Light Up the Night: Quick Tips for Reflective Halloween Apparel

Try these tips out for adding some reflective qualities to your Halloween costume. 

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Halloween apparel and accessories offer an opportunity to create items that are not only fun, but functional. With so many kids and adults alike enjoying outdoor activities into the night, garments that provide extra visibility to keep people safe around traffic are sure to be a hit for the holiday. An easy way to add visibility is to use a true retroreflective material to create appliqué designs or as part of a base for patches.

You can purchase retro-reflective heat transfer vinyl that can be used with the tear-away appliqué method. To use this method, start by laying down a placement stitch, then a piece of heat transfer vinyl larger than the decoration area. Once the heat transfer vinyl is positioned, outline your design in satin stitches that perforate the heat transfer vinyl, and tear away the excess. This method is simple and requires no advance cutting or preparation of the vinyl. All you have to do is press the garment with a standard heat press after stitching to ensure adhesion to the garment. During this step, use a heat-press pillow to allow the stitching to sink away, ensuring even pressure.

Also make sure to leave plenty of the reflective surface open-the larger the reflective elements and the more surface area is free of stitching, the more visible the appliqué or patch can be. The rest is limited only by your imagination!

Other popular Halloween materials that may increase visibility are glow-in-the-dark and fluorescent threads. Two caveats for these threads: glow-in-the-dark requires recharging; while fluorescent threads glow under black light and are bright, but do not have the brightness of a retro-reflective material.

Mike Clark

Mike Clark is the editor-at-large for GRAPHICS PRO. Contact him at

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