The length of fabric could also be worn as a skirt wrapped, passed
around the body and then tied it at the front. As you can see, without a cape
this costume is much more more revealing, although is was very suited to the hot
Egyptian climate. Sometimes
a decorative collar would be worn with
this ancient Egyptian clothing style. You can find a circular guide pattern for an
Egyptian collar base with
ornamental pattern ideas here.
The cape shoulder drapery was a rectangle twisted in specific manner
as shown in the diagram. Once the ends were twisted, they could be
knotted to make ties, which then used to position the cape. The triangle
at points a), b) and c) was twisted at a) until it made a short
compact length that could be used as a cord tie.
Decoration in Egyptian dress was mostly on the collar. The
patterns used were made with either beads, jewels or embroidery.
Painting designs directly onto the
collar was also used.
Sometimes collars were made from coloured pieces of leather.
The last type of Egyptian Costume is the Shawl Draped Style
and its variations. These styles have a
strong resemblance to Indian sari styles of today. Their beauty lies in draping
a simple rectangle of usually bordered fabric, in an artistic and
The best Egyptian costumes radiate draperies emanating from one main
point - the knot. Many of you will be familiar with aspects
of this technique from tying a beach sarong. From that
experience you will realise that the softness, or the stiffness, creates a different final look. Also sometimes just moving the position of the fabric length a few inches, makes it look more
Obtain your fabric length of 162" by 45" deep as shown
To drape the first style S below right, tie a cord around the waist.
Tuck in corner B) at the left side waist.
Pass the fabric around the back and then around the side again.
Make some pleats and tuck them in the centre front of the waist into
the cord and fabric.
Next pass the remainder round to the back and side
Now catch up all the whole excess drapery of fabric.
Throw the drapery upwards from the right hand side of the waist under
the left armpit.
Next pass it on around the back over the right shoulder
towards the front body.
The remaining fabric should be thrown over the
chest and then over the left shoulder.
The model T, to the right, dates from ancient Egyptian clothing of 1300 B.C. To arrange model T use
the same guideline fabric pattern with a fabric length of
162" by 45" deep.
Take the corner of A) and hold it at the right side waist at the front.
Next pass the fabric around the back, to the left side of the waist
under the left arm, towards the front.
Now catch up the entire garment and throw the whole fabric length over the right
Take the upper edge of the fabric and pass it around the back of the
neck so that it falls over the right shoulder.
Position the fabric so it lays across the right chest. At that
point corner B) should be tied to corner A). Corner D) should be hanging
down the back in a point.
Model V is a late Egyptian clothing style and dates from 500 B.C. This model demands
another guide pattern 20 inches wider at 182" wide by 45" deep.
(I'd buy 5 yards or 5 metres of 45" fabric for this style - it's usual
to get cut an extra inch or two over a purchase of several yards.)
N.B. - You will need a cord
or woven tape some inches longer than your waist, plus a decorative
girdle of the sort worn over a gymslip - and which might be made of
in version S), tie a cord around the waist.
Using the same fabric length take corner A) start by holding it at the
waist on the left side.
Now holding the corner A) firmly in that position throw all the fabric
up over the right shoulder to the back.
Now take corner C) and bring that around under the right arm and hold it
along with corner A).
The edge of the long side A) to B) still hangs over the right shoulder.
Now draw that edge downwards across the back to the left side of the
Bring it around to the front of the waist and at the left front side
waist pin it to the corners A) and C).
Then pass the garment on round the front and tuck in a few pleats at the
centre front into the waist cord.
Next pass it around the right side of the waist and upwards across the
back taking it over the left shoulder.
Then see that it passes over the chest toward the right side of the
At this point check the image of Model V and see how you need to pass a
loop of fabric over the left wrist. Finally tie the whole drapery at the
waist with a separate girdle.
Read more about Egyptian Ornament - You can see some decorative elements
for Egyptian collars on this page.
Details of Egyptian eye make and Cleopatra eye liner eyes are here.
This page contains ancient Egyptian clothing plates sourced from the book Ancient
Egyptian, Assyrian and Persian Costumes & Decorations by Mary G. Houston
and Florence S. Hornblower. The book was published by A & C. Black of
London in 1920. F. S. Hornblower coloured both the figures and
Decorative Ornament plates where colour was needed.
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