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Making a Child’s Dalmatian Costume & Makeup

Firstly, as a bit of a caveat, I AM NOT one of those mums. I’m fairly useless at most things mums are supposed to be good at and I’m not very “crafty” at all, however, I am a big believer that with practice and exposure to what other people do, you can do a half decent job making things for your children.

A case in point is birthday cake making. I am not very good, but I’m a darn sight better than I was 4 years ago, because I kept doing it, googling it, reading other people’s stuff, emailing cake suppliers on how to do things and they aren’t massive disasters anymore. I’m definitely not going to start baking for other people, but I can get by.

Making costumes is just about practice and imagination and most importantly, you have to feel a sense of achievement when you do it. These things get worn for a few hours and inevitably discarded, so if you are one of those people that think “Why did I bother”, then it makes sense to buy something.  I still buy stuff on the internet, sometimes whole costumes, because, you know, life is short and I don’t want to kill myself doing it all the time.  That all said, I do get a weird sense of achievement sometimes when I envisage how I could cobble together something and it all comes off.  So here it is.

My tutorial for creating a Dalmation costume.

Pickle was heading off to an “animal party” for her best friend and a Dalmation was her first choice. So we chatted about what we could do and this is what I did.

What you need:

  • Pair of  white leggings or tights (I bought white leggings from H&M)
  • 1 long sleeved white t-shirt (Again from H&M. It came in a 2 pack with a pink one, which will get used)
  • 2 sheets of black felt from a craft shop, art shop or stationery shop
  • Needle and black thread (you can used black stickers here instead of felt, no sewing option)
  • Ears and tail bought from Ebay (you can make your own)
  • Snazaroo face paints with white and black

I always look at these lists of items and heave a sigh of annoyance because they are often things that aren’t to hand. However, if it gives you one idea for one part of your costume, then it’s worth blogging about.  You may find something else works.

How to make your Dalmation costume.


Cut out some black shapes on the felt.  I did a few circles, few bean shapes etc. Pickle did a few as well. We did a few varying sizes and didn’t use all of them.

I got Pickle to put the leggings and top on and then picked the places to put the felt.  This was a good idea, because I didn’t want to put a spot somewhere that gets hidden (ie, too high on the leggings underneath the long length of the t-shirt). It’s also not good to put them somewhere like the knees  or elbows where it may be restrictive.

Once we found a good place, I CAREFULLY, did a few quick stitches right in the middle of the felt. Untidy. I didn’t care. This was just to hold them in place until she took the outfit off and I could add a few more stitches.  You could use safety pins if you have enough. I wouldn’t recommend normal pins, I made that mistake with some ballet shoes and she got stabbed in the foot despite us taking a lot of care.

This job took about 15 minutes whilst Pickle stood and watched telly.

Once all the spots were put in place, she took the leggings and t-shirt off and I sewed a few extra stiches on the periphery of the spots, just to hold them in place better.  How much you stitch depends on how long the costume will be worn or whether you want to keep it.  I ran a very long stitch on the underside all around it (it was as easy as doing a few smaller separate ones).  An alternative to stitching is to buy some black spots (or white and colour them in) and stick them on. This is a short term option, but perfect if you don’t think your Dalmation costume will be used again.  My daughter is obsessed with Dalmatians and it’s a unisex costume and my son could definitely wear it to a party or Halloween trick or treating. I have it on good authority they can be washed with felt on. Worth hand washing initially, but some felt can go through the machine.

I bought the ears and tail from Ebay as it just seemed easier. They cost £9 but were the more expensive option I saw. I saw  some for £5.  Alternatively you can attach two triangles of cardboard to a hair band and colour them in or stick white fur from a craft shop to them and add spots with a marker pen. You can also buy white felt and cut out four ear shapes, sew each pair together with an opening and then fill it with cotton wall and colour some spots on it with a marker pen. A tail can be made with a one leg of a pair of white tights, drawing spots on or using the black felt spots again. These were all options I found online, but to be honest, I went with the buying option as it felt less stressful.

Pickle finished off the outfit with a pair of white school socks and her black school shoes. Perfect!

Now for the face painting. 

Not as scary as you think. You get better with practice so if you are up for it, do a couple of practice runs. If there is a part of the face painting you can’t get right, then change it to something you can do, or skip it.  I used a template from the Snazaroo book, but adapted it. Pickle wanted black spots and didn’t want me to draw in a tongue.

Firstly, using a sponge if you have one or a brush if you haven’t, cover the entire face with white paint.

White facepaint

Then do some spots with your brush.  I made a couple of round ones and a few like the one on her forehead.  Put one on her right cheek high, one on left cheek low. One top right on forehead, one low on the chin on her right hand side and then a little one along her nose.

Dalmatian spots

Dalmatian spot

I then coloured her lower nose in a half heart shape and ran the line down to the top of her lip.

I then ran the black across her top lip like a moustache and with a flourish at the end. Adding extra flourishes.  I filled it in and then did a bit on the lower part of her lip. I also put some whisker dots each side.

Dalmatian Mouth

Next bit was doing the eyes.  I ran the brush from the inner eye, up and over the eyebrows with a flourish. I kept doing that, moving a little bit across each time and then filled in the spaces so the entire eyelid was black.  I then ran a line under her eye and out.  Do the same for both sides.

Dalmatian Eye

The makeup is done!

Dalmatian Face

At the time of buying the leggings and top at H&M I also saw a spotted cape with a cat hood on it.  I bought it and Pickle wanted to wear it with her costume, so we tucked the hood with the cat face on it,inside the cape.  You don’t really need it, but it did help finish things off nicely.

The finished product.

Child's Dalmatian Costume & makeup

I thought that as the makeup was so stark (the black and white) she looked a little bit scary, so this would be perfect for a Halloween costume I think.  I could have skipped the big black eyes, perhaps just doing a single stroke above and below, but I stuck to the instructions. If you have a younger child, you could definitely soften the look by skipping the eyes altogether.

So that’s it. You’ve made a Dalmatian costume. Not too difficult was it. If I can do it, anyone can!