Medieval Tunic Workshop, UCT

On Sunday the 21st of July there will be a costuming workshop focusing on early medieval tunics

10:00 am - 5:00 pm

On Sunday the 21st of July there will be a costuming workshop focusing on early medieval tunics — unisex garments with straight shoulder seams and a simple geometric construction.

The workshop will be run by Beth Tolson and me (Adrianna Pińska). We will bring a bunch of sewing machines, scissors, irons, and other sewing accessories and materials. Ten workshop spaces are available.

The workshop is beginner-friendly — we’ll show you how to measure and draft your tunic, how to cut your fabric, how to use a sewing machine, and how to sew and finish your seams. We’ll also bring some finished garments and demonstrate how they look on an actual human.

This tunic is a good choice for sewing beginners — it’s all rectangles and triangles! You can make it long or short, and as plain or fancy as you want — the same basic pattern can produce many variations.

We’re hoping that most of you will be able to finish an entire tunic during the course of the workshop, or at least get far enough that you’ll be able to finish it yourself at home. There may be a follow-up session, if enough people are interested and would like sewing machine access.

We have been looking into the option of providing fabric (for a fee) for those of you who would prefer not to have to bring your own. By our current estimates, the correct type of fabric of an acceptable quality costs around R50 – R70 p/m (of 1.5m-wide fabric). One person’s ankle-length tunic can probably be squeezed into 2m, thanks to the low-waste cutting layout, but just to be safe and accommodate different body shapes and sizes we should probably budget 2.5m per person. That would make the likely fee around R150 p/p — but this is very much dependent on availability when Beth and I go shopping, and also on what kind of fabric weight and colour you would be happy with.

You are also welcome to bring your own fabric — either because you want to buy exactly what you want, or because you already have something you can repurpose — but please make sure that it’s suitable! It needs to be: 1) woven, non-stretch, 2) ideally a plain colour without a pattern, 3) ideally a natural fibre or blend.

Option 3, subject to logistics, is for you to come with us when we go to buy fabric (probably on a Saturday morning) so that you can buy your own fabric but with our advice.

Whichever option you prefer, PLEASE CONTACT US to confirm your attendance — either to let us know what kind of fabric you’d like us to look for, or to make sure that the fabric you have is OK (and that you have enough).

Good fabric choices: cotton, linen (more expensive; watch out for “butcher’s linen”, which can be completely synthetic), ramie (like linen but cheaper), rayon / viscose (semi-synthetics made of cellulose; don’t confuse with nylon). Probably OK: cotton-polyester blend. Very nice but also very expensive: silk, wool.

Fabric can be dyed, so if you’re eyeing that bedsheet but don’t love the puce colour you can probably do something about it. But bear in mind that synthetics don’t dye easily, and that includes polyester thread, so it’s better to dye before construction than after.

Speaking of thread, if you’re bringing your own fabric, don’t forget to supply thread in a matching colour!


Venue: TBA; somewhere on UCT campus
Date: Sunday 21st of July
Time: TBA; likely to start around 10 AM and continue into the afternoon
Food arrangements: TBA (probably up to attendees, with a possible group takeout order)
Cost: TBA (depending on fabric options)
Important: RSVP to discuss fabric options (Adrianna Pińska <adrianna.pinska@gmail.com>, Beth Tolson <darkoutthere@gmail.com>)


Medieval Tunic Workshop, UCT


Rondebosch, Cape Town, 7700, South Africa