How to Make a Roman Soldier Costume for a Child

by Freddie Silver

    If your little one has grown out of his more mellow Elmo and Mickey Mouse costumes, a Roman soldier getup might be just what you need for your rambunctious preschooler, whether it's for Halloween or simply to add to the dress-up box. Your little warrior is sure to look great and have hours of fun wielding his sword as he slays all the bad guys in his imagination.

    Items you will need

    • Measuring tape
    • Black or brown fabric, felt or knit jersey, about 1 yard
    • Tailor's chalk
    • Scissors
    • Ruler
    • Yellow fabric, 4 inches by about 30 inches
    • Hook and loop fasteners, such as Velcro
    • Sewing machine
    • Thread
    • Corrugated cardboard carton
    • 2-inch wide packing tape or duct tape
    • Old newspapers
    • Spray paint, sliver or gold color
    • Child's sandals in black or brown

    The Tunic and Belt

    Step 1

    Measure the width between your child's shoulders, using a measuring tape, if you can manage to get her to hold still for a few seconds. Record this measurement. Measure the length from the back of her neck to just above her knee. Multiply this measurement by two and record it.

    Step 2

    Cut a rectangle of black felt fabric the width and length of the measurements recorded in Step 1.

    Step 3

    Fold the rectangle in half vertically, aligning all the cut edges. Fold in half again, horizontally this time, so the fabric is now four thicknesses.

    Step 4

    Measure and mark a point 3 to 4 inches from the folded corner of the fabric along one folded edge, using tailor's chalk. Mark another point the same distance from the same folded corner on the adjacent folded edge. Connect these marks with a curved line to form the neck hole.

    Step 5

    Cut along the curved line for the neck hole. Unfold the tunic and slip it over your tyke's head to see if the neck hole is large enough. If it does not slip easily over his head, he'll let you know immediately. Cut the opening larger by another inch all around.

    Step 6

    Draw a vertical line at a 90-degree angle from the bottom edge on the front of the tunic, using a ruler and tailor's chalk. Extend the line 6 inches upwards toward the waist of the tunic. Draw another line parallel to the first line about 4 inches from the first line. Keep drawing parallel lines about 4 inches apart, across the bottom edge of the tunic front.

    Step 7

    Repeat Step 6 on the back of the tunic.

    Step 8

    Cut along the lines drawn in Steps 6 and 7 to create the fringe on the skirt of the tunic. Cut a "V" shape into bottom edge of each strip to form a pointed edge.

    Step 9

    Measure your tyke's waist. You might need to bribe her with a snack to get her to hold still long enough to wrap the measuring tape around his middle. When you do finally get the measurement, add 2 inches for overlap and record this measurement for the length of the belt. Cut a piece of yellow fabric, 4 inches wide by the recorded length.

    Step 10

    Stitch a piece of hook and loop fastener 1 inch from one of the ends of the belt. Sew the matching piece of hook and loop fastener to the other end of the belt.

    Leg Bands and Arm Bands

    Step 1

    Cut a long strip of black or brown fabric about 1 inch wide by about 2 feet in length. Cut a second fabric strip to match. Fold the strip in half lengthwise and mark the center point.

    Step 2

    Place the center of the fabric strip at the back of his ankle, if you can convince him to cooperate.

    Step 3

    Cross the two ends of fabric at the front of her leg and pull the ends up slightly so the fabric forms an "X." Bring the ends to the back of the leg. Cross the fabric ends at the back of her leg, forming another "X" and bring the ends to the front again. Repeat this crossing motion front and back until you reach the front of your tyke's knee. Knot the ends just below her knee. Trim off any excess length.

    Step 4

    Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for the other leg when your child allows it and before your patience runs out.

    Step 5

    Repeat the process from Steps 1 to 4, starting at his wrists, and ending just below his elbow, to make arm bands. Don't hesitate to offer more snacks or other bribes to gain your youngster's cooperation.

    Sword and Shield

    Step 1

    Flatten a corrugated cardboard carton. Draw a circle on one side of the box with a diameter of about 12 inches. Cut out the circle.

    Step 2

    Cut a strip of cardboard about 1 inch wide by 8 inches long to form the handle on the back of the shield.

    Step 3

    Fold back 1 inch on each end of the strip made for the shield handle. Tape these folded edges securely to the back of the shield using duct tape.

    Step 4

    Cut a rectangle from the cardboard measuring 15 inches by 2 inches for the sword. Cut a "V" shape into one of the ends to form the point of the sword.

    Step 5

    Cut another smaller rectangle of cardboard measuring 6 inches by 2 inches for the sword handle.

    Step 6

    Tape the sword handle to the sword securely, about 2 inches from the bottom edge of the sword, using duct tape.

    Step 7

    Spread old newspapers on the floor in a well-ventilated room. Spray the front of the shield and the sword with gold or silver spray paint. When dry, turn them over and spray the backs. When the paint dries and you hand these weapons over to your child, sit back and enjoy the pleasure she'll get from the costume.

    Step 8

    Ask your child to wave the sword and give a fierce look. Take photos immediately while the costume and props are still in mint condition.

    Tip

    • Complete the costume with a pair of black or brown sandals.

    Warning

    • Tell your little one that dress-up is for fun play, not real fighting. Warn him to never touch anyone with the sword, especially near anyone's face.

    About the Author

    Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images