So my post about layering kit went down a storm, apparently you guys really like that kind of thing. I’ll try and pull some more ideas from mine and Adam’s kit over the next few weeks and demonstrate how I might layer things together.
The post got shared around Facebook a huge amount of times and the comments made have given me loads of ideas for addressing different points in future posts. I’ll start with this one though:
I get annoyed with the “anyone can do this for this price” comment at the end though. For this price if you have time to go to op shops and fabric stores. Facilities to dye and sew. Skills and knowledge to do so. A friendly leather worker etc many layers like that costs in ways apart from $$.
Everything costs in time and infrastructure, and its very easy for established costumers and prop-makers to ignore the latter. But there are real setup costs for newbies.
I think these are totally reasonable points. But I’d still like to tackle them head-on.
First of all, I’ll confess that I do sew on a pretty expensive machine. I bought it with money I was given for my 18th birthday because I had been accepted on a tailoring diploma at the London College of Fashion. I didn’t do the course but here it is almost 15 years later, still going strong.
But fundamentally, you don’t need a fantastic sewing machine to make most LARP kit. Especially not the basic robes I wrote about in that article. There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t get a second hand sewing machine from eBay* for £50-£100 that will last you for years.
However you could sew everything in my kit by hand, and once you’re practiced and in the rhythm it wouldn’t take you too long. Indeed I actually sewed the outer brown coat by hand and one of the mid layers. Plus I generally add trim by hand rather than machine, and I often hand finish seams as well because I don’t personally like machine finishes (plus doing it by hand can be more durable with certain fabrics and garments).
With that in mind, here is the cost of all the materials AND tools that you would need to make this kit.
For naming sake: Layer 1 is the orange base layer. Layer 2 is the cream linen waistcoat. Layer 3 is the mid brown cloak. Layer 4 is the outer dark brown cloak.
|Layer 1||Fabric – £2 Ikea calico x 3m.||£6.00|
|Layer 2||Fabric – £8 Ikea linen x 2m (I got this almost half price on eBay*).||£16.00|
|Layer 2||Trim – From Ceolred Monger – I don’t know how much it cost but it was less than £10. The bottom is trimmed with a scrap of brown fabric – could be from the outer robes.||£10.00|
|Layer 3||Fabric – £2 Ikea calico x 3m.||£6.00|
|Layer 4||Fabric – £6.30 Wool from Maggies Fab Fabrics x 3m, + £2.20 postage.||£21.10|
|Net skirt||Offcuts from layer 3.||£0.00|
|Sash||Could be made from offcuts from layer 2.||£0.00|
|Belt||From charity shop. I know I got really lucky on this one, but you could just use another fabric sash if you couldn’t find anything at all. But charity shops always have this kind of stuff in for a few quid so it’s worth raiding them regularly.||£0.50|
|Belt||Leather dye* – optional. Colour was mid brown before, I just wanted to change it to be darker.||£6.73|
|Thread||I use Gutermann Sew-All Thread*. You could easily get away with just using two colours here, but I’ll budget for four reels to match all the colours of the layers. £1.50 each (or less) in most sewing shops.||£6.00|
|Dye||I’ve started to use Procion MX* which has expensive start-up costs. But I’ll keep it simple and suggest Dylon hand dye*, which most of this costume was dyed with. £3 a pack, three packs.||£9.00|
|Scissors||Yeah, these are a bit of an investment. Normal scissors just don’t cut it* (groan). Don’t use your dressmaking scissors to cut anything other than fabric. EVER.||£15.54|
|Ruler||A long ruler* is a great idea for measuring out onto fabric.||£6.02|
|Chalk||Tailors chalk*. For marking your lines onto fabric. I often use a marker pen, but you should use chalk.||£2.79|
|Pins||I really like Clover Silk Pins*. You could almost certainly pick up something cheaper from eBay*, but nice pins make a huge difference to how nice it is to work with them.||£4.49|
|Needles||Just like the Clover Silk Pins, nice needles for hand sewing are a great idea. John James were recommended to me earlier this year (the gold plated ones are the best) and honestly, I’m never using anything else. I picked up this large assortment pack to get me started* with the brand, and I’d suggest anyone new to sewing does the same.||£2.75|
Note: I did not include an iron and ironing board. You should really have those things in your house anyway.
I do understand that £115 is alot of money to many people, especially on top of the price of an event ticket. However putting together a costume like this as your first outfit for a LRP would be a great idea. The layers are infinitely reusable in other costumes and can even be dyed deeper colours for new characters because I’ve used a pure cotton that is receptive to dye. You could wear just the base layer on a hot day or all the layers when it’s cold and raining. By ditching two layers and changing the accessories (or switching the base layer for £13.50, or adding trousers and a short tunic) you can instantly change up your look.
As for dying facilities… well… last year I lived in a lovely one bedroom flat. It had beautiful white walls and carpets. I used to dye costume in a bucket in my shower. Very carefully.
And yes, hand sewing and pattern drafting aren’t the easiest skills to learn. But equally, the basics are not difficult and anyone can have a go. It might take several outfits to really hone your skills, but each time you learn something new. And after a few outfits you’ll be able to start branching out and making exactly what you want while doing so on a budget. Which is surely a great skill to have in LRP.