(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Photography by Kelly Bruton

Outline the story …

"The secret history: a novel of Empress Theodora", by Stephanie Thornton.

Story: The book tells the story of the main character, Theodora, who climbs her way up from being a dancer and actress to marrying Justinian and thus becoming Empress of the Roman Empire. Amalasuntha seeks refuge at Justinian’s court. She convinces Justinian to send Belisarius to Amalasuntha to assist her in Rome. Amalasuntha sets sail for Rome with Belisarius. Her plan to regain power, co-ruling with her cousin fails, however. A wedding gift of her husband-to-be, an amethyst necklace is used to strangle Amalasuntha in her sleep.

Outline the construction…

Designing/Patterning: Style heavily influence by Roman style. In drawing my pattern I keept close to the tunic style of the Romans.

Amalasuntha lived betweenc. 495 – 30 April 534/535. A formal dress of Amalasuntha, could consist of: a tunic with long sleeves, possibly floor length as undergarment, or an overdress/coat, split in front, long sleeves with ornamental edgings at neck, cuffs and hem. A historically accurate version requires: Silk Samite, imperial purple/red, possible gold embroidery-A stola or palla. I decided to sew an overdress/coat, split in front, long sleeves, embroidery on the cuffs.

Challenge: Ideally, I wanted to make a historically accurate coat of a Queen of the Goths living in the 6th century. But these fabrics were too expensive or not available in the required shade. So I decided to use what I had.

Materials used:
Outer fabric: purple polyester taffeta
Inner fabric: beige calico, hand dyed with Dylon plum purple
Neck edgings, band for embroidery: grey klona cotton, I hand dyed with the same purple used for the calico to achieve a darker shade.
Edging center front: Dyed calico
Embroidery: Gold thread, Beading wire.

Seams: running stitches, backstitches
Edges: running stitch on right side and felling on the inside
Raw edges of the calico: wipping stitch
circles of beading wire, couched;
inner circles: backstitch, wipped
outer circles: running stitch
straight lines: backstitch

Founded research on, studying textile uses, techniques, grave finds, embroidery stitches and motifs helped me make confident design decisions.




  1. Avatar Margaret Ginnifer on March 11, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    Beautiful work, meticulously researched and faithful to the historical period. I love it.

  2. Avatar Mary Corbett on March 12, 2021 at 9:25 am

    I just love the work and how meticulous you have been. It is stunning ! I am impressed.

  3. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on March 12, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    your needlework is so neat and intricate – well done!

    • Avatar Nadine on March 12, 2021 at 7:37 pm

      Thank you, so much 😉

  4. Avatar Katherine B on March 12, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    I hope someday you will be able to make this in the fabric you deserve, because really anyone who can wrangle purple polyester into something that beautiful needs a patron! It’s flattering and your attention to all the historical detail is so appreciated; I enjoyed checking out your sources, I know little of that era. Thank you for braving the weather so we can appreciate the color in the natural light, too. <3

    • Avatar Nadine on March 12, 2021 at 7:42 pm

      Thank for your kind words and for checking the sources. I had so much fun digging into the research an sewing. I was sewing like my life depended on it 😉
      The fine Irish weather could not stop me from doing the photo shoot outside!

  5. Avatar Lili on March 13, 2021 at 1:23 am

    This is a beautiful coat. I love the color and all the hand work. It fits the subject and I like very much your poses and photos.

  6. Avatar Dannic on March 19, 2021 at 11:18 am

    Wonderful color choice.
    The photo of the back of the garment is now saved on my computer to serve as inspiration and reference. Someday, when I have convinced myself I have the skill, and also am no longer a teenager and therefore can more easily look properly dignified, I intend to make myself a coat that falls just like that.

    • Avatar Nadine on March 19, 2021 at 4:05 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, Dannic. Even as a teenager you can look dignified. Yes, it takes a bit of courage. But you’ll get there. Bit by bit, stitch by stitch. I believe in you… 😉✨

      • Avatar nadine on March 19, 2021 at 4:09 pm

        By the way, Dannic, you just made my day!

  7. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 26, 2021 at 2:44 am

    This is beautiful, I love the embroidery work! Thank you!

    • Avatar Nadine on March 27, 2021 at 10:24 pm

      Thank you, AnnaCatherine.

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