The Roman toga is a popular costume, but rarely is it authentically recreated. The real toga evolved over time from a relatively simple cloth wrap to a huge and unwieldy mass of drapery. Elegant as it looks in old drawings and on statues, it was probably a clumsy article to walk around or work in. Keep this in mind when making your child's costume -- aim for the look without the foot-tripping mass of fabric, and your little senator will happily glide through his toga party.
Fold three yards of white cloth in half end to end to get a rectangle 90 cm (36 inches) wide by 1.37 m (54 inches) long. For very small children use 2 metres (2 yards) and fold to a 90 cm (36 inch) square.
Use a fabric pencil to draw a curve from the bottom corner of the folded edge to the outer edge at the top, and cut along that line so that when the cloth is unfolded it looks like a somewhat flattened half circle. The website Fashion Era, in its section on Roman togas, provides a good example so that you can see how the finished shape should look.
Sew a 6 mm (1/4 inch) hem (or use white seam binding) all the way around the cloth to prevent unravelling.
Dress the child in a large white cotton T-shirt long enough to hang to the knees. The T-shirt simulates the Roman "tunica" or tunic worn under the toga.
Wrap the toga around the child once or twice at waist level over the T-shirt, (depending upon the child's size and the cloth length), and then pin at one side to hold. Take the free end of the cloth around the front, and toss the end over the child's left shoulder to hang down in back. There is a good diagram showing the traditional way to do this on the togaboy website.
Sandals and accessories
Start with a pair of simple brown sandals with a heel strap. Avoid buckles--Velcro or elastic fasteners on heel straps give a more authentic look.
Fold ribbons in half, then tie or glue the centre fold of each ribbon to the centre back of the heel strap on each sandal.
Bring ribbon ends around from the back. Criss-cross them in front, then around theback, then in front again, going up the legs toward the knees. Leave enough ribbon for tying at the top.
Twist silk foliage into a ring to make a "laurel" wreath for a headpiece as a finishing touch.
For authenticity, use snowy white cloth -- the ancient Romans wore wool, but cotton and linen work well and are lighter for summer wear. Members of the senate wore a single broad stripe of deep purple on their togas to distinguish their status, but they were otherwise unadorned. If you want a stripe, sew a 5 cm (2 inch) wide ribbon along the outer edge of the entire curved side of the cloth so that it falls correctly when wrapped.
Tips and warnings
- For authenticity, use snowy white cloth -- the ancient Romans wore wool, but cotton and linen work well and are lighter for summer wear. Members of the senate wore a single broad stripe of deep purple on their togas to distinguish their status, but they were otherwise unadorned. If you want a stripe, sew a 5 cm (2 inch) wide ribbon along the outer edge of the entire curved side of the cloth so that it falls correctly when wrapped.
Things you need
- 3 metres (3 yards) of white cloth, 90 cm (36 inches) wide
- Fabric pencil
- Sewing machine or needle
- Thread (white)
- Seam binding (optional)
- Plain white T-shirt
- Small safety pins
- Pair of plain brown sandals (with heel strap)
- 2 plain brown ribbons -- 6 mm (1/4 inch) wide and about 90 cm (36 inches) long
- Silk greenery optional (small leaves but no flowers)