My first-grade-aged daughter has a one track mind these days. There is only one superhero she is good enough to emulate: the Princess in Black! This monster-fighting princess is definitely one of our must read favorite characters. Using my basic sewing skills and online tutorials, I created a perfect ninja princess costume for her! Our Princess in Black costume is her favorite: it’s perfect for reading time together, but also for creative imaginative play.

My daughter loves dressing up as the ninja princess, the Princess in Black. Here's how we made our DIY princess in black costume, as inspired by Shannon Hale's early chapter books.

About the Princess in Black

The Princess in Black, aka Princess Magnolia, is a ninja princess. Most of the time, she is a girly princess who loves the color pink and tea parties with her princess friends. But when her monster alarm (disguised as a ring) goes off, she secretly becomes The Princess in Black! Using cool ninja moves and clever logic, the Princess in Black banishes the monsters back to Monsterland.

The Princess in Black chapter books, by Shannon Hale, are early readers perfect for kids able to read books like Mercy Watson and Poppleton, or those ready to graduate from Henry and Mudge. The chapters are short, and the vocabulary is mostly accessible to such early readers. My daughter loves the books!

There are now six books in the series. Number 6 comes out next month!

Adapting Snow White for a Princess in Black Costume

I am not by any serious definition a seamstress, and I was able to put together a pattern. The key was adapting a pattern already created! Snow White’s costume is similar in many aspects to Princess Magnolia’s Princess in Black costume.

Like our princess, Snow White has a cape. She has a bodice that leads to a flowing skirt. The sleeves are puffy with teardrop shapes in a different color.

Snow White’s costume is also vastly different from our ninja princess’s costume. First, it has multiple colors. Princess in the Black only needs black and grey (the lining of the cape, the teardrops on the sleeve, and the belt, which is not in the pattern at all, should be gray).

Snow White’s costume is also a bit too long. I cut the Princess in Black’s skirt much shorter, which meant I needed far less fabric than the other princess costume. Also, the Princess in Black does not need a collar, so the interfacing needed for a stiff collar was omitted as well.  Also, because mine is meant to be a costume, I also chose to not line the bodice, sleeves, and skirt as the Snow White pattern called for.

Finally, I planned to make a five-petal white daisy with a yellow center for a gray belt across my daughter’s middle.

My daughter loves dressing up as the ninja princess, the Princess in Black. Here's how we made our DIY princess in black costume, as inspired by Shannon Hale's early chapter books.Sewing a Princess in Black Costume

Here’s what I did get from the fabric store to adapt the Snow White pattern:

  • black fabric (the amount depends on the size you are making, but I got much less than Snow White because I did not need to cut on the cross due to the long skirt. I made the skirt as long as the black fabric was wide.)
  • gray fabric
  • fusible interfacing (for attaching the teardrop shapes on the sleeves)
  • black zipper
  • black thread
  • sew on hook and loop tape, for the cape

I cut the fabric using the Snow White pattern, starting with the cape, because that is the most fun to have of course. I lined the cape with gray fabric. The rest was black.

Then, I used the Snow White pattern for the dress, although I did not line the dress since this was a play costume. The bodice was all black, the sleeves were black, and the skirt was also black, albeit much shorter than called for.

I simply loved the fusible interfacing, which I ironed on, for attaching the teardrops on the sleeves. I also ran over the teardrops with some simple stitching to make sure it did not come off.

Making the Princess in Black’s Accessories

After we had a dress and cape, we needed the other extras to make this truly a Princess in Black costume. Specifically, I made a daisy belt, a mask, and a black hobby horse.

Here are the supplies I needed:

  • gray fabric and gray thread (for belt)
  • white and yellow felt (for daisy on belt)
  • black felt and black thread (for mask and horse)
  • black yarn (for horse’s mane)
  • light colored felt or fabric (for horse’s eyes)
  • red felt or fabric (for horse’s mouth)
  • elastic (for belt and mask)
  • hot glue gun (to attach horse’s ears)

Using gray fabric, I made an elastic belt to fit around my daughter’s waist. I found a page-sized pattern for a five petal daisy (you can google it too!) and I traced it on to the white fabric. After cutting out and attaching a yellow center for the daisy, I sewed it all on to the gray belt. My daughter slips the belt over her head and down to her waist.

A black mask was also necessary. I used a pattern I found online to trace a felt mask my daughter’s size, and I used black elastic as the strap. Because the elastic stretches, the hope is my daughter can keep wearing the mask as she gets older. Add black leggings and a princess tiara, and my daughter’s Princess and Black costume was nearly done!

But where would the Princess in Black be without her trusty pony Blacky? I was at a loss on how to make Blacky the Horse but my daughter was adamant. Pinterest came to the rescue. I found this amazing tutorial for making a unicorn hobby horse. Adapting it to black fabric, grey eyes, and a black mane was a no-brainer!

Mine came out much less Pinterest-worthy but we still love this addition to our costume “stables.”

My daughter loves dressing up as the ninja princess, the Princess in Black. Here's how we made our DIY princess in black costume, as inspired by Shannon Hale's early chapter books.Thoughts on Sewing a Costume

I learned sewing decades ago back in high school. My mom also taught me some basic sewing skills during my childhood. But over the past 15 years, I hadn’t sat at a sewing machine for any type of project like this.

Doing the project was not money saving. It probably cost me $75 in fabric and supplies (since I did not have a stocked sewing cabinet at all), plus we bought a sewing machine last year. This project was not a simple and quick one. It took up two months of my “free” time. But figuring it out and doing it for my daughter was a memorable challenge.

Starting on a costume was a great choice: there are mistakes but my daughter doesn’t care. She will use it for fun, and with clothes underneath it anyway. Sewing this costume was a great choice for a first big project: the black fabric and black thread mean that those mistakes are virtually impossible to see unless you look carefully for them! (I’m not sure my ninja daughter is going to slow down long enough for that to happen!)

If I can do it, so can you. I just want to say that because there were plenty of times I felt inadequate and yet by searching online I was able to find a video tutorial to walk me through it. The zipper, for example was not intuitive to me. But some how I worked it out!

A Princess in Black Costume

Even when the costume is not being worn, the Princess in Black is sure to appear in our home due to Blacky’s appearance. The hobby horse makes our Princess in Black costume all the more fun. So does the plastic tiara and the cape. The whole costume is not always necessary for imagination play.

Because of the great example of this ninja fighting princess in Shannon Hale’s books, my girl loves to read. Because of my homemade Princess in Black costume, my girl can act as her favorite super hero even when she’s done reading!

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My daughter loves dressing up as the ninja princess, the Princess in Black. Here's how we made our DIY princess in black costume, as inspired by Shannon Hale's early chapter books.

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