The Roman Stola: Part III, Construction

colorcoded

Color by Dulcia MacPherson, captions by me.

I recently presented my stola paper at An Tir’s Kingdom Arts and Sciences Championship as a single entry. You can see a video of my presentation here (20 min talk, 20 min Q&A). Since I know not everyone wants to read a giant tome, I’m going to break up important bits of my paper into a series of blog posts. 

The stola had four major identifying features:

  • Worn as an overdress
  • Made of lightweight wool
  • Constructed as a simple tube, with straps, round pins, or fabric knots at the shoulders, that created a “V neck” with draping.
  • Worn double belted, to create an extra folded layer at the hips

The stola was popular for about 400 years (mid-Republic to early Empire), and was integral to the Roman matron’s sense of self. It gave its wearer special social and legal protections.

Note: Click here for PART I: Why Wool? and here for PART II: Color & Embellishment

PART III: How do you make this darn thing, anyway?

I tried to find some Hollywood Roman stolae to make fun of, but nobody was wearing them at all! Even Spartacus, which takes place during the middle Republic and should be *lousy* with stolae… not a one. The costume designers made the same mistake many recreators do. They hit the eBay sari sales *hard* and then they put too much work into it. These garments are constructed, and trimmed… too many seams, too busy, not enough draping! Is…. that a CAPE coming off her left shoulder?! *boggle* 8554397b25c26342cc505b7882eb63f8

Put your scissors and sewing machine down. This is shockingly easy.

IMAG2326-1Make a tube.

You’re done.

Seriously. IMAG2327

 

Alternate method – if you like fabric dangling past your armpits.

Ok, if you really want to make it more complicated, you can add straps. Or a sewn-in contrasting color border at the hem (we talked about institia here.)

Scholz 50 GatheredHemTunic

112186762 croppedFor you master seamstress / overachiever types, there’s one variation that has a pleated top, but otherwise… I say go easy on yourself!

Step into it. Pin it at the shoulders*. Now hike up the hem until it brushes the tops of your feet. Belt it. Smooth down the extra fabric into a flap around your hips… and belt again. DONE.

For lots of details on the varieties of straps, read my paper. But the take-home here is don’t overthink it. Don’t add seams down the center, or gores, or floopy ruffles. It’s just a rectangle. With maybe some straps. What makes this work is the draping of the very light wool. Put your effort into finding the right fabric, not sewing! 🙂

*Pins are usually round brooches, about 1-1.5″ across. The back goes over the front. You also have the option of sewing rosette knots to join the front and back. See the pic at the top of the page for an example.

IMAG2356   IMAG2358  sewrosette3  Scan 12 1

Next is Part IV: TIMING aka do I really need to wear this thing?

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About Sharon Rose, LAc, MSAOM

Acupuncturist, medical massage therapist, historian, scientist, road-tripper, geek, LARP & board gamer, food fan, Roman fanatic, belly-laugher.
This entry was posted in Clothing, Recreating history and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Roman Stola: Part III, Construction

  1. Pingback: The Roman Stola: Part II, Color & Embellishments | ROMANA SUM

  2. Pingback: The Roman Stola: Part I, Why Wool? | ROMANA SUM

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