Trying to put together gear and clothing for a medieval combat society’s summer event is a hassle. I enjoy Belegarth–the foam fighting system I participate in every Thursday–because it can be a ton of fun to run around and hit other people with foam weapons without having to worry about role-playing or special rules. All you have to do in Belegarth is hit them hard enough for them to count it as a real hit and not hit them in the head. Pretty simple, when it comes down to it. At least, that’s how it plays out in practices. I’m sure there are more rules that come into play when participating in the huge fights that happen during national events, but I haven’t done any of those so I wouldn’t really know about them.
Even when it comes to creating gear and clothing for events, most of the rules revolve around ensuring safety in a full-force sport. There are a few rules about “garb” for events, but mostly people just don’t want to see anything overtly modern like screen-printed t-shirts and cargo shorts. Which is unfortunately eighty percent of my wardrobe. Since the rules are fairly lax and most people aren’t sticklers, you can get away with loose fabric pants with the cuffs removed and plain shirts with a triangle cut out of the neck and the cuffs removed from any long sleeves. Removing the cuffs is the big thing, apparently.
There are, of course, more elaborate methods of creating garb. Sewing loose pants from some dark-colored fabric, throwing together complex top assemblies made of fashionably arranged bits of fabric that are going to get absolutely shredded as soon as you start fighting, tunics, surcoats, tabards, sashes, belts that are tied instead of buckled or cinched, and more! They all take a surprisingly large amount of work and knowledge if you want to do them right, though. Pants made of two bits of fabric seem like an easy thing to make, especially if you have a sewing machine, but there’s a lot of work that goes into making sure the legs are the right width in the right places, that the seams are straight, and that there’s adequate room in the crotch and rear for whatever you’ve got going on there. A tabard is essentially a long bit of cloth with a hole for your head and a design on it if you’re feeling fancy, but you’ve still gotta make sure it fights well, ties up properly, and isn’t so long that you’re tripping on it or dragging it behind you.
Now, I’ve done costuming before. I’ve helped to create various articles of clothing for theatrical products. Put in my time in the sewing mines, as I like to think of it. I still suck at it, despite that. I can follow a pattern easily enough but, even with a really good sewing machine, I have trouble keeping everything straight, un-bunched, and turned around the right way. The second pair of pants I ever made had one seam on the inside and one on the outside. I can do clothing repair by hand easily and quickly if I’ve got a sewing kit, but that’s an entirely different beast. I would not want to embark on a bigger creation project without either guidance or a strict pattern to follow. While those things exist, they can be hard to line up at the last-minute when you’ve spent the last few months procrastinating until about a week before you need the clothes you’re still not sure how to make.
I have no one to blame but myself.
Despite the fact that I’m probably going to need to either give up all my evenings or go to an event in what feels like really low-quality garb, I’m excited for the event. Despite participating in this combat society on and off for over four years, I’ve never actually gone to an event. Fighting is incredibly stressful for me as even a minor verbal conflict can be enough to exhaust me, and fighting as a part of a large group sounds like a nightmare made real. Half the reason I fight is to prove to myself that I am capable of overcoming my limitations and proving to myself that my mental health issues don’t limit me, so going to an event seems like a good idea to aim for. Next weekend’s event is going to be relatively small, as far as events go, and I don’t really plan to fight for very long during it, if at all, so I should be fine. I might fight for an hour just to prove I can and help me get used to the idea before I attend a national event or try to fight in a huge battle with hundreds of other people. Dip my toe in the waters, so to speak.
There’s plenty to do at these events without fighting, though, so I’m going to try to keep myself as busy as I can while I’m at the event. If I can stay busy and outside the fighting for most of it, I should be fine. Plus, I’m a huge fan of anything that keeps me busy and focused lately. Keeps my mind away from any dangerous spirals. Toward that end, I’m going to start obsessing about making the perfect fighting pants for next Saturday and see if I can figure out how to make them the kind of pants that can also be shorts since I’m going to get heat exhaustion if I have to wear pants and run around outside all day. There’s a line, just a little bit past the knee, where they can wind up being both. That’s my target. We’ll see how many tries it takes me to hit it.