I love Halloween and I love recycling. So there’s no better challenge to give myself each year than to create a costume from upcycled goodness. This year I was inspired by my 10-year-old niece’s visit from the tooth fairy. I decided to upcycle toothpaste tubes to create this minty-fresh pleated skirt. And here, I’m going to show you how you can create it, too.

Project Steps

Start by collecting and cleaning 56 toothpaste tubes. I know that’s a lot of tubes. You can try your favorite dentist or find a school that has signed up for the TerraCycle toothpaste tube collection brigade and see if they have tubes to spare.

Carefully cut open each tube by cutting off each end and cutting a slit down the side. Clean and flatten each tube.

Cut each tube to 5” wide by 5” tall. If your tubes are smaller than this, then cut them to the maximum size that you can. Cut all of your tubes to the same dimension.

Use binder clips to clip 2 tubes together with the right sides facing each other. Sew along the clipped side and fold open. Repeat with 2 more tubes making a strip of 4 tubes. Cut this strip so it’s 16” tall. Reserve any scraps for the waistband in step 14. Sewing with toothpaste tubes works best when your sewing machine is on a wide stitch setting.

Repeat step 4 for your remaining tubes. You should now have 14 strips of 4 tubes each.

With the right side facing up, take your scoring tool and score each strip at 2”, 2.5” and 4”. Fold along the score lines so that the 2” and 4” folds are mountain folds and 2.5” fold is a valley fold. These will be your pleats.

Now you’re ready to start constructing your skirt. Take 2 strips of 4 tubes and clip them together lengthwise with the right sides facing each other. Sew along the clipped side.

To sew down the pleats, start at the top of each pleat and sew down 4.5”. It’s best to sew down the pleats as you go before your toothpaste tube fabric becomes too unwieldy.

Repeat steps 7 and 8 for the remaining strips. You will now have one long pleated sheet of toothpaste tubes.

Hold the pleated toothpaste tube sheet around your waste for sizing. Make sure it fits properly. Trim off any excess, but leave an extra inch for seam allowance for setting in the zipper. Reserve any scraps for the waistband in step 14.

Now you’re ready to set in the zipper. Fold .5” in on each end. Clip the zipper onto one edge and stitch it into place.

Open the zipper and clip the other side of the zipper onto the open edge. You won’t be able to turn the skirt inside out, so the easiest way to sew in the zipper is to run it the length of the skirt.

Once the zipper is set in, zip it up and cut off any excess zipper at the bottom. Run a couple of stitches along the bottom of the zipper so you don’t risk zipping the skirt apart.

To create the waistband, sew together scraps into a long strip that are about 2” longer than the length of the top your skirt and about 1.5” wide. My skirt was about 27” along the top, so I made a strip that was 29” long by 1.5” wide.

Measure and fold in each edge by .25”. Then fold in half lengthwise.

Clip this on to the top of your skirt and stitch in place. Leave about a 2” overlap at the end. Place Velcro® tabs onto the ends to secure the waistband. Now you’re ready to accessorize your minty-fresh costume.

For costume accessories, I had a pair of sparkly white wings that I got from a local thrift store. I also created a wand out of toothbrushes. Since no costume is complete without appropriate jewelry, I took toothbrush pieces and fashioned earrings and a necklace to wear with the outfit. Add a pair of sparkly tights and matching shoes and you’ve created your very own upcycled tooth fairy costume!