The cost of costumes

So let’s face it: larping is a hobby that can be quite costly. A larp might have a fee or it might be free of charge, but even if there is no fee for attending that larp it will still cost money. There is travel costs, food and of course the clothes and props we choose to wear and bring with us. And larp costumes can become very expensive.

I usually make the clothes I will need for specific larps, but over time I’ve built a wardrobe of some basics and some specifics. Some time ago I had to get rid of some things because they were too small (the things I wore as a teen don’t fit a woman’s body), or too used up. I also got rid of things I had not used in a while and that I deemed I would not be using. As I moved to a smaller apartment I didn’t have room to store everything. Some things I have swapped and some I have donated. I’m not going into detail about what should be in a basic larp wardrobe as that depends so much on the types of larps one frequents. I might make a post about my basic larp wardrobe at some point.

What I am going to talk about is how to get costumes for larps and how to do it as cost-efficiently as possible. Some items you can get for nothing, some items will inevitably cost more. Making a whole new set of larp clothes plus props will always be more expensive than building a well stocked wardrobe over time. Here are some tips for keeping costs down:

  1. Borrow from friends and other larpers. If you need a certain piece of clothing or a certain prop you might be able to borrow it from someone.
  2. Renting might be an option for things you will only use once and that are too expensive or time consuming to make yourself.
  3. Swapping is a good option if you have something you don’t need anymore or that you feel it is time to pass on to someone else. Why not host a swapping party?
  4. Thrift stores and flee markets are great places to find little odds and ends that might be useful to you. The best things I’ve found so far include an old military rucksack and a wooden hat bag. Shoes, cups and containers are other things I usually find often, as well as jewelry and other things that can be taken apart to be used as materials.
  5. Reuse and repurpose things that you already own, or mod them to suit the larp you are going to. There are tons of options for this and only your imagination sets the limit.
  6. Make things instead of buying them ready made. If you have the skill for this or are willing to learn then making things yourself will always be cheaper (albeit more time consuming) than readily made merchandise. This will also assure you have a unique object.
  7. If you need to order items online, check with friends if you could place a shared order. That will keep the shipping a bit cheaper.
  8. Plan your costume in as much detail as possible before buying anything. This will help you to buy only what you need and not end up with a dozen items you won’t use.
  9. Keep an inventory of your larp items, or go through them from time to time to check what you might want to get rid of and what might need maintenance.
  10. Take good care of your clothes and props. Needless to say, they will last longer if you show them a little love.

So that’s it for today. The list can also be found under the page “Wardrobe” and that is also where I’ll update it if/when I come up with something new or one of you readers has any ideas that should be added.

 

/Jo

Bow tie experiment

I have a few different projects that I’m working on at the moment. One of them is learning to make bow ties. I have a few Whovian friends and thought it would make a nice gift for them. So this is my first attempt at a sewing one and I must admit that it turned out rather nicely (especially since I have never tied a bow tie before). I will be trying this in more materials and I’ll probably try a few different patterns. I have one Edwardian bow tie pattern, but thought I’d start with something more modern (and probably easier to tie and shape).

So here is the result:

Bowtie1

Never mind the ruddy hair. ;p

There are lots of patterns and instructions out on the net so I won’t repeat anything anyone else has already said. I used the pattern from this page (but pretty much ignored the instructions). I would say that choosing the correct size is the part that requires the most attention. I cut the fabric on the bias so as to make the bow tie behave better than if it were cut on the grain. The material I used is taffeta, with a cotton-backed fusible interfacing.

I’ll probably get back with some variations, and maybe even my own pattern (or at least tips and tricks for choosing fabrics, laying out pattern pieces, cutting and sewing).

 

Mask it!

Here’s a simple project for those of you who need your larp characters to wear masks but want to be able to hide your faces without being too obvious about putting on impractical masks. This is also a great idea for keeping your breath warm during cold weather larping. You can use left over fabric for this project since it doesn’t use more than about 60×20 cm of fabric.

I came up with the pattern after having made a tabard and while cleaning away the remaining scrap pieces of fabric this one piece just struck me to have the right shape for this kind of mask. So after a bit of experimenting this is the tutorial I am presenting you with. You can click the images to enlarge them.

 

halvmask12

 

So let’s get started. Here is what you will need:

halvmask1

Measuring tape, scissors, tailor’s chalk, about 15-20 cm of sturdy fabric (I’m using wool), snap fasteners or string, needle and thread, a sewing machine (or you could sew everything by hand). If you are using a flimsier fabric you might use a sturdier interfacing. You might also opt to line the mask with a thin fabric (wool can be a bit itchy against you skin).

Measure around from the tip of your nose to you neck and back while keeping your head straight. Add 4 cm to that measurement (overlap in back and seam allowance). I got 48+4=52 cm. Then measure from the between your eyes to just under you chin. Here you don’t have to add seam allowance, but if you choose to do so, add 1,5 cm. I got 11 cm and added seam allowance, so 12,5 cm.

Now let’s move on to drawing the pattern:

halvmask2

We are going to draw the pattern directly onto the fabric. If you want to try it with a paper pattern first then go ahead and do so to assure perfect fit.

1. Start by folding your fabric in half.

2. If you have uneven bottom edges or selvage, mark a straight line on the fabric that is half of the first measurement you took (for me 52cm/2= 26 cm). That is the bottom most line in the above picture.

3. Along the folded edge, which will be our CF (center front), mark the second measurement (the height of the mask, for me 12,5 cm).

4. At the end of the bottom line, draw a vertical line, about 3 cm long.

5. Connect the marking from step 3 with the top of the line from step 4.

6. To make the mask fit nicely over the lower part of your face, draw a line to make a V-shape at the folded edge (see the picture). Start about 1/3 (here 4,2 cm) from the bottom line and draw at about a 30 degree angle, slightly curving the line.

7. Pin everything together and cut out the piece. This is what it should look like when you fold it open:

halvmask3

Now we start sewing. I used a wool fabric which is slightly darker on the wrong side, so you can more easily see what I’m doing.

halvmask4

8. Remember that V-shape we cut out at the CF? Fold the fabric, right sides together. Put some pins in the cut edge of the V and sew the cut edges together with about 0,5 cm seam allowance. Open and lightly press the seam open. Then topstitch the seams flat to make them stay in place. It should look like this from the wrong side and right side:

halvmask5 halvmask6

That seam line is the bottom part of the mask, and the third of CF which you did not sew is the top part which sits over your nose.

Now we move on to turning the edges.

9. Start by clipping the corners if you are using a very thick fabric like I am. This will make turning the seams at the corners easier and the result will be smoother.

halvmask7

10. Pin the edges to the wrong side and take spacial care at the corners. Use about 3/4 cm seam allowance or slightly smaller and top stitch all the way around.

halvmask8 halvmask9

halvmask10

Now that’s done all you have to do is sew on the snap fasteners (or which ever other method you choose to use for fastening).

11. One of the snap fasteners will go on the right side of the mask, and the other one will go on the wrong side. Hand sew in place.

halvmask11

Now your mask is done. Hope you enjoy it and find good use for it. Please leave me a comment.

I will probably try to make a similar mask out of leather at some point. When I do I will make a separate post.