Fabric & Costume advice (Steinr Runesmith)

Hey everyone, just looking for some fabric advice as I design my kit for a Steinr Runesmith. I have been researching some inexpensive fabrics which may work for my soft kit, and was wondering if anyone can provide me feedback on how feasible using some of the materials would be. I have limited sewing experience (mainly tote bags and pencil cases for old school projects), so don’t personally know enough about fabric to be sure of my choices without some guidance.

  1. Is it financially worth it to make a woollen cape myself, or am I better off buying one from a LARP retailer? I have found wool for ~£20/m on Dalston Mill, whereas capes are coming out in excess of £60. From what I understand, I should only need 2-3m for a shorter cape, but am I correct in these calculations? Is wool really hard to work with or would I be okay as a beginner making a very simple cape? Do I really need to work with wool - are its water resistant qualities that useful if I plan on mainly coming for E2/E3 long term, or could I work with another warm material, such as faux fur, which may be more visually impactful while still conforming to the brief?

  2. Are cotton-linen blends suitable for tunics? Will they appear ic, or is the material too visually similar to normal cotton? Some forums I’ve read for more general LARP costuming have said cotton doesn’t work well, but LARP shops often seem to stock cotton shirts? Also, I’ve read that cotton-linen blends are easier to care for due to creasing less than 100% linen, and think that the slightly softer texture may make them easier to wear throughout the event (plus maybe more forgiving for a beginner to work with?). Is this accurate to your experiences?

  3. For the Steinr brief, suggested colours include green, blue, red and brown. I also saw that red is used because it’s recognisable across long distances in the snow, so are often used for banners and the like - would a red tunic be appropriate, given this context, or would I be better off sticking with the rest of the palette? (Also, if red would be appropriate, would this shade be fine or is it too bright: Buy Nia Lightweight Cotton Linen Blend, Red at Dalston Mill Fabrics ?)

  4. How rigid are the colour palettes? Can some neutral colours be incorporated which aren’t detailed in the brief, e.g. Buy Nia Lightweight Cotton Linen Blend, Taupe at Dalston Mill Fabrics , or Buy Ona Linen Blend, Peach at Dalston Mill Fabrics ?

  5. What sort of fabric should I be looking at for the trousers? Would pure linen be best suited for this, or would a blend work? I’ve seen lots of cotton pants on LARP shop sites, is this more practical than other materials?

Thanks for any insight you can provide!! :smiley:

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Hiyah, I can’t help much on this, I suspect the costumiers will be along later though.

  1. If you can make it yourself, it’s often worth doing so. A lot of the value of kit is in the work, not the materials. A simple cape is probably a good start. If you think you’ll be fine in something less waterproof, recall that summer weather in the UK is still pretty unsettled. Probably be fine though.

  2. Probably. Whatever you make it out of, bringing spare shirts for several changes is big and clever.

  3. That red shade looks fine to me. It’s not the bright shade I’d associate with Dawn/Brass Coast/League.

  4. Colour palettes are pretty mutable as far as I know, with a few exceptions (no black in the Brass Coast, for instance). That taupe looks fine, not sure about the peach.

  5. I got nuffin, sorry.

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On number 5

Linen is an amazing fabric, but boyhowdy is it not worth the pain that it is washing it

Pure linen goes orange when exposed to sweat and the orange does not wash out or bleach out. At all.

It also needs a really low temperature to be washed in a machine and does not tumble dry.

Expect, if you take to combat, to get grass and mud stains on your knees…which does require a bit of extra umph to wash out. Again, linen has the downside of being a pain to wash here.

Cotton (as big category of fabrics) is usually cheaper, per meter, than linen and comes with the advantage of having a lot more weaves if you’re buying from non specialist fabric shops.

(Poly cotton blends, especially mid-weight, are also a firm favourite of mine to work with)

Cotton/polycotton also washes so much easier, is generally easier to care for, and has advantage of not going orange when you sweat on it.

Thing to remember is that Empire isn’t reenactment. You don’t need to spend the earth on ‘era appropriate’ fabrics.

(I say this with the full understanding that I’m really bad at going “oooo, but silk duponi!” On my kit builds…but I play an Urizeni character currently and modern faux silks give me nightmares for seaming)

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It’s wonderful that you’re making stuff! it’s how I got into Larp!

  1. Wool for a cloak does have the benefit of being windproof as well as water resistant so it is the nicest option. It’s also mostly fireproof naturally, which is good for sparks around campfires. That said it can be cheaper to use a wool blend instead with mostly the same results. 3m should be fine. It’s quite easy to sew, although you’ll probably want to reinforce the neck line with bias tape or similar as the weight of the cloak can stretch that out of shape over time. If you do add a faux fur mantle (shoulders) it’s probably best as a separate piece as they will wash differently and it will be easier to care for them on their own.

  2. Cotton linen blends are excellent. So is most cotton to be honest, and we often suggest people starting with bed sheets, so polycotton, if their budget is small. If you can a couple of changes are great, plus a spare for monstering if you can too. Linen gets softer over time and the creases drop out with body heat to some extent, but it does take a little more care, and is alot more expensive in most cases!

  3. That dark red is lovely. You’re after shades that could come from plant dyes but the richer darker end of the spectrum, rather than primary paint box colours. Also do make sure you add braid which can incorporate some of the other colours in the palate in your tunic trims, or jewellery.

  4. As far as undershirts etc anything off bright white is usually OK, cream or beige looks great, and works for many future costume base layers too. It’s difficult to tell from a computer screen those 2 may be a bit dark for base shirts and not an obvious enough colour for top shirts if you see what I mean? The Steinr brief is for rich colours as that shows wealth and taste, I think both of those shades may be a little too on the poor end but that is my opinion. The taupe would make an excellent monstering shirt colour though.

  5. Trousers - depends somewhat on the weather but you can add thermals underneath instead. Heavy linen, or heavy cotton or cotton blend would work, or a light wool. My trousers under my costume are cotton drill, because it’s hard wearing and easy to get hold of and work with.

Hope that helps. Would love to see progress pics at some point if you’re up for that.

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  1. I’m definitely going to try and get a cape fabric which is somewhat water resistant, as the risk of showers is definitely a concern - I don’t want to leave a trail of puddles if the weather takes a turn!

  2. Do you think 3 tunics/ 1 per day is enough, or should I be planning to have spares for the battle & monstering? How likely am I to get really messy on the battlefield in E2/E3?

  3. Brilliant, I was trying not to veer into bright territory! I’m thinking of getting a wine shade too, just in case the red isn’t what I expect when it arrives. I figure I can always keep it for a spare tunic in case I die later on and want to kit a character in one of those nations quickly :slight_smile:

  4. I wasn’t sure about the peach either, just wondered how far the brief stretches. I think I’m going to stick to wines and reds for the moment, with a cream under tunic so that I can do the layering that helps to make the Steinr identifiable from the Suaq & Kallavesi traditions. I might get the taupe because if it doesn’t work for my character when it arrives, I can probably use it for monstering or something similar.

  5. No worries, I appreciate all of your help!

Thank you so much for the guidance! I’m going to look into cotton/polycotton options, especially for some of the dark green and blues that I’m struggling to find in a cotton/linen blend at the moment.

I’m glad that my instincts were right with linen, as I was pretty sure that it would be more hassle than its worth for me right now. When I’ve spent some more time with the game and have more disposable income I might look into it again, maybe for an outer layer that won’t be worn into battle, but I’m pleased that it’s not an expectation for everyone to grapple with cleaning it.

(I imagine the lure of beautiful fabrics is too strong to resist, especially playing an Urizeni character. Everything I’ve read about that nations brief sounds beautiful, I think I’d end up bankrupting myself in the process of making a costume :sweat_smile: )

I’m glad that lots of people seem to have taken similar routes into LARP from what I’ve seen online, it’s made me feel a lot more confident about trying to create my own kit! (It’s also helping a bunch on the pattern front, though clearly trousers and tunics aren’t going to be too complex as long as I take my time.)

  1. Off the back of your advice, I think going with a wool blend is probably my best bet for now. I don’t want to sink too much money into the character and kit until I know for sure I’m happy with my direction (which I expect to have some idea of after the first event), so long term will look into 100% wool fabric when its more financially viable for me to do so, especially if I start attending E1/E4, where I get the impression that poor weather is common. Thank you so much for the advice on the faux fur mantle - I was wondering how such a thing could be cared for long term, and the idea of detaching it is ingenious.

  2. I’m thinking of doing ~3 tunics, plus a monstering one, as thus far I think I can make 1 for roughly £12, so it won’t break the bank to have a selection, and I’ll be less nervous about the risk of poor weather.

  3. Great! I’m planning to get that kind of deep red/wine tone for one tunic, and do blue and green for the others, then have some brown trousers as they should wear well on the field. Do you have any advice of places to find braid? I’ve seen some basic trimmings in craft stores near me but wondered if there’s anywhere you would recommend. I’m going to search some charity shops for the jewellery, as they normally have an interesting range of things which will work with my budget.

  4. I’ll get the taupe for monstering, and look for some cream or beige for my undershirts - I’ve definitely seen lots of polycotton options for that near me, so I think I’ll try and search in person at my local craft stores. I need to look into sourcing rich tone fabrics more as they’re my problem at the moment, but I don’t think it should be too hard.

  5. I’ll look into some brown cotton drill or heavy cotton then, as I want the trousers to be quite hardwearing so I don’t need to start out with too many pairs.

Thank you so so much for all of your help, I really appreciate it! I plan to share lots of progress photos as I work on my kit so that I can keep checking in and ensuring I’m hitting the brief properly.

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If it helps- if you get cream/white base fabrics, dyeing them is always an option for getting the exact colour you want

Dylon does some very nice lazy person friendly dyes for cotton based fabrics - ie, bung wet fabric into washer, plop dye pod on top, run a wash cycle, remove pod, run wash cycle+detergent, and hang dry… downside colour range is mite limited

I’ve also previously used a more traditional dye (bit faffier, higher chance of not as great results, but more colours available) to get a very rough ombre on a piece of potential kit that ended up more Brass Coast colour strength than Urizen…
I found it a great way of killing an entire afternoon outside, might not do it again

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Oooh dyes are a good shout, I’ll look into the dylon range if I can’t find what I like for sale. I think the odds of me destroying some perfectly good fabric if I mess up with the traditional dye.

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Best place for braid is probably ebay!

The search term you’re looking for is jacquard - which means woven in patterns which is the nicer more hardwearing stuff although it can be expensive, buy more than you think you need, it always seems to be further around cuffs and collar than you think. If you ned to watch your budget a bit more then buying a couple of thin plainer ribbons, or even cotton bias tape and putting a line of both around edges can look just as fancy.

Leftover bits of braid can be used to decorate your belongings, tankard handle, weapon handles or notebook and then they’re easier to spot and more likely to be returned to you if you put them down places!

To give you an idea some of the options here would work, just avoid the neon colours! Jacquard Trim Braid or Embroidered Ribbon Craft Sewing Retro Boho Ethnic Scandi | eBay

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Thank you for including the search term, that’s definitely going to save me a lot of headaches and guesswork to find the right kind of thing. I think including it will really elevate my costumes visually without taking forever!

I love the idea of using the leftovers to make personal items more recognisable! I was worried about the risk of putting down something and having no way of it getting back to me/being confused for someone else’s belongings if we had similar items, and your idea will make it a lot easier to avoid that :smiley:

As far as losing stuff not attached to you put your player ID on it! Nail polish works on hard items, stitch it or write it on anything else. There is lost property in GOD (Games Operation Desk - big white tent next to IC area) and if they get something with a player ID on it it is much easier to reunite you with it. If nothing else when you go to collect your next event envelope there will be a scrawled note on the front saying see Lost property!

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On cloaks and capes:

Wool is absolutely worth it! Water-repellant, windproof, flame retardant, and if it’s at all felted you don’t even have to hem it, which is great for a cloak.

I can highly recommend an eBay shop called Maggie’s Fab Fabrics (MAGGIES FAB FABRICS | eBay Stores) - she has some 100% wool coat fabrics for around £12 a metre, and a lovely wool blend (look for the ‘WHAT WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR’ stuff) in a variety of colours for only £8 a metre which is great for cloaks.

You can get more cloak out of your fabric if you use the ‘kite’ method, with the con that it’s a lot more sewing:

Fabric Cutting for the Circular Cloak - 1 Click through to the second page

On cotton and linen:

I love the coolness of linen but it is a right arse dealing with the creases. Absolutely go for a blend or for cotton instead. Polycotton is fine, too - personally I stick to natural fibres next to the skin but that’s because I get stinky in synthetics, even blends!

Maggie’s also has several shades of a linen/viscose blend shirting weight fabric (it’s the ‘WOW NATURAL FIBRES’ one) at around £5 a metre - excellent for tunics and shirts. Though viscose, as a semi-synthetic, is not quite as cool and breathable as cotton or linen, it is still way more so than polyester, plus it barely creases and dries fast. Blended with linen combines the best of both.

It’s also not uncommon to find ‘linen weave cotton’ fabric, which is cotton in a rough weave that visually is closer to (what people think when they think) linen, but easier to maintain.

Most of my own, my partner’s and our children’s shirts and shifts are made from charity shop cotton sheets. Pre-shrunk, pre-softened, and cheap.

Partner and I each have three shirts/shifts, then two top layers - kirtles for me, tunics/cottes for him - and he brings a spare generic tunic for monstering as well. Plus accessories likes cloaks, hoods, house tabards. This works fine for almost all events - wear a clean outfit Friday and Saturday, then your last clean shirt and whatever top layer’s least wrecked for Sunday!

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