How To | Very Hungry Caterpillar Costume

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Costume Eric Carle

We recently got the new issue of Pottery Barn Kids and my 2 year old son spied the Very Hungry Caterpillar costume and insisted that is what he wanted to be because it is his favorite book. (Previously he was sure he had to be Lightening McQueen.) Making a Hungry Caterpillar costume is way easier than a Lightening McQueen Costume. I lucked out and had a large piece of green fleece that was leftover from making a Peter Pan costume a couple of years ago. My total expense for this costume was $2 (I admit I have an unusually large stash of ribbon)! If you are making this for a little child you will be amazed by how easy it is to make your own costume and not buy one for $89 from PBK!

Below is a picture of the caterpillar toy we have and what I modeled the costume after.

How To | The Very Hungry Caterpillar Costume


  • Ribbon (varying thicknesses of red, yellow and green)
  • Green fleece for body (38″ wide x 26″ high)
  • Red fleece for hat
  • 9×12 sheet of yellow felt
  • 2 purple pipe cleaners
  • Thread
  • Elastic
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins
  • Fabric chalk or pencil
  • Safety Pin

How To:

My son is 2.5 yrs old and he is about 38 inches tall. The measurements I listed for the green fleece are based on him and are for your reference. You will want to measure your child to figure out how much fleece you need.

  1. Basically this costume is a big tube. I folded my fabric in half so that my piece of fleece that originally measured 38″ x 26″ would become 19″ wide x 26″ tall. When you have the fabric folded right sides together (before you sew), add cut strips of ribbon. Pin the ribbons in place so they don’t fall out as you sew. (Pic. 1 and 2)
  2. Sew along the long edge with a straight stitch.
  3. To create a gathered neck you will create a casing to thread a ribbon through. Fold over the top edge about 1 inch and pin. (Pic. 3)
  4. Sew along edge of fabric to form casing. Next cut two small slits in the casing so you can thread your ribbon through. (Pic. 4)
  5. Cut a 36″ piece of ribbon. Add a safety pin to one end and thread the ribbon through one of the slits. The safety pin will give you something to push on inside the casing. When you get the ribbon around to the other side pull the ribbon through the slit and take off the safety pin. (Pic. 5)
  6. Next you will cut arm holes. Lay your costume out so that the ribbon spine is in the center (Pic. 6). On each of the folded sides measure about 2 inches down from the top edge. Using a fabric pencil draw a semi-circle on each side of the costume. Keep the costume folded and cut out each semi-circle to form circular arm holes. (Put the costume on your child and make sure the holes are in the right spot.) If everything is correct sew a straight stitch around the arm holes. Keep the cut out circle shapes to make the caterpillar eyes on your hat.
  7. Now you will create a casing for each gathered section on the body. I did not have any extra fabric so I used a ribbon to create the casing, but you can use a long strip of fabric if you have extra from your fleece. You will want the strip to be about 1″ wide.
  8. With the costume inside out, pin each casing strip all the way around the inside. (Pic. 7) Space the casings equal distance apart. Sew along the top and bottom of each casing and leave a small unsewn opening on one side so you can thread the elastic through. Add a safety pin to one end of the elastic and thread it inside the casing. Push the elastic and safety pin all the way around to the other side until it comes out of the opening where you started. (Pic. 8) You will need to decide how tight you want the elastic to be, then sew the ends of the elastic together and trim off the extra.
  9. Repeat Step 8 for each casing.
  10. The body of your costume is now finished. If your ribbons are fraying, you can use a lighter to carefully melt the ends of each ribbon.
  11. I made my hat from a pattern. (I actually wasn’t very impressed with how it fit, should have made my own pattern!) It is made from three triangular pieces of red fleece.
  12. To create each antennae I folded a purple pipe cleaner in half, then twisted it together and folded over the end. (Pic. 9) When I sewed the hat together I placed the antennae inside and stuck the folded end of the pipe cleaner out a little sew they would catch in the stitches. (Pic. 10)
  13. I used the green circles from the arm holes and then cut a slightly larger yellow felt piece to lay behind each circle. I pinned each set on the hat to create the eyes and then sewed around the inside of the green layer and then around the inside of the yellow layer. (Pic. 11)
  14. Add a green shirt and pants underneath and you have your very own Hungry Caterpillar!

You can click on the images below and see them larger than thumbnail size.

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  1. Just looked at the Pottery Barn one, and yours is MUCH cuter! Plus yours actually looks like the Very Hungry Catepillar!

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  3. Thank you for the great tutorial. I just made this for my son and he loves it. I didn’t have the scraps of ribbon so I used 1″x3″ scraps of the three colors of fleece. I loved the look of yours with the ribbon, but the fleece looks cute as well. In my opinion this one looks much more like Eric Carle’s caterpillar than the P.B. one. Thanks again!

  4. Thanks very much for this. I’ve just made my son a costume based on your instructions, but using 3 layers of green net instead of the fleece (it was cheap, and they didn’t have any fleece in green). I used a ready made fleece hat instead of making one, with pipe cleaner antennae and large buttons for the eyes. It looks good not being worn but unfortunately I haven’t seen how it looks on yet as the intended caterpillar has fallen asleep!

    • Anne, I checked out your Facebook link (I kept your link hidden…) and I bet your son is thrilled with the costume, so cute!!


  5. Hi Alanna,
    I made this costume for my 1.2 yo and it came out both comfortable and charming 🙂

  6. Alanna,

    So cute! I actually have been looking for a caterpillar body just like this one, I already have the hat. Any chance you still have this costume and would be willing to sell me just the body for my guy? I don’t have time to make him one of my own. Let me know!


  7. I just wanted to say thank you for posting these very detailed instructions! The UK celebrates World Book Day today and my 13-month-old went to nursery dressed as the Very Hungry Caterpillar. I modified it a bit according to time limitations and what I had on hand – I used felt for the body and only did two casings on the body. I knitted the hat and antennae on knitting looms and attached felt eyes. Big success!

    • I am so glad you liked the costume instructions. My son still loves to wear his costume! Thanks for visiting my site.


      • Hi! I love this costume…great job!!:-) I am hoping to dress up my 4 yr old son as a caterpillar and my daughter as the butterfly this year for Halloween. Any chance you still have this costume and would sell it to me for a reasonable cost? I don’t know how to sew:-( Thanks in advance for your response either way!

        • Christie,

          I am flattered, but I have a 4 year old daughter who will be wearing this costume. This is one of our favorite costumes!! – Alanna

  8. Am making this right now! am down to the finishing touches and am wondering about antennas- I didn’t stitch it in (I missed that step) so I threaded it through, but the pipe cleaner is falling over instead of staying up right- should I just hot glue it around the bottom- any suggestions!?

    • I think I folded the pipe cleaner in half and twisted it, so it was basically two pipe cleaners. It made it thicker and less likely to droop over. But I think you are saying yours just has a lot of movement because of the way it is attached. Maybe stick it through further into the hat and bend the end over to sort of make a base inside the hat? Although that might make it uncomfortable to wear… If you have the two pipe cleaners twisted together you could untwist them inside the hat and point one in one direction and the other in the other direction and maybe hand sew a couple stitches to hold it in place. Hmmm, I hope it all works out. I would love to see a picture!!


  9. This is awesome- I have never sewn anything in my whole life, but this year my 3-year-old wants to be a woolly bear caterpillar for Halloween. I am sure with your great instructions and a few adaptations I can hand-sew him a great costume. Thanks!

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  14. Hi Alanna,

    Do you still have the costume with you? My 3 year old son has to wear one in his school on Oct 30th. He is really fond of the hungry caterpillar book and this year his school has a theme. They have to dress up as a character from a book and my son chose this one. I was wondering if you still have it and if you would like to ship it to me. Please let me know how much it will cost. We live in Seattle and my email id is ************. Look forward to hearing from you at the earliest. I have been trying to find this costume everywhere but can’t find it and I don’t know how to stitch :(.


    • Aarti,

      We still use this costume for my younger children!! I hope you are able to find something that will work!
      – Alanna

      • Thank you. I finally made the costume myself. Didn’t have a sewing machine so stitched the whole thing with hand (Thread & Needle). My son loves it.

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  18. Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial, when I saw it on pintrest I knew it was the one for me (well for my two year old). Not only did you share the step by step instructions, but photos as well, so generous, I know that takes time! It was easy to follow, quick to sew and turned out adorably.

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