How to Make Easy Medieval Costumes

Woman in medieval costume reading at castle window

You don't have to be a sewing expert to make easy medieval costumes for men and women. With these simple and fun projects, you'll look great at the Renaissance Fair, on the stage, or at your next costume party. All you need is a little time and some simple tools and supplies.

Easy No-Sew Noblewoman Costume

Your DIY noblewoman costume starts with a trip to the thrift store. Hit up the prom dress section for something long in brocade or with embroidery. Don't worry if it's a little too small; you'll be cutting it up anyway. This costume takes about an hour to make after you pick up the supplies.

Things You'll Need

In addition to the brocade prom dress, you'll need the following tools and supplies:

  • Long-sleeved satin or velvet top from the thrift store
  • Long skirt in a similar color
  • Three yards of gold ribbon, cord, or braid from the fabric store
  • Fabric glue
  • Scissors
  • Disappearing fabric marker

What to Do

  1. Start by cutting the prom dress all the way up the front from the bottom of the hem through the bodice. Make sure your cut is exactly in the center.
  2. Fold the raw edges under and use fabric glue to "hem" them.
  3. Lay the dress on a work surface and line up the edges. Mark where the waist hits you.
  4. To make lacing holes, mark several spots directly across from one another all the way up the bodice from the waist to the neckline. Use scissors to cut small holes in each spot.
  5. Thread the ribbon or cord through the lacing holes, just like lacing a shoe. The ends should be at the bottom so you can tie them at your waist.
  6. To put on the costume, dress in the long-sleeved top and long skirt. Put the dress on over the top and adjust the laces so it fits you. Add some jewelry, and you're all set!

Simple Nobleman Costume

You can also make a really simple nobleman costume with modified thrift-store finds and bits from the fabric store. The key here is using sumptuous fabrics to give the impression of wealth. You can put this costume together in about an hour. It requires a tiny bit of hand sewing, but you don't need any previous experience.

Noble Man Costume

Things You'll Need

Gather the following supplies:

  • Round, dark-colored tablecloth from the thrift store
  • Velvet hat, any style
  • Piece of faux fur fabric, large enough to be a collar
  • One yard of gold cord
  • Simple earth-toned shirt or tunic
  • Fabric glue
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread

What to Do

  1. Fold the table cloth in half. Then fold it in half again, so it resembles a quarter pie shape. Use the scissors to cut off the point in an arc. You're making a neck hole, so unfold it to check the size. If necessary, make it bigger.
  2. Cut a straight light from the edge of the tablecloth to the neck hole. Use fabric glue to hem the raw edges.
  3. Cut the faux fur into a rounded collar shape that matches the neck hold you cut in the tablecloth. Use more fabric glue to attach the collar. If the fur is heavy and it doesn't feel secure enough, add a few stitches to hold it in place. This will be the cloak.
  4. Cut the gold cord in half. Sew one half to each side of the neck of the cloak, so you can tie the ends together to wear it.
  5. To get ready, put on the tunic and hat. Wrap the cloak around your shoulders and tie the cords.

Peasant Costume for Men and Women

Peasant costumes are easy because they are very simple. The most important part of the costume is the tunic, which you can make from burlap fabric. You can pick up the rest of your clothing at the thrift store. This costume takes about half an hour to assemble and requires some very simple sewing.

Peasant costume

Things You'll Need

Gather up the following:

  • Two yards burlap fabric
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine or hand sewing needle and thread
  • Twine or cord
  • Earth-toned sweater
  • Long, earth-toned skirt for women or earth-toned pants for men
  • Accessories to indicate profession

What to Do

  1. Fold the burlap in half so the two short sides are together. Measure yourself from shoulder to shoulder. Cut the burlap to this width, straight down from the folded edge.
  2. Measure from under your arm, up over your shoulder, and back down. This is how big your sleeve holes need to be. Divide the number by two. Measure down from the folded edge of the burlap by the distance you found. Mark with a pin.
  3. Sew from the pin down to the hem of the burlap. Repeat with the other side. You now have a bag with arm holes.
  4. Cut a hole for the neck and try on the tunic. Adjust as needed.
  5. To get ready, put on the pants or skirt and the sweater. Put the burlap tunic on top and tie it with twine or cord at the waist. If you wish, you can add a bow and arrow to make your peasant an archer or carry a pitchfork to be a farmer.

Medieval Knight or Warrior Costume

While you can't easily make a suit of armor, you can give the impression of a fierce medieval knight or warrior in other ways. This costume is more "Game of Thrones" than King Arthur, but it's guaranteed to turn heads at the Ren Fair or anywhere else. It takes about an hour to complete and requires no sewing.

Warrior costume

Things You'll Need

You can find most of these items at the thrift store or at your local fabric shop:

  • Leather or faux leather vest or jacket from the thrift store
  • Scraps of leather or vinyl fabric
  • Old purse or belt
  • One yard faux fur
  • Black shirt
  • Scissors
  • Fabric glue
  • Heavy duty stapler and staples

What to Do

  1. If you found a leather vest, you've got a starting point. If you found a jacket, cut off the sleeves and collar to turn it into a vest.
  2. Cut heraldry-inspired shapes from the leather scraps. Think griffins, spears, crowns, and other symbols. Use fabric glue to affix them to the vest.
  3. If you're using a purse, cut the actual purse part off so you have a long strap. If you're using a belt, you can use it as is. Use the stapler to attach one end of the strap to a corner of the faux fur fabric.
  4. Drape the fabric over your shoulder and decide where you want to attach the other end of the strap. It should hang loosely around your shoulders like a cape. Attach the other end of the strap with the stapler.
  5. Trim off the excess fur fabric.
  6. To assemble the costume, put on the black shirt. Layer the vest over the top. Then drape the fur cape over your shoulders. Grab some accessories like a plastic sword or shield.

Quick, Easy, and Part of the Fun

These costumes are perfect for adults who need something fun and quick. If you're looking for a more authentic or elaborate costume, you can sew your own using medieval costume patterns. For kids, you can either scale these ideas down or make child-sized medieval costumes. No matter what type of costume you make, you'll love being part of the fun at your next event.

How to Make Easy Medieval Costumes