12 no-sew Roald Dahl costumes

George Marvellous Medicine © Quentin Blake
Who doesn’t adore Dahl? Well, possibly the parent who’s just been told it’s Roald Dahl Day in the morning and every child in the school has to dress up in character! Create a costume in minutes with our easy Dahl dressing up ideas – no sewing required!

Willy Wonka dress up

Find a purple jacket or coat (you may need to buy some wash-in dye, but it’s really easy to use if changing from a lighter to a darker colour). Buy some thick ribbon, preferably white with spots, and tie it around your child’s neck into a bow tie. They’ll need a waistcoat too (with a plain shirt underneath); if you don’t have one you can use an old shirt and cut off the arms. They should wear green trousers or leggings and match the socks to the waistcoat.
If you can’t get hold of a top hat, make one by cutting a rectangle of black card and stapling to the correct size of your child’s head. Then cut a circle and stick to the top and make the edge with 2 semi-circle shaped lines of black paper. They’ll also need a stick to carry. Finish off the outfit with some golden tickets and sweet wrappers for their pockets!

Mr and Mrs Twit dress up

Perfect for the child whose default setting is ‘scruffy’! Backcomb their hair into a big mess.
Mrs Twit: Find an adult’s shirt or big child’s dress that you no longer need. Cut it along the hem and neckline to add to the scruffiness! Wear with black plimsolls. For added dirt-effect, dab brown face paint over their skin.
Mr Twit: Wear all blue (trousers and top). Again, cut the outfit to make it look suitably scraggly. You can make a beard using wool fastened to elastic and tied behind the head. The beard will need food in it – ask your child to draw and cut out different pieces of food and stick some in the beard using glue.

The BFG dress up

You’ll need some long flared trousers, a brown waistcoat and a big baggy shirt. With your child, make some big ears by cutting out an ear shape using pink paper, then stick them onto a head band.  Find a little doll to be Sophie for them to put in their shirt pocket.

Oompa Loompa dress up

Quite an easy one, but don’t try it if your child is sensitive to face paint as they’ll need to have a whole lot of orange all over their skin! When it comes to making up their face, you might also like to do white face paint on their eyebrows too, as in the classic film.
Clothes-wise you’ll need dungarees and a striped top to go underneath. Roll the dungarees up to mid-shin and find some stripy tights or socks to wear underneath. For shoes choose something soft like ballet shoes or trainers with a bow made of ribbon tied on top.

Grandpa Joe (Charlie’s Grandpa) dress up

A brilliant last-minute option (particularly if you can raid an older gentleman’s wardrobe and borrow from it!). You’ll need a flat cap, some old clothes (shirt, cardigan, trousers) and shoes and a walking stick. Make an over-sized golden ticket for your child to wave, too!

Matilda dress up

Another easy one! You’ll need a blue dress (quite baggy if possible, to add to the waif-like effect) and some shoes. If your child doesn’t have long hair, make a wig with lots of brown wool stuck to a headband. Accessorise by having them carry a book – you could even cover one of your child’s books with paper and write William Shakespeare / Leo Tolstoy on the front.

An insect (from James and the Giant Peach) dress up

Let your child go wild and use their imagination here, rather than sticking to exact insects. They could wear dark glasses for bug eyes and cover some fairy wings with black or white tissue paper for insect wings. Wrap pipe cleaners around a head band and have a long bit sticking up for antennae.  If they’re going as a fly-type insect they can wear all black, for something more bee-esque they could wear stripes. Finish with black plimsolls.

Miss Trunchbull dress up

They’ll need a large adult shirt (preferably brown / green) and a belt. Add an over-sized tummy with a small cushion; fasten on underneath the shirt by using the belt on top. Scrape their hair into a bun (or just slick back if not long enough). Have a stick too. Finish with some blusher all over the face – Miss Trunchbull is always red with rage!

George (from George’s Marvellous Medicine) dress up

The one to go for when your child decides to mention they have to dress up five minutes before the school run! They’ll need a red long-sleeved top and blue jeans, plus a big mixing spoon to carry. Done.

A witch from The Witches dress up

They’ll need either a black all-in-one or black leggings and a black long-sleeved top. Costume essential: some adult gloves, preferably black leather. If they don’t have long dark hair already, use some lengths of black wool tied to a hair band.

Fantastic Mr Fox dress up

They’ll need to wear all orange. Make a tail by using some orange tights and stuffing one leg with socks or cotton wool. Tie in a knot and fasten to a belt for them to wear around their waist.  Mr Fox is sometimes pictured wearing a blazer jacket, so if you have an adult one they could borrow that’d be ideal. Make ears by cutting two triangles in orange card and sticking to a headband. If they are happy to have their face decorated paint it orange, with white around the mouth and chin.

More World Book Day and other primary school dressing up ideas

Find loads more ideas to help you celebrate Roald Dahl Day, plus discussions about making Dahl Day fancy dress costumes on our Forums.

Photo credit: Quentin Blake illustrations from George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl, published by Puffin books. © Quentin Blake