Roman Coronation Tunica on the Fly

The Consules of the Tyger Kingdom

When working on a Royal staff sometimes timelines are subjective. Coronation garb is no different, especially during the pandemic and when the date of coronation is unknown. The wonderful thing about many of the SCAdians that I know, is that we band together and get the job done.

The piece shown here is his majesty Alberic’s coronation tunica. I was given the precut pieces and asked to sew them together, finish the seams, and appliqué the trim. The tunica is made of a fine, medium weight,white linen, and sewn with white linen 2-ply thread. The purple silk was first basted with purple silk thread to the tunica, then appliquéd with with silver tone Japan metal thread.

Faux French seams

The tunica went together fairly quickly using what I call a half back running stitch. I fill the needle I’m working with with enough fabric to produce a running stitch, but not bunch the fabric on the needle. After I pull the thread through the fabric I do a half back stitch, then repeat. This allows the sewing to go swiftly, but locks it into place so that there is a half back stitch about every inch or so. When all of the seams are sewn I clip the edge of one side to even out the seams, and turn the raw edge in to create the faux French seam. It was new to me to do all of the sewing on the outside of the garment, but in this way it does look like a French sewn on the outside.

In progress couching of metal work

With the tunica seams completed, I just need to do a simple whip stitch hem on the sleeves, neck, and bottom. Everything is now hemmed, and I move onto basting the silk to the tunica. I used simple whip stitches about 2mm apart on both sides of each piece of trim to hold it in place.

What I have not mentioned yet it that we had an extremely short amount of time to complete this garment. At this point it is about 10pm the night before I have to deliver the tunica for coronation and I am just starting to couch the Japan thread to the trim. While typically I know that it should be about 2mm apart I only has time for couching at about a cm apart. At 2 in the morning I complete it to wearing standard and go to iron the piece. Once ironed I fall over and fall asleep knowing that it will look fabulous.

White versus purple threads

Final thoughts: It was a bit of a thrill to have to work so quickly on a piece. I was very glad that I taught myself a new manner of completing a seam, but that I will not use that manner again when there is such a swift deadline. Couching really does need to be closer together, but you can fix it later when time allows.