Dressing the First Labourer

Unsuccessfu lAttempt

Unsuccessful Attempt

Having stared thoughtfully at the people, I cut out some clothing shapes out of one of my pieces of quilting cotton, and started trying to create folds in them as I attached them to the fabric.

The trousers were tricky, but not impossibly so. The jacket, or top, or whatever it is, brought me to an abrupt halt.

Dearie, dearie me.

That didn’t work at all, did it.

The bulk and the folds are all in the wrong places. He’s certainly crumpled, but it isn’t the right sort of crumpled! And don’t even get me started on how difficult it was. I felt as though I was all fingers and thumbs – it was almost as bad as working with glue!

Cue much muttering, unpicking, and rethinking.

Turban Completed

Turban Completed

While I was thinking, I had a go at the turban.

The textured deep crimson is a circle of trellis stitch, a densely knotted needlelace stitch I’ve used a lot in my various Thistle Threads courses. The thread is silk, from a bag of “odds and ends” from Mulberry Silks. I cut out a circle of the fabric I’d stitched and gathered it to create a crimson bobble.

The cotton around it is a narrow tube of the fabric I was using, tucked under the crimson bobble at either end, and held down with odd little stitches to create the effect of folds.

First Labourer Clad

First Labourer Clad

That worked. It also gave me a thought. There seems to be very little shaping in the garments we see in the photos from the dig – not least, in such a hot climate, loose, airy, voluminous clothing is likely to be a lot more comfortable!

So the next version of the labourer’s clothing was made, essentially, by cutting out a series of rectangles and applying them separately. In this case, there was only one rectangle for the sleeve, and then another for the body. It’s been gathered in to create a loosely bloused waist, and left flat and unfinished on the inner side where it will be covered by the next labourer’s clothing.

I think this has worked a great deal better. I might even be able to bring my imagined picture almost fully to life!

I’ve also added another layer for the face of the second labourer. There won’t be much of it visible, but the first labourer’s clothes are supposed to be behind it, so the addition was necessary.


  1. Sue Jones says:

    The centre of that turban looks deliciously edible. (Isn’t trellis stitch useful? Great for adding structural bits and bobs to all sorts of projects.) The first tunic seems very heavy and thick, while the second is so cool and flowing that you would hardly believe it is the same fabric at all.

  2. elaine says:

    I love it! It is really interesting watching this come to life 🙂

  3. Carolyn says:

    It is looking good. Your first figure is very effective.

  4. Penny says:

    Fabulous!! I love it that you conquered this challenge. This looks really good – and yes, the loose fabric would be perfect for that climate.

  5. karen says:

    I think you’ve done a brilliant job here Rachel…

  6. Zoe says:

    I am really enjoying seeing your progress on this. Very neat. Great job with the clothes. I can absolutely see the photo when I see your progress.

  7. Lady Fi says:

    Wow – it’s looking really good.

  8. Terrie says:

    Really love how it is going to dress. The textures are so wonderful. Looking forward to seeing the finished.

  9. The turban is very good indeed, and your second version of the clothes looks much better. Great progress!

  10. cathy daniel says:

    He looks absolutely perfect! The Turban is so good! I love that you post pics of your first attempts/mistakes! But, yes, you did give yourself a challenge and rose to it admirably. To use your own words back at you: “What the Dickens were you thinking of?” Lol. xCathy

  11. Jules says:

    Terrific! The clothing’s looking really good – but oh that turban! It’s just adorable. ( I mean overall it looks perfectly ‘turbanish’ – but it’s cute, Rachel, just so cute!)

  12. Mary Addison says:

    Fascinating post – very fingernail bitingly edgy as we share your progress. Well done.

  13. jenclair says:

    Love the turban and the way the clothing drapes!

  14. Anita says:

    Wow! Love the turban. Did you fill the bobble with little stuffing to retain the shape? It’s always amazing to look at the effect created by tiny gathers 🙂

  15. The clothes drape beautifully on the figure second time round but the turban is just perfect!

  16. Janice says: