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How to make an ancient roman stola

Updated July 20, 2017

All respectable women and girls in the Roman Empire would wear a stola, which makes it practically the only authentic Roman costume for women. Stolas are simple garments that use only two pieces of fabric. Making a stola is the cheap and easy way for a woman to get an authentic and great-looking Roman costume. Dressed in it, she will impress the guests at re-enactments, fancy dress parties and historical fairs.

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  1. Measure yourself with a measuring tape. Start from the shoulders, and measure down to where you want the garment to end. This can be either by the knee or ankle.

  2. Cut two pieces of fabric of this length plus four or five inches for seams and wide enough to go around your body. A good width for the two combined is the measurement around your hips, plus five inches. You can use wool or linen if you want to be authentic, or cotton for a cheaper alternative.

  3. Fold back 2 or 2-1/2 inches at either end of each piece, and use a needle or sewing machine to stitch them in place and make hems. Then sew up the sides from the bottom to your underarm.

  4. Turn the result inside out to create a neat seam. If you want a particular side of the fabric to be on the outside, sew it so this is initially on the inside. That way, it will be on the outside after this step.

  5. Fasten the stola above the shoulders with safety pins or brooches, so that it hangs from the shoulders when worn. Put one on each side, leaving neck and armholes. Alternatively, you can attach buttons to do the same job.

  6. Wear a belt with the stola to gather it around the waist. You could also tie a ribbon around your waist, or even a rope.

  7. Tip

    Although Romans are usually depicted wearing white, they actually wore a range of bright colours. Blue was popular, but any bright, single-colour fabrics are suitable. A stola is worn over a tunic. Tunics are also easy to make, but a plain, short-sleeved T-shirt will look fine once you have the stola on top.

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Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Two rectangular pieces of fabric
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Brooches or safety pins
  • Buttons
  • Belt, ribbon or rope

About the Author

Matthew Scott began writing professionally in 2010. Most of his work has appeared online for Lufthansa and Cinemaroll, but he's also written for the "Universe." Scott holds a bachelor's degree in history with creative writing from the University of Hertfordshire.

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