Category/Level: Modern Recreationist/Intermediate
About Beatrice : I started playing in the SCA in Trimaris about eight years ago and am currently living in the Midrealm. I have a fair amount of sewing experience, but have only made basic garb in the past. I have been wanting to up my garb game recently and this seemed like the perfect time to do it! In addition to sewing, I do a variety of crafts in the SCA, including kumihimo, jewelry making, fingerloop braiding, calligraphy and illumination, and banner making. At events, I can usually be found retaining or volunteering in some other way. This will be a challenging project for me, as I have not made garb above a basic level before. I fell in love with Roman garb during the hot outdoor events in Trimaris and am excited to make myself some new garb!
Her Project: I am planning to create an outfit that would have been worn by an unmarried upper class Roman woman of the Late Republic/Early Empire. I’ve been wanting to make a new, nicer outfit for a while, but this project has helped me focus that desire into a specific project.
Her final thoughts on her C3 experience:
I entered this challenge at an intermediate level knowing it would be a stretch for me. I had some sewing experience and knowledge of Roman clothing into C3, but had never tried to make a complete outfit like this. I have never entered any kind of arts and sciences competition before either. I learned a lot during this process that I look forward to applying to future projects. Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers for your work on this project!
The underlayers for my Late Roman Republic outfit for an unmarried woman consists of a strophium (bra band), subligar (underwear), and subucula (under tunic). Because these will not be seen by others and I am entering the modern recreationist category, I chose to machine sew all these pieces. The strophium is a long band that gets wrapped around the chest, similar to an ACE bandage. To create the pattern, I measured around my ribcage, multiplied that by 4, then added a few inches as ties. For the width, I measured just below my bust to just above my bust. I used a linen/cotton blend I already had in my stash, but wool or leather would be more common in period. Wool naturally has some stretch to it, but linen and cotton will stay stretched out once stretched. This leads to linen or cotton strophium needing to be adjusted throughout the day. Because I was using up fabric from my stash, I did sew the strophium in two pieces instead of making it out of one long piece. According to written evidence, subligar were not always worn by women. Extant art suggests they were worn at bathhouses and while exercising, but they also may have been worn during menstruation. I made my subligar based on an extant leather pair found in a well in Britain. The extant examples available look very much like a modern string bikini bottom made of leather. For my subligar, I chose to use a medium weight white linen out of my fabric stash and used cotton bias tape for the ties at the waist. I drafted my own pattern using a modern underwear tutorial. This was the most difficult piece to make this month, as I had to get the fit just right. But I think they turned out well. The subucula is a simple rectangle and was easy to make. I used the directions from Dulcia’s Roman Closet website to create my own pattern based off the directions for a closed shoulder tunic. I used a lightweight linen from fabric-store.com. During the Roman Republic, wool would likely have been the top choice for the under tunic, but linen, silk, cotton, and blends were all available. My subucula is mid-calf length and I left the bottom couple inches separate for ease of movement.
The second layer of my 1st century inspired Roman outfit is made up of the Tunica Muliebris, more commonly known today as the gap-sleeved tunic, and the Cingulum (belt). The tunica is made of a dark green wool/acrylic blend. The side seams were machine sewn, while the neckline, sleeve opening, and hem were all hand sewn. The fabric was thicker than I had anticipated and is not as drapey as a tunica should be, but it will make an excellent winter outfit! The Cingulum is made of cotton thread and woven by me on an inkle loom. I had planned to make the belt out of silk, but there were major delays in my supplies reaching me. So I went with the cotton I already had on hand. This is the first band I have ever woven. I really enjoyed weaving it and think it turned out quite well for a first attempt.
The third layer of my 1st century inspired Roman outfit is made up of the Palla, a large piece of cloth women would have worn for modesty when out of the house. Pallas would have likely been made of wool or a wool blend with cotton, silk, or linen. I chose to make my palla out of 100% silk, as it is a fabric I am familiar with. I purchased white silk from Dharma Trading Company, then dyed it lavender using modern batch dyeing techniques. I have a lot of experience modernly with silk dyeing, so I was able to get a nice even color on my palla. I hand hemmed the raw edges with silk thread so it would also dye the same color as the rest of the palla.
The fourth layer of my 1st century Roman outfit is consists of a necklace, two rings, and a pair of earrings. The necklace is made of sodalite and pearl beads and brass wire. The necklace is based on many examples found in period art as well as extant examples found at the British Museum. This was my first time making a necklace. I learned a lot during the process and look forward to refining my technique on future necklaces. The rings are also made of brass wire and are based on examples from the British Museum and The Met. The earrings are made of brass wire, small pearl beads, and a modern bracelet connector.