How to Make a Cleopatra Costume for under $5
Our grand-girl, Zoe, told me she wanted to be Cleopatra for Halloween and asked if I’d help her make a costume.
We talked about what she wanted it to look like: a long white dress with a “collar” out of something with gold or silver threads plus a headband “crown,” and a belt.
I knew we could make the dress out of a sheet and I immediately thought about doing the collar and crown from this apron (for a queen who wanted to look like she cooked but never set foot in the kitchen?) that I’d inherited from an aunt. The fabric, a very lightweight brocade, is shot through with lurex threads that makes it shine like a star!
We might have chosen to make the dress by draping and cutting, but I’ve been wanting to teach Zoe to make her own clothes and sew from a pattern so the $4 I spent on this project went to purchase one.
From there, Zoe pinned and cut the pattern, sewed the straight seams and ironed. (I sewed the curves. Too much ripping discourages a newbie.)
Once the dress was done we moved on to the collar. I used the facing from the dress as a template for the part that sits near the neck and measured out to each shoulder then added this measurement to the facing. The apron fabric is scratchy so I lined the collar with a piece of silk that I had stored in my sewing closet for 20 years or more! Added one snap to the back and voila!
For the belt, we gathered some gold fabric at the back. folded it in and sewed it down, then added two snaps to close it. Next we cut the original waistband and ties from the “apron” and folded this piece over the belt for an added no-sew decoration.
Next up—the crown. I had some stiff buckram-like material and used that to form a head band and the diamond. Once it was sized to fit Zoe’s head, we glued fabric to the front of each piece, then glued the two pieces together and added a couple of small stitches so the diamond couldn’t fall off.
In reference pictures, there seemed to be decorated braids at the front of Cleopatra’s hair, but I didn’t have any beads in appropriate colors. When I found some black beaded trim, it added just the right touch.
Finally, we decided she needed some jewelry that at least looked like it was worthy of a queen if not as quite as costly.
I dug out some gold paper candy wrappers from my crafting stash, and made a chunky ring and bracelet simply by molding the paper into the form we wanted. The charm for the necklace is a circular shell covered in the same paper.
The outfit was complete at a cost of $4 for the pattern. We used items that would normally have been tossed. Zoe launched her sewing career and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to teach her and see her joy in learning as well as wearing our creation.
The project took about a day to complete so there’s still time if you’d like to make one for your trick-or-treater.
Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, and founders of Green Halloween®.