How to Make a Renaissance Costume for Kids

Multipurpose Basic One-Dress Pattern for Kids’ Costumes

Making costumes for kids or adults to wear in a play or a pageant, or to a fancy-dress party, is a pleasant kind of sewing task since the garments don't require finely finished details—the costume's line is the most significant thing to accomplish. It takes much less time if you work with a fundamental dress or dress pattern that fits the person. Besides, an impatient subject normally won't stand still long enough for you to cut and fit a muslin pattern. Begin with a simple classic dress, robe, or suit, and alter it to look like a picture of the costumed character.

medieval dress

Princess, Peasant and Queen Costume from One Basic Dress

To make a Renaissance costume for a little princess—the Snow White dress—the bodice fullness is stitched to a stiffened under-bodice. A curved belt gives the deep, pointed bodice line needed; the belt is cut from cardboard and covered with fabric. The ruff is made of three circles of organdy (center circle 1-inch radius, large circle 8-inch radius) slit on the straight of the material, and the three it is sewed together.  They are then pleated like a fan and sewed to a ribbon, which anchored the ruff to the dress and protect the back of the neck. The skirt is lifted away from the hips by a farthingale, made from small paper bags, and narrow sleeves were added.

A basic dress becomes a peasant costume for an operetta with the addition of embroidered tape. A great variety of embroidered ribbons and tapes is on hand in fabric stores since these decorations have become so fashionable. The tape is sewn around the neckline and as cuffs on the puff sleeves. You could trim the apron with it, or maybe sew several narrow bands on a shorter skirt to go over the basic dress. This overskirt must be a bright, plain color. If you are making many peasant outfits, fancy tapes could be too expensive; bias strips of patterned cloth could be utilized instead. The once-popular lace-trimmed crinolines have been preserved in a lot of attics; one of these can add fullness and bounce to the skirt. Fitted boots are handsome with a peasant costume; but tights and ballet shoes are good, too.

A medieval costume for a girl playing a queen in a fairy tale is worn over a contrasting-color turtleneck knit shirt. The sash, almost three yards long, is made of silky brocade. The headdress is made in three layers. First, a bright silk kerchief, covering part of the forehead, is tied around the head. Then a white wimple is wound under the chin and secured on top of the head. Finally, a light silk veil, long enough to hang to the hips, is pinned on top, to float behind the wearer. A small crown is cut from cardboard and stapled together. Then it is shellacked, and painted gold.

Boned undergarments, hoops or wire frameworks, and a lot of petticoats added to the weight and grandeur of women's clothing until the age of central heating and liberation began in this century. Even children in advanced European countries were captive in tight-fitting bodices and ornate clothing. Today, our kids enjoy dressing up in long skirts and big hats, and little girls copy tight bodices by cinching belts around their waists. Adults have cried out over the feeling of elegance given them by the costumes they have worn—high, stiff collars, ruffles and lace, great capes, heavy clothing made of rich fabrics. With a basic knowledge of machine sewing and a pattern as a starting point, you can create costumes for all occasions that will be worn with great joy.


Also check out this blog post on How to Make a Dinosaur Mask




Designing and making stage costumes. [American ed. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 19651964

Gilbreath, Alice Thompson, and Timothy Evans. Making costumes for parties, plays, and holidays. New York, N.Y.: Morrow, 1974