As a practical matter, sewing Roman garments can be quite easy, as nearly all clothing worn in the classical world was not fitted. If you can imagine Roman clothing as a series of rectangles, you're well on your way.
Getting started on your own wardrobe will require that you have a few basic body measurements:
- Measure around hips. Add 5" to this number.
- Measure around thickest part of arm and add 5"
- From shoulder to heel (for stola)
- From shoulder to knee (for tunica)
- Nec si qua Arabio lucet bombyce puella (... a girl who shines through her Arabian wild silk...)
— Propertius II III XV
Most of the fabric worn by inhabitants in the classical world was of wool, with some linen imported from Egypt and, later in the Empire, silks or "serica" imported from far-off China. "Wild silk" garments, woven on the Greek Island of Cos were also mentioned. These were extremely light, transparent fabrics.
Material from modern fabric stores - even synthetic woolens and linens - are perfectly suitable for reproduction garments, but the material should fall in "dead" folds, therefore, cotton, while cheapest, is unsuitable.
Also, many reenactors make the mistake of constructing Roman garments out of white fabric, however, as we can see by the evidence extant in many Roman frescoes, Romans loved colour and used it extensively in their homes and in on their persons.
While we admire classic marble sculptures, we tend to forget that both sculptures and buildings were brightly painted when on display. So we have an almost unlimited palette of colours to choose from when making our garments.
Following are basic instructions to make a standard Roman tunica or stola: