Because of the impending doom, er, Coronation, I’ve been getting pinged a lot here in the East on how I tie my chiton and get my Roman clothing to drape properly. So, I made this handy dandy 10 minute vid to help explain my method, as well as give a brief look at my new dark blue stola. I hope it helps.
The hubster needed Roman garb.
The hubster got Roman garb.
Isn’t he adorable? 😀 He looks so amused for a highly displaced 11th Century Norman!
Our upcoming coronation here in the East Kingdom is Roman-themed, so naturally, I needed to make sure that we were both properly attired. Rufus here (I’m calling him that because of his lovely ginger hair, good cognomen) is wearing a basic man’s tunic with green clavii and some machine embroidered Greek key on his hems, his kidney belt for fighting, sandals we found at Salvation Army (real caligae will be coming in the future since he’s quite bent on being authentic) and a 6 yard toga in the semi-circular cut. Nice and lightweight and easy for someone not familiar with the feeling. He still says he feels naked. 😉
They aren’t scanned fabulously, but heck, you get how they work. These WILL be posted on my Eastern Roman Garb page as well, but I wanted to get these on a blog page and tagged for searchability as I plan a better layout for the current page, but this is a huge step in the content direction.
Also, let’s try to start using the Greek terms, Kamision and Delmatikion, for Tunica and Dalmatica respectively to help disseminate Greek over Latin.
Anna’s Quick n’ Dirty Byzantine Kamision (tunica) and Delmatikion (dalmatica) Patterns!
These patterns are pretty self-explanatory for folks that are used to basic medieval clothing. Byzantine garb is basically all t-tunics, with only a few minor twists. The biggest issue is really the width of your fabric allowing for the nice curved underarm seam, that’s about it. These blocks are not the be-all-end-all ways to make these garments, but rather one interpretation to show you the pieces needed. Once you get a handle on the basic construction, all that’s left is embellishment and sleeve variations.
My pattern is based off of the 7th Century tunic in the permanent collection “Under the Stairs” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Kamision (Tunica) instructions:
Recommended fabric: linen or very light wool
Recommended yardage: 4 yards of 60” wide
First, assess your fabric, and see if you can use this pattern layout, note the positions of the folds. This pattern is not to scale, and the average sized person may not have enough extra fabric on the sides to warrant the inclusion of the gores. This is okay, as they can be cut separately.
A breakdown of the measurements you will need as laid out in the patterns, they DO NOT include seam allowance:
A: Tunica length. Measure from the nape of your neck to where you want the tunic to end.
B: 1/4th Chest measurement + ease. Typically what I do is take a chest measurement, divide it by 2, add 2 inches, and divide again by 2. That is your number.
C: Upper arm length has everything to do with the width of your fabric and not your arm. If you can fit the length of your upper arm (shoulder to elbow) here, that’s awesome, but it’s not necessary, you will want at least to the half-way point between your joints, otherwise your underarm will not fit.
D: ½ Bicep measurement. Remember your fabric is on the fold at the top for your sleeves here, so you don’t want this to be very wide against your body. Tunicae were fitted as dalmaticae were not, so you will want to adjust ease here as necessary.
E: Lower arm length is the difference from where your upper arm length ends to your wrist.
F: ½ Wrist circumference is actually ½ the measurement you get around a closed fist. You want to get your hand into your sleeve, after all.
G: Gore length is the measurement from the top of your hip to the desired hem of the tunic. Now, if you have a fine derriere, so to speak, feel free to elongate that gore to your waist, but the original tunic’s gore comes off the hip.
There’s a variety of formulas out there to make a neckline. I have a small neck at 13”, so my go-to cut is 4” from the center point on each side, with a 1” dip in the back and 3” dip in the front, but a 2” dip in the back and a 4” dip in the front should fit most people. A boatneck, or basically just a slit, is also a common style for this period. The tunica at the Met has a keyhole neckline with the opening on shoulder seam. I’ve done that before as well. I recommend finishing your neckline with bias tape or a narrow hem before moving on.
Before any piecing of the pattern takes place: GET YOUR EMBELLISHMENT DONE. There is no way to apply clavii to a tunica once those side seams are in place. Get any roundels or segmentae you want on as well. It’s just easier to handle at this point.
Follow the diagram on the piecing. If you are going with the smaller gores if you were able to cut it from the folded fabric, follow the illustration at top, if you cut gores from a separate piece, follow the bottom. Apply trim over the seams where the upper sleeve joins the lower sleeve. This is definitely something else you want to do before you sew up the side seams.
Now all that is left is to join the front to the back along the side seams, hem the sleeves and bottom, and finish trims, and you’re done!
Delmatikion (Dalmatica) instructions:
Recommended fabric: Linen, silk, damasks/brocades, light to medium weight wool
Recommended yardage: 5 yards of 60” wide
Think of the Dalmatica as an oversized tunica, but as the tunica can be worn by itself as one layer, the dalmatica is an overtunic only. This is a unisex garment, and sometimes for women you may see it referred to as a “gunna.” Either way, this is where you really get to jazz up your wardrobe. They can be floor length or short enough to show off your tunica embellishments.
Sleeves can be short, long, or extra-wide as was the style in the 11th and 12th centuries when my persona lived. The only real difference is that typically the dalmatica was cut from one piece of fabric, including the skirt width, whereas the tunica had gores. However, gores are still a perfectly period option in the event of a smaller bolt width. Follow the instructions as laid out above for the tunica, and you should be in good shape. As far as embellishments go, the best way to go about this is to follow some period examples. Clavii didn’t seem as popular on dalmaticae as the centuries progressed, and richness was displayed not so much with embroidered bands of trim but rather in the heavy silk damasks and brocades that were in fashion. My drawings including clavii to better illustrate how to embellish.
Note that I included a curve at the edge of the skirt portion in order to better facilitate trim application on the dalmatica’s hem. This is optional, especially if separate gores are chosen, but note that wide trims will require careful piecing and pleating to better conform to the hem.
Just like in the Tunica instructions, remember you NEED to add any embellishment such as clavii and other appliques BEFORE you close the side seams.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people emulating this look from the “Byzantine Fashions” Dover Coloring Book by Tom Tierney and “Ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Costume” by Mary G. Houston.
First of all, I want to say I have no issue with the images presented by Dover. They usually do a good job, but they have a hard time backing up their sources. When asked about that particular clothing style, especially the belt, I had no idea what their source was, and upon asking others, I got a lot of shrugs and odd statements such as, “Oh, the book says it’s a princess/prostitute/ancient Roman goddess.” Which only led to me getting more confused.
I’ve had the Tierney books for a while, both “Byzantine Fashions” coloring book and the paper dolls of Justinian and Theodora, which are adorable. They do provide a pretty solid idea of Byzantine styles based on artistic record. So don’t knock them, but don’t run off with them as a primo source, either.
This particular style intrigues me. Mostly because it’s almost always done with a V-neck. This seems wasteful, especially for the opulent, fabric hoarding Byzantines. So, I ran a brief Google search on “Bamberg textile” and…
Well that wasn’t very difficult to find. I yanked it right from Wikipedia. The note on the image reads:
The so-called “Bamberger Gunthertuch“, a Byzantine silk tapestry depicting a Byzantine emperor on his triumphant return from a campaign. He is crowned, bears the labarum and rides a white horse. Originally identified as Basil II (by A. Grabar), it is now accepted that he represents John I Tzimiskes on his return from the campaign against the Rus’ in Bulgaria. He is flanked by two female tychae, who personify Constantinople’s two demoi, the Blues and the Greens. The one on the right offers [possibly] a crown, and the one on the left a triumphal toupha headdress. The silk was acquired by Gunther, bishop of Bamberg, in 1064-5, and re-discovered on 22 December 1830 in his grave. The silk is now on display in the treasury of the Bamberg Cathedral.
Well, there you have it. They aren’t princesses, they’re political parties.
Now, moving on. What are we looking at here as far as clothing goes? This is 10th Century, so it’s 100 years prior to my period (not that it’s ever really stopped me or anyone else in the SCA about being anachronistic with their anachronism.) And what I see, instead of any sort of fitted short sleeveless tunic, is the trusty stola. A woman’s garment that was somewhat carried over from the Classical period, only cut like a classical tunica, or “Roman Rectangle” as my friends and I like to call it. Here’s a Coptic-Byzantine stola:
You’re looking at an insanely simple garment. Almost tabard-like in nature, with minimal decoration. The ones depicted by the ladies in the textile fragment only have trim on the bottom, and it’s short enough to show off ornately decorated tunicae underneath, which seemed to be a popular look. This would explain the heavily gathered appearance on the Bamberg piece. After trying a stola for myself before, I can see why women would rather opt for the look portrayed in the Dover books, it’s a lot more flattering. Yeesh.
As far as that double hanging belt thing goes…uh…it doesn’t look like anything depicted in the textile at all. The woman to the right is wearing a belt, but that looks more like the end of a buckled belt than any extra ornamentation, and they certainly don’t have the spacing shown in the Dover illustrations. So that’s something that is certainly open to interpretation as far as design goes. I also really like the pink pallas, as I have a pink palla. 😉
It’s hard to say exactly if this was a commonly worn fashion. Much like the sideless surcoat debate, it may have been something only worn for ceremony and therefore depicted in art, or, as is common with Byzantine motifs, it’s hearkening back to the classical period of Rome. Either way, I hope that women looking for more information on this dress style have at least been able to get what they’re looking for from this little blurb. 🙂
Anyways, the boozes did well at Great Northeastern War. My conditum paradoxum and rose-lavender cordial were paneled and both scored relatively well for my first foray into the guild scene. My mead and cordial both one best in their division. There was only one cordial, but…hey, there were 8 meads. That counts for something.
Nobody showed up to my Roman garb class except for my friend Elinor Strangewayes (see also: woman who makes Roman phallus beads,) but my Varangian Guard class had a good group, even though I didn’t prep a good lecture, we sat there and talked for an hour and I spewed what I could from the top of my head. They loved the extensive biblio I put onto my handout. I think I will be posting that in the future.
The Byzantine garb page is almost finished, I hope to get that up in a day or so. I basically copy-pasta’d my handout, but I’ll also be adding more stuff. Since my persona is 11th Century, I need to focus on finding more information about that more rather than the generic “Throw clavii on a tunica and call it Byzantine” look. At least there’s lots of fun vocabulary to learn, right? @_@
I am also going to be playing with some Norman garb for upcoming events this fall and winter. The boyfriend is Norman, and technically so is half of my persona, so I get to wear Western European garb for the first time. Ever. I don’t count my Viking, that’s Northern. 😛
Oh, and a gallery, must put up a gallery!
Have you ever wanted some of my blatherings in printed form to have and to hold forever?
Well soon you CAN! I contacted Compleat Anachronist, the SCA-wide A&S publication that comes out quarterly. http://www.sca.org/ca/index.html It covers all kinds of awesome topics for SCAdians that want to up their game, and for me, the issue will be on…surprise, Roman and Byzantine clothing. I am making it as comprehensive as possible, however, so everything a SCAdian needs to know about dressing in bed sheets is covered. 😉
Oh yeah, I’ll get that stuff up soon on Byzantine dress. I swears.
One of the first pieces of Roman clothing I made was the stola, or, overdress of a matron. I was married at the time and it seemed like a good idea. I wish I could find pictures of the construction of it, because as far as a “tube dress” goes, it was a pain, being that i made it to almost-period specs, and it’s about twice my height clocking in at 8 full yards of this sassy red linen, and I still didn’t get the neckline right. I’m planning to make another one, um, eventually. With a proper institia, more on that as it comes and I can do more research on what it should look like exactly.
Here’s my first Roman garb EVUR. (I think this was 2008?) That white chiton still hasn’t softened.
And here it is as a stand-alone garment, which is how I wear it more often, however in that case, it is NOT a stola, just a form of a peplos without the peplum. I do plan on fixing the neckline eventually, because this is such lovely red linen, I’d hate for it to go to waste, especially at a whopping 8 yards in one dress. At least it fits better now that I’ve, uh…filled out.