i know i post alot and i hope its allright. (if not please tell me) but i have a good friend who is planning on going to empire and play in the marches . any people who could give him some tips or ideas to make his first costume?? thats not too exspensive? its also have to be said he as far as i know dont sew.
i hope people can help me and him
Have a good rummage at charity shops and Primark, or equivalent (and shopping both sections) tend to be the usual offered advice for any Nation
I’d also hit up local early era (Norman and Anglo-Saxon) reenactment groups and see if there’s anyone looking at selling second hand basic tunics/hats, as the base Marcher kit seems very ‘early England, but make it fantasy’ in tone.
Frame your intentions
Okay, let’s ask a couple of basic questions here… what does he have and what does he want?
Does he have a few spare weekends? Does he have a friend who can sew? Does he have a cupboard of finds? Does he have a spare £70?
(This last question is controversial, and I’m not expecting a public answer. I reckon its important to at least consider your budget, and I chose the price of an event ticket as a first draft)
In two words, what does he want to show with his costume? Assume “Marcher” for free, this would normally be a three-word challenge. Grizzled veteran? Practical witch? Landed gentry?
- Layers are amazing. They keep you warm. They keep you cool. They hide OOC layers. They can very easily be recycled between costumes.
- Sewing is an over-powered costume skill. Even just joining pieces of fabric, turning a hem and following a basic pattern can get you tunics, breeches and a cloak.
- Charity and bargain shops! Have a rummage, you can often find items that just need a slight tweak. A pair of brown “grandad” trousers with the seam ironed away and hemmed half-way down the shin is a simple and cheap way of getting a pair of breeches.
- Accessories! I love accessorising my costumes. One or two little items can make a costume seem a bit more lived-in and a bit deeper.
- Tell a story. Many people will see your costume, many more than you would talk to. Even those you do talk to will have seen your costume first, and will often describe iconic parts of it when describing you to another character. You may as well use this opportunity to tell a little something about your character.
If he’s planning a male costume then the basics will be a shirt and hose.
The cheap way to do this is basic leggings, primark, or any of the supermarkets will work, check the women’s side and see if you can find some non black ones. Much more Marcher to go for wine red, brown or even mustard gold if you can find it.
Shirts check the charity shops. You’re after cream or off white grandad shirts, the ones with the little stand up collar. Oversized is better, again check the women’s rails too. If you are careful you can cut the stitches on any breast pocket to remove it, run it through the wash and that should remove the sewing holes so it will look like it was never there.
If you can find them / afford it a couple of sets of both will make wet or very hot events much nicer.
Then you just need a t-tunic, cotehardie or doublet to go over it.
If you have even the basics of sewing knowledge a t-tunic is a very simple garment to get started on, one in cotton/linen for the summer, one in wool for cold events will do you great - use charity shop bed clothes and blankets for your materials, there’s patterns on the Empire wiki.
Cotehardies and Doublets are a little more complex as they need some fitting and buttons or lacing. If you have a friend or relative who sews they’re not that complicated so worth asking. Otherwise haunt the second hand sellers on FB or in the field and you’ll probably find one that works for you.
Invest in your boots - you want waterproof, ankle supporting and comfortable for walking all weekend, so if you have limited budget get those sorted first.
Add a belt, get a cloth or leather bag (charity shop) for your pencil and notebook, find a tankard (charity shop) and then check the jewellery racks in the charity shops for broaches that might work, bead sets etc that will give your character something to make them memorable and talk about.
Also for warmth, a wool blanket pinned at the throat makes a good cloak (if it’s big enough you can even pull it up for a makeshift hood. You can use a simple nappy-pin which will be mostly hidden if you do it right.