A Roman Costume fit for an Empress

A Roman costume fit for an Empress

A Roman costume fit for an Empress

So like many families, the Chapple household is back! Back to work, back to nursery and back to school.

Whilst it’s crazy how quickly the little ones grow up, it’s also great fun watching them learn and grow. Our village school loves to have themes to encourage the kids to understand and embrace the world around them and time gone by. To help everyone to get into character they kick start the school year with a themed day, last year it was Stones & Bones so we made this fantastic cave girl costume.

The start of this term is no different and we begin our adventure into Roman times. I’m determined not to opt for an old bedsheet toga and a length of string. Instead we’re going to make Evie a roman costume complete with a roman dress with sash & belt, headband wreath and bracelets.

So for these makes I need the following:

Roman dress with stash
White stretch cotton (4% Spandex)
Golden satin
Gold ribbon & trim
Matching Thread

Roman bracelets:
Kitchen roll tube
Gold spray paint

Roman wreath headdress:
Plastic headband
Glue gun
Gold spray paint

I’m going to start where I feel most at home, making Evie a dress.

I take a dress I know fits her well, I lay this out on a sheet of paper and trace out the general outline shape for the top part. For the bottom part I’m going to make this longer so I just take the general measurements and lengthen it.

After a few adjustments I’m happy with the shape. I use this as a template to cut out both a top and skirt sections for the front and backs.

As this is essentially a dressing up outfit I choose to fold over and stitch the neck and arm holes rather that worry about bindings or facings. I do however add a few knife-edge pleats to the neckline front and back and a little zigzag stitch for decoration.

Next I match the front and back parts and join them on the wrong side at the side and shoulder seams. To neaten all edges after I’ve straight stitched them I go back along it with a zigzag and then trim away the excess.

My next step is to add a few knife edge pleats to the shoulders to give it a gathered look.

I join the skirt to the top by turning the skirt inside out and placing the top upside down inside it, so that the raw edges matched. Before stitching I gather the skirt into some more pleats. (There’s a theme here).

The skirt bottom is a simple single turned hem ready to be adorned with some fab golden ribbon trimming.

As for the sash, well for that what we needed was a large rectangle of satin, we folded the edges and pressed them well, then straight stitched and zigzag for a little more decoration.

To ensure that the gather over the shoulder holds we run a straight stitch across it, almost from edge to edge.

Accessories are more Gemma’s department. Within 30 minutes Evie and Gemma had created a golden wreath headdress & two fantastic bracelets to complete the roman costume.

Roman bracelets:

Draw a bracelet shape on the cardboard tube, you can do any shape you fancy, just try and keep the width even.

Next cut out your bracelet.

Place the bracelet on a large sheet of card or paper and lightly spray with the gold spray paint.

Leave it for a couple of minutes then turn it once to get to the underside and spray again. It doesn’t need much paint and dries within a few minutes.

Roman wreath headdress:

Begin by free cutting a selection of leaves from the felt. We used the first one as a rough template to try and keep them all a similar shape and size. Our headband could hold 16 leaves in total.

Once you have the leaves cut out, warm up your glue gun and stick one leaf at a time to the headband. Work in one direction building up the leaves on top of each other. I recommend you don’t cover the whole headband, leave approximately a quarter free on each side, so it is comfortable to wear.

The glue dries really quickly so that you can move straight on to the spraying. Using the same large sheet of paper or card, place the headband in the centre and spray one side until well covered. Leave for a couple of minutes then turn the headband over and spray again until covered. Because of the felt this will take longer to dry than the roman bracelets.

This really was a team effort!

Matt Chapple, Gemma, Evie & MaxMatt, Gemma & Evie x

The stitcher. A magnet for foolery & prankster at heart. Loves being creative, whether with some wood and a saw or with a needle and thread. Attempts to disguise his past time activities as manly pursuits, but is actually pretty handy at sewing!


  1. R 4 years ago

    Looking great! My son made me make him a toga the correct shape for his roman day last year, as he’d seen a diagram at school of what they actually looked like (https://prolificprojectstarter.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/toga-to-go/). I consoled myself that his sister can her turn wearing it this year (they’re one school year apart) but then it got lost and never returned! So when it’s her turn I shall have to remember this! I particularly like the bracelet.

    • Author
      Matt 4 years ago

      A roman costume has to be a staple for every school child, such a shame that you lost your son’s costume but at least you can have a go at making the roman bracelets for your daughter.

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