To participate in the SCA on a small budget

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You may hear people saying that the SCA is an expensive hobby. That can be true, but it can also be a great hobby to enjoy on a budget. Many people are poor students, with low end jobs, some fabric remnants, a basket, and perhaps a wooden cup when they start out in the SCA. Yet they still manage to participate. What've you got? I bet you can make it go farther than you think ;)

Bargain hunt!

  • If you look, you can find all kinds of things for very very little.
  • Haunt sale sections and charity/op/thrift shops for things you need, like used wooden bowls and baskets. Check for cheap leather garments and large wool and linen pants. Also look for cheap woollen blankets and old (not thermal lined) curtains - if it is large enough you can cut around stains or tears. If you sew, this is a great way to get cheap "fabric", just cut off the seams and findings. Piecing garb is very period.
  • Early on, you can get away with spending relatively little on garb and feasting gear.
  • Many people on a budget recycle old fabric and try to buy fabric when they have a little extra cash.
  • Save up and buy the reference books you cannot live without, or spend spare time in your local library.
  • shop on the discount table of your fabric shop. If you can learn to tell fabric content by feel rather than the label, you can pick up some unlabelled bargains at the fabric shop. Don't forget to look in the remnant bin, especially in the upolstery section - 1m of brocade might not make a whole garment, but it might make a nice bodice or a cheap trim.
  • Learn to think latterally about where you buy things. Soft furnishing suppliers often sell off excess fabrics (many of which are nice brocades). Cheap childrens necklaces may be just as good as overpriced fake pearl beads. The metal bits on the belt on the throwout table may make a nice brooch.

Pack a picnic. Really.

  • A good low-cost way to feed oneself is to bring simple food with you to events - bread, cheese, apples.

Barter your time and skills for room/board with established households.

  • One can often trade work for food (wash dishes for dinners at camping events, for example)
  • Bake bread (which is fairly simple and inexpensive to do, but is very time-costly) or make some other dish as your contribution to your groups food for the weekend.
  • Ask friends to let you 'room' with them in their spacious pavilion or large tent until you can afford a tent of your own.
  • Get rides with friends to events, in exchange for gas/petrol money.
  • Ask if you might be able to attend the feast as a server or kitchen help at discount prices due to financial hardship. Be prepared to do the work you sign up to fairly and well.
  • If the event steward offers discounts for financial hardship, or you think they might be able to, ask well in advance, don't leave it until the last minute.

Use your time instead of your money.

  • Make your own simple jewellery, and keep an eye out for medieval looking things in unexpected places.
  • Make your own garb from bargain-priced or recycled cloth.
  • Go to libraries after class or work and research there.
  • Save things that will be useful in making reasonably period looking other things.
  • Spend time doing it (whatever 'it' is) yourself, if you can. Nearly all of your kit can be reasonably authentic (or at least reasonably medievaloid), if you take the time to try.
  • If you discover a talent for a craft, trade what you make for other goods or favours. People often prefer trade to paying you money - you'll get better deals. Sometimes your patron may even pay for good materials if you have the time to provide manpower.

Dress simply and comfortably to start with.

  • Simple garb is often cheaper and easier to sew when you are just starting out.
  • Patterns and instructions are easily available on the web.
  • It's very easy to be authentic with an undertunic, a tunic, trews, and a cloak, or an undergown, overgown, veil and a cloak.
  • you can make a small wardrobe of three or four pieces and layer them appropriately to the weather for comfort.
  • Nearly all the most long-lasting starter garb is 'simple'. You may find you like it that way.
  • Remember that, in period, people usually only had a few sets of outer clothes and lots of underclothes. Don't fall for the modern "must have a new outfit for each event" mindset!
  • A cloak can just be a blanket pinned at the shoulder. Pin carefully to leave no holes and it can be returned to the bed later.
  • Layered tunics are often warmer than a cloak on a windy day. Modern thermal underclothes can add warmth if they don't show.

Borrow what you do not have, and be honourable about returning it.

  • "Oldtimers" often have assembled a large amount of clothing and gear over the years and have things to loan to new people starting out. Ask who is willing to take you under ther wing.
  • Often you can borrow garb and sometimes other things from your group. Talk to your local hospitaller.
  • If your local hospitaller has no clothing in your size, they may be willing to find some fabric for you to make up into clothing and let you be the first person to wear it, if you turn it into clothing.

Be willing to learn and willing to share what skills you already possess.

  • Ask where to shop and share your own thrifty tricks and techniques
  • Teach others how to do things you already do, like sewing, dancing, juggling or singing.

Be social!

  • This is a social activity, and often it's one's friends who take you to the first event. Don't be afraid to ask them for help if you want to do this more often!

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