DIY Iron Man Costume

Iron Man

The Iron Man comic book and movie costume may be armor, but you don't have to be skilled in metal work to create a good suit. However, any costume that attempts to replicate the look of armor will still be a challenging endeavor. Focus on the most important pieces of the costume: the arc reactor, helmet, and color scheme.

Iron Man Materials

In order to assemble your Iron Man costume, you will need the following items:

  • Red craft foam roll
  • A long-sleeved red shirt
  • Red sweatpants
  • A hot glue gun
  • Large plastic bottles of various shapes and sizes, like soda and juice bottles, both smooth and ridged
  • One gallon plastic milk jug
  • Velcro pieces, both adhesive-backed and sew-in options
  • Spray paint in both red and gold colors
  • Varnish or a sealant
  • A white round bicycle reflector
  • Large pastic lid that fits your bicycle reflector inside
  • A piece of string or elastic
  • Scissors, shears, or a craft knife
  • Red winter gloves
  • Red boots/shoes

Chest Piece and Arc Reactor Instructions

Ironman Chest Piece
Ironman Chest Piece

Start to build your Iron Man costume with the chest piece.

  1. Roll out your craft foam in an area that approximates the size of your chest.
  2. Place your round plastic piece in the center of the chest and attach with hot glue. If you have any other pieces of plastic bottles that match the raised front portion of Iron Man's chest, spray paint them red and attach them around the central piece with hot glue.
  3. Check the fit of your chest piece by holding it up to yourself (or to whoever will be wearing the costume). Trim the edges of the craft foam to line up aesthetically with your torso.
  4. Use Velcro to attach the craft foam backed chest plate to your red shirt. Place several small pieces of Velcro at the edges and corners of the foam. For greater security, use adhesive-backed Velcro on the foam and sew-in Velcro to attach it to the clothing.

If you plan to make a costume that covers both the front and back of your body, you can attach the chest piece to a back piece with straps that extend over your shoulders made with craft foam. For added security, you can reinforce the foam-to-foam attachments with staples.

Helmet Mask Directions

Ironman Mask
Ironman Mask

Iron Man's helmet is one of the main features of the costume. To make an approximate version, use a one gallon milk carton that fits the general shape of the helmet. You'll be making a mask-like helmet to replicate Iron Man's full helmet.

  1. Turn the milk carton upside down.
  2. Cut off the back of the plastic jug that you are using, along with the "bottom" (spout part), so it covers the face and sides of the head.
  3. Place the helmet on the head of whoever will wear it. Approximate where the eye holes will be and mark these with a marker.
  4. Remove the helmet from your head. Cut out the eye holes with a craft knife.
  5. Punch a hole along each side, at the back. You will use this to attach the helmet with a piece of string or elastic.
  6. You may also want to cut some slits near your mouth to decrease moisture build-up on the inside of the helmet when worn.
  7. Draw the iconic pattern on the front of the helmet with a thin marker or pen.
  8. Paint using red and gold glossy paints. You can tape off the edges of the pattern to help ensure straight, clean lines.
  9. Apply varnish or a sealant to protect your work.
  10. Attach a piece of string or elastic to hold the helmet onto your head.

Body Armor Guidelines

Iron Man Costume using Plastic Bottles
Costume using plastic bottles

For the rest of the costume, you will have to use some ingenuity and trial and error. The plastic pieces you gather will be unique, so you will have to judge which ones to use for which parts of the armor. You can even extend your costume to cover your shins, the sides of your hips, and your back if you have the time and materials for it. The general procedure for making the armor is as follows:

  1. Cut the plastic bottle to fit to the body part using heavy duty scissors, shears, or a craft knife.
  2. Paint using either red or gold acrylic paint, depending on the body part. However, the thigh pieces should be gold.
  3. Apply varnish or a sealant to protect your work.
  4. Use Velcro or hot glue gun to attach various pieces to your red shirt and pants as described for the chest plate.


Not many costumers will make their own footwear. If you have a pair of red boots or shoes, you can use these. For something with more flair, you could consider pro-wrestling costume boots.

Iron Man also wears red gauntlets. Wear the red gloves to emulate them.

Where to Find Additional Costume Instructions

If you are a hard core craftsperson and want to make a more durable costume, there are a number of online sources to which to turn. Instructables has a full set of instructions that depict how to create a detailed replica using a printed paper pattern, fiberglass, and resin. Cosplay message boards and forums, like SuperHeroHype, can also make great resources.

Iron Man's arc reactor on his chest lights up. If you want to add another facet to your costume, you can build an LED-powered light source into the costume.

Dressed to Impress

Now that you have made your Iron Man costume, you will certainly impress everyone with your superpowered armor. Head to your next costume party, Halloween gathering, or comic event with confidence and have some fun as Iron Man.

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DIY Iron Man Costume