Starting larping with nothing, especially on a super tight budget can be super challenging.
We'd all love £1000 to spend on some beautiful leather armours or bespoke tunics (there are some stunning ones I have my eye on) but often we have not a lot of resources to use to actually get started at a level which isn't plundering our wardrobe for vaguely fantasy looking 'civvies'.
In this post, I'll be looking specifically at making base fantasy kit from hardly anything and really cheaply.
There are already quite a few sets of decent pattern resources for making various tunics and pieces of kit which I'll include at the bottom, but if you have no idea how to sew or are just feeling lazy here’s 5 ideas to get you started.
1 - Tunics: Basic Layers.
Estimated cost: £2 -£5.
Simplest of simple; cut up an oversized t-shirt!
This is something I did for a load of bandit kit for Erda’s beta event. You can buy plain t-shirts from all sorts of places in browns, deep reds, blues and greens. Afterwards, it’s just a case of cutting the seams off around the arms, neck and around the bottom.
Then, it’s just a case of distressing it (which I will write a post about soon, I promise.)
Consider buying a long sleeve and a short sleeve one. Layering is a great way to not only stay warm but add ‘depth’ to a costume.
2- Tabards and Sashes: Easy!
Estimated cost: up to £5
Tabards are the easiest thing to make. They’re a rectangle of fabric with a hole in the middle for your head. Could even be made out of a shawl of eBay!
Sashes are also super easy - just a pashmina or wide strip of scrap fabric can be used to tie your tabard around the waist.
3 - Cloaks and shawls: Keeping warm on a budget.
Estimated cost: up to £10
Cloaks are a must have for larping. Even if it’s hot during the day, you’re going to need it at nighttime. Even an oversized tartan shawl can suffice to keep the cold off your shoulders, neck and back. Just a quick search on eBay can bring up dozens of choices.
A quick trip to your local charity shop can often yield surprising results! Curtains are easily retro-fitted for cloaks and capes.
If you want to try and get sewing, attaching a clasp onto a sheet of fabric isn’t too hard. Though, cloak pins are available widely or, if your budget is super tight, a couple of big safety pins hidden on the inside will also do the job nicely.
4 - Limb wraps: More than dual purpose!
Estimated cost: up to £5
Wraps are one simple accessory that protects your legs/arms whilst taking your kit up a notch.
Leg wraps can be bought, but they also can be made really easily as they are literally 2 inch wide strips of fabric. Thicker wraps can also be wrapped over by thinner ones!
Curtains from charity shops are a great way of getting hold of a lot of fabric for very little. If you can find a cream/ivory/coffee coloured set of curtains for a £5 with a linen texture, you’re sorted. Any extra fabric can be used to make all sorts of things from pouches and sacks to bandages (same premise as wraps, just long strips of fabric!),ties for your tankards and sashes.
5- General accessories: Spicing it up.
Estimated cost: up to £10 - depending on what you get!
Charity stores quite often carry a lot of odd items which can be used as very basic set dressing, including wooden bowls, sashes and bits of jewellery. Tankards can also be found relatively cheaply. Most of Erda’s props were found in charity shops, to be fair.
Belts are also a must have - many can be found in charity shops again at different thicknesses and lengths. Primark is also a good place for cheap belts.
Constructing An Outfit
So, lets construct an outfit from things on this list. Kier, who helps me out reffing as Magpie in Erda, is going to be our lovely model and you can see how things layer up as it goes.
Here we are - our blank slate. He's got some brown trousers on which Kier bought for £3.50 from a charity shop.
He also has a good set of sturdy boots on. Any boots will do as long as they're sturdy and waterproof. There is nothing worse than wet feet at larp, especially when it's cold.
Let's give him one of the wrecked t-shirts.
It doesn't look much at the moment, but it's better than nothing!
We've gone for a dark brown, ripped the seams off and put a keyhole-neckline in. We also added little holes all over to give it a worn out look. We could've gone bigger shirt-wise to make the top longer and more 'tunic like' but this suited us just fine.
The shirt was £2.
Let's add a ruana. This is one I had already but you can get similar online for about £5 (or make your own!)
This will keep him nice and warm during the evening.
Let's add a belt. This one was from primark for £1. Charity shops carry many different ones, but this was easy to find and very very cheap. We'll add two!
We've also added leg wraps. Brown material from a charity shop would be most cost effective to make these. The prices we've seen for such fabric are around £4.00.
So far we've spent a total of £16.50.
Now for accessories!
We've added a pouch bag (charity shop: £2.50), a very quick square cloth pouch I made from a tartan skirt (charity shop: £1.00).
Leg wrap number 2 were made out of fabric I had around the place as scraps, so effectivly cost me nothing!
Now, we've spent £20.00 on an entire outfit including a bag. If that's not economy, I don't know what is!
If you wanted to go a bit further, You could add necklaces and what not to your bags, or tie scraps of material or fake fur on like we have.
Kit Challange: We'd love to see what you can do with £20.
"Craft tutorials for LARP made by Daisy, with help from Jude (who can actually sew)."
This site provides a lot of different things including hoods, pouches and tunics. A lot of it's content is centred around Odyssey LARP but it's transferable for a lot of different games. Once you get more confident, the site even includes instructions on making armour and medieval pavilions!
Pinterest has a lot of interesting things to look at including lots of patterns for simple construction of garments etc.
Medieval dress patterns
Celtic Shawl - Ruana Pattern