Historical Sew Monthly – January 2016 – Byzantine

11th Century Byzantine costume  (without the cloak)

11th Century Byzantine costume (without the cloak)

The Challenge: January – Procrastination – finish a garment you have been putting off finishing (a UFO or PHD) or make something you have been avoiding starting.

For the first challenge of 2016, I actually had a project that I had been putting off – I was feeling rather overwhelmed by options when the organizers of our SCA chapter’s Twelfth Night event announced a “silk road” theme complete with a fashion show (and a request for participants…) When someone mentioned Byzantine as an option, and I remembered a former Princess’ gorgeous Byzantine garb, I decided to give 11th century Byzantine a whirl, even though it’s not a place/time I usually have interest in (and thus had been putting it off…).


Fabric: I used a few different fabrics in this costume.

  • 100% silk brocade in gold-tone
  • polyester blue silk-like fabric (in period this would have been silk, and most likely silk brocade, though linen and wool would also have been suitable. For the 11th century cotton would have been less common.)
  • polyester red silk-like fabric (in period this would have been silk, and in some ways that I used it, likely silk brocade)
  • polyester green silk-like fabric (in period this would have been silk, and most likely silk brocade)
  • wool blend blue fabric (in period this would have been wool)
  • wool blend coating fabric (unseen as a supporting layer)
  • cotton blend sport-weight fabric (unseen as a lining or interlining)
  • super-fine 100% linen for the veil
  • I also used the silver silk underdress I made earlier with this outfit – I didn’t see the need to make a dedicated new underdress.
11th Century Byzantine costume

11th Century Byzantine costume

Pattern: All self-drafted

Year: 11th Century Byzantine

Notions: So many!

  • thread
  • charms/jewellery components
  • spangles
  • skirt hooks
  • gold-tone wire
  • semi-precious stones
  • appliqués
  • fake pearls
  • highly embellished trim
  • block printing supplies (wood block, paint, textile medium)
  • embroidery thread
  • jump rings

How historically accurate is it? I think the overall look-and-feel is pretty good, based on the research I did. I tried to capture the ‘average’ design and colour choice, while still going with fabrics that were affordable in the colours I wanted. This means while some elements are historically-informed, other elements (like fibre content) aren’t.

Hours to complete: Too many to count…  (and I don’t ever seem to remember to count) I DID however get it completed in time for the event -despite my procrastination in getting started!

First worn: I’ll be wearing this to Twelfth Night in Montengarde on January 23rd. Other than that, just for photos.

Total cost: Unsure. The main dress fabric was about 6$/meter and I bought 5 meters. The cloak fabric was 8.40$/meter, and I paid for 2.3 meters. The other fabrics were leftovers from other projects, or were given to me.  The highly embellished trim was 5.99$/meter and I bought 8 meters I think (though I didn’t use it all). The appliqués were 5.99$ for a package of 12. I bought the components for the necklace, but don’t recall the cost. The other embellishments were already in my stash, or bought for other projects and were leftovers/extras.

For more about this project…

Stay tuned, I’ll have subsequent posts with my research, costume break down, and posts about each garment and accessory that went into this costume.

3 comments on “Historical Sew Monthly – January 2016 – Byzantine

  1. draekaan says:

    You and your outfit are fabulous. I love it! Thank you so much for sharing. I have contemplated this for a while but never got around to it.

    • Dawn says:

      Thank you! I am going to have a post-per-day with different elements of my costume, maybe they’ll help nudge you into making your own too? 😉

  2. […] I decide to make more garments for my Byzantine wardrobe, I need another set of wrist cuffs – which help make under dresses more versatile. […]

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