Cleopatra; cosplay/dress up day


 A man’s worth is not measured by his possessions, but by the goodness of his heart. “

Akhnaton; Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh

 

Ancient Egypt Day

I don’t know if historic dress up days are a school thing in the whole of England, for folks reading this and not knowing it yet, I am Dutch, but my kids school had theirs this Spring. Of course they asked me to create them something! And as Ancient Egypt is a subject in history I have found fascinating, the minute I saw things about it on TV when I was little, it was an immediate of course from me! The rich history, of the pharaoh’s, Ramses, Cleopatra, Nefertiti and of course Tutankhamun, the boy king, always wowed me. Their fashions always fascinated me too. Colourful and bold. There is still so much too, archeologists are discovering, it’s just fascinating stuff if you ask me! And in a way, what better way for children to connect to history, then to do a day like this. 😊

 

Cleopatra

One request was for a female pharaoh. The two most famous ones are of course Nefertiti, who doesn’t know of the bust depicting her? And Cleopatra, the last of the Ancient Egyptian pharaohs.

The ladies were as much revered as the males, powerful rulers in their own rights. So, off I went to make sure I didn’t miss details of how they dressed. 

Imagery

There is a lot of imagery out there, depicting the images archeologists have uncovered over time. And still are finding to this day! Linen was the fabric of choice mainly back then. Linen is a natural fibre, that keeps the body cool in hot climates. Light colours also reflect the hot rays of the sun quite well, which explains why back then, they would’ve chosen whites, creams etc, instead of darker colours to wear.

 

The fashion of the women pharaohs were also, of course, very rich in colours, jewels and gold. Pharaohs were considered gods or as close to gods as possible on earth. 

Linen

Researching the clothing, it was obvious that I needed to create something out of linen. A drapey, flowing linen. Who knew this would be very hard to find! Not to mention have quite a big price tag too! In the end, I found a viscose, pretending to be linen, with a very friendly price tag, at Pound Fabrics. I knew I was going to need quite a bit, as back then, they’d drape huge piece of cloth around themselves. To mimick that look, I was going to need quite a bit of fabric.

The pattern created for the wrap/draped dress, consisted of a similar way of pattern a circle skirt. I took a bodice pattern I knew fitted and drew lines to open enough to give the volume. Think of a hand fan. This would all give the item the drape it needed. The pattern pieces, of course, became huge! If you have a laminate floor, like myself, it does make life easier to get pieces these sizes cut out.

I did at first make life harder for myself, by thinking I could press the pleats into the pieces. To mimic the lines you see in the drawings made. But seeing that this was an impossible task, I decided to just do what I could and stop there.

Due to how the pieces were cut and the size of them, like with a circular skirt, I hung the pieces out for a good while, to get all the pull out of them. This means that the fibres, with the gravity, go down as far as they can and then basically stay in place. You don’t want a garment, you worked so hard on, to pull itself out of shape after having sewn it up.

Usekh/Broad Collar

While the pieces were left to hang out, I worked on the Usekh/Broad collar. The pattern was taken from the basic bodice pattern, to the width I wanted it. The appliqués I found online, on Ebay, from an American seller. I couldn’t find anything like them, anywhere in the UK. Please note, to always check customs rules when ordering from abroad, to make sure you don’t get hit with big import charges. The appliqués were the perfect design and size for what I wanted. It took a while for them to arrive, but it was very much worth it!

The appliqués have a glue backing, that activates with heat. I do always recommend placing a tea towel on top of the appliqué(s), to protect them from the hot sole of the iron. After sticking them on, I machined them too, as I personally notice the glue on the back of these things, don’t last that well. And you don’t want to end up loosing them somewhere.

The turquoise beads I found on Amazon and are hand sewn on. The bigger, golden gems, I found when I visited the Stitch Festival in London. The Usekh has poppers in the back, for easy removal of the item when it doesn’t need to be worn anymore .

Belt

The belt for the dress came about as I felt it needed something to uplift the whole item. I decided to use the golden fabric I have again, to make sure everything was in unison. The patch, with the eye of Anubis on it, I found on Amazon. It again has a glue backing, which helps with keeping it in place while machining it in place after.

The decorations are all sequins, pearls and ribbon I have accumulated over the years and came in handy with this project. They’re all hand sewn on. I created the illusion as if the belt goes under at the front, but it is actually a seam there. The belt has poppers under the patch and the part under there. This make it far easier to take it on and off. The sides are also attached by hand onto the dress, to make sure the belt can’t slip down while moving.

Headdress, shirts and leggings

The small headdress, was an item I found on Amazon. I liked the look of it and I thought it worked well with the whole image. 😊

To go with the item, I bought a long sleeve t-shirt, a short sleeve t-shirt and leggings, all-in white. As you never know what the weather does, it’s best to prepared of course!

Shopping List

The white viscose, mimicking linen came from Pound Fabrics

The appliqués from Patches Appliques and More Inc; via Ebay and Amazon

The white bias binding came from my little haberdashery; via Ebay

1 thought on “Cleopatra; cosplay/dress up day”

  1. Ineke Robbe-Ansems

    Wow, this really is a wonderfull costume, fit for a lady like Cleopatra! It’s clear you have good professional sewing skills (which, as you know, I don’t have). I enjoyed reading how you managed to get the result you wanted.

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