No sew nativity costume – make in 10 minutes

In the past (well, last year’s nursery nativity) I’ve just gone and bought a nativity costume because I just don’t have the time to sew, find patterns, spend a fortune on material and then have it end up looking stupid.  But this year N is a villager in his nativity play.

In his book bag there was a slip:

N – villager.  Needs a long tunic, belt, tea towel and band.

Ok, tea towel and band were easy enough.  I just needed to find a non-musty, non-crumpled one that’s not ‘grey’ from overuse, never to see white again.  And a band – bit of elastic would do fine, so he could just slip it over his head.  It was a shame we’d given away my mum’s old arabic head-dress from her time living in Saudi Arabia as a child.

But a tunic.  I didn’t really want to sew, so I debated using a pillowcase and cutting head and arm holes.  The only problem was getting that on and off.  N’s not as small as he used to be so I didn’t think a pillowcase would fit.

Second idea was a tabard style tunic.  I just needed a long piece of fabric (brown duly bought), fold it over, cut a head hole, pop it over the head and then tie round the waist with a piece of cord (we don’t do belts in our house).

It all was going swimmingly until I cut the hole out. N refused to try it on, so it ended up being too big.  I’d need to get the needle and thread out, and probably would need to sew up some of the sides as well to make it easier to wear.

So I was onto the stand-by idea.  T-shirts as tunics.  N is just about still short enough that I can get away with this.


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I bought a cheap men’s t shirt.  I debated buying the OH’s size then at least it can get used afterwards, but that would have drowned N width-wise, although maybe my brother can squeeze into a small instead.  Just a round neck t-shirt.

There’s no need to cut it, no sewing required.  Just put on, add a belt and the costume is ready.  They’re all in bare feet anyway, and I gave him a long sleeved t-shirt in a similar colour in case he needed an additional layer

It’s brilliant as well – choose different colours for different nativity play characters.

  • Mary – blue t-shirt, add white fabric or tea towel for head-dress.
  • Joseph – brown t-shirt,
  • Villagers / inn keeper / shepherd – t-shirt in brown, beige, darker colours. Or if you can find one with vertical stripes, that would work for a shepherd.
  • Wise men / king – bright jewel colours – just stick or sew on beading or braid to bling up.
  • Angel – white

Obviously if you’re a whizz with a sewing machine*, you could add on additional pieces, like a waist coat over for shepherds, or add an elasticated cinched in waist to make the t-shirt more fitted. But it goes to show that a DIY nativity costume doesn’t have to be a hassle.

You might struggle if your children are tall, but unless they definitely need to the floor costumes, they’ll do the job.

N was happy with his no sew nativity costume, and it cost me less than a fiver.  On stage, he looked fabulous.  It was just the right length, and I was impressed that the elasticated cord I’d tied for his headdress band worked well too.

If you can’t even do this version, just head to the shops and buy your nativity costumes*, or if you want to make more effort, check out the costume ideas at Rainy Day Mum

What are your children doing for their Christmas performance?  Have you had to make costumes?

Why not take a look at these similar posts.

advent calendar activities
ideal stocking fillers
alternative nativity plays
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  1. Great idea because the supermarket costumes aren’t fire safe. I threw out anything that isn’t fire safe and so using ordinary fabric is a much safer alternative. I am layering and cutting off arms and cutting up the front so I have long waist coats to go over the main tshirt. I am also going to add a bit of bling to the front of the kings waistcoats. A great idea thank you.

    1. Glad to inspire you Elaine. The waistcoats are a good way of making them a bit more interesting. Sounds like the costume will work out really well. Hope the performance goes well, Emma

  2. I will so have to remember this for the day I need it. I usually run to my mums for anything that needs sewing and luckily the school always provide outfits for the kids!

    1. If my mum was still here she’d have been my go to as well. I must learn to use my machine, but most of the time the supermarkets are cheaper anyway.

  3. How cute!! He looks adorable in his position in the nativity. And smart idea to get the Adult T-shirt instead of sewing 🙂

  4. Great costume! Luckily our nursery supply ours so I don’t have to make one but this would be perfect. X

  5. Gorgeous, he is so cute! Great tips there, handy to not have to pull out the sewing machine, I’m good with mine but most aren’t so this is a great post!

  6. Awww he looks fab. We were lucky as the school made all the costumes for our nativity. Boosh lucky me he he.

    1. Yep, I tried for that first. Annoyingly we had a (too small) shepherd costume, and a king’s costume. But no go. Definitely an easy version, and cheaper.

  7. Wow! that’s so cool! 10 mins Diy for his Christmas event show. That’s really impressive and simple. N looks great!

    1. Thanks Ana. Amazing what you can do thinking outside the box. Although definitely easier for smaller children. No idea what I’d do next year once he’s grown a bit

      1. Emma – you’ve just saved my bacon! Thomas needed his wise man costume by yesterday….. bright green t-shirt, some jewelled ribbon and a gold sash I had in the 80’s and job’s a good ‘un!

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