacket hides the fact that I’m not actually wearing the pants. The stuffing in the butt area is important as it makes it hugely comical. I sewed high-top sneakers onto the pants for feet.

Clown #3 (Bottom):

This clown is a head (another nylon stocking stuffed with cotton), and a sweatshirt with men’s shorts instead of pants. I used a shirt with buttons at the top so that it would be wide enough to fit over my legs. I used a belt to hold it onto my legs. I used a hula-hoop type metal band beneath the waist of the shorts to make his belly bigger. I sewed the pants to the shirt, and then added suspenders. The head is sewn to the shirt at the neck, and held upright by string hidden under my plaid jacket.

This costume has to be put on in a very specific order:

  • First I put on my top with a frilly front, and red socks and shoes (I can’t bend over once the costume is on, so I have to put my shoes on first).
  • I put on the bottom clown, which is essentially all one piece. I use a belt to strap the white/blue sweatshirt to my thighs. The head dangles at this point (see step 6).
  • I then strap on the top clown that is fixed onto the wood frame. The wood frame is held in place with 2 belts – one under my arms and the other around my waist for stability.
  • I wrap the blue pants (which are stuffed) around my back, bringing the legs to the front so that it looks like I’m wearing them. I use suspenders to hold them up. I use pins & string so that they stay on the bottom clown’s shoulders.
  • I put on my plaid jacket to hide all the belts and the fact that I’m not actually wearing the blue pants.
  • I then tie a string attached to the back of the bottom clown’s head to the belt around my waist so that it stays upright.
  • The last step is to pin the white/blue arms around the blue pants so that it looks like the bottom clown is holding on.


I created this costume for the first time with only two clowns about 15 years ago. Then I re-did it completely, adding the top clown. These photos ar

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