Thursday, 22 November 2012

How to make a 'good enough' Roman day outfit (on a shoestring of course)!

Life imitating art? Or the law of karma? The day after writing the blog post about the Bayeux Tapestry homework project, where I may have given the impression that the making of themed costumes is not one of my favourite tasks, Son brought home a letter.

It said something along the lines of: 

"Year 5 will be having a super fun Roman day on the x November. 
So that you have oodles of time to prepare your child's brilliantly fantastic costume 
and because we know that you will want to spend all of half term sorting it out, 
we are giving you plenty of notice.

Fast forward to the night before x November. No Roman costume. Son and I have been locked in a stalemate for two weeks. 

Son: Roman Gladiator! 
Me: No, toga made from an old sheet!
Son: Roman Gladiator!
Me: No, toga made from an old sheet!
Repeat ad infinitum.

The advantage of this approach is that when you're down to the wire, creativity sometimes triumphs, using what you've got.

Within an hour and a half of frenzied activity, the Roman Gladiator outfit had taken shape.

A helmet had been fashioned out of an old piece of cardboard, and covered with silver foil. We found some feathers left from one of the infamous Easter bonnet projects and made a plume.

An old grey pyjama top and the rest of the Christmas scarf (that had already been massacred for Harold's chainmail in the Bayeux Tapestry project) did the job as armour.

My best red Christmas napkins were sewn onto the bottom of the armour for the 'skirt'!

Son painted up a shield on more old cardboard and Husband helped him attach it to an old toy wooden shield.

In all honesty it was not the same as the version we could have bought for £15. There were better costumes walking into school on x November. But I'd be surprised if any of them had involved four people working to get the darn thing made in time.

Childs Roman Gladiator Costume
£15 costume from the Online Joke Shop

And I'm sure no Roman mother worth her salt, would have been using a hairdryer to get the PVA glue on her son's helmet to dry (I know, I know, it doesn't work) on the morning of the day she sent him in to battle. Or ironing his red skirt, whilst he was wearing it, begging her to be careful where she put the iron.

But it was good enough. And sometimes good enough is fine. I'm going to remember that this Christmas.


  1. I expect he looked the spit of Russell Crowe.

    Good enough is good enough.

    1. I've just checked Russell Crowe's Gladiator outfit on google images; I wouldn't be surprised if quite a lot of napkins were used in the making of that movie!

  2. I love making things like this - I did a whole series on my other blog (now closed) on cardboard boxes and toys to make for under a fiver. We still have "Robotie' in the loft, a box cum robot that all three boys loved in their time.

    Top tip for glueing in a hurry is to use a glue gun with those sticks you melt - instant fix!

  3. I'd have loved to have read that series! Robotie sounds great. For a long time we had a battleship made out of cardboard, with Grandad's assistance, that was very popular. Despite its sellotape watersealing, it just became too waterlogged and could float no more. And I shall definitely put a glue gun on my Christmas list!

  4. Good work! And you are teaching a valuable lesson to your kids, as well, on creativity and how to make do for these projects. Ordering up a costume online would do nothing in that area. Gotta grow those young minds!

  5. Absloutely! My son has really got the craft bug at the moment. He wants to make a Kermit puppet, and a soft toy snake for his cousin for Christmas. The snake should be easy enough but Kermit sounds a bit more of a challenge.