Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sewing For Byzantium--The Himation Scrutinized

Entire outfit
The himation with shirt
Here is the promised photograph of my himation with the other components of my Middle Byzantine outfit, thanks to my husband's willingness to wield the camera for me. (I will post one of them on the HSF 2013 Challenge #23 page as well.)

Given the incredible difficulty I had making myself focus on this project, it came out very well.  The side slit at the neck closure sometimes gaps open, a little, but I can pin that, and the neckline is a bit high and impinges upon the shirt collar, but I think that will even out as I wear it.

But the himation has one problem that cannot be ignored.  It is way too short.  Even unbelted, a bit of the shirt's calf-length hem shows, as well as the foot to the ankle.  In his writing about Middle Byzantine costume, Timothy Dawson stresses that clothing was unusually modest, and hemlines, even for lower-class women, were very long.  He says that ground length is appropriate, and even if I choose to err on the side of slight shortness for practicality's sake, this tunic should, at the very least, be instep length, not ankle-length--even when belted.  (I didn't have the nerve to see what belting it would do at its present length.) That means it needs at least another 5 or 6 inches of length.

On the bright side, I have quite a few large scraps of the green linen left.  I can cut a suitably-sized strip of the fabric, sew it to the present hem, and hem the new bottom, to lengthen the tunic.  Yes, that's going to be a lot more seam/hem sewing, but it fits in, thematically, with the first HSF Challenge of 2014: Make Do and Mend, and (fortunately, since it's already the 12th and the Challenge deadline is the 15th) that shouldn't take long to do.

So it looks as though I have more work still to do on this project before I can go back and teach myself enough embroidery to ornament the neckline and sleeves.  On the other hand, it's providing the perfect springboard for me to leap into HSF 2014!


  1. Hm, I see what you mean about the length. Other than that though, I think it's looking very good. I do like the way it looks with the rest of the outfit!

  2. That looks fabulous! And I'm glad the only problem is something that is easily fixable with fabric you already have.

    The colour seems less garish in these photos and the himaton is surprisingly (erm... I hope this doesn't sound offensive) surprisingly flattering considering it is just square and rectangle construction.