Making a costume: I got it wrong again

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Remember the blog post I wrote the other day about the costume my daughter needed for her school’s ancient Greek day? How it inspired me and how I was going to improve on my track record of creating duff costumes?

It wasn’t so simple. Despite all my efforts, this one also turned out to be disastrous adding to my list of costume making attempts that went very wrong.

What happened? What did go wrong?

Well, firstly, let me state that I was desperate to get things right on this occasion. I have a formidable track record of messing things up when making costumes for the kids.

The initial signs were good. I’d ordered a plain white maxi-dress that I was going to amend and turn into a himation, the dress-like item worn by ancient Greek women.

At my daughter’s suggestion, I had also ordered a pair of sandals. I’d bought gold trimming to decorate the himation and I knew exactly what we were going to use as a shawl to go across her body from the shoulder to the waist.

By the middle of last week, everything I’d ordered had arrived, well in time for the big day itself, which was yesterday. Everything, that is, apart from the maxi-dress.

Thursday and Friday came and went and by this point I was getting very nervous. There was added pressure as we were spending Saturday night with friends in Kent.

It had to arrive by the time we left for Kent. If it didn’t, I’d have to come up with a Plan B and very quickly.

You’ve guessed it haven’t you? It didn’t arrive. The centerpiece of the entire costume was still in a distribution centre somewhere.

Instead we visited our friends knowing we’d have to venture into nearby Sevenoaks on Sunday to buy something, anything, that could be knocked into a rough approximation of a himation. Sunday came round and hearing our plight, our hosts made a great suggestion:

“Buy a bed sheet and make a toga.”

Armed with this simply brilliant idea, we ventured into Sevenoaks to buy a single cotton sheet. Had it been a weekday, I suspect this would have been an easy task to complete.

Sevenoaks, however, is one of those rare places where most shops remain closed on a Sunday. Truth be told, I quite like this. The pace of modern life is fast enough so being forced to take things slowly for one day a week is no bad thing.

While I concede I’m in favour of limited Sunday trading, it did nothing to help me get the item needed to complete my daughter’s costume. Stores such as M&S and Robert Dyas, which I hoped would sell bed linen, either didn’t or had nothing in stock. The stores that sold clothes also sold nothing suitable.

Added to this, a parking meter took my money but issued no ticket. Unbeknownst to me parking was free on a Sunday, unless, it seems, you pay by accident.

As we were leaving Sevenoaks we noticed an out of town massive-huge-o-mega-plex supermarket. I dashed in and managed to buy a single bed sheet for £7.

I was greatly relieved as we now had certainty: Helen was definitely going to wear a toga and not a himation. From this point it was all going to be straight forward. It would simply be tied around her body and sewing wouldn’t be necessary.

You might be thinking this story comes to a swift end at this point. Oh no things have only just got interesting.

I got home and checked YouTube for instructions on how to tie a toga. Every result came back with the word Roman in the title.

I did a quick online search. Sure enough, we’d got our ancient cultures confused.

I ran down to the kitchen to tell Mrs Adams. Out of ear shot of the children, I wailed:

“Togas aren’t  f-insert-the-remaining-letters-here-you-can-guess-what-i-said-g Greek, they’re Roman.”

She doubled up in laughter. I was panicking.

There was only one thing for it, I was going to have to make a himation  from the bed sheet. My heart sank as this was going to involve a phenomenal amount of stitching and hemming.

Things got off to a bad start when I cut a hole for her head in the sheet. I’d made it too large and had to stitch some of it back up again.

After a lot of measuring and cutting I eventually had something resembling a himation. The gold hemming I’d planned to decorate the costume was instead used as a belt.

I also tied the shawl across her body and Helen tried on the sandals. Mrs Adams and I admired my handiwork.

Very little of it had been sewn and no hems stitched. Even so it looked reasonably good.

It was, by now, five o’clock in the evening and I’d had enough. Helen was happy and Mrs Adams was genuinely impressed.

I said it didn’t need sewing and Mrs Adams agreed. Despite the rough edges, I declared the costume finished.

Of course this only solved one costume dilemma. I was helping out at the event and had to had to wear a costume as well.

This is where I really fell down as all my efforts had been put towards making Helen look good. I’d barely thought about my own costume.

I had previously predicted I would end up looking like some kind of Demis Roussos impersonator. Alas, I didn’t manage anything that glamorous.

I simply got the half of the bed sheet Helen wasn’t wearing, cut a hole for my head, and used a head scarf as a belt.  That was it, I declared my costume made.

Costume, ancient Grrek costume, Greece, education, school, schooling, school project
My ancient Greek costume. It was more Knights Templar, but at least it wasn’t a toga. Oh, and yes, I was having a bad hair day.

It was more poor-man’s Knight Templar than knock-off Demis Roussos but no-one questioned my costume. I did, however, feel somewhat under dressed compared to the other mums and dads helping-out.

Despite my own problems, it was a great day. The kids all had a wonderful time and they probably learned more about the ancient Greeks than they will in any formal lesson.

I always find it’s great to meet your kids’ peers in school. You get a real feel for the place, what the kids are like, what they’re taught and how they’re taught.

As for the costumes, well, costumes and I simply don’t mix. That’s the reality of the situation.

Can you relate to this? Have you completely messed up a costume? Maybe you’re some kind of gifted tailor or seamstress and excel at this kind of thing? I’d love to hear your story so please leave a comment below.

6 thoughts on “Making a costume: I got it wrong again”

  1. I was laughing all the way through this as my children love a costume day at school, and whilst they have very grand ideas I’m not so dexterous in making their creations come to life!
    But it is fun for them to embrace the topic they’re studying with some dressing up & role play for the day.
    Helen looks great & I’m super impressed that you were true to history and didn’t just go with the Toga.!

    1. Thank you Tracey. Yes I think Helen would happily have gone to school dressed as Helen of troy if given half a chance. I also confess I did consider simply sending her to school wearing a toga but thought, no, this must be done properly!

      On a serious side, I agree with you. The kids embrace the subject and her classmates clearly enjoyed themselves. It was a great experience.

  2. Oh dear! John, what are you like! You just made it though! I’m glad we don’t have to make costumes at the moment! Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

    1. Oh Emily, you didn’t have to make a costume at Christmas time? Whatever, just be prepared: you will have ot make them as your twins work their way through the school system. Thanks for hosting That Friday Linky.

    1. It was all meant to be so straightforward Nigel. With my track record of messing costumes up, I thought I’d really go for broke this time but no, yet again it went wrong! Thanks of hosting That Friday Linky.

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