Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sewing For Byzantium--The Final Adjustment to the Himation

New portion--view from right side (hem at bottom)
I have finally completed the necessary lengthening of the himation to be period-appropriate, and can now consider it truly completed.  Because it's late here and my husband, who doubles as my fashion photographer, is busy, I will add photographs to this post later today.

The technique I used for lengthening the tunic involved unpicking and unfolding the hem, piecing together an approximately 7-inch-wide (18 cm) strip of my leftover green linen that was long enough to go around the entire bottom of the garment, and sewing that strip to the bottom edge, using the same technique of whipstitching folded edges together that I had used on the seams.  Then I hemmed the new bottom edge with a double-foldover hem.

The himation lengthening is my project for HSF 2014 Challenge #1--Make Do and Mend.  The HSF statistics for this project are as follows:

Fabric:   The last scraps of the same linen used to make the himation in the first place.  I had a strip about two-and-a-half feet long and 7 inches wide left of that linen (76 cm x 18 cm) and a much shorter, second scrap of similar width.  I pieced the two together and sewed the result onto the bottom of the existing himation.

Finally long enough!
New portion--view from wrong side (hem at bottom)
Pattern: None needed, though the technique is my own, so far as I know.  Still, the Byzantines probably would have used a similar method if they needed to substantially lengthen a garment after it was completed.  There is art showing the period equivalent of exotic dancers wearing a long dress with a broad ruffle on the bottom.  Such a ruffle would have had to have been sewn on to the dress somehow, and that stitching would need to be sturdy if a woman was wearing it regularly for dance performances.

Year: Still Middle Byzantine, i.e., 10th-12th century C.E.

Notions: Londonderry brand linen thread in Persian green, 80/3.

How historically accurate is it?  Hard to say (until we excavate a garment lengthened in this manner), but existing evidence shows that folk in the Middle Ages were not averse to piecing fabric to achieve the effect they wanted.  (See also my ruffle comment, above).  So perhaps 70-80%.

Hours to complete2-3 hours--I didn't keep track very closely.   Some of the time was spent in ironing the piece to make it possible to shove sections that were too narrowly folded to come close enough together to be stitched into an enclosed seam.

First wornNot really applicable, since I've worn the garment for photographs after I originally finished it.

Total cost: $0, since all the work was done with materials purchased to make the garment originally.

Now, on to HSF Challenge #2--Innovation, and Yet Another Apron Dress!

EDIT:  [1/26/2014]:  Added a picture of me wearing the lengthened himation to this post.


  1. Hurrah! Isn't it a good feeling to get something completely done! I really look forward to seeing photos of it.

  2. Thanks! The himation hasn't changed so much, except that it's about 6 inches longer, but I promise a close-up of my garment extension, and a picture of the newly lengthened garment, belted, for his post and for the HSF 2014 Challenge #1 album.

  3. I'm glad you've finished it - and it is *very* neat. I bet the addition would be hardly visible in use. (And I look forward to seeing it on you.)

    1. Thanks! Getting there... the problem is that lately, when I'm up for trying stuff on, my spouse (and photographer!) is in bed, and vice versa. We'll make it work, eventually, and get a final set of photos up.