How We Shop for Fabric

Yesterday, a lazy Sunday turned into a crafty and productive Sunday, all because of a request from Sean.

“You want to go to Joann Fabrics and get stuff to make a cloak?”

A wife would typically be surprised if their engineer husband uttered these words. Most men I know would run screaming at the thought of a couple hours perusing materials, thread, buttons and trim. But not me.

Since joining the SCA, Sean has expanded his love of stabbing people with a pointy sword to shooting pointy arrows at targets and making garb using the pointy needle of our sewing machine. And who am I to discourage this? He enjoys making his own garb, means I can focus on making my own garb. Double win!

It also makes fabric shopping trips interesting.

The item in mind for yesterday’s shopping trip was a fencing cloak. It is used primarily as a soft parrying device and to distract your opponent. Waving and swirling it can accomplish everything from obstructing their vision, catching their blade to garnering comment from the opposition. In fencing, witty repartee is valued.

Soft parry is the final qualification Sean needs in fencing, and the big championship for fencing is in a mere 2 weeks. Hopefully he’ll walk into Kings and Queens bearing a fully qualified authorization card. His skill level in some categories is significantly weaker than in others, but he can fight with them if need be.

After Googling brought back little help in advice for constructing this cloak, we were basically winging it as we wandered through the aisles. We decided that while we were at it, we should make him a new doublet for the championship.

Looking good is also important in fencing.

We found a lovely navy blue upholstery fabric with a silver diamond pattern on it for his doublet. I looked at him and said black would look fantastic against this. So we went in search of black upholstery fabric – no luck. Courderoy? Maybe. Then I saw black velour. I handed it to him so he could perform his test. The test he had been doing all over the store with every contending fabric.

My husband waved it about like a bull fighter.

Flipping, furling, snapping…all with this intense look of concentration on his face. Then, he smiled.

“I like this.”

So 8pm found me laying a newly constructed velour and cotton cloak over his shoulder. It’s not fancy or trimmed yet, but it’s functional, and he’ll be able to test it out at tonight’s practice. And when he competes at Kings and Queens, I’ll have a little surge of pride at seeing him wear and use it.

Pictures will follow, I promise.


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