Wednesday, 24 March 2010

With Needle in Hand ...

I'd really forgotten how satisfying hand sewing can be. And surprisingly quick if you don't have huge numbers of seams and hems, which is mostly the case with ancient Roman clothing.

My husband's braccae and my son's trousers and over tunic have appeared almost as if by magic. My peplos, however, is a little discouraging. Not only do I have multiple seams and edging to do since the modern fabric I'm using has to be cut to size (as I lack slaves to weave me fabric of the perfect dimensions) but my outfit also bears more than a little resemblance to a sack. It would appear that, contrary to the somewhat skimpy Roman fancy dress costumes that proliferate on the Internet, ancient Roman women took a great deal of trouble to wrap themselves in vast quantities of fabric. Not that I should be surprised, statues of clothed Roman women sometimes show no more than face and hands beneath a tower of folds. But the presence of pleats and folds may well be my answer. I hope that after repeated washing, folding and flattening I may get my fabric to drape in a vaguely attractive manner.

If all else fails my consolation is this, my huge swaddling of cloth should at least keep me warm while the winds howl through the tents of our small Roman camp. And I am already considering a second outfit, made with a much finer and lighter linen (that I have yet to source) in case we actually get some sun this Summer.

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