When you need a last-minute costume for a Renaissance fair or costume party, turn to items in your own closet and any fabric you have on hand. With a little sewing skill and effort, you can create a surprisingly attractive costume in very little time.
Create a homemade cloak or cape in minutes using any type of fabric, including silk, satin, velvet, cotton or even an old sheet in the appropriate color. Cut the fabric into a rectangle in the desired size of the finished cape with scissors. Instead of folding and hemming the edges, use double fold bias tape to create a fast and easy binding. Simply fold the bias tape over the edge of the fabric and sew it in place with a sewing machine. If you do not have a sewing machine, apply a line of fabric glue to the bias tape and fold it over the edge. Sew additional pieces of bias tape to each side of the top of the cloak so you can tie it at your neck. Another option is to attach the neck ties with safety pins.
Choose a heavy and durable fabric to make a last-minute corset or waist cincher. If you can easily rip the fabric with your hands, then your corset may rip during wear. Wrap the fabric around your body and cut it so that it fits perfectly around your body, with the edges of the fabric meeting in the middle of your back. Use an awl or a hole punch to poke a series of holes along each edge of the fabric so you can lace your corset. Place the holes at least 1 inch away from the edge of the fabric to prevent the fabric from tearing. Thread a length of ribbon or cord through the holes in the same way you would lace your shoes. Tie the ends of the ribbon in a knot or bow to finish your corset.
Make a full skirt for your costume from a large rectangle of fabric. Cut the fabric and sew it into a large tube so that when you slide the tube over your body, the bottom is the desired size of the skirt while the top is much larger than your actual waist. Cut a piece of elastic slightly smaller than your waist so that it fits snug around your body but not so tight that it causes discomfort. Fold down the top of the skirt approximately 1 inch, and sew along the folded edge to create a tube, leaving a 1-inch opening near the seam of the skirt. Thread the elastic through this hole and through the tube. When you sew the ends of the elastic together, the skirt is the perfect size for you. Tie a smaller rectangle of fabric around your waist to hang over the skirt and recreate the layered appearance often seen in store-bought renaissance costumes.
Create puffy pants for a man's renaissance costume with a pair of extra-large slacks. The pants should be at least two sizes larger than the man would usually wear. Cut the pant legs just below the knee and fold the edges under by 1 inch. Sew along the fold to make a small tube in the same manner described for the full skirt. Insert a piece of elastic into each pant leg, sized to fit the man's leg just above the knee. When the puffy pants are worn, place the elastic piece above the knee and the excess fabric will create a puffy appearance. Add to the effect by stuffing the pant legs with fabric scraps.