One of the common questions that people ask when they first begin participating with the Society for Creative Anachronism is where should I get started when it comes to my historic clothing? We know that an attempt at historic clothing is required in order to participate at events (they are not required at local meetings or practices usually) So obviously it is an important part of the Society and something to consider at some point as you begin to participate.
Where you start often depends on if you know how to sew, if you want to learn how to sew, or if you’d rather just spend a few dollars on buying some basic clothing. Obviously the easiest, if not cheapest, answer of these is to just spend a few dollars on some clothing. Now more than ever before there are merchants online that are willing to sell reasonably okay garments for a fairly reasonable price.
If a new person asked me what to buy right now I think I would direct them towards a few online retailers where they could obtain a fairly well made and adequately historically correct tunic for around $30 or tunic dress for around $35. For many people this amount is well worth the lack of hassle that it means for others they want the aspect of creating something to add to their adventure. These aren’t fancy, but should last a while and fit the bill. There are also many other retailers inside and out of the SCA who can help as well.
For the people who actually want to make things, which really goes hand in hand with being a member of the SCA, then it comes down to do you know how to sew? If you already know how to sew modern clothes or even other modern simple projects, then tackling basic historically accurate clothing is fairly simple. Many basic garments from many time periods up to the 1300s are simple geometric patterns. Many people start with slightly earlier garments such as tunics or tunic dresses that work quite well for people wishing to recreate the iron age, Roman or Romano British times, Celtic cultures, Anglo Saxon times or Norse cultures. These geometrically constructed garments are very easy to make and make wonderful projects to learn to sew on.
If you really don’t know how to sew then you may want to tackle some of the simplest of the projects available including the (not so historically correct but ever so easy to make) two seam tunic. This rather modernized version of a tunic or tunic dress (if you leave the hem length longer) has been a standard for new members of the SCA for several decades. They are definitely easy to construct and if you are just learning how to use a sewing machine, it doesn’t get much easier.
If you need help discovering which path to clothing is right for you then feel free to ask on our resources or ask members of your local group at the next meeting.