$20 Garb Challenge

Recently, a friend of mine sponsored a contest to create a full set of garb using thrifted items. The rules stated that whatever materials we used had to add up to less than $20.

Here’s what I came up with (sorry about the lack of image quality):

I made a kilt, Bocksten tunic, and a short hangerok.

Ironically, my inspiration came as I was standing in the thrift store and came across some pseudo-plaid, and decided to make a kilt. I cut my square in half, then sewed the short ends together in order to make it long enough, then followed these instructions, http://www.garbtheworld.com/pgs/foldkilt.shtml to fold my kilt.

With that done, I made a Bocksten tunic based on Alric’s tutorial- http://www.dagorhir.com/gear/content/garb/bocksten_tunic.php.

I then simply sewed two squares together with straps for my hangerok and had some decent garb.

But in order to add a bit of detail, I sewed a stitch of different color around my tunic neckline and top hem of the hangerok for some color, and safety pinned some necklaces that I borrowed from my roommate to emulate the viking/celt style of broaches to hang necklaces from.

I ended up using 15 of my $20, and I wish I’d been able to devote more time to my entry, but I’ve been too busy recently to put as much detail into it as I’d have liked.


Rawr is dinosaur for ‘I love you’

Guess what I made!?!?!?!

Yeah. It’s a dinosaur! 😀

This evening I was walking outside and my ears got cold. So I’ve decided to remedy that. I found a tutorial that had a big person sized pattern, rather than the kids one I linked to before, and decided to use that instead. The original is freaking adorable.

I haven’t had a chance to add the eyes and teeth yet, but I’ll be making a trip to acquire the felt over the weekend. I’m fairly certain that will be the only thing possible to make this hat even more adorable and awesome.

I’m not sure if I’m 100% happy with how my spikes turned out, so if I make another one of these, I may try making them a little smaller to see how that looks.

All in all, I’m very happy with the dinosaur that now keeps my ears warm 🙂

The internet is full of wonders.

Tonight I was cleaning up the mass of fabric explosion that was all over my floor and thought to post a picture of my most recent “garb” purchase.

I ended up getting this corset on ebay of all places. And for only $12! Here is the link to the seller’s store. Most of the stuff they have is too modern to work as a medieval style corset, but the one I got is just a simple black print with a very faint pinstripe pattern.

The shirt I’m wearing under the corset is one of the peasant tops that I made using the tutorial posted on my project page. This one has (unseen) elastic under the bust and a purple leather cord around the shoulders.

It’s a pretty simple pattern to make, and very well written. I believe this top was made from a thrifted sheet, which puts the ensemble at under $15. Anyone who claims that garb is always expensive is terribly confused.

Also, after one final purchase of some wonderful, cheap wool, I’ve decided not to let myself buy any more fabric until I make a significant dent on my box of fabric. Of course the day after I decide that, Boyfriend decided to buy me some really pretty, really soft turquoise fabric…

Back to life.

I’ve decided to brush the cobwebs off my blog and update a few things. Yay updates! School has been really busy this semester and I haven’t had time to sew a thing. However, my ever growing box of fabric has been calling my name for a while, and I’ve decided to take mercy on it. The fabric was grateful to see the light of day again.

First, I’ve been working on a wonderfully warm fleece dress for winter. The main part is pretty much done, but I’ve decided to step up my game from here on out and add some embroidery. It should turn out looking pretty good, once I practice a little more….

It is essentially a modified tunic, with a few pieces combined to try and cut down on the overall bulk of the seams. I also put a little more time into the neckhole on this one and I am much, MUCH more pleased with it than any previous attempts.

Also, I found this today and it immediately jumped to the top of my to-do list. After all, who wouldn’t want a dinosaur hat!?

I’m going to try and update this some more in the upcoming days/weeks as I finish more projects, but unfortunately I can’t make promises.

Warning: Some motivation required

As I’ve been working on this blog so far, there are a few things that I’ve learned about myself.

First, I’m not nearly as motivated as I thought I was going to be. There were countless projects that I wanted to try and take on this summer, but I ended up barely accomplishing any of them. I’m nearly out of time for summer projects, but I definitely still want to try and create the projects on the list I started at the beginning of the summer.

And second, writing tutorials is nowhere close to as much fun as it sounds like. I realized that when I work on projects, I like to take other people’s creations and, as I go, modify them slightly so that they fit the image that I have in my head. This can be great for the creative process, but not so helpful when trying to explain my thought process to others.

I would like to continue posting things on this site, but I think in the future I am going to focus more on the problems (and hopefully solutions) that I came across while making my own projects. After writing one tutorial, I don’t know that I feel confident enough about anything of my other projects to try and explain them through the written word and the occasional picture.

In the mean time, I would encourage anyone who is reading this and interested in starting a new sewing project to take a look at the ‘Projects’ tab located at the top of the page. That is my list of projects that I have found scattered around the internet that I want to recreate. Most all of them come with their own tutorial from someone more skilled than I, and seem like they should be fairly easy to create, given enough time and attention to details.

I’ll make sure to post pictures when I accomplish a new project, and will try to include any notes and advice that I uncover in the process.

Another thing I would like to do is create more of a database of resources, both ones that I have uncovered, and ones that other people have found and shared. My bookmarks folder is filled with a mass of links to sites with all kinds of wonderful information, and I would love to think that I could help someone else out by sharing some of these great sites.

So, while my summer is nearly over, I would encourage people to stop back by periodically for progress reports on future projects.

A corset of course

One of the projects that I wanted to attempt this summer was a corset. I’m not really a girly-girl, but I just kind of like the idea. Unfortunately, my first attempt didn’t end up well enough that I feel skilled enough to offer instruction to others, but I thought I would pass along where I got my ideas from and a few tips on what NOT to do.

First, here is my inspiration. I didn’t want to try and create something with boning on my first try, and this seemed to accomplish that very nicely.

It’s a pretty straightforward tutorial, but I had a little trouble getting the shape right. I started off by sewing a tube, pinning it to my body, and having my little sister break the seam with a seam ripper. That worked pretty well, until I tried to modify it later because I thought it didn’t fit very well as I was holding it up to me. I forgot that there would be tight lacing helping the fabric to keep its shape, and decided to take some “extra” fabric off the front. It still fits well enough, but there is now a much wider gap at the top of the back than at the bottom.

If I were to do it again, I would try to make the corset using this type of method. It seems to waste much less fabric, and doesn’t rely on guesswork.

This is a tutorial from Threadheads that shows another idea of how to put things together once you have a pattern (which you can make on your own, or try something like this).

Basically, the best advice I can offer is to try something, and if it doesn’t work, try something else.

Here are some samples of my efforts:

Here is the front of the corset

And the back. See what happened to the lacing? :/

Also, some nifty tools I found that made the project easier!

D-ring lacing tape (awesome) from this person on Ebay. And eye and hook tape from this person.

To the machine!!! (Tunic tutorial)

Now that all of the boring details about the necessities of sewing are out of the way, we can finally create something!

The most important (and wonderful) thing about most medievel designs is that they are created using rectangles and triangles. That’s it. No weird curves to figure out, no pleats, weird zig-zags, or other peculiarities. So in that sense, this should be one of the easiest things you could ever make. But, on the other hand, medieval tunics don’t really come in standard pattern sizes. YOU are the pattern. Sure, if you search around the wealth of information on the internet, you could probably find a pattern for a “men’s large”. But wouldn’t it be better to have something that is made just for you?

I’m going to offer a couple different options, then show you how to make the variation that looks the best (in my opinion) and is the most accurate.

The simplest “tunic” that you can make is the T-tunic. This is basically a t-shirt, made by you. Imagine a giant “T” made out of fabric.

(c) Scion d'Ur-- Original Directions

Cut out the area under the arms, sew, hem, and voila- a tunic! You can also make the seams a little more curved under the arms to be more comfortable, and/or have it flare out slightly toward the bottom.

However. We are going to aspire to something a little more awesome than that.

The best basic tunic for Dagorhir (and looking awesome in general) is the Bocksten Tunic. This historic design was uncovered in Sweden in 1936. Here is a neat site with more background on the original. This design takes the basic “T” and adds gussets and gores to make it fit better and allow it to be more awesome in general. I’ve pulled my method from two main resources, that from House Marsvin, and Alric’s tutorial. The cool thing about this tunic is that it can easily be modified to make a tunic, or, by making it longer, a dress.


The first step to creating your tunic is figuring out the size you need to make it. For some of these measurements, you may find that it is easier to enlist someone else’s help.

Start by measuring from the top of your shoulder to around your knees. You are going to lose a little bit of that length in the construction process, and it will seem shorter once it is on, so it is generally better to estimate longer than you think you might need. This will be measurement A.

Next, measure from shoulder to shoulder. If you find yourself with a slightly larger midsection, measure that, divide it in half, and use that measurement instead. Add about two inches to this measurement to ensure room for seams and so that you have room to move. (A note for females: Your first inclination might be to measure the length around your chest and use that measurement instead. As good an idea as that sounds right now, those measurements will cause an extreme excess of fabric. We are going to add in gussets under the arms that will add a little extra room in that area. If you are extremely well endowed, you may have to modify this method slightly, but otherwise, don’t worry about it.) This measurement: Shoulder to shoulder + 2 inches = B.

Now, the sleeves. It may be best to get someone helpful to assist you in this one. You are going to measure from your armpit to how ever long you want your sleeves to be. This is measurement C. 

Next, we need to figure out how wide to make your sleeves. Measure around your bicep and add about 4 inches. This is going to be the top of your sleeve and measurement D. Now measure around the widest part of your fist for measurement E.

Now, in order to make the tunic more comfortable, we are going to add gores to the sides that will give you more room to move. In order to figure out the dimensions of these, measure from your shoulder to your belly button, and subtract that number, from your overall length (measurement A, for those not paying attention). This will give you the length of your gores- measurement F. For the width, take the about 3/4 of measurement B. This will become measurement G.

Finally, we need to figure out the size of the gussets to place under the arm. I’ll admit, I don’t have a mathematical method for this. You are going to cut a square of fabric, and place it so that when you lay the tunic flat, it looks like there are triangles under the arms (see picture below). For my tunics (about a men’s small, or women’s medium) I used a 5″ square (that is, 5″ on each side). In order to make a men’s XL, I used a 7″ square. It may be better to wait until you have the sleeves sut out and connected to estimate how big you want to make yours.

Cutting the Fabric

First, the body. You are going to cut out two rectangles that are A by B. These will form the body.

Next, measure the arm pieces. You are going to create 2 trapezoids (one for each arm) using measure

ments C, D, and E. They are going to be C long, with D and E determining how wide either end is. For this, it may be easier to fold the fabric in half and measure against the fold. Measure half of D down from one side, and half of E down f

rom the other. If you are worried about getting the two pieces to be exactly the same, cut one out and then trace the other one from that.

Here I've got my two layers of fabric ready to be cut out at the same time (I'm making short sleeves on this tunic).

Now, the gores. For these you are going to cut out two triangles. They are going to be F long and G wide. Measure F down the center of the triangle, and G across the base.

After that, you are good to start sewing! Here and here are some smart options on how you might want to lay out your fabric. Though take note that these are both options for if you want to make a 4 gored tunic.


Step one- Sew the two pieces for the body of your tunic together along the top. You may want to leave some space in the middle to allow for the head hole. Remember, you are sewing the shorter sides of the fabric (measurement B) together.

Step two- the sleeves. Separate the layers of the body of your tunic so that the right side of the fabric is facing you. now, you are going to need to find the center of your sleeve, length-wise. Just fold it in half and line it up so that the edges are together and the right sides are facing each other- like so:

Sew the edges together, and repeat for the other sleeve.

Now is when you need to have figured out your gussets. You are going to sew the four sides of the square onto either side of your sleeve, and the side of your tunic. Check Alric’s tutorial for a better explanation of this. Connect one side of the sleeve with gusset before doing the other side, and make sure to keep sewing the right sides of the fabric together. Once you get the first two sides sewn, fold the tunic in half along the top seam, line up the sleeve, and sew the other sides of the square to the sleeve.

Sew the side to the body of the tunic first, and then when you pin the last side, you can pin the rest pf the sleeve together as well and just connect them at the same time.

Now sew the other sleeve, and you have most of your tunic (and the hardest part) done!

Next, you need to insert the gores. Line up one edge of your gore with the side of the body of the tunic, remembering to keep the right sides together. Line it up with the bottom edge, pin, and sew, then prepare to line up the other side.

On this one, you will want to start pinning at the top of the gore (toward the armpit). Line up the fabric between the bottom of the gusset and the top of the gore so that it lays flat, then continue pinning down the length of the gore. Your edges may end up being slightly off, but you can trim those when you hem the bottom edge.

Sew in the other gore, and you have a tunic! Just trim a hole to fit your head through, and you are good to go! When figuring out the head hole, remember to start smaller- you can always take more fabric away, but you can’t add it back in.

Here are some options for the shape of your neck hole, and here and here are some finishing methods if you feel like getting fancy.

Other options

If you read through all of that and decided that it was far beyond your sewing skills, but that you want to try something better fitting than the T-tunic, here is an awesome tutorial by Ilsa showing how to use your measurements to create a tunic with minimal sewing, and here is a similar design from the SCA.

And if all of this wasn’t clear enough, feel free to mix these ideas with some of the other tutorials out there. Modifying things slightly to make them easier is a helpful technique to make sewing less stressful.

Here is the final version of what I created for this tutorial. It is for a friend of mine, hence the size on me: