How to Make a Pope Costume

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Use red and gold fabric markers to recreate the papal cross.
Use red and gold fabric markers to recreate the papal cross. (Image: Gokhan Tan/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

It was Pope Pius V who broke the tradition of the popes dressing in all red. In 1566 he decided to keep wearing his Dominican habit (robes), and the tradition of seeing the pope in white vestments began. The pope still wears red for special events, but most days he is seen in a white habit, white skullcap and red shoes. Make a pope costume from a twin sheet and other craft supplies for a project, religious play or costume event. The costume is a quick project and requires basic sewing skills.

Things You'll Need

  • Twin white sheet
  • 8-inch bowl
  • Air-soluble fabric marker
  • Scissors
  • Yardstick
  • Sewing machine
  • White thread
  • Iron
  • Pins
  • 5-by-7-inch printout of a cross
  • Fabric markers
  • White poster board
  • Gold craft paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Stapler

Papal Habit

Fold the sheet in half horizontally by bringing the short sides together. Smooth the sheet out so you do not have any wrinkles. Fold the sheet in half vertically by bringing the top left corner over to match the top right corner.

Place the bowl upside down on the left top corner of the sheet. This will be the folded corner. Position the bowl 3 inches in on the fabric and trace around it. Remove the bowl and cut along the line.

Open the sheet to check that there is a hole in the middle of it. This will be for your head. Fold the sheet in half horizontally by bringing the short sides together. The hole will be along the top fold.

Measure 1 foot down the side of the sheet from the top. Make a mark. Measure the length of your arm. Measure the same length as your arm from the mark you made at a 30-degree angle toward the neck. Draw a line. You are making the sleeve for your habit. Place your yardstick at the end of your line (where the armpit would be) and draw a line back to the side of the sheet. You will have a triangle. Cut along the two lines. Repeat for the right side.

Fold the edge of the neck opening over 1/4 inch and press with an iron. Turn the pressed edge over another 1/4 inch and press again. Pin in place. Sew along the opening with your sewing machine using a straight stitch and a 1/8-inch seam allowance.

Flip the sheet so the right sides of the fabric are facing. Pin along the sides to secure the sheet. Sew under the arms, starting at the bottom of the sleeve and down the side of the habit. Stop sewing 5 inches before the end of the sheet. Sew using a straight stitch and a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

Turn the sheet right side out and press with an iron to flatten the seams.

Cut out the cross from the printout. Find the center of the habit and measure down 4 inches from the neck. Trace the cross onto the front of the habit. Place a piece of cardboard inside the habit so it is positioned underneath the cross. Use fabric markers to color the cross. Let the ink dry completely.

Take the two triangles that were cut from the sheet to create the sleeves. Fold and iron a 1/4-inch hem on all sides of the triangles.

Arrange the triangular pieces to form a capelet by placing the short edges on either side of the cross. Pin the top edges along the collar and sew to secure. The triangles will overlap in the front and the back.

Papal Hat

Cut a 14-inch square from the poster board. Fold one corner in toward the center of the square. Crease and unfold the poster board. Cut along the line to remove the corner.

This costume's hat is in the mitre shape, more recognizable than the skullcap in a costume.
This costume's hat is in the mitre shape, more recognizable than the skullcap in a costume. (Image: chrisdorney/iStock/Getty Images)

Decorate your hat with gold paint. Make a gold band around the base of the hat and a stripe going up the center. Let the paint dry.

Wrap the sides of the hat around your head so that it fits snugly. The sides will overlap a bit in the back. Have someone mark where the pieces meet. Remove the hat and staple the pieces together on the mark to secure the hat.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may choose to use a full or queen bedsheet for your costume if you are tall.
  • You can use gold ribbon to decorate the hat.
  • Pair the hat and habit with a pair of red shoes.
  • Wear all white clothing under the habit.

References

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