All Aboard for a DIY Train Halloween Costume
By Sarah Ludwig

All Aboard for a DIY Train Halloween Costume


Why buy a kid's Thomas the Tank Engine costume this Halloween when you can build one? Using cardboard boxes and crafts supplies, follow this step-by-step guide to DIY a train costume for your child.

Made of durable cardboard boxes, this memorable train costume will last much longer than one night of trick-or-treating. Rockland County mom Sarah of Love the Ludwigs offers a step-by-step guide to crafting a Thomas the Tank Engine-style train that suspends easily from your toddler's shoulders for hands-free fun. Be sure to allot enough time for preparation and assembly as paint and glue will need time to dry.

You’ll Need:

  • 2 boxes – large diaper boxes are a good size
  • blue paint and black paint
  • foam paint brushes
  • Hot glue and glue gun; white glue; and a glue stick
  • Several large pieces of white poster board
  • Yellow and red cardstock
  • Cardstock printed with Thomas the Tank Engine’s face (optional)
  • 2 10-inch styrofoam wreath forms
  • 4 9-inch paper plates
  • paper towel tube
  • ribbon
  • brads
  • scissors

Cut an arc through two opposite sides of one of the boxes, and adhere it to the other box with the hot glue gun. One box should stand vertically and the box with the cut-outs should stand horizontally, with the cut outs facing the top and bottom of the structure.

love the ludwigs

Trace all box sides onto poster board. It’s a good idea to trace each large side in one piece rather than cutting out smaller pieces to help keep the two boxes together. Cut pieces out and use the hot glue gun to attach poster board to the boxes. Paint poster board blue and allow to dry.

When paint is dry, cut the Styrofoam wreath form and glue it on top of the horizontal box to form the curved funnel area. (Tip: Dip your knife into nail polish remover to make cutting the Styrofoam easier.)

 love the ludwigs

Cut additional poster board to cover the Styrofoam. Use the hot glue gun to attach the poster board in an arc shape, holding in place until it cools.  Draw a “1” freehand onto yellow cardstock or print out a “1” in large font on a separate sheet of paper to use as a template before tracing onto the cardstock. Use the glue stick to adhere the card

 love the ludwigs

Use the second Styrofoam wreath to trace a 10-inch circle onto poster board. Cut out the circle and use hot glue to attach it to the wreath. Paint both black all over and allow them to dry.  Paint the cardboard towel tube black as well. When both pieces are dry, flatten one end of the tube and sandwich it between the wreath and the train body. (The side of the wreath with poster board glued on should face outward.) Secure with hot glue and clamp pieces together until cool. If using, attach the cardstock cutout of Thomas’ face to the front of the wreath.

 love the ludwigs

Use the red cardstock to cut strips for the curved hood and other decorative accents. Glue onto the body and allow them to dry.

Paint four paper plates blue; let the dry before drilling holes in the center of the plates and along the lower portion of the train body where you’d like the wheels to go. Attach the plates with brads. Cut slits in the cardboard and attach ribbon to make suspenders so your child can wear the train easily.  A hat and a red bandana complete the classic train driver look.

 love the ludwigs

Rockland County mom Sarah Ludwig blogs at She lives with husband Adam and children Cole and Lulu.


Also see:

Clever DIY Halloween Costume Ideas from Crafty Pants

Easy DIY Halloween Costumes from Local Moms

Make a Boo-tiful DIY Ghost Costume and No-Sew Tutu