This Is the Birthday That Never Ends
Bait and Switch. BAIT AND SWITCH!

The DIY Green Ninja Costume of Fail

So. As you may have gathered from the million and seventeen point two times I have mentioned it, my children are pretty obsessed with the Ninjago series from Lego.

(Well, Noah and Ezra, anyway. Ike seems on the fence about it. On the one hand, you can't actually ride on any of the Sonic Raider Dragon Chopper Skull Truck Whatever The Hell things, unlike our ancient neglected Cozy Coupe which is getting a late-in-life chance at love again. He especially enjoys driving it off the step into our living room, Thelma-and-Louise style.)

(On the other hand, he very much enjoys chewing on the small rubber tires that come with many of the Lego vehicle sets and then multiple like rabbits throughout my house. If you ask him "What's in your mouth?" he'll obediently spit out an entire slobbery set of four.)

ANYWAY. While there are easily 4,230,402,293 different building sets and minifigures to buy at this point, Lego has not expanded the line to include stuff like party favors or Halloween costumes. You know, because responsible consumerism and un-stifled creativity and also to be a tremendous pain in my ass.

Ezra started asking for a Green Ninja Halloween costume in August. August! Which gave me plenty of time to ignore that request and assume that he would TOTALLY move on and chose something else closer to Halloween. 

When he continued to insist on a Green Ninja costume in September, I gave in and started looking at our options. And lo, they were not good. He had no interest in any of the non-green ninja options. He could not be talked into a t-shirt and headband. Someone on Etsy made a nice-looking one, but wanted $150 for it. And while a single mass-produced unlicensed knock-off costume existed, it was 1) not particularly convincing (read: ugly as butt), 2) pretty expensive for a cheap-looking polyester unitard, and 3) ALREADY SOLD OUT ALMOST EVERYWHERE.


Eventually my feeble peanut brain started working out a plan. I could buy a white karate uniform and dye it green. He could wear Noah's old green belt. I found a trick for turning a t-shirt into a ninja scarf. Add a gold-handled plastic pirate sword from a local costume shop and we were in business. Glorious, DIY craft-blogger business. 


I shopped around until I found a 100% cotton karate uniform since that seemed more likely to dye evenly than one with polyester or nylon. This meant ordering it directly from some random martial arts website instead of Amazon, and it took FOREVER. When it arrived, I was concerned that the size chart had been a little...misleading, because it seemed awfully small for something that was supposed be a 4T. It fit, but only just. But there was no time to wait for an exchange to arrive, so as long as it didn't shrink, it should work. 


Ezra's school is having a Halloween party this Friday night, so it was time to finally execute my World's Greatest Mother Nobody Tells My Kid He Can't Be The Green Ninja Foolproof Plan.

I dyed it twice: the first application colored it beautifully and evenly, but was a bit on the lime-y side. Another dye bath deepened the color, but it still wasn't quite in Authentic Green Ninja Territory. It didn't even remotely match any of the half-dozen green t-shirts I rounded up from Ezra's closet, and clashed terribly with Noah's green belt. 

But still. I held out hope that if I could just get all the pieces on Ezra together that it would be convincing enough. That he'd be okay with just going as the Greenish Patchwork Ninja. Worst case, I figured, I'd have to spend the next couple days gluing or sewing some extra embellishments on it to better match the stupid minifigure.

Noah took one look at the sad pile of karate suit and announced, "That doesn't look like the Green Ninja." 

Ezra heard this and looked at the suit, then me, then repeated, "That doesn't look like the Green Ninja."

"What do you mean? Of course it does! Don't listen to Noah. Let's try it on."

We tried it on. 

It had shrunk. MASSIVELY. A questionable 4T was now a definitive 2T. The sleeves hit Ezra just past his elbows, an inch of belly showed above the waistband of the pants...which were of course way, way too short for him anyway. And all the various ties and drawstrings were now a weird bright blue color and completely distracting because there wasn't enough fabric to hide them anymore.

I started to attempt the cool t-shirt-as-ninja-hood trick, but at this point Ezra was shrieking and pulling at the too-tight everything and demanding I take it all off, he didn't like it, he didn't liiiiiiiiike it. 

So the bad news is that I have no costume for my kid and two days to come up with something. (I don't even have any workable hand-me-downs, as Noah was in full-on costume rebellion at this particular age/size, and apparently last year's chef costume is too big of a step down in awesomosity after months of Green Ninja promise.) After showing Ezra every possible option — Red Ninja! Black Ninja! Batman! Spiderman! Sexy Spiderman! — on Amazon Prime, I think he may be warming up to Captain America, or at least an overpriced polyester unitard version of him. WHATEVER.

The good news is that I now may very well have the perfect toddler-sized costume for Ike.

Photo (75)




Party City has the cheap-looking unitard ninja costume on sale and it is in stock.


For what it's worth, I think it looks GREAT. Small. But great. I think Sensei Wu would agree with me that you used your full potential.


(To be clear, I'm the nerd. Not you.)

Thankfully my kid asked to be Zane. A white ninja costume was pretty easy to come by. Now I just need to figure out a way to add that dragon patch thingy. I'm pretty sure if I try to use an iron-on it will melt the cheap costume.

That hood idea is pretty sweet. Thanks for sharing. I'm totally going to be using it.

I keep saying that Lego is pretty smart in their marketing of the Ninjago series. Except for the part where you can't find any party supplies or costumes. (I had to come up with a DIY Ninjago birthday party too.)

Mom in Two Cultures

It's so good to know there is someone else out there with Halloween Panic. It's the same every. single. year.

Alicia Hendricks

Will that work? My son loves Ninjago and he wanted to go as Jay. I just got the blue one and voila! Jay. Or Jay-ish.


I have a theory. Ezra is a wizard in training and magically shrunk the costume so it wouldn't fit as you were trying to put it on...


Oh no! That's why I was so relieved my son wanted to be Cole ZX. Black fleece top/pants/ski mask from Target that he can wear all winter, plus a few embellishments. I hope to post a pattern for the vest/armor/whatever-the-heck-it-is in the next day or so for other moms similarly struggling to turn their kids into Nijago minifigs!


Oh my goodness, I am so happy I'm not the only one. My son declared he wanted to be a turtle, and I was happy because that sounded sooo much easier than the aligator he insisted on 2 years ago. Green sweatsuit, felt or fleece shell - easy right? Except nowher sells plain green sweatsuits anymore. At least, not online, and I'm not willing to go everywhere in town looking for one. Finally found them at and breathed a sigh of relief, then forgot about it for a few days. Went back to order from Hanes - backordered until ?ovember! What?! Luckily I was doing some closet cleanouts and discovered he had an old pair of green pjs I can cut the feet off of. Hopefully it will be good enough. Ugh, at least he's still too young to really care or remember. At least I hope so.


How about this:


Hit up your local LifeUniform store. They have green scrubs that can easily be cut and "sewed" using Stitch Witchery.


So thankful, my son wants to be the the blue ninjago. Blue karate outfits are readily available. Still working on all the embellishments, but that will come.


I'll run into the costume place near Eastern Market when I get the oldest after school today. And yes, I'm laughing.


Did you see this cardboard tutorial? Can you buy some green scrubs and cut off the bottom legs?


I fucking hate halloween.

Amelia Sprout

Green long sleeve shirt & matching pants (sweats?) Use black duct tape for the embellishments and the t-shirt trick for the hood. Duct tape is awesome.


Party City - $19.99


I had the same problem back in April. Because I couldn't afford a red karate suit, I had to buy a clingy red costume and sew gold embellishments on it...oh I'm glad it's all over. (He was happy though!) Just wait until your kids get into Minecraft. I can't find anything under $100 for that character either!


I'm so glad my two-year-old doesn't have an opinion about what he's going to be for Halloween. Thankfully I was brilliant and made last year's sock monkey costume in a size 3T that he was swimming in last year, but will fit him ok this year. I finally dragged it out of his closet and washed it today, and luckily all of the stains came out. If they hadn't, I don't know what I would do, because while I *might* have time to make or acquire him a new costume by this time next week, I'm currently 38 weeks pregnant and my nesting doesn't extend to Halloween costumes. (Making goody bags for his day care Halloween party, on the other hand, is totally in line with my nesting urges.)

cagey (Kelli Oliver George)

Thank the little baby Zeus, Arun wanted to be ZANE. Ugh.

Sidenote: I was pleased to find out that all of my years hanging out with Muslims helped tremendously in my abilities in Ninja Headgear Wrapping. Woot.


Green sweat pants and sweat shirt. Green belt . . . rest of the stuff like you said. Done. I bought this stupid Zombie Costume this year, could have MADE it, and I don't make clothes . . .

Call Me Jo

If you've decided that the green ninja is a no-go, then ignore this suggestion:
Green long-sleeved shirt, black fabric marker, folded cardboard (possibly spray painted) for shoulder pads, and Noah's green belt. You can always put a white t-shirt under it and slice the green shirt to mimic the front a bit more.


Delurking to jump in and add more costume suggestions.

Have you considered trying to make the costume out of a sweat suit? If you can't find green sweatpants and a hoodie, you could probably dye a gray one.

Pulling the hood up makes the top part of the mask, and you could have a band of fabric for the part that covers his mouth. It might be easier for eating/drinking/talking if the bottom part of the mask is quickly removable!


Everybody's DIY comments are super thoughtful, but there's just no TIME anymore! Good luck, Amy!


It looks like there might be a million overpriced ones on ebay.

Don't know if it'll help, but hopefully he'll be too excited about all the free candy too care anyway. Good luck =)


Go here:

They have all the colors.
Free 2 day shipping.
Maybe a few embellishments on your part to make it lego-y when he's not looking? A little yellow fabric paint around the eyes part of the hood and yellow gloves? Silver fabric paint in a grid for the chest?


OH crap. That's sold out til December. Well, isn't that fancy.
Sorry, good luck!


My kid made me make a hamster costume. I spent a lot of time muttering, "It only has to hold together for a few hours" under my breath. And I'm bringing safety pins. Good luck. I feel your pain.


Good God, hate Halloween. And I'm afraid to ask when the school Halloween party is, because I'm afraid the answer is going to be Friday of this week, rather than REAL HALLOWEEN, and I don't have the costumes ready yet. Both my boys (7 and 4) want to be minions from Despicable Me, and while a great deal of effort led to the requisite yellow hooded sweatshirts (and they had to be just the right SHADE of yellow, as my older son has the same eye for veracity as Ezra), I am finding it impossible to locate denim overalls for an average-sized almost-8-year-old. Next year, I swear I'm going to throw a catalog at them and tell them they can choose anything, anything, as long as I can throw down a credit card and be done with it.


Thank fucking GOODNESS I have two little girls. We went to the store, they saw "fairy costumes" and DONE. $19.99 each. Boom! :)


Boxes boxes boxes! Make him a real live mini fig! One largish green box, two shoe boxes for shoes, green pants and long sleeved shirt, a couple round foam flower thingies with green tagboard for the head . . . voila! Green Ninjago. This isn't great, but it was our attempt at a Lego Man costume - you could make yours way better.


Dude, I feel your pain (well, not quite as bad but close). For months my son said he was going to be Lightning McQueen. All of those costumes suck so a friend of mine agreed to make him a costume. She's making an actual car out of a box or something that he can wear. Totally awesome!.... except it's not finished yet and his school party is Friday AND, oh he wants to be a pirate now! I spent my lunch hour at the Consignment store and Michael's buying things to put together a make shift pirate outfit...I think I owe my own mother $1,000,000 dollars or something just in case I ever put her through this type of stuff (I'm sure I did and much worse!)

kim at allconsuming

Reason 568 000 why I can not abide by the infiltration of Halloween in Australia. Will.not.engage.


Would green sweatsuit/ kid sized scrubs work? I am currently making a "blue horse" costume for Kid A- she has to dress as a favorite character from a book on Halloween for school.


God, I'm dumb. I meant that i am using a blue sweatsuit to make the blue horse costume. Eric Carle's blue horse. Yay!


my 70 year old mother loves to tell the story about how she quit her part time job on halloween day because she realized she couldn't balance 4 kids and all that we were involved in. i LOVE this story. You rock. Your kids will have these awesome stories to share with their kids about how you tried your hardest to make that flipping ninjago costume. homemade costumes or pieced together costumes are so much more meaningful. and this all is such a learning experience for you and us. xoxoxoxoxo


So, my 7 year old nephew and I were coloring together and somehow the topic of parents came up. I say, "Everyone has both a mom and a dad, even if they don't live with them." Not even looking up, he says matter of factly, "Not Zane." I say, "Is Zane one of your friends? If he's a person, he has a mom and a dad." Slowly, the kid puts down his crayon and looks me dead in the and spits out emphatically, "Zane. Is. A. NINJA. He. Is. A. LEGO GUY. And. A. ROBOT. HE DOES NOT HAVE PARENTS." His tone made it very clear that I was the stupidest grownup alive for not knowing that.

He will be a red ninja, complete with polyester unitard. There are some awesome DIY Ninjago costumes online, but I'm just not crafty enough.


I'm so glad my son wanted to be a football player this year.

We had a Halloween costume fail a few years ago and I ended up making my daughter into a mouse an hour before trick or treat time. I literally sewed a white bath rag onto a leotard and called it "fur", and drew mouse whiskers on her face. I'm still on the fence on whether that was genius or just plain lazy. At any rate, she was happy, And this year? I am stuffing my very tall four year old into a cheaply made 2T Jessie costume because it is THE ONLY ONE AROUND HERE AND SHE MUST BE JESSIE. Yee haw cowboy.


If I could pause time I would totally sew Ezra a green ninja costume. Alongside the red one I'm doing for my own 4-year-old.

Also, BLAST YOU Ninjago and your culturally clueless grasp on my child's imagination.


I thanked all sacred and holy powers when my son (who would normally be completely intractable over something like this) accepted the mass-produced costume without hesitation, simply because we bought him a sword to go with it.

Didja see the new episode last night? All new vehicles, outfits and weapons. Let the search for the Temple of Light minifigs and Cole's Power Drill begin!


I'm with Jacquie...

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