Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I make a pavilion for very little money?

A: There are several things you can do.  Since the main outlay is for fabric, start by being creative concerning obtaining good fabric. Many pavilion-makers have bragged to me that their tents have cost $1 per yard because they have found a great deal with discontinued fabric that was on sale. Besides shopping the sales, you can try one or more of these ideas:

Q: How do I sew this--my sewing machine will die!

A: It probably won't die, but you need to be careful. Change needles often, and use heavier duty ones where necessary. The fabric will be very heavy to move through the machine, so give it a hand and pull it through at the same pace you sew. When there are many layers of fabric, you can hear the motor's extra efforts as it tries to punch through all that cloth, so hand turn the knob on the right (I don't know what it's called--but it regulates the needle's movements) to help it. If you are doing canvas and get really stuck because the fabric is just too much, consider using a commercial tent maker just for the really bad seams. On a recent canvas tent, I was able to do all the seams except the peak of the conical roof, and the seam where the hoop casing, roof, walls, and overhang all met. It cost me $15 to have a pro sew those seams and $5 to set the big grommet on the peak of the roof for the center pole, and it was worth it.  My machine may not have died, but the coma wouldn't have been very pretty.....

Q: HELP!  I can't sew!

A: If you can sew a straight line, you can sew a tent. It may look intimidating when you start cutting out all those big pieces of fabric, but most tents are almost completely comprised of straight seams.  I can't sew garb worth beans--patterns stupify me, tiny little finishing details make me crazy--but give me 50 yards of fabric and I'm good to go. Come to think of it, sewing tents was how I learned to sew.

Q:  Where do I start?

A: Before you head to the fabric store, see if you have all these questions answered:

Q: What are the most common mistakes when making a tent?

A: They are:

Q:  My spouse has a persona from a different time period than I. How can we make a tent that will suit both of us?

A: There are some style of tents that are nearly universal through time and locations. For example, the walled tent (shaped like the profile of a house, with a sloped roof and four walls) is documented through Eastern Asian, Roman, and European civilizations.  A wedge tent, with triangular ends with a door and two sloping sides, is another good choice. If you wish, you can decorate it with a generic pattern (spirals, geometric, etc..) and hang your individual banners outside for a more finished appearance.

Q: Why should I bother making/buying a pavilion when I have a perfectly good Coleman?

A: No one should look down their noses at anyone just because they have different camping gear! Tents, like good garb and Life, always seem to be Works in Progress. If you have the means and time to make a period tent, consider these reasons for making the plunge:

..and finally, a question that no one has asked, but that I still want to answer...

Q: How do you reconcile maintaining something as modern as a web site with the idea that pavilion-making is a historical endeavor?

A: Sir Brand from An Tir explained it to me perfectly. Throughout history there have been places to go for instruction and information.  It could have been a church or monastery, or a cathedral or a college. The people there would have been teachers or scholars or librarians. The closest equivalent that many of us have right now is the Internet. I try to be fairly cautious about approaching people at tourneys if they have an obviously period camp, because I know that introducing myself as someone who has a web site can be a jarring reminder of the present if the good gentle is trying to be true to their persona. Still, I have never had anyone turn my questions away, and I appreciate that.

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