How to Make a Homemade Viking Costume: DIY Ideas and Instructions - Holidappy - Celebrations
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How to Make a Homemade Viking Costume: DIY Ideas and Instructions

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Make Fabulous Viking Costumes the Easy Way!

Welcome to my warm hearth! You can learn how to make a Viking costume here. Your homemade ensemble will be the envy of any party you decide to crash and plunder. Making these costumes isn't that hard and can be done without a sewing machine. It's the kind of costume that's especially good for large groups. Additionally, you can limit the cost of your Viking accoutrements by carefully choosing materials and accessories.

Here's a point-by-point list of the costume pieces that we'll look at:

  • Vest
  • Shirt
  • Belts
  • Arm/leg wrappings
  • Skirts or pants
  • Shoes
  • Jewelry
  • Makeup, face paint, and hair
  • Weapons
  • Hats
Here's our motley Viking crew, ready to go out and pillage!

Here's our motley Viking crew, ready to go out and pillage!

Making the Vest: Used Is Best

The best way to make the vest is by:

  1. Using an old suede jacket, fur, or faux-fur coat you own that is no longer regularly wearable, or
  2. By purchasing a used suede, fur, or faux-fur coat, preferably from a thrift shop.

You can find excellent, inexpensive specimens at your local Goodwill/thrift store or on eBay. Once the coat is in your possession, turn it inside out and remove the sleeves by cutting the seams with scissors or a special thread-cutter (available at craft stores).

If the jacket is lined, you'll have to remove the lining of the sleeve before you can remove the outer sleeve. If that's too much work, you can always simply cut the sleeves off. The vest only has to last for one night, after all!

A furred vest can usually stand on its own. To make a leather or suede jacket more interesting, use hot glue or a sewing machine to attach craft-store and thrift-store finds such as metal braided wire, shiny bits of metal, or additional bits of fur or leather.

While you're at the thrift store, keep your eye out for interesting jewelry, belts, or scarves that can be used as belts. You may even find helmets or plastic axes. You'll be amazed at what you can find!

Should you wear anything under your vest?

Should you wear anything under your vest?

Viking Shirt Options

  • Go Bare-Chested: If you're really bold (or if your vest closes all the way), then you won't need to wear anything under your vest.
  • Opt for a Plain Brown Shirt: If you do want to wear something, it's easy enough to create a simple covering. The easiest thing to do is to wear a dark brown t-shirt. You can typically find plain t-shirts at craft stores such as Joann's or Micheal's—or you may even score one while searching at a thrift shop!
  • Repurpose a Fleece Blanket: Another easy way to cover your chest is what we did in the picture above: we purchased inexpensive brown fleece blankets from Walmart (they were cheaper than the same yardage of brown fleece at the craft store, though that would work too). Then we folded them in half and cut a small hole for the head to create brown ponchos. Once you cover them with a vest and tie off with a belt or scarf, you won't even be able to tell it's not a real shirt!

The Viking Belt

Any sort of black or brown leather belt will work; even a leftover piece of fabric will do. This part of the Viking costume is very important, as it makes your vest look more like a vest and less like a leather coat with the sleeves cut off.

However, you will definitely get bonus points if you have a belt with any sort of embellishment or designs. You want to look like you're the toughest Viking on the block, don't you?

Don't forget when purchasing the belt that you'll need a larger size than you usually use. After all, it needs to go over your vest, which will add several inches to the required length.

Wrapping the leg coverings with strips of leather/faux leather

Wrapping the leg coverings with strips of leather/faux leather

Making Viking Arm or Leg Wrappings

  1. To make the wrist guards (vambraces) or calf wraps (greaves), measure and cut a trapezoid of faux-fur fabric (make sure to keep the calf bands loose so that they can be put on easily; you can wrap string over them to keep them on).
  2. Turn the fabric fur-side in, then sew or hot-glue down the matching trapezoidal sides.
  3. Turn inside out, so the fur is on the outside, and slip on!

Above is a close-up picture of the faux-fur leg wraps. I made long strips out of the leftovers from the cut-up leather jackets (with a little bit of sewing), and these were wrapped around the leg coverings in a criss-cross pattern for a little extra flair.

Faux Fur Is Your Friend: You can use faux fur for all manner of accents, from bands that go around the wrists and calves to a cape—your budget is the only limit! Save money by using faux-fur only as an accent or by finding faux-fur items in a thrift store and recycling them.

Making Pants or a Skirt (Brown Fleece Works in a Pinch)

You can use faux-leather fabric to make an easy, wrapped skirt for girls. Or you can sew or hot-glue the material onto an old pair of pants for a guy's Viking costume (that's assuming that you don't have any suede, leather-looking, or leather pants). Alternately, there are tons of great fabrics out there in shades of brown that look close enough. If you're extra adventurous and haven't done the vest part yet, you can grab a few extra yards of the fabric and make your own homemade Viking vests out of this as well.

Save the remainders from this material to cut into inch-wide bands to use as wraps around the coverings on your lower legs.

Viking Costume Shoes (Unless You Want Bare Feet!)

I wouldn't suggest buying new shoes for a Viking costume unless you really want to. Any brown, black, or tan boots should do the trick. If you absolutely can't find anything, try draping some leftover fabric over your shoes to disguise them.

If you do decide to purchase boots, choose a pair made of material that resembles fur or leather. Make sure that it will suit your activity—whether that be watching Halloween movies, trick-or-treating, or dancing the night away.

Nothing Like a Little Viking Bling

It's hard to find jewelry that is truly "Viking" without taking a trip to an ancient Norse tourist attraction. However, Celtic jewelry is popular; alternately, anything in bronze, silver, or black will do to add that extra oomph to your costume. Chances are you already own some jewelry that will work. Men can get in on the jewelry action too—remember, Vikings used to wear their wealth! Don't go overboard with Viking-themed jewelry, but necklaces, earrings, and armbands are nice.

Here's a quick list of items to consider:

  • Rings
  • Mjölnir (Thor's hammer)
  • Celtic knot jewelry
  • Arm bangles
  • Circlets
  • Silver or bronze jewelry
  • Earrings

How to Create a Cheap Crown or Circlet

Speaking about bling, you'll never guess how we made the "crowns" for the women! This is where real costume-making ingenuity comes in. We went to the hardware store and looked at the different types of plumbing fittings. They had different types of round strips of metal, and we found ones that would fit around our heads (they were only a few dollars each). Then, we simply had to remove a bracket that held the rings together and then wrap some leftover fabric around the joint. Voila! Stylish metal headbands without a lot of cost or work. Not something you'd want to wear every day, but fine for one night.

Do you need anything special for Viking hair and makeup?

Do you need anything special for Viking hair and makeup?

Viking Hair and Make-Up Ideas

  • Makeup: Above is my gorgeous sister in part of her Viking costume getup. We used minimal makeup: a little bit of eyeshadow and mascara. After all, a hard-working Valkyrie doesn't have a lot of time to spend primping and preening. Although she still wants to look her best when she goes pillaging!
  • Face Paint: Remember the blue face paint that Mel Gibson wore in Braveheart? Some warpaint like that is also an awesome option for getting into character and taking your costume to the next level.
  • Hair: If you can manage it, a braid or two are always best for your Viking costume hairdo. A ringlet, helmet, circlet, or crown will add that little extra pizzazz.
  • Beards: If you're a guy planning on dressing up as a Viking, you really ought to plan on growing some facial hair. Seriously, do you really picture the Vikings as smooth-shaven, or do you picture them with awesome beards? If you're not the type of person who can grow a beard fit for a Viking in a couple of weeks, you're a lady who happens to want a beard for the night, or if you just don't think that a beard will fit in with your current lifestyle, you can always purchase one. One note of caution: real or fake beards can be extremely warm and itchy! Don't say that we didn't warn you. However, the irritation can help you develop a characteristically surly Viking attitude.
Choose your weapon!

Choose your weapon!

War Hammer

With the recent resurgence in popularity of Thor, his hammer (or Mjölwernnrlnrrnwjur, as he likes to call it... or something) is one of the most-desired Viking costume weapons.

We used a plastic king's sword.

We used a plastic king's sword.

What Viking Weapon Will You Choose?

If you're looking to create a historically accurate Viking costume, you might want to try producing a weapon out of cardboard and tape, or even wood if you want to get really fancy. However, we found that a plastic sword had a great combination of durability and cheapness for our needs (the cardboard shields we created disintegrated quickly). Again, it all depends on how much time you want to spend on each individual part of the costume.

Great Viking weapons include:

  • Swords
  • Axes
  • Hammers
  • Knives

To be safe, be sure that your weapon is made out of

  • plastic,
  • cardboard, or
  • wood.
Time to enter the Viking fray—horns or no horns?

Time to enter the Viking fray—horns or no horns?

Did Vikings actually wear helmets like these into battle? According to this article from The Straight Dope, they most certainly didn't! However, the "horned helmet" has become the most recognizable symbol of the Vikings, despite this inaccuracy. It's up to you whether you want to be faithful to history or take a little creative license.

Alternately, a metal band wrapped with a bit of leather or brown fabric works as a more accurate headpiece. I actually bought some type of plumbing equipment shaped like a metal circle and bent it to fit my head.

In a pinch, you can build a Viking crown out of cardboard and shiny silver duct tape. Decorate it with odds and ends from the craft store.

There's been some debate as to whether people should wear horned helmets with Viking costumes because it's not technically historically accurate. Shout your opinion in the comments! Anyone can have a say (you don't need to be logged in).

Any last thoughts on making a homemade Viking costume for Halloween?

Dan on July 14, 2020:

It’s cute but horribly inaccurate. It looks like something out of the flintstones. I will and have done many Norse outfits but this is just pathetic.

Elaise on October 12, 2019:

I am visiting friends & they are insisting we go to a Halloween party. I am an introvert (don’t want to go). Looking over your article makes me think, just, maybe I can do this....

Rozlin on December 16, 2018:

I would really enjoy to be a viking

Asad Ullah on September 30, 2018:

yes this one is best post but its also funny i will try this in my life one time and mam this artical is also found at inspirewishes.com so its your website ?

mariebauer on December 08, 2013:

really really fun and interesting lens!

anonymous on September 18, 2013:

nice as visit

Bartukas on April 24, 2013:

Great costumes ideas :P also great tips

emmaklarkins (author) on April 01, 2013:

Thanks everyone for stopping by and sharing some Viking love :)

pillarcandles on March 23, 2013:

Great lens. I would enjoy being aViking

anonymous on October 24, 2012:

So much better than buying one of those slutty "viking" (if you may call them such) costumes.

Tony Bonura from Tickfaw, Louisiana on September 09, 2012:

Looks like fun, but I'm not really into looking like a Viking anyhow. I do know more than I thought I did about them though. So skoal, y'all.

TonyB

anonymous on August 19, 2012:

I'm not sure what's "viking" about any of it. Generic fantasy barbarian, perhaps. Viking, no.

loveamandastarr on August 15, 2012:

great ideas for upcoming MN VIKINGS football season. thanks!

LordNefarious on April 05, 2012:

My girlfriend and I love having costume themed parties, we once did a Space Viking costume party where I made a laser gun/battle ax. Awesome lens, keep up the great work!

Iudit Gherghiteanu from Ozun on March 06, 2012:

now i have everything to be a viking,grannies are wearing helmet?

flicker lm on February 24, 2012:

What a fun lens! I really enjoyed it. Especially liked the "Here's Our Motley Viking Crew" photo. :)

Shannon from Florida on February 14, 2012:

I love the ideas! My middle son loves Vikings & would love to make the Viking helmet! Blessed and liked.

emmaklarkins (author) on January 26, 2012:

@justholidays: My goal is to make awesome costumes like this the norm, one person at a time!

justholidays on January 26, 2012:

A homemade Viking costume is definitely a fantastic idea and the costumes you made look gorgeous! The kind of costumes that people absolutely need to see and get inspiration from.

norma-holt on December 12, 2011:

You have done a smashing job here and it's a nice subject, well written with some great pictures. Hugs.

Johnathan K on November 27, 2011:

beautiful lens, I like your style of writing...

chrisstapper on November 20, 2011:

This was a really cool lens! I will remember this for carnaval coming year!

NevermoreShirts on November 17, 2011:

Great costume idea - pretty authentic looking, too.

WaynesWorld LM on November 16, 2011:

Maybe a little (fake) blood on your weapons.

Nice lens.

anonymous on October 29, 2011:

my only concern is the belt. ideas anyone?

anonymous on October 27, 2011:

This was such a great post! So helpful, detailed, and well written. By FAR the best how-to costume post I've found online! Thank you and well done. I'm so excited to go buy material tomorrow to make this costume.

Thanks!

emmaklarkins (author) on October 23, 2011:

@anonymous: This is awesome! Makes my day to hear of people having a great time dressed as Vikings :)

anonymous on October 23, 2011:

Fantastic! Super love it.

sousababy on October 19, 2011:

Really well planned and presented. Thanks for making it seem so easy. Take good care, Rose

Julianne Gentile from Cleveland, Ohio, US on October 17, 2011:

Great ideas here! Thanks for the tips!

JoyfulReviewer on October 16, 2011:

Nice job with the instructions and photos.

anonymous on October 13, 2011:

Thank you for all these tips! I looked around my house and found almost everything I need to put together a Viking costume for my 7 year old son! He's going to wear my faux fur vest wrapped up with braided belt. It's really long on him but it looks authentic long. He has a cool nordic looking necklace and a sword to stick inside the belt. He's VERY excited and so am I!

mothersdayflowersmacon on October 13, 2011:

Really nice layout

VarietyWriter2 on October 11, 2011:

Nicely done with all the photos too. Blessed by a Squid Angel :)

anonymous on October 11, 2011:

@anonymous: Uffda Ulf! Korrekt. They were born with skis on, but horned helmets? Ouch!

KonaGirl from New York on October 10, 2011:

Wonderful homemade viking costume lens! *Angel Blessed* and I added you as a featured lens to my Adult Thor Costumes | Viking Costumes lens. Good job.

elyria on October 09, 2011:

Great Lens! So much great details and awesome photos, it really looks it's "doable"! Would be a nice, creative project to come up with your own costume. My friend once hosted a halloween party where only guests in home-made costumes were welcomed to attend and she strictly enforced her "home-made costume dress code." I am going to forward her your lens, she would most definitely love to dress up in home-made viking costume.

themeaparty on October 09, 2011:

Very neat - I went as a Viking a couple years ago, but not to the letter like you did ... but I did bring a can of Spam, if you get the reference ;-)

emmaklarkins (author) on October 08, 2011:

@alphamalesystem: Yeah, too bad we can't all be Vikings every year!

emmaklarkins (author) on October 08, 2011:

@FanfrelucheHubs: Thank you! Glad to be of service :)

alphamalesystem on October 08, 2011:

Cool lens. I don't think I'll be going as a Viking but if I was... I'd probably follow this lens to the letter.

iracer JLo on October 08, 2011:

Nice lens with really detailed instructions!

Shelly Sellers from Midwest U.S.A. on October 07, 2011:

Terrific instructions and photos! It looks like you all had a terrific night and loads of fun.

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on October 06, 2011:

Awesome Viking costumes. i love your pictures. This is the best Halloween costume page I have ever seen.

astaramay on October 06, 2011:

I am a huge fan of Halloween, and especially the dressing up part. Great Lens, very detailed.

anonymous on October 06, 2011:

I like these a lot, thank you! :)

emmaklarkins (author) on October 04, 2011:

@Diana Wenzel: Glad you liked it. I agree it's a fun costume - I almost want to do it again!

emmaklarkins (author) on October 04, 2011:

@Virginia Allain: Thanks!

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on October 04, 2011:

I can definitely see myself using this theme. Very creative and well-done. Thanks!

333ideas on October 04, 2011:

This is pretty cool! These would make good costumes for Halloween. I'm working on Halloween pages, but I hadn't thought about Viking costumes. Maybe I'll post one or two on my page. From 333ideas at www.squidoo.com/anything-to-save-a-buck

JackNimble on October 04, 2011:

Awesome Lens!

Bercton1 on October 04, 2011:

Good lens and nice fashion!

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on October 03, 2011:

I'm back to add a blessing to this detailed how-to-make-a-viking-costume lens. Well done! it will be featured on You've Been Blessed.

emmaklarkins (author) on October 03, 2011:

@KimGiancaterino: I did a little digging, and found a great article about Vikings and horns on The Straight Dope. I've added a link above!

KimGiancaterino on October 03, 2011:

Interesting comment below ... where did the horns come from? Anyway, you have done a great job on these Viking costume ideas!

emmaklarkins (author) on October 02, 2011:

@anonymous: Good point! We did discuss this while making our costumes. It might not be historically accurate, but it does make people automatically think "Viking!"

anonymous on October 02, 2011:

I hate the fact that people still discriminate against what kind of clothes my ancestors would wear WE DID NOT HAVE HORNS ON OUR HELMETS.

Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on September 23, 2011:

Very cool.

Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on September 23, 2011:

Love it!

emmaklarkins (author) on September 17, 2011:

@DuaneJ: Thanks! Definitely one of my favorite costumes :)

Angela F from Seattle, WA on September 17, 2011:

Looks like you've thought of everything in your Viking-fantabulous lens ;)

DuaneJ on September 16, 2011:

Sounds like a lot of fun, Emma! Well done!

emmaklarkins (author) on August 01, 2011:

@RhondaSueDavis: This sounds totally awesome! Sometimes it's just fun to get muddy sometimes. I think you should be proud, sounds like some very creative kids!

RhondaSueDavis on July 30, 2011:

My teen just did a double birthday party with some friends in the park. They brought nerf swords, shields, daggers, you name it, and played three versions of Zombie tag. It is summer and it rains a lot, and due to rain, they joked about switching to "Vikings". We watched from the dugout, and they got pretty muddy. Also third round of capture the flag was in the woods, more cover. It was a success and thought up by the kids. My kids also make costumes of video game characters. I am not sure to say I am proud to say my son is the owner of is own made wooden 5ft 8 inch long sword built onto his hockey blade.

anonymous on July 15, 2011:

This one on Viking costumes really looks fabulous and entertaining, and one can dress like a Viking in any party or occasion too.

emmaklarkins (author) on April 20, 2011:

@anonymous: Judging by the number of people who visit this site year-round, plenty of people want to dress like Vikings all of the time!

anonymous on February 22, 2011:

What a cool idea to ask folks to send you pictures of the Viking costumes they have made! I like how you did your Norelco sales module, very clever! All in all a fun lens, I'm from the land of the Minnesota Vikings, so dressing as a Viking isn't only a once a year for Halloween event. Fun!

Jhangora LM on November 13, 2010:

Never tried making a costume at home, but found the lens interesting.

Cynthia Arre from Quezon City on November 02, 2010:

Beautifully done lens with lots of unique, original ideas and suggestions! ~Blessed~

SofiaMann on October 26, 2010:

It looks very fun. Thanks for the idea.

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on October 26, 2010:

I'm glad you added the part about using a hot-glue gun. I'm phobic about sewing anything.

emmaklarkins (author) on October 26, 2010:

@anonymous: Awesome! Hope you have a fun Viking Halloween!

anonymous on October 26, 2010:

thanks for this, the advice was awesome, its so easy to make a viking costume just by nailing the basics. got my fake fur gilet, boots and weapons, now just have to make the helmet and bling it up!

emmaklarkins (author) on October 20, 2010:

Glad everyone found this information useful!

emmaklarkins (author) on October 20, 2010:

@jimmielanley: I think you're right, but the helmets have become such a part of the mythos, they're the most recognizable part of the costume! :)

Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on October 19, 2010:

Very, very fun. Kids studying viking history could also use your ideas. (But I thought the horned helmet was fiction. Vikings never actually wore those?)

squid-janices7 on October 17, 2010:

Since I live in Minnesota & Halloween is during football season, we get A LOT of people dressing up as Vikings around here. Great resources and instructions!

MarleneMarie on October 16, 2010:

These ideas really helped a lot! Thanks.

bdkz on October 15, 2010:

Congratulations! You've been SquidBoo Blasted. Happy Halloween!

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on October 12, 2010:

A Viking costume would be a lot of fun. I love homemade costumes! Lensrolling to my Gypsy Costume Ideas and Hobo Costume Accessories lenses.

DecoratingEvents on October 11, 2010:

You are talented! My mom is the seamstress in the family. I think you two would get along well. I can sew straight lines but that's about it. Good thing you don't need to sew for this Viking costume!