Egyptian Kit on a budget
Charged with making delightful Egyptian kit for
under £30, Daisy and Jude headed out into Glasgow city centre to do
their best. Our aim was to make versatile, evocative kit which is
suitable for the British weather, easy to make with the minimum of
expensive equipment, and likely to be suitable for most body shapes and
sizes. We decided not to attempt historical authenticity!
Low status Egyptian: tunic and headdress
- a needle, or preferably access to a sewing machine
- a friend to help you pin (optional)
- 1.5 metres of cream/unbleached white cotton/polycotton. Do not pay
more than £4 per metre, you can get it for £1 if you really try, or try
charity shop bedsheets (mmm, prehemmed!) (You really want linen, but it
tends to be too expensive, get linen if you want to spend more.) - We
got some double-width polycotton for £3.50 per metre (i.e. about 10ft
- white thread - £1
- Optional: blinging jewellery from a charity shop or Asian tat shop -
- Optional: waist sash - £2
- TOTAL: £6-9
your fabric as shown. This amount of fabric is our double-width fabric,
folded at the top of the picture. Our recommended fabric amounts are
quite generous, but bear in mind that if you do not find
fabric/bedsheets this big, you may need to buy slightly more length (in
metres) and sew bits together to achieve the same effect.
If you are a (brave) man, you may want to consider making this less of a
dress and more of a skirt - i.e. cut it waist to knee instead of armpit
to mid-calf and make the circumference your waist instead of your chest
measurement, like shown in the illustration from the Odyssey culture
briefs. Your straps (see below) will obviously have to be much longer.
two back pieces together to make a piece that should be the same shape
as the front piece. Here it is held upside down.
If you are not much of a sewer: there is a golden rule... always sew
FACE to FACE. This means place the front of the fabric piece against the
front of another piece, sew the line of stitching, then eventually
you'll turn it all inside out so that the seam is on the inside. Here,
there is no 'front' of the fabric (i.e. both sides are equally usable),
but you'll have to make sure once you've done one seam, that all your
other seams will end up being on the same side... the easiest way to do
this is when you place pieces together to sew them, check that you can
see the 'wrong' side of the seam before you start sewing. Unpicking is
annoying and time-consuming. If in doubt, PIN IT and CHECK!
Then sew down all the diagonal seams to join up the dress into a tube.
Here we see that we have been very conservative and the dress is much
too big on Jude. This is a GOOD THING. Too big can be fixed, too small
and there's nothing you can do.
you fit the tunic to your exact size.
Get a friend to put a pin in so that it sits snugly around your chest.
Don't worry, it doesn't need to stay up by itself, so don't go too
Mark a line
from the pin to the corner of the dress tube. Remember that at this
stage, we're still working with the tunic inside out, so you should be
able to see all the seams.
this line, remembering to leave a seam allowance as you will lose width
when you sew it together.
generous seam allowance of at least one inch. Remember - if things are
too big you can always fix them but if they're too small you'll have to
go on a diet...
Sew up this
new seam. If you're not using a machine, you can fit the tunic by
pinning it before you sew the back pieces together. This will save you a
Hem the bottom and the top of the tunic now. If using a machine, we
recommend using a zigzag stitch or double-turning the hems.If you've no
idea what I'm talking about, ask your granny or Google it or something!
time to make the straps to make sure the tunic stays on.
Cut two strips as shown, making sure they're long enough (including an
inch seam allowance) to go all the way over your shoulders and join up
to the tunic. Don't make them too narrow or you'll have trouble turning
them inside out once sewn. I recommend 2 inches wide at least. Sew up
one edge and turn them inside out with the help of a solid jabby object
such as a pencil. Once they're the right way out, iron them flat.
Seriously, it makes a huge difference.
experiment with how you want to attach the straps. Some different ways
are shown here and below. Your tunic can be turned the right way out
Sew the straps on where you want them and you have a basic Egyptian
To make the headdress simply get a square of fabric (you should have
plenty left over) making sure that one edge is enough to tie around your
head. (Put the middle of one edge on your forehead and tie the corners
under the nape of your neck). Hem all the edges, using a double-turned
hem. We think the 'windsock' headdress looks quite Egyptian:
However in the photo below, it is shown below folded back up on itself
like the Dutch-style headdress shown here:
You can dress this up
however you want. It is shown here with a necklace (£1), a sash (£2),
and a sweet find, a gold snake belt-buckle! (£2)
Deluxe Egyptian - add a collar, belt, and headdress detail
Extra materials needed
- 1 metre of coloured wool/felt/linen/whatever fabric. Stiffer than
the cotton. We used felt because it doesn't need to be hemmed. You can
use interfacing to make it stiffer if you like. We like dark green.£5
- coloured thread - £1
- gold leather thonging, 5 metres of - £3
- petrol-coloured glass beads, 2 packets of - £2
- Optional: more blinging jewellery from a charity shop or Asian tat
shop, we used earrings that came with a matching necklace - £1
- TOTAL: £17-20
Cut out a
piece for your collar as shown and decorate in whatever style pleases
you. Lots of ideas here: fashion-era:
We have used the gold leather thonging, sewn on using a large zigzag
stitch on the machine, although for fancier designs like on the belt
you'll need to do it by hand. We also used lots and lots of tubular
glass beads which take an age to sew on but look fantastic. Knot your
thread every few beads so that if the thread breaks you don't lose the
whole row. We also advise using doubled-over thread. This is not a
special kind of thread, it just means use two at the same time. You can
also add jewels or bling from cheapo finds as you see fit.
Cut out a
long piece for your belt (or make up from scraps) and cut a nice tapered
shape as shown below. Decorate in a matching way.
the whole ensemble. The headdress detail was made with leftovers from
the coloured fabric, gold bits, and beads and is tied as a 'windsock',
see above. Our fabric was quite stiff so sticks up in a lovely way. If
yours is more drapey and you don't get it sticking up, you might want to
try spray starch to make it stiffer. Lots more ideas for collars are at
the link above, but we feel that paper-mache isn't really robust enough
for larp so went for a fabric and embroidery look instead.
To make the collar and belt much more cheaply, don't use beads and stuff
that looks like real gold, instead use embroidery thread like this
It's available from all decent sewing/art shops or ebay, doesn't cost
much and you can even get it in irridescent beetle-coloured colours,
like our glass beads. You'll need a chunky embroidery needle too if
doing it by hand.
If you've got a sewing machine, use machine-embroidery thread.
Make sure you mark your designs on the fabric first, especially things
like concentric circles.
Deluxe and WARM Egyptian - add an overrobe
Extra materials needed
- another 1.5 metres of fabric. If you have only a 5ft width you may
need more - £5
- TOTAL: £22-25
really is tremendously easy. Cut out a massive square and head-hole as
shown on this
and hem the neck and any raw edges.
You can wear it open at the sides and simply scoop it up over your
can tie it at the waist or under the bust by grabbing the corners of the
back bit, and pulling them up, enclosing the front bit inside (to
preserve your dignity).
... Or you
can belt it and wear the lovely collar/belt on top, wrapped around the
whole robe at the waist...
... Or just
wrapped around the front bit of the waist, giving you a trailing cloak
effect at the back.
Obviously, if you want to be really
warm, then make this robe
out of thicker or more snuggly material. You can often be lucky and find
a nice white wool blanket in a charity shop.
Alternatives and additions...
Instead of a headdress, why not buy an Egyptian wig from ebay or
similar? Our intrepid researchers have found them as cheap as £7.50.
Leather sandals are an obvious choice of footwear although you might
want to get some pointy-bejewelled slippers from your local Asian
clothing shop. They are cheap but don't hold up to British weather all
Heavy eye make-up is a must of course. You've a fiver or so left to buy
some black kohl, gold eyeshadow, or a tattoo pen. More on the make-up here.
Tips and tricks
Got a whole Egyptian group? Making a matched belt and
collar for each person is relatively inexpensive (£10 gets you the
deluxe version) and you can wear pretty much anything underneath if you
have matched collars for that uniform look.
For your group leader, invest in an Egptian headdress
(try ebay or fancy dress shops, although beware of crap quality ones)
and base your colour/design decisions off that.
Group leaders, wear a fake beard - men and women! No,
I'm not kidding: http://worldofbeards.co.uk/persia.htm