Magpiecostumer's Blog

Making your medieval game

Last time I posted I promised that I would post instructions for how to make up the games into an easy format to carry around in your bag or basket. It has been longer than I anticipated as it turns out study took up more of my time than I expected. So here is my long awaited instructions on how I make up the games. This is by no means the only way to do this. I have chosen this method as a compromise between something relatively pretty and durable but also time efficient as I plan to sell the finished product and people can’t afford the sort of prices I would have to charge to justify things like hand sewing.


1 yd of 7 Medieval Board Games from
1 fat quarter of Instructions for 7 Medieval Games from
Backing fabric in your preferred colour 30cm (12″) square for most games or a 30cm x 60cm (12″ x 24″) rectangle for Senet or Tables
Cord or string to tie it up into a bundle.
Tokens appropriate for the game/s you’re making (see the list in my last post).


Step 1.Step 1. Cut out the game

Step 1. Cut out the individual games. If you buy one yard of the game fabric you will have one copy of all of seven games you will need to cut each one out along the dotted lines.


Step 2.

Step 2. Cut out the backing fabric.

Step 2. You will also need to cut a piece of fabric for backing the same size as the game board, I like to colour code my backing fabric so that I can easily tell which game is which.

The game I’m making in these photos is Fox and Geese so I decided to use red as my backing colour.



Step 3.

Step 3. Sew right sides together

Step 3. To begin sewing lay the game board and the backing fabric right sides together and then sew around the edge leaving a gap in the middle of one edge to allow you to turn it right sides out once you have finished. As this gap is also where you will insert the ties to keep it rolled up if you are using one of the rectangular boards (Tables or Senet) I would suggest leaving the gap on one of the shorter sides. I chose to use zig zag stitch close to the edge (as there is not much seam allowance) to eliminate any chance of fraying. In reality as the cut edges will be enclosed so straight stitch would also work.


Step 4.

Step 4. Turn right sides out and iron.

Step 4. After sewing you need to turn it right sides out. I found I needed to iron it after turning as there were a lot of wrinkles and the next step is much easier if everything lays flat.



Step 5.

Step 5. insert tie cord

Step 5. At this point I insert a cord to tie up the finished bundle I cut a piece of crochet cotton approximately 50cm long. Fold the cord in half and insert the fold into the opening you left to turn it inside out. Make sure it is far enough in that the top stitching in step 6. will hold it in place.


Step 6.

Step 6. Top Stitch

Step 6. To ensure the game stays flat I then top-stitch around the edge about 5mm in from the edge lining up the edge of the presser foot with the edge of the fabric. Make sure your tie cord is caught under the line of top stitching. You will also need to close up the gap that you left to turn it inside out. You can either machine stitch it closed close to the edge or hand sew it using a whip stitch. Personally if I am making it as a gift I will take the extra time to hand sew it as I feel like it looks neater. If I’m making them to sell people aren’t willing to pay for the extra time so I machine stitch everything.

Step 7. (sorry no photo of this step) Cut out your instructions. You will need to find a way to stop the edges of the instructions from fraying. The easiest way is to cut it out with pinking shears or a rotary cutter with a pinking blade. You could alternatively sew the edges with a zig-zag stitch or combine it with some of the offcuts to make a pouch that holds your game tokens.

Step 8. Insert tokens and instructions

Step 8. Insert tokens and instructions

Step 8. Add your tokens, I’ve used glass pebbles as they are cheap and readily available from craft shops. Fox and Geese uses 13 ‘geese’ tokens (white) and 1 fox token (blue) I’ve used a piece of the off-cut selvedge as a stand-in for the instructions in this photo (I have a rotary cutter and pinking blade but, until later this week, no cutting mat)

Step 9-A.

Step 9-A. Fold the top down

Step 9-B.

Step 9-B. Fold the left and right sides over one another

Step 9-C. Roll up the bundle.

Step 9-C. Roll up the bundle.

Step 9-D Wrap and tie cords to secure.

Step 9-D Wrap and tie cords to secure.

Step 9. Fold up the game to keep all the pieces inside. The following instructions are written assuming the cord is pointing towards you.
9-A. Fold the top third down covering the tokens.

9-B. Fold the left and right thirds in on top of the centre third.

9-C. Roll it into a bundle starting at the top so the cord ends up on the outside.

9-D. Wrap the cord around a few times and tie up the bundle.

Now you have a nice bundled game that’s easy to toss into your bag or basket for medieval entertainment on the go.

As I mentioned before this is just one way to complete your game. Some alternative options include:
Sewing two games back to back instead of using a backing fabric.
Sew the instruction sheet to the edge of the game board to make sure you can’t lose it (make it a flap that hangs off the edge so it won’t interfere with game-play).
Turn the instructions into a pouch to hold the tokens.
Leave one edge of the game board open to make a pouch between the backing fabric and the game.
Use a button and loop/buttonhole to close it instead of cord.

Or if you prefer a no-sew option cut out the game with pinking shears and skip the backing fabric.

A note from experience, using the gap between the outside edge and the top-stitching line as a drawstring casing to turn it into a pouch won’t work. There is just too much fabric to gather in so the top opening of your pouch will never close well enough to stop the tokens from falling out.


I hope these instructions help. If you need anything clarified or you have an alternative idea on how you would make up the game please let me know in the comments.


Board games for the history lover

Update 17 July 2014: I’ve written a new blog post with instructions on how to put your games together.

In a bit of personal information most people probably aren’t interested in I’ve been unemployed for several months now and job prospects are looking dim (Canberra is a company town and that company is the federal Government so when they start cutting jobs or completely dissolving departments Canberra sees a local recession) So as a long term goal I am re-training to work in childcare and for now to try and supplement my husband’s income a little I have created some board games on Spoonflower that I hope to be able to both produce myself and provide the means for other people to make their own.

If you would like 7 historical board games ready to cut out and roll up into your bag or basket and take to events you will need:

1 yard of board game fabric

1 fat quarter of instructions

and the following equipment

Glückhaus (A 16th century German gambling game for as many as will)

2 Dice

Coins or tokens (5 or 6 per player makes a good medium length game) something flat that can be stacked will make game play easier.

Fox and Geese (A medieval game of wits for two players)

13 ‘Geese’ tokens

1 ‘Fox’ token

Twelve Men’s Morris (A medieval game of wits for two players)

12 tokens per player (for a total of 24 tokens in 2 colours/styles)

Alquerque (A medieval ancestor of checkers/draughts for two players)

12 tokens per player (for a total of 24 tokens in 2 colours/styles)

The Game of the Goose (A late 16th century game of chance for as many players as will)

2 Dice

One token per player, each must be different from the rest.

Senet (An Ancient Egyptian game of chance for two players)

 4 casting sticks, white on one side and black on the other (you can substitute 4 coins or, alternatively, a dice may be used, with rolls of 5. ignored and re-rolled)

5 tokens per player (for a total of 10 tokens in 2 colours/styles)

Tables (A medieval variant on Backgammon for two players)

 2 Dice (or 4 if each player wants their own pair of dice)

15 tokens per player (for a total of 30 tokens in 2 colours/styles)

I will try to put up a blog post soon with details on how I make the games up into an easy to use (and transport) format.

Photos of the finished wedding garb

So as I posted all of my ‘in progress’ photos yesterday I thought I should share some photos of the final finished articles. All photos are courtesy of Bad Cat Photography used with permission.

lacing up the kirtle

lacing up the kirtle

lacing up the gown

lacing up the gown

My blackworked cuffs

My blackworked cuffs

sewing the placket on (I ran out of time to add hooks & eyes so I had to be sewn in on the day)

sewing the placket on (I ran out of time to add hooks & eyes so I had to be sewn in on the day)

B waiting for me at the church and enjoying his swoosh

B waiting for me at the church and enjoying his swoosh

The back of B's gown showing off the swoosh.

The back of B’s gown showing off the swoosh.

Full length photo of both of us

Full length photo of both of us

The whole silhouette not obscured by my veil

The whole silhouette not obscured by my veil

An action shot in which you can see my sleeves better.

An action shot in which you can see my sleeves better.

from the back with the train tied up to the inside

from the back with the train tied up to the inside

Finalising the Wedding garb

The completed kirtle

The completed kirtle

So, it’s been just over two months since our wedding and I thought it was about time I put up the in progress photos I took.

Each of the photos has a caption with a basic description so you should hopefully not be left too much in the dark. WordPress is failing at letting me move the pictures around so they are unfortunately all jumbled up and out of order.



Wedding garb022

B’s garb front. He made shirt, doublet & jerkin, the hose were purchased from Historic Enterprises

B's full outfit except for the gown

From the side

Modelling the outfit

My Foresleeves completed with jewels purchased from Etsy My Foresleeves completed with jewels purchased from Etsy

B's full outfit except for the gown

B’s full outfit except for the gown

B’s full outfit except for the gown
Gown bodice and sleeves over kirtle

Gown bodice and sleeves over the finished kirtle before I attached the placket or the skirt

With the sleeves pinned into position

With the sleeves pinned into position

With the sleeves pinned up , side view showing the way they are supposed to drape.

With the sleeves pinned up , side view showing the way they are supposed to drape.

Thinking, planning and a new direction

My previous blogging has fallen down due to attempts to make it about dress diaries. Every time I get involved in a project I lose my camera under the pile of fabric and get too busy sewing to write blog posts then when the project is over I feel overwhelmed by the thought of writing all the missing diary posts.

I have therefore decided to make this a rather more normal run of the mill blog that I use to document my thoughts and any finished projects.

Today’s blog post is, therefore, about some classes I attended over the weekend at the Politarchopolis A&S Collegium

There were two classes that really stood out for me and made me re-think topics that I thought I already knew.

The first was Mistress Rowan Perigrynne’s class on analysing a costume style. She has codified a series of questions to ask when looking at period sources in order to understand a costume style so that instead of copying one particular painting you can create something new that somebody from that period would recognise as within the spectrum of normal.  The class notes are available via the Barony of St Florian’s website where this class has previously been run Some of the additional  suggestions not in the class notes like measuring the proportions of common features (the example she gave was skirt guards) in order to  understand the range of normal really sounded helpful. I have been thinking about possibly experimenting with the French or Italian styles of clothing in the first half of the 16th century as a way to make court garb that doesn’t have the inconvenient sleeves of English court garb around this period and I know writing down the answers to these questions will speed up the process of becoming as familiar with this style as the process of just looking at portraits and absorbing information unconsciously that I did to become familiar with my current favourite style of English clothing in the first half of the 16th century.

The other class that also made me think again was Recipe Redaction by Mistress Kiriel du Papillon. This was another class on a topic that I thought I understood, I have cooked from period recipes before so I was confident that this would just be a refresher. However Kiriel’s approach was, again, to question everything about the recipe. The recipe she used as an example was ‘Tart in Ymbre day’ from Forme of Cury. Below is the original recipe:

Tart in Ymbre day
(Curye on Inglysch, Forme of Cury recipe # 173, page 136)

Take and perboile oynoun & erbis & presse out the water & hewe her smale. Take grene chese & bray it in a morter, and temper it up with ayren. Do therto butter, safroun & salt, & raisouns corouns, & a litel sugur with powdour douce, and bake it in a trap, & serue it forth.

This is a recipe I have cooked before but I never actually analysed it. But taking it back to basics the questions start with what sort of onion, red, brown, or even spring onions are possibilities. Then comes the first mistake I have always made, running on automatic I have always cut up the onion and then boiled it where this clearly says to boil it before it says anything about cutting it up. Classes like this that make me open my eyes and make me question my assumptions are hugely valuable in my opinion.

SCA Potlucks without a kitchen

This article started in 2012 when a member of our college who lives on campus with no access to a kitchen wanted to bring something to a potluck feast, but as it was a picnic lunch there were no cooking facilities available I am publishing it here so it can be available to a larger audience.

Potlucks without a kitchen


Every month our barony holds a pot luck feast, sometimes this is a lunchtime picnic outside in a park with no access to a kitchen. For those who don’t have access to a kitchen at home below are some ideas for period or period plausible foods you can buy ready made from most supermarkets.


When buying the major three foods to avoid are potatoes, tomatoes and chocolate. These are all native to the Americas and were not known to Europeans until the very end of SCA period and chocolate wasn’t available in solid bar form until the 19th century.


Apple/fruit Pies – either buy it fresh (bakeries are a better bet for fresh) or if you can only find frozen make sure it’s completely defrosted.

Custard Tarts

Baked Cheesecake – French cheesecakes (i.e. sweetened cream cheese on a biscuit base) are not period but baked cheesecakes are, you’re unlikely to find baked cheesecakes from the supermarket but if you have the cash to spare you can often get them from a baker who specialises in cakes.

Dried fruits

Candied fruits

Nuts (period nuts include hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts)

Biscuits (if it looks a home made and bit exotic e.g. pfeffernusse people will accept it as plausibly period)

Fresh fruit (make sure it’s in a form that can easily be divided up, if it’s not something small like cherries or grapes cut it up into individual serving sizes)

Salad – remembering to skip the tomatoes.

Bread – so long as it’s not square its good, if the bread is plain chances are somebody else will have brought stuff to go with it (e.g. soup or stew) if its got added bits like ham, cheese or fruit it will go down well on it’s own.

Cheese – hard or soft, so long as it doesn’t look like plastic and preferably not square a wheel (or a small segment of a whole wheel) will look more period.

All the usual pickled/preserved vegetables you would see on an anitpasto platter (except tomatoes again)

Salted/smoked meats – salami, ham etc.

BBQ/roast chicken – if you can serve it with a sauce you will look like you put in some thought and effort. There are some period sauce recipes on this page some rely on having cooking facilities or a food processor but others like carmeline sauce or galantine sauce just need the ingredients mixed together in a bowl.

You will need to bring your own serving dish and utensils, if you haven’t got a suitable serving dish (ceramic, wood or metal dishes are usually fine unless they have something blatantly modern printed on them) head to a dollar shop you can buy a large woven bamboo bowl for around $10.

That’s not my garb.

So this post is actually about boy garb as I spent yesterday evening helping my Fiance to fit his wedding doublet.

First up I have photos to illustrate the concept of how the side fastening doublet works (as it may be clearer than my description in the lastpost).

Ignore the fact that it’s on my dummy over the top of a dress  this is just an illustration of how it fastens. As you can see the sleeve is sewn into the armhole created by the back and side front peices then the full front piece is brought across to cover it up.  Much better for men with broad shoulders than the method I was envisioning of pulling it on over the head and then fasten the side seams (which is how the ladies side lacing kirtle is done.

Doublet side front

doublet open showing side front

Doublet Front

Doublet Closed

The other problem was the size of the sleeves, traced from the Tudor Tailor Henrician mens pattern pack the sleeves ere huge. The first step was to take the sleeve up by about 2 inches so it ends at his wrist, not his knuckles.

We liked the fullness in the top of the sleeve but it was getting in the way below elbow level so the second step was to taper it more below the elbow so that in the end the wrist opening was just big enough to fit his hand through comfortably. The next step is cutting silk.

The sleeve with the excess hidden.

The sleeve with the excess hidden.

The adjusted pattern

The adjusted pattern on top of the original

Kirtle Progress and Contemplating Skirt Supports

So my updates took longer than the few weeks I was expecting I have made some real progress in the construction of my kirtle, the interlining is cut out as is the lining.

But before I cut the brocade out I need to work out the skirt length, and for that I need to work out my skirt supports.

corded petticoat only

With a corded petticoat

farthingale only

With a Farthingale alone.

farthingale and petticoats

With a Farthingale and extra petticoats

I already have another Tudor gown and some underpinnings, however the farthingale will need replacing so I put on my old gown and tried all my underpinnings. I was hoping to get away with skipping a farthingale, but looking at a direct comparison using my old Tudor gown there’s no denying that the farthingale makes it look much better.


Doublet pattern

Tudor Tailor Henrician doublet pattern, front and side front.

On a side note I’m also helping my Fiance make his garb for the wedding. He’s up to the doublet stage and I finally had a revelation on how the side fastening doublet goes together. I had initially assumed it was a simple case of front and back pieces with a fastening along the side seam, but then there was a ‘right front’ piece that didn’t make any sense. I finally worked out that it is actually supposed to work like an extreme version of a double breasted jacket. The back is only sewn to the front panel on one side on the other side it is attached to the ‘right front’ and then the front overlaps and is hooked or tied on to the right front.


Just a Quick update

Prior warning this blog will not be updated in the next couple of weeks. We have just been accepted for a new and significantly better rental house for only $5 per week extra. While we’re moving there won’t be any progress on sewing so no updates on this blog but at the end of this process I will have a dedicated sewing room instead of a junk room with a sewing machine so hopefully this move will improve my long term sewing progress.

Wedding Garb 2; Kirtle bodice continued and contemplating jewelery

So I’ve taken the bodice in so it fits and is properly supportive. Based on a properly fitted bodice
I think the smaller ‘cups’ work better. On the side with a larger ‘cup’ I was getting some wrinkling
as my body tried to push it outwards but the fabric isn’t shaped to allow that. The boning covering
just the inch or so where my bust starts to curve outwards has a surprisingly big effect as there’s no
wrinkling on that side.

So now I need to adjust my pattern, to account for the inch or so I’ve taken off each seam (especially
adjusting the armhole curve) and cut new boning for one side of the bodice.

I’ve also been contemplating how to fasten the sleeves. Tudor foresleeves have an opening along
the outside of the arm which is caught together every few inches with the smock (whether real or
faked) puffing through the gaps. The joins in between the puffs of chemise were often decorated in
some way so I need to decide how I’m doing that.

Option Pros Cons
1. No fastenings – There’s some potraits where you can’t see any sort of fastening (e.g. Lady Guildford). Very easy just sew the piecestogether. I’m not a fan of this option though; it looks like you’ve forgotten something.
2. The Princess Elizabeth Ouches from Pewter Replicas  based on the portrait of Princess Elizabeth c.1545 This is probably the easiest decorative option, just throw money at the problem and it goes away.It fits with the wealth of the fabrics I have chosen. If I’m wearing all the jewels wouldn’t be entirely out of place. If I’m aiming for a minor nobility impression the jewels worn by the King’s daughter may not be the most appropriate choice.At £3.95 each enough to do both sleeves would cost over $100 plus shipping.
3. Tied together with what look like ribbon points. As seen in Holbein’s sketch of an English Woman. A relatively cheap option and a better fit for my persona’s status.The non-matching colour can be got around by making ribbons out of the fabric and bling can be added with aglets on end of the ribbons. Finding ribbon that matches my foresleeves/forepart fabric and the lack of bling.
4. Just decorative aglets that don’t seem to be attached to ribbons – as seen in portraits like The Portrait of an Unknown Lady by Hans Eworth A head pin and a set of several tube shaped beads would make nice customised aglets if I don’t need to actually fit a ribbon inside. This means another thing to make when I’m already in a time crunch.While it seems like it would be cheaper to make it yourself if I buy good quality beads from a local bead shop they are expensive and online shops only sell them in packs of 100 or more.

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