Friday, April 22, 2011

Project Ideas: Roman Soldier Costume

I have built a reputation among my family and close acquaintances of which I am particularly proud. I am the costume guru, the go-to girl if you have questions, need some help, or if you really just need someone to construct a costume for you. I made a wizard costume for my niece from a graduation gown and an oversize party hat, I helped my older sister make her headdress and cape for her She-Ra costume for Halloween, I sewed a silver and purple Renaissance style gown for my little sister's surprise LARP birthday party... you get the idea. And I love it! I live for this kind of thing. So, when my sister-in-law asked if I could help make some Roman Soldier costumes for her kids' Easter play, I said, "Yeah, baby, yeah!"

Normally if I am asked to make a costume, I do my supply shopping personally and take a few weeks to get the task accomplished. This time, I have been asked to make two costumes in less than 3 days with supplies procured by another. Alright, I'll take that challenge!

One piece of robot armor, two plastic robot shields, two brooms, some gold
foil bags, and gold spray paint. I supplemented this with some cardboard (duh),
hot glue, and some odds and ends from around the house.
With my materials laid out, I made my plan. Cardboard rounds for the shields, add cardboard to the breastplates, heck... I'll even make cardboard helmets.

This part Eli helped with. No, not the cutting, the tracing. We used a round
laundry basket to trace the circles for the shields.

We hot-glued the cardboard rounds to the plastic shields, making them look
more Roman-esque as well as allowing us to utilize the plastic handles.

All armor needs some sort of ornamentation, that's how the soldiers showed their status to inferior men. So, with a little more scavenging, I found some pieces that did the trick nicely.

This shield has a dragon emblem from one of my son's broken armor pieces.
The black "jewels" were beads sewn to a hand-me-down shirt that didn't
fit properly. Hot glue does the job.

Around this time, the baby started fussing, so I did what I could to appease her while working as quickly as possible. That accounts for the scarcity of photos from this point on. I supplemented the plastic breastplate with cardboard and constructed two helmets as well. When the armor pieces were put together, I painted them with gold spray paint. Any metallic spray paint will do for armor, but for this Roman armor a bronzey-gold was chosen. After the paint dried, I added skirts to the bottom of the breast plates and straps to attach them to the soldiers. The plumes on the hats are Christmas tinsel garlands and pipe-cleaners, also secured with hot glue. I constructed spears using broom handles and cardboard with duct tape wound around the spearheads. The sword was constructed in much the same way. I ornamented the armor pieces with squares of gold foil paper from the gift bags.

Here's the armory. By no means perfect, but not bad for 2 hour's work with
several interruptions from babies and the phone.

Eli graciously offered to model the armor for me, and would happily keep it if he were allowed.
This kid can't get enough of swords and soldiers.

With more time, I probably would have added some other paint to give the armor a more tarnished look, because we all know that real warriors don't have time to polish their armor. Also, it would be nice to add pauldrons and a cape. Maybe next time. But, for the time and effort put into it, I think it turned out pretty well. Good enough for a 5 minute stage appearance, and that was the goal. Hopefully the pint-sized actors will agree. (And the upside for me? I get to keep the extra spray paint and gold-foil bags to use on one of MY projects. Win-win, really.)


  1. This is great! THANK YOU SO MUCH.You are so talented

  2. Great job using the supplies you had in so little time! I love these kinds of projects, too. :)


  3. people are you are fatastic provide the rest of us with the inspiration we need thankyou SO much

  4. wow that is just what I need a good idea for a cheap costume for a church play thanks!

  5. Replies
    1. I cut an oval of cardboard for the top and wrapped a rectangle of cardboard around the back. I cut the corners to shape around the face. The plume was made with ribbon and a twist tie. Spray painted gold and held together with hot glue.