Purple toga-like dress

Every year for a number of years (with one or two times I had to miss it) I attended a convention with a Roman theme.  The Friday evening festivities were particularly themed, with a toga party for the meet-and-great.  Each year I aimed to make a new costume – usually hoping to be somewhat in theme, but departing from the normal “bedsheet” which became a staple for the less ambitious.

I thought I’d share some of the process for the purple toga-like dress I made one year.

Initial sketch for the purple toga-like dress

The initial design sketch.

I wanted something that appeared to be one-shouldered, but wasn’t.  Simply because I can’t often get away with not wearing a bra unless I’m also wearing an overbust corset – so this design would have the impression of being one-shouldered, but was actually two.  I wanted a drape effect over the one arm too, and I wanted to take advantage of being able to bead and trim things as well.  My original design also had a silver waist band – but I thought this would end up being  too much fabric, so I skipped it for the final version.  The dress itself I wanted to make to coordinate with a beautiful purple velvet mask I have.

Purple fabrics for the purple toga-dress

The purple fabrics – the lining is just a plain purple silk, while the overlay fabric is a purple netting with attached clear/silver rhinestones.  Both of these fabrics were from Reena Fabric & Saree Centre – as an aside – I went to school with Reena!

Dress (on a way-to-small dressform)

The finished dress (on a too-small dressform, as usual).  The white fabric is an embroidered chiffon (I think from Fabricland, though I forget), while the arm-scarf is purple chiffon (also from Reena’s).  The silver fabric is dupioni silk – I think it was from an Indian fabric store as well.

Close up of the embroidered fabric

Close up photo of the embroidered chiffon, the netting with it’s lining, and the arm drape.

hand beaded on silver silk

On the silver I hand-sewed on silver bugle beads, silver lined clear seed beads, and purple “oil spill” seed beads – they have the effect of changing colours.


The arm drape is trimmed in the same beads, with the corners of the drape falling with tiny beaded tassels.

So, that was one year, another year I made a sheer white sheath (actually a Greek garment called a Chiton) with gold metallic threads running through it, (which I wore a sheer red, and then a red Indian Sari brocade scarf  – called a Stola) another year I made a similar one in a purple sheer with purple sequins (I had a purple sheer Stola for that one).  I actually loaned out the purple one, and still have to get it back!  I also made a one-shoulder gold silk dress with a gold corset to go over it, and have a steampunk-meets-gladiator costume in the ‘work in progress’ file.  Unfortunately, the event has changed a lot, and the time when it’s hosted I have some challenges to attend because of my current job’s annual schedule, so I don’t think I’ll be attending the next one in February 2012.  😦

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