top of page


1st Century - Tunic 1
1st Century - Tunic 2
1st Century - Tunic 3
1st Century - Tunic 4
Sumner Tunic Drawings 2
Sumner Tunic Drawings 1


***We strongly recommend you make your own!***


The Principate tunic was a simple garment typically made from two large, rectangular sheets of fabric sewn together at the shoulders and down the sides below the armpits, with the neck and lower hem utilizing the selvedged edges; this largely eliminated the need for hemming. Selvedged borders were typically tablet woven or used tubular selvedging, with the stitches of the tunic being running stitches and flat-felled seams. Dimensions for tunics are given both by primary sources and archaeological finds: Cato the Elder states a farmer's tunic should be approximately 107cm long, while the BGU VII 1564 papyrus says a tunic should be 3.5 cubits long by 3 cubits wide, or about 155cm long by 133cm wide. Archaeologically, the best examples from the early Principate come from Nahal Hever (100cm long by 115cm wide), Nubia Grave Q150 (127cm long by 140cm wide), and Khirbet Qazone in Jordan (117cm long by 142cm wide). Roman fabrics were typically woven in 2/2 or 2/1 twill (plain weave or "tabby weave"), but broken herringbone and diamond twill are also known from the period, albeit much rarer. While early plaids are known from the period from parts of Gaul, Britain, and other regions in Europe, historically accurate plaid weaves are nigh impossible to find.

The Romans typically wore two tunics, which were called camisia (from Greek kamision) and tunica or colobium (from Greek kolovion). The camisa was an undertunic, always of linen, and usually off-white or bleached white. The primary tunic, called  tunica or colobium, is debated in composition, as papyrus BGU VII 1564 says it should be of white wool, and sculptural evidence occasionally depicts soldiers' tunics in detail high enough that the method of edging employed specifically for wool tunics is visible. The best material for tunics (barring silk) was considered to be fine south Italian wool according to the 6th century author John Lydos. However, the majority of archaeological finds of fabrics from across the empire, including partial or full tunics, are in linen, with the exception of those from the deep south of Egypt, where cotton was unusually common.

Although the Romans were not exceptionally strict about the color of the tunic when unarmed, the Romans did strictly enforce the use of a "battle tunic," called in the late empire a blattea or alavandikon (later armelausa, from Greek armelausion). It is unknown if this policy were codified into law in the principate as it was in late antiquity, however, some third century sources seem to indicate the existence of a "battle tunic" before late antiquity, possibly called the tunica rustica, after its red color. Red, green, blue, and white are all evidenced in combat scenes in art. Members of Legio VI are therefore advised to choose a natural shade of RED for their primary tunic's color; this can range widely in hue and tone, with linen usually taking lighter salmon pink shades, and wool able to hold deeper colors ranging from a "rust" orange-red to a deep "garnet". The primary dyes used for tunics were madder and European cochineal, although modern dyes are acceptable provided they match natural, historical shades.

Recommended Suppliers

Soul of the Warrior - Owned by the Centurio of Legio VI, this site will cover many of your clothing-based needs.

Medievaldesign - Makes a wool or linen principate tunic, with or without Clavii.

Caleb Burch - Can make a variety of wool tunics based on custom measurements. One of the best historical tailors in the U.S.

Valeria Corvina - An excellent seamstress specializing in Roman-era garments, she can make any wool or linen tunic you need.

Marled Mader - One of the best weavers and seamstresses in Europe. Can make tunics in hand-woven, hand-dyed fabric.


Fabrica Cacti - Can make a diamond twill wool tunic in any authentic color. Based in Poland.


Made in Duendecya - Can make a wool or linen tunic in any authentic color. Based in Spain.

Fabric Store - Covers all of your 100% linen needs.

B. Black and Sons Fabrics - Offers a variety of 100% wool in different weights and twills.

Dorr Mill - Offers a variety of 100% wool in different weights and twills.

Linengraphy - Sells herringbone weave linen in a limited color selection. Based in Lithuania.

Woolsome - Sells a variety of 100% wool in different weights and twills, as well as plain weave linen in undyed, bleached, and modern dyes. Run by Legio XXI in Poland.

bottom of page