Monday 29 November 2010

Nativity Costumes – A Tutorial

If you need to produce a set of costumes, here is a simple tutorial. NOTE – these are designed to fit easily over regular everyday clothes, and give an impression of first century Bethlehem fashions – they are not meant to look perfect. If you are outside, in December, it will be cold – so you need roominess to go over fleeces, woolly jumpers etc.
I have made mine from all sorts of leftover fabrics – sheets, curtains, old duvet covers etc. Three sizes – large [for tall men, and generously sized ladies] medium [smaller adults, and teenagers] and small [children] IMPORTANT - since this was originally written, it appears children are getting larger.Please make your 'child' rectangles 36" x 22". When you cut the third rectangle in half for sleeves, cut 22x18 rectangles,  fold them to make sleeves 18" long by 11" deep.
The pattern is based on a simple T shape
For each costume you need three equal sized rectangles of fabric. If you are using up remnants, you can make one of these a contrast fabric and use it for the sleeves.
Cut the third rectangle in half, and fold each piece in half. These are the sleeves [Folds are at the top]
Begin by seaming right along the top of the two main rectangles.
Now open up and sew the sleeves in place
Fold in half again and sew under sleeve seam, and side seams
For adult angel robes, cut a curved slit at the neck measuring 10” long and 1 “ deep. This will drop over the head easily. For children make the slit 7” x 1”
For coats, cut straight up the centre of the robe, making a V at the neck. Hem all edges which look like they will fray!
If you can make these on an overlocker, that will save hours. The sleeves are long – but they are easy to roll up – but will cover any ‘ordinary’ clothing underneath.
Put a safety pin inside at the bottom of the V, in case people want to pin the robe closed. Supply a few sashes [strips of fabric 2” wide and 60”/48”/36” long] as many people will want to cinch their rob in at the waist.
18” squares of fabric, with more sashes [1” wide, 36” long] will make easy headwear for shepherds, Joseph and Mary. Tinsel haloes for angels, and long strips of bright fabric wound round as turbans will do for the Magi. Don’t forget to wrap up some ‘gifts’ or find other suitable ‘gifts’ for the Magi to present. Sticks and toy sheep are useful shepherd props.
If you have more time, make some elaborate Magi head-dresses, and trim the edges of coats, and hems of sleeves with fancy braids and trims.
Here they are on a hanger. Pictures of them being worn will appear later – after we have done Get In The Picture!


  1. Oh I have something to contribute to a sewing post, Miss Almond. Oh please, please, ask me! If the wearer makes a fist and sets it on the neckline, that will magically be just the right size for their head! Small hem required but otherwise perfect!!

  2. As someone who many, many years ago wrote instruction sheets for Style patterns, I think your instructions are brilliant!

  3. Great! Thanks for such a good clear explanation of how to make a costume. I need to make one (or ask my mother in law if she is willing) so this is top!

  4. Thanks Mags for the neckline tip - that's a new one on me
    Sue - what a kind comment
    Chris - your MIL is obviously a saint!

  5. This is amazing, thank you! I have 3 days to make 20 costumes. This will be lifesaving. You've saved Christmas! :)

    1. I hope all goes well! Glad you found this useful

    2. Thank you so much - the costumes worked out fantastically for our church's annual Kids' Nativity play! Everyone loved them and they fit kids from age 2-10 perfectly!

  6. Thank you so much! Just found this having been asked to make a white and gold robe for our little granddaughter who is to be one of the twinkly stars at her school nativity 😘

  7. Thanks so much for sharing this.


Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!