Carthaginian Kit on a budget
The major issue with this, our fourth foray into
budget costume for Odyssey, is that no-one really knows what the
Carthaginians may have looked like. So, we went for a fairly generic
North African look, with hints of fantasty roleplay thrown in for good
Simple Carthaginian: robe and headdress
- a needle, or preferably access to a sewing machine
- a friend to help you pin (optional)
- 4 metres of cream/unbleached white cotton/polycotton (assuming a 5ft
fabric width). Do not pay more than £4 per metre, you can get it for £1
if you really try, or try charity shop bedsheets (mmm, prehemmed!) (You
really want linen, but it tends to be too expensive, get linen if you
want to spend more.) - We got some double-width polycotton for £3.50
per metre (i.e. about 10ft wide).£7
- white thread - £1
- Optional: blinging jewellery from a charity shop or Asian tat shop -
- Optional: long scrap of contrast colour material (we used a strip
from the blue robe, below, but if only making the simple kit, look in
- TOTAL: £8
Before you start, cut three strips of about 1inch wide
along the full width of the fabric - of preferably, get two of them in a
contrast colour fabric or make them up from remnants. So you should
have three strips of 1inch by 5ft, in any colours you like.
fabric into quarters so that it fits half of you when you lie down on
it, in a similar way to that described on the Roman tunic page. You
don't NEED to have a fold at the top of the arms, this can be a raw
edge, it just means you'll have an extra seam to do here. But you do
need the fabric to be four pieces thick. Get a friend to cut generously
around you. This garment doesn't have any fastenings, so if you make it
too figure-hugging, you won't be able to get it on over your head.
will look like this. Cut a SMALL head hole. The radius of the quarter
circle for the neck hole here should be no more than 3 or 4 inches.
your piece so that you can see either all of the front or all of the
back. Sew the front and back together along the tops of the sleeves (if
not a fold), under the sleeves and down the sides. See the Roman tunic
page for more explicit diagrams. Hem the sleeves, bottom curved edge,
and neckhole. That's the robe finished.
Remember those three long strips of fabric? Plait them together. They
don't need to be hemmed or anything. Raggedy bits add to the
'handcrafted' look. This is to tie our headscarf on with, but if you're
keen you can also make a belt, cloak strap, bag strap, whatever. You
could even make a trim for the bottom edge of the overcoat (see below)
which will help weigh lighter fabric down.
From some of
the scraps - you should have some big pieces which came from under the
arms of the robe - cut and hem a square of about 18inches each side. Put
this on your head and tie the plaited rope around your forehead,
pulling the square tight so you don't end up with a 'muffin head'.
Voila! A simple vaguely Carthaginian looking outfit, which will conceal
any amount of warm clothing underneath. The eagle-eyed amongst you may
notice that here it is being modelled over a woolly roll-neck jumper.
Better Carthaginian - add a poncho
Extra materials needed
- 1.5 metres of coloured wool or linen fabric, or something that will
pass as such. We got a polyester thing which isn't great to work with
but nevertheless looks great from a distance of more than 6 inches,
Expect to pay a bit more for proper natural fabrics - £2
- TOTAL: £10
poncho is the easiest thing in the world. Simply cut a square (to do
this, fold your fabric in half along the diagonal, so that you get a
length the same as the entire width of the fabric). You can make it
smaller if you want. Cut, but don't unfold, fold it again along the
diagonal so that you have a small triangular quarter like a sandwich at a
kid's party. Cut a small headhole. Hem any rough edges. Stick your head
through the hole. Er, that's it.
want to adjust the neckline of the poncho to make it a V neck or
something. We think that wearing it like this is OK, but not
particularly Carthaginian (whatever that is) so we recommend wearing it
as shown below...
As an alternative to a poncho, you could simply tie a long piece of
fabric (about 1ft wide) around you waist and over one shoulder as a sort
of sash, like the ones pictured for the mystic or slave in the Odyssey
Carthage culture brief.
point at the front and some of the spare fabric from one side and simply
throw it over your opposite shoulder for a much more 'desert nomad'
look. Here, the bundle of spare fabric is chucked over Daisy's right
By throwing even more of the spare fabric round to the back, you can
adjust the look. You can pin it in place if you want.
Cosy Carthaginian - add an overcoat
Extra materials needed
- another 4 metres of fabric, we used the same kind as the poncho but
you could use anything you like, just try to make it heavier than the
white robe. The ancient Africans did decorate/dye their fabrics but you
will have trouble finding a pattern that could reasonably have come from
that period - £4
- Optional: You could add trim to the edges of the coat and
poncho if you want a more decorated look. You'll need about 3 metres for
the bottom of the coat, add 2m for the sleeves and 6m if you're wanting
to do the whole poncho edge too. We recommend bright geometric
- Optional: Tribal-type jewellery from a charity shop - £1
- TOTAL: £14
overcoat in exactly the same way that you made the white robe. Be very
generous in your cutting, you want it bigger than the undergarments!
because this is going to be a coat that opens at the front, not a robe,
you need to cut down the front. To do this, carefully cut down the OUTER
fold only, starting from the neck hole and going all the way to the
floor. Doing it now will help you to keep the line straight and
The edge that Jude is cutting is the one at the top of the picture
Do not cut
both folds! The inner fold here is the back of the garment, which you
want to stay in one piece when it is unfolded.
If you separate everything at this stage, you'll have three pieces, one
full back piece and two halves of the front. You might want to unfold
everything, lay out the back piece (good side of the fabric up), then
carefully lay on the two front pieces (good side of the fabric down, so
that it's face-to-face) and pin along the tops of the sleeves (if not a
folded edge), under the sleeves and down the sides. Then sew it all
together in the same way as you made the underrobe.
Here it is
on. You'll have to hem the bottom, the sleeve-cuff bits, the neckhole,
and all the way up the open edges at the front if it's a fabric that
Look at those drapey sleeves! Great eh?
is wearing it with a finest-Asian-tat-shop necklace - £1 (came with
matching earrings, but I don't have pierced ears). We think that steep
triangles and other totemic or geometric designs will be great to make
the Carthage 'look'.
poncho is over the top for extra cosiness, Daisy does seem to have lost
the headdress though.
This would look even better if there was an embroidered pattern around
the edges of the coat and poncho, or a decorated trim sewn or
wonderwebbed on. (See Roman tutorial for the wonder of wonderweb, you
can even use it if you're too lazy to sew the hems.
Tips and tricks
Got a whole group? Those ponchos are extremely fast
to make and would tie the group look together for hardly any money.
If we'd been able to find any bright orangey wool or
embroidery thread for less than £5, we'd probably have hand-embroidered
around the edges of this with a steep zigzag pattern. Not too onerous to
do and really would make the folds stand out.
Um, couldn't really find any, sorry.