Josephine Halloween Costume

They may not have learned their French history yet, but many girls would love dressing up in Josephine's glamorous Empire-style gown with period jewelry and a fancy updo. With a few clever tricks, you can produce this look with a needle and thread and a minimum of skill: Josephine's dress is fashioned from lengths of inexpensive cotton, with elastic to cinch the top and create a gathered bodice; another piece of fabric becomes the shrug and sash. Use crystal beads to make a choker, necklace, and bracelets fit for an empress.


Adjust the measurements below to make a gown for a younger child (our Josephine is 10) or an adult.

What You'll Need


  • Indian cotton fabric, 45-inch width, 8 yards
  • Basic sewing supplies
  • Elastic, 1/4-inch width, 2 yards
  • Gold ribbon (for straps), 1 yard
  • Metallic lace trim
  • Glass beads
  • Head pins
  • Round-nose pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Silver cord
  • Gold-tone ball chains
  • Rhinestone flower settings and rhinestones
  • Tacky craft glue, such as Magna-Tac
  • Decorative flowers (ours are metal-mesh)
  • Bobby pin blanks and metal combs


  1. halloween costume how to josephine

    For the gown, cut fabric into two 80-inch-long pieces. Place one on top of the other (the dress will have a double layer of fabric). Make two 3/8-inch channels for elastic by sewing 4 seams parallel to the selvage; make the channels 3/4 inch down from the top and 3 3/4 inches from the top. Sew the cut ends of fabric together (leaving openings at channels for elastic), making a wide tube. Use a safety pin to thread elastic through channels, as shown; adjust fit (our elastic is 21 inches long), and stitch elastic ends to secure. Tack gold ribbon in place for shoulder straps.

  2. For the shrug/sash, cut a 3-yard piece of the same fabric; cut in half lengthwise. Stitch pieces together at one short end, making one long strip; hem cut ends. To wear, center fabric over shoulders, then wrap it under arms from front to back and around back; bring fabric ends around waist to the front and then to the back again; tie ends in back to secure.

  3. halloween costume how to josephine

    For choker, cut metallic lace trim to 22 inches. Add glass beads: Thread bead onto a head pin; use pliers to make a small loop just above bead. Use wire cutters to cut off excess wire. Hook loop into lace trim. Add more beads, as desired.

  4. halloween costume how to josephine

    For bracelets, thread beads onto silver cord; knot ends. Or simply wrap ball chain around wrist.

  5. halloween costume how to josephine

    For necklace, following package instructions, glue rhinestones into the flower setting. String onto ball chain.

  6. For hair accessories, use tacky glue to adhere flowers to bobby pin blanks and metal combs.

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