Soft kit

Maximio  (Peter Noons)

This is intended to be a basic guide to getting your essential kit together i.e. Tunicae, Paenula or Sagum (Cloaks) and lacing up your Caligae (boots).

General point : The best place to buy material is at a reenactors fair as you will then be able to check if the material is authentic for the period (there probably never were any callico legionaries). The price will also probably be less than you would pay in the high street, and the stall holders are usually a fairly good judge of the amount of material you will need.

The Tunica








Basic shape of tunica with sleeves.

Materials : wool, linen

Colours : Blue if legionarii, green if auxilia

Hamians may use cotton

The design of the under tunic is the same except that you can do without the sleeves. Use a linen material for the under tunic.

The Tunicae is the basic uniform of the soldier, for the legionary (and to a certain extent the Auxilia), it is a very easy piece of kit to make your self even with minimal sewing skills.
In its simplest form it is a long rectangle of appropriately coloured wool stitched up the sides and top with two slits left at the upper sides for the arms to come through and one in the top edge for the head. It should be long enough to fall to mid calf and wide enough to reach either elbow, the length is then hitched up over a thin belt or leather thong tied around the waist.

Bear in mind that Singer had not invented his sewing machine during the Roman period so all work should be hand stitched (Blanket stitch was a late Roman development so a simple stitch should be used).

Under tunics made from linen or wool would be of the rectangular pattern. Bear in mind that wool under tunicae though accurate will probably be a bit too itchy for our modern 21stC delicate skin.

The Sagum.

The cloak came in two versions - the Sagum is a simple square of cloth which would be pinned at the right shoulder with a brooch. The normal dimension of this would be 1.5 to 1.7 metres. As most suppliers now sell wool cloth in widths of 1.5 metres that rather sorts the dimension out for you.n out for you.



The Paenula

The Paenula needs some manufacturing to take place but again is not too difficult. It is a large semi circle which then has a square hood stitched onto it.

The radius of the semi circle is 1.5 metres so to make this you will need to buy a length of 3 metres. To get the semi circle mark the centre of one of the long edges and hold one end of a piece of string to this point. Measure out the string to 1.5m and tie a piece of chalk to the other end. Hey Presto a home made large compass. Mark out the semi circle and cut it out.
You should have enough left over material to cut out two 30cm squares to make the hood with. Stitch two edges together as in the diagram. This will form the back and the top of the hood.

Then you need to cut a slit 20 cm long in from the centre of the long straight edge. Stitch one of the loose edges of the hood to each side of this slit. NB the two edges you have already sewn together of the hood should form the back and the top so make sure that the back is at the point of the V in the slit (see diagram).
This will leave about 10cm of the hood over the edge of the semi circle. You can then stitch the protruding edge to each side of the semi circle as this will pull the hood forward over your shoulders when wearing it.

You can then either fasten the cloak at the throat with a large brooch or attach it together with three toggles which would have fastened across your chest. These can be carved from wood (not too hard especially if you were a boy scout), or made from horn which can be bought from trader's fares.





A variation on this form of cloak was the circular pattern whereby you would need to make two semi circular lengths which would be stitched together about 120 cm along one of the straight edges. The hood is made as above and then attached with the rear seam beginning where the two halves of the cloak have been joined. Fastening is as for the semi circular cloak above. This will create a large but very warm cloak, perfect for very cold weather.


Use pigs fat or camping waterproofing to weather proof the cape.


Bracchai / femenalia

Method 1 : Bracchai.

The auxilia wear the brachai. The easiest method is to find a pair of jeans and trace around them for the pattern. Leave enough material above the waist to fold over for a leather thong to pass through. Brachai can be fairly loose fitting but try to avoid them being too baggy. Brachai may extend all the way to the ankles.

Method 1 : femenalia

femenali have nothing to do with women, despite being worn by the legionarii, they're to cover your femurs! A similar method to the making of the brachai can be used, but the fitting around the legs must be fairly tight. These should only extend to a point mid way down the calf muscle.

Some of the legionarii prefer to wear puttees (I'm not sure what the latin equivalent is). For these all you will require is two rectangles of material and some twine. Wrap the rectangles of material around the legs and fasten with twine!


Helmet Liners

Rather than use the black balaclava look that proved so popular recently this offers a more stable (less slipping on the head) and more authentic appearance.

To make it you will need some cloth (a metre square should be fine - colour is irrelevant though avoid using your old Teletubbies pyjamas as upturned helmets may be on show to the public), needle and thread, a smallish dining plate, a saucer and no sticky back plastic.

Draw around the plate and then place the saucer in the centre of the resultant circle and draw around this. Repeat for the second piece. Having done this cut out the two large circles.

Stitch the two circles together all around the edge and then all around the inner circle (see diag.). Leave a small gap in each line of stitches of about 4cm.
Having done this you should fill the inner circle with small strips of cloth to pad it. Regularly check the amount of padding needed by placing it, in the helmet and sticking it on your head. When it is comfortable and the helmet brow edge is at an acceptable position over your eyebrows then stitch up the gap in the inner circle. Then do a similar padding of the outer rim though be careful to evenly spread the padding around the circle and don't over fill this area. Frequent checks will help get it right. Once comfortable stitch the gap. The liner can now be secured in the helmet either with glue or double sided tape. You can then make a thin roll of material which call be fixed into the inner edge of the helmet to lie against you forehead and around the sides and back. The result will make your head fit snugly into the helmet without peeking out and looking rather unauthentic - very undesirable. It should also stop the sweat dripping into our eyes so you won't need to wear the kamikaze ninja turtle style head band.

Yes I know the Roman's didn't have double sided tape but by using this you can always remove the liner periodically to wash it - not a bad idea unless you want to smell as if you've bathed in pig fat.

Adapted from the Armae web site article




The most important item of kit for any infantryman has and always will be his boots. When you join you should contact Mestrius our resident cobbler to get a pair of Caligae made up. You will need to draw around your feet on a piece of paper and then mark them up L and R this should then be sent to him (Contact details will be given to you when you join). Instructions on looking after tne boots will be given to you when you receive them. One thing that often confuses a tiro is how to lace them up so enclosed are some instructions.

The lace should be placed so that its mid point is in front of the first pair of boot straps A in the above diagram. You then go from the outside through the first strap and across to it's opposite partner. Down to the second strap, through and across, this is repeated for each strap. When you get to the fifth strap which has double slits instead of going across to the front slit you go across to the second slit B in the diagram. Some people then prefer to tie a half knot after this double strap. You then continue this process up the remaining straps until you get to the top of the boot finishing it off with a bow or double knot depending on your preference, (remember though a double knot is hard to undo when you've got cold wet fingers and the pub is beckoning at the end of the day).

Mestrius (Dave Marsden) Contact Details - Dave Marsden