How to Make a Pope Costume

Written by theresek
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How to Make a Pope Costume
The flag of Vatican City in Rome where the pope lives (Vatican flag button image by Andrey Zyk from

The pope's basic attire consists of a long white gown, a short cape, a wide cumberbund-style sash, red shoes and a skullcap under a distinctive tall hat, called a mitre. For special occasions and liturgical events, the pope adds different garments of various colours. For this simple costume, red or gold fabric can be used for the cape and the sash. To add extra touches to the outfit, wear a large gold ring and a cross around the neck.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Man's white dress shirt
  • Red or gold fabric
  • White or gold cord
  • White cardboard
  • Glue
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Safety pins
  • Ribbon trims
  • Red shoes
  • Gold ring
  • Large cross

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  1. 1

    Make a long, white gown for a child or petite adult with a man's white dress shirt. A long-sleeve T-shirt or a long, white sweatshirt also works for a child or small adult. Use a white sheet for an adult-size costume. Fold the sheet in half horizontally and stitch under the arms and along the sides in a T-shape to form sleeves and the body of the gown. Cut a shallow circle for the head.

  2. 2

    Fit the man's dress shirt to the costume-wearer by tucking in the cuffs or cutting the bottom of the sleeves at the wrist. Cut off the collar and trim the shirt tails at ankle length. A belt will be worn to cinch the waist, so the width of the shirt need not be altered. The shirt can be worn with buttons in front or back.

  3. 3

    Create a short cape, or mozzetta. Measure the costume-wearer in a straight line down the chest from collarbone to elbow. Add 2 inches; this is the width of the fabric you need to make a short cape. Measure the costume-wearer across the top of the shoulders and the chest. Double the measurement. This is the length of fabric you need to make the cape, which will be gathered at the top. Choose white, gold or red fabric. Fabric is sold in 36- or 45-inch widths. Buy the length of fabric according to what you have measured. Cut the width of the cape plus 2 inches. Use the remainder of the fabric for a sash.

  4. 4

    Make a 1-inch pocket at one end of the length of the cape by turning under ¼ inch of fabric, ironing, turning under 1 inch of fabric and ironing again. At the ironed edge, stitch closed the "tunnel" you just made by hand or machine. To create gathering, thread a cord through the tunnel. Attach the cord to a large safety pin to help guide the cord through the tunnel. When the cord is through the tunnel, make a knot at both ends. Arrange the gathered fabric evenly.

  5. 5

    Use the leftover fabric to make a matching sash. Fold the fabric in half or in thirds horizontally to make a wide belt of 4 inches or more, depending on how much fabric you have left and the size of the wearer. Iron the fabric. When wearing the costume, pin the ends of the sash to the back of the gown.

  6. 6

    Use stiff white cardboard to make the hat, or mitre. Cut out two tall rectangles (12 inches more or less, depending on the size of the costume-wearer). Draw shallow half-circles ending in a point on the sides of each rectangle. Cut out the curves. Measure the person's head and add 2 inches. Cut a strip of cardboard of that length plus 1 inch and 3 inches wide to encircle the head. Glue the ends of the strip using the 1-inch overlap. Glue the two tall pieces to the front and back of the strip. Cut out two pieces of white fabric or cardboard, and glue to make "tails" at the back of the hat. Embellish the hat and tails with red or gold trim.

    How to Make a Pope Costume
    A statue with a mitre (pope statue image by Xavier MARCHANT from

Tips and warnings

  • Thrift stores, such as Salvation Army and Goodwill, are great places to find the materials you need for a costume. A red or gold dress with a gathered skirt could be cut apart and used to make the cape and sash for the pope's costume. Brocade or other fancy materials can be cut from other articles of clothing to decorate the hat and add trim to the cape. Find a long, white nightgown and your dress is already made.
  • Use wide, white grosgrain ribbon instead of cardboard for a more comfortable headband for the mitre.

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