Finishing Touches

Or Those little things you can do to go from Good to Grrrrrrreat!

The footwear is good, the fabrics chosen work well together, but the costume just looks ...oh, I don't know...flat. That's what this page is going to try to combat. Following is a list (in no particular order) of stuff...if it looks clickable then there's more information available.


  • Use 1/4" grommets instead of small eyelets. They look better visually, break up large fields of colour, and they're easier to lace through.
  • Use piping to break up an otherwise dull (or even marginally dull) field of color. A rule of thumb that I use: the higher the rank, the smaller the piping.
  • Stop buying thread from the fabric store. Buy it from a wholesaler. You'll save money, and many times get a better product.
  • ...and while we're talking about thread, you know those spools of thread you can buy ten for a dollar? Have you ever given any thought as to why they're so cheap? It's because they are! If you have a crappy machine it may not handle those threads well, and you're gunking up the thread path, bobbin case and tension mechanism regardless. Knuckle down and buy the good stuff. "But I can't afford the good stuff..." Fine. Could you afford a new machine?
  • I won't mention any names but you know that boning made of 5-6 individual strands of plastic held together with a polyester fibre? It's for prom dresses, not renaissance costuming. The fibre won't survive many dry cleanings leaving you with a garment full of long needles.
  • Own a serger? Go unthread it. Blow the dust out, oil the moving parts, and rethread. You may be thinking, "But gee, Bill, I can do that without unthreading my serger..." and you probably can. But you need to practice threading the thing. Get good at it. Someday you'll thank me.

    Tie One On

  • When you're lacing things on --- sleeves to body, front closure on a doublet, that sort of thing --- don't use little ribbons (1/4" or smaller). Unless they're high contrast they won't show very well. A good size is 1/2". Ribbons smaller than that also preclude you from taking advantage of the next tip.
  • If you're playing middle class or above, don't ever let the ends of your laces stay plain. Finish them off with bolo tips. They're fairly cheap and look very nice. You need the bulk of a 1/2" ribbon to be secure they'll stay on. This is how it usually works: the bolo tip in it's natural habitat is pointed on one end, hollow, with four prongs on the other end. Knot the ribbon/lace, stuff the knot inside the bolo tip, and crimp the four prongs down.
  • Substitute for ribbons: twill tape. And not the satiny, polyester crap (yes, crap) from the fabric store. You can get 100% cotton stuff very inexpensively from a sewing supply house. It only comes in white or black, but the white dyes very nicely.


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